I Know. I Should Swear Less Around the Children.

Once upon a time there was this grocery store clerk. She yakked at me one day, one very bad day 6 months ago, about having a third child. She told me her sons had been stolen by her daughters-in-law and that she was ever so grateful for her daughter because her daughter would never leave.

She has not really spoken to me since, not in so much detail, but has said hello and once or twice chatted with the boys about hockey or thieving girlfriends or whatever. But today. Another bad-ish day. She totally turned my frown upside down because nothing makes me happier than being able to refer to someone as “batshit crazy; as crazy as the shit of bats” as I walk down the street.

No really. That makes me happy.

I had my grocery items. I was checking through the self-check out, Fresco was eating a cracker in the back seat of the buggy and Trombone was drawing things in his “handy dandy notebook” with a marker.

– Trombone has started pretending his life is a giant “Blue’s Clues” episode, which involves hollering, “MOMMY THERE’S A CLUE ON THAT TREE!” from the back seat of the car or front seat of the buggy and then spending 15 minutes in relative silence while he attempts to draw the tree in his notebook. Had I not spent 5 years up in a tree pretending I was Harriet the Spy I might be concerned about this. Nah, who am I kidding. –

I was slightly aware of the Batshit Crazy self-check-out clerk talking to him but I wasn’t paying attention. Then, as I put the groceries in the underbuggy, I noticed he had coloured the back of his left hand with his orange marker, which explained the preceding 10 minutes of silence. (Which silence was totally worth it, by the way.) The clerk had kindly given him a piece of paper to draw on so I felt obliged to thank her and then ask him,

“Dude. Where’s your notebook?
“Over here,” he replied, patting his pocket, “but I’m drawing on my hand now.”

And here you will see a huge Shrug from me. I used to draw on myself with ballpoint pens and sometimes Sharpies. And I turned out fi – oh, wait.

“Oh but paper is better!” said the clerk, chirpily. “Isn’t paper better?”
Trombone cocked his head to look her in the eye. “Well actually this is a washable marker,” he explained, “so it’s OK.”

Right. See also: younger brother with orange, tattoo-like markings on his forehead, arms and feet because someone, I’m not saying who, keeps forgetting that the second child likes to wreck shit and cannot be left alone with markers.

See also: me not caring one whit because I choose my battles carefully. Fresco does many things in a day that endanger his life. Self-tattooing *with markers* is way down on the list with “eating Twizzlers.” (Now if he ever picks up an actual needle and starts asking to watch LA Ink, I’ll step in.)

“Well,” said our friend, guardian of the self-check out and those who pass through it, “your skin is an organ. It has to work hard to get rid of all that ink…”

We all nodded politely and gave not one single good goddamn between the three of us.

“..so maybe it would be better to put, you know, dots on your hand. Instead of colouring it in like that.”

I straightened up and slung my bag of groceries over my shoulder. Put the smile on my face that means goodbye to you and I will be ordering my groceries for delivery from now on. Prepared to push the buggy away.

And then! She said to me, “Did you take medical terminology?”
I said, “Pardon?”
She said, “In your classes? It’s fascinating!”
I said, “No I took mainly political science classes.”
She said, “Oh.” She gave me a dirty look. Like she knew I was being snotty but since I am the customer, etc. she would let it go.

No, lady, really, I have NO idea what you’re talking about. Do I look like someone who takes medical terminology classes? Does that have anything to do with washable markers? Are you HIGH?

I said, “OK well have a nice day now.”
She said, “Mmm hmm.” Went to help someone else.

So my question to you is: why has no one told me about these classes I can take! The skin is an ORGAN!

And also: did she maybe think I was a nanny? Do nannies take medical terminology courses?
And also: did she think I was someone else entirely?
And also: do you think the self-check-out machines emit dangerous waves that affect your head? There was a woman at work who kept trying to stop me to photocopy things when I was pregnant. Ah but that’s another story altogether.

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