'Tired looking' is what you call someone pre-facelift. We are 'tired looking'. I know this you see, because the other day I caught a glance in the mirror when I wasn't looking (work with me here, I'm going somewhere), and for just a millisecond I saw myself as a stranger might see me...and felt sorry for me. I looked so weary...and disillusioned.
Am I weary and disillusioned? Perhaps. But then, I have run the gauntlet of embarrassing encounters locally lately. Take yesterday for instance. I made the horrific mistake of taking all three boys grocery shopping after school. One is a dreamer (Egg) and when charged with pushing the baby round the aisles, often gets distracted, wanders off and leaves him somewhere until the piercing screams start. The other (Dumpie) takes after his Mama and is a shopper extrordinaire (shame I couldn't be brilliant at something less banal...but there you go), meaning that he will pick up goods, handle, manipulate and finally resort to threatening behaviour if what he desperately desires is not purchased. So yesterday that meant calmly walking away from the huge basket I'd put him in charge of, and leaving it to be swept away by an employee - necessitating a total start over of the shopping process. The youngest is simply a shoplifter. And yesterday he (and by he I mean we...or more specifically I) were finally reprehended.
As we were exiting the store, manifold bags threatening to topple the pushchair, we were deftly approached by the sweetly smiling Asian security guard at the sliding doors.
"Sorry...it's okay this time...but your little boy has taken some sweets. No problem, no problem, I no tell...but he goes quickly like this (and here he mimes a move I know all too well: the famous Squitty 'snatch, grab and stuff behind the back' manoeuvre) and next time you watch ok?"
I died a small death. Then proceeded to try and wrestle the brightly coloured box of tic tacs from the baby who was literally not going to hand them over without a fight - before chucking them onto the nearest counter and charging out...mortified.
Squitty giggled, popped a few tic tacs in his mouth and I hurled the children down the street muttering like a crazy person...again...and racked my brain for a threat they hadn't heard before. I came up empty.
And then there was that time last summer, when clad in a lightly (too lightly it turns out) fluttering skirt wearing 'tiny, barely there, arse-creepy-uppy' knickers (TMI I know...but relevant to this particular humiliation) I managed to walk nearly the entire length of our street with a young twenty-something smirking estate agent behind me - who finally, just as I was about to cross the street to our flat (why wait until then??) tapped me on the shoulder and said,
"By the way, I just thought you should know that I've been walking behind you, and you can see EVERYTHING (here he stopped suddenly, gave me 'that look' and mimed with his hands, an approximate gesture insinuating what I took to be private ladyshape bits), and I mean EVERYTHING."
I stared at him, wondering what on earth the correct response to this was. I was tempted to call him out on being a pervert for not telling me sooner, but his face was bathed in pity not lust, and as he clocked the baby in the pushchair, and perhaps sensed the faint former and faded glory of someone who used to have a life and stay up all night dancing in clubs, he piped up with,
"Trust me, I didn't mind...truly. But just thought you should know."
With that he was off, and I slunk into our flat, horrified at having had my backside exposed to a complete stranger AND OTHER RANDOMS for a good ten minutes as the naughty wind caught my skirt up again and again like a porno slide on repeat. I then cursed myself for not having kept up with my squats as I imagined the un-thrilling sight of my bare arse. I then went upstairs and disposed of the guilty lightweight skirt in the bin.
I wish I could say that the above is a complete rendering of all local humiliations, but not even close. There is the time I tried to buy several hanging plants in a crowded grocery store with giant snaking queues fifty feet long, and Egg and Dumpie started wrestling and toppled them over and turned the area in front of Till #7 into a makeshift back garden. I couldn't bring myself to go back and shop there for nearly a month.
Or take last week, when hurriedly racing to pick up the boys from school (late as always), shoe-less baby wailing indignantly because he refused to have his fat little toes crammed into his new little blue Mr. Bump shoes (which are admittedly a tad too small, but so damn adorable I refuse to give them up). I tried to manoeuvre around a family of heavy set woman and her three daughters who were taking up the entire width of the pavement. One of the girls looked up at me, saw me charging toward her like a bull, but instead of moving aside, just looked back down at her mobile and continued in her path, resulting in a not-so-gentle but entirely inevitable collision with yours truly moments later.
I muttered crazy words under my breath (sense a recurring theme here?) but was pulled up short seconds later by the heavy set mother yelling back at me.
"What's your problem?! Didn't you see her?!" she screamed back at me.
"But she saw me and didn't move!" (This lady had no idea that I was not in the mood to be yelled at by a complete stranger in the street - and certainly over something that was NOT...MY...FAULT)
"She's deaf you know!" the lady spat out.
To be fair, this stopped me in my tracks as we stood there, yards apart in a face off - like a modern day verbal shoot out. I tried quickly to think whether there was any relation between deafness and inability to move out of someones path. I could come up with nothing.
The lady took advantage of my perplexion to discharge one last poison arrow.
"You could have at least said sorry!" she snarled.
I turned my back and charged off in rage, feeling totally wrong done by, my frazzled, irritated brain battling the part of my brain which is permanently stuck in rude adolescent mode, which wanted to scream back,
"But I thought she was deaf??!!"
You'll be pleased to know I kept my mouth shut.