So because I am the very epitome of the patriotic American, I took the Rose to Target this President's Day, since nothing expresses my admiration for GeoWash and Honest Abe like handing over many many many pieces of paper plastered with their visages.
(I exaggerate, of course: I am American, so I put it on the credit card.)
I have one purchase in mind: some jeans for my extraordinarily petite 10-year-old. The only pants she has that fit in the waist are Size 5s which, not surprisingly, only come to about mid-calf. But thanks to the wonders of the adjustable bands they've got inside waists these days, we find some new Size 7s which are only a little too long for her.
Naturally, having scored sartorially in about ten minutes, we spend another hour stocking up on everything we could possibly imagine needing at some point in the next decade. Including new cucumber and green tea-sented baby wipes. Good try, folks. But if there's one area that you just can't make seem yummy or healthy? Yeah, that's the one.
Anyhoo, the Rose is unbelievably delightful company on these sorts of trips, chattering along oh so pleasantly, remarking on everything, skipping occasionally, and mainly conveying with every cell in her body how much she truly wishes she were an only child.
So we get to the checkout just as the person in front of us is pushing her cart away, lucky ducks that we are. I start unloading our copious treasures onto the conveyor belt, and see the cashier sigh heavily and push her hair off her forehead. "Tired?" I smile understandingly.
"No," she says, taking another deep breath and letting it out in our direction. "I just don't feel very good."
As she says this she grabs the first of my things and starts scanning it. I look at my now mostly but not entirely empty cart, and back at her. She does one of those sorta kinda inside burps and clears her throat, scanning and bagging my goods (although I'm no longer thinking of them in nearly as positive a light as that term would tend to convey) all the while. Too late to grab the stuff and shove it back in the cart and find another lane open, one whose guardian is not infected with the bubonic plague.
But hey, maybe she's just hung over, says the ever optimistic part of me. So she finishes up and I swipe my card and sign my name (well, sorta: these days I almost always actually draw a little smiley face or, if the occasion seems to call for it, as today's clearly does, a sad face) on the keypad. And then I push my cart past and start grabbing the bags and loading them into the cart.
And that's when the smell of vomit hits me.
I look up at her, but she's just leaning against the register, waiting for another hapless victim to show up. I look at the floor, the cart, around. No sign of any regurgitated material. Yet the odor lingers, to put it mildly. Pizza Hut Express is a dozen feet away; perhaps someone has gone insane with the parmesan, a substance which is, in my opinion, identical to your garden-variety spew.
Who can say? Despite, or perhaps because of, any clear evidence, I rush the Rose out the door, and she's delighted to have to sprint for the car through the pouring rain. Before we're a dozen steps from the cashier, however, I hiss at her that if she so much as gets a fingertip near her eyes, nose or mouth, she's out of the will. She points out that the likelihood of any of my brood inheriting anything is roughly on par with my winning the Nobel prize for physics. I concede the point, and raise the stakes: touch a mucus membrane and I will force her to watch me eat the entire cherry cobbler her mother made this day. She is persuaded.
We get home and both scrub our hands like we're prepping for surgery. Will it be enough? Only the oracle knows. Lacking a Magic 8-Ball, I turn to the next best thing.
Thanks, George, for helping create a nation where such creatures can serenade us all so sweetly, and to you, Abe, for holding it together.