Sunday, February 12, 2006

Picture This.

And so we continue our slide show of Quinn’s inadequacies.


This is a church. Note the carved wood. Appreciate the stained glass. Revel in the horrible face I am making while attempting to capture the attention of my child, who is many feet away from me, ignoring me, having made a fashion statement.

Daughter has always been a feminine and stylish dresser. Of late, however, she has thrown some adorably off-kilter notes into what had been a fairly straightforward style. For the most part, I am a neutral observer.

She pairs socks with sandals? Well, I’m not wearing it any time soon, but knock yourself out, honey.

She insists on wearing a heavy wool sweater to school on a day which is predicted to reach eighty degrees? Guess she won’t make that mistake twice.

She pairs an orange shirt with a pink skort, layered over pink and orange tights and finished off with red cowboy boots? I wouldn’t have put that outfit together sober, and it turned out to be absolutely fetching, drawing the approval of a friend who was raised in France, no less.

But my neutrality ends at her hairline. Daughter has created a hairdo, the main purpose of which seems to be to move all of her hair as far as humanly possible from their points of origin. The hairs in the front get slicked, enthusiastically if scruffily, to the back of her head and placed in several half-finished ponytails. The hairs on the back of her head are clipped in the front into what resemble the ears of a bobcat. The whole hair spectacle takes only a few minutes, at least seven ponytail holders, and no mirror whatsoever.

This hairdo drives me nuts.

It creates tangles, the ponytail holders become all but welded to her hair which leads to operatic screaming when I have to remove them and, not for nothing, it looks really odd. I had declared the look Public Hairdo Enemy #1 which meant, of course, Daughter couldn’t breathe until she had shown the world her interpretation of Princess Hair.

About halfway through our church service, the younger children go trooping off to a room somewhere to sing songs about how nice it is to be loved by God and to draw slightly sacrilegious pictures (“Here’s Jesus, on the monkey bars!”). After the sermon, they are marshaled back to join the congregation. So, last Sunday, I was sitting in church feeling the mild post-sermon radiance where I contemplate a world of compassion, a world of mercy and decency, when out came the group of children, being led by Daughter…

who had taken this time away from me to give herself the Weird Hairdo.

She must have secreted ponytail holders in her pockets before leaving the house. I could imagine, all too clearly, her sitting in that back room, humming along with “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy…” as she created random hair knobs all over her skull.

I was halfway back in the church, entirely too far away to do anything but seethe. She came back and sat next to me in perfect hair happiness, her contentment in no way compromised by having to swat away my hand which, almost of its own accord, kept inching up and trying to remove a topknot or two.


And here I am, talking on my cell phone while walking along what appears to be a freeway with my dog, a bag of groceries and some dry-cleaning.

Really, it started off as such a good idea.

The car had to go to the shop -- a statement I make all too often in life. Luckily, I have a trusted mechanic who not only has an aptitude with touchy elderly cars, he isn’t terribly far from my house. As I was about to leave the back door, I noticed the dog was looking at me in that hopeless yet hopeful way which says “It would be simply wonderful if you took me out for a walk before I, you know, die of boredom and utter despair”

It was then I had my very first bad idea of the day (Actually, being as it was mid-morning, I had probably had three bad ideas already, but none of them had any staying power). “Why,” I thought, “I’ll take the dog with me to the mechanic, leave the car and walk home! She’ll get some sorely needed exercise and I won’t have to rent a car!”

If this were a horror movie, this would be the scene where the jock says to the five other kids, “Let’s party at the old Adams place. So what if the gardener hacked five people to death up there and was never caught?...”

In other words, someone has to do something really stupid for the audience’s entertainment to begin.

I dropped off the car, and the dog and I headed home. The first leg of the trip home was through some fairly unattractive residential neighborhoods, and the air quality wasn’t exactly beneficial (we’ve had a big fire south of us this week; you could loofah with our atmosphere), but the dog seemed happy and I had turned two brainless tasks into one brainless multi-task. We entered the shopping district near the house and I saw the dry cleaner.

“Hey,” thought the genius, “I’ll pick up the dry-cleaning. Then, I will have done three errands at once! As a matter of fact, let me run into the grocery store and get some cans of cat food!”

As with any unfolding horror movie, you can start screaming “NO, YOU IDIOT, JUST GET HOME!” any time now.

I left the dog outside and got the dress shirts from the dry cleaner, hanging pressed and proud on their hangers. I dashed into the grocery store and got several cans of lesser cow and fish bits for the cat. Thus laden, I looped the dog’s leash over my wrist and headed for the last big street before I reached our neighborhood.

It’s a funny thing about perspective. What appears from the car, to be a normal, if somewhat busy commercial thoroughfare becomes, from the point of view of the pedestrian, some kind of Street Without Pity. There were, conservatively, eighteen lanes of traffic hurdling each way; they carved out the space for all these lanes by making the sidewalk the width of my thumb.

This is a street created by city planners who assumed that by this point we’d all be using jet packs to get around, our exhaust trails leaving not a blemish on their tiny, fragile sidewalks. I looked around and saw there was no way to get where I needed to go except along this particular road. I hitched up my dry-cleaning hangers, hitched up my pants, and hitched up the dog, who was cowering from the din of the semis roaring three inches from our shoulders.

Since we were facing traffic as we were walking, I got several seconds to look at each driver as he narrowly avoided hitting us. Each one of them glanced at me for a second, and quickly looked away. I’m guessing the only people ever seen actually walking along this street are shouting at Tom DeLay, who can hear them because he has implanted a microphone in their nostril. I could pretend that I wasn’t crazy, but really...

I was walking on what amounted to a freeway with a cringing dog, a bag of cat food, a battered purse and three dress shirts, hangar, no starch. That doesn’t shout “Sane!!!” in any language.

I was halfway across this road when I heard something over the rushing growl of the tractor-trailer next to me. Was that…my phone? Yes, yes it was my phone, ringing plaintively yet persistently in the bowels of my purse. I stopped walking and attempted to retrieve the phone, the dry-cleaning bag being blown into my face. I found the phone, and squinted at the number; it was Daughter’s school. Since no school ever calls you mid-morning just to let you know that everything is fine, I had to take that. I clicked open the phone, and bellowed, “HELLO?”

You know, if you ever are trying to take a phone call from your kid’s school, and you happen to be walking on a freeway, I suggest putting your head in your purse; it blocks out some of the ambient noise. Sure, I looked a little silly, but let’s not kid ourselves: THAT BOAT HAD SAILED.

After several minutes of “WHAT?” and “YOU NEED A GASKET? A CASKET? WHY DO YOU NEED A CASKET?”… it was ascertained that the school needed a signed permission slip for a field trip that day. I promised to do something about that once I reached the house. At the same time, I couldn’t imagine I would ever reach the house. I had begun to imagine the rest of my life as an endless walk down the widest, ugliest road in the world. At night, the dog and I would make camp on the sidewalk and share a can of Kitty Stars Fish Fix’ins. Some day I would die, and the local municipalities would argue over who had to actually stop on that street to pick up my corpse.

As with a horror movie, our hero made it out alive, but not unscathed (there is no way I have the same amount of brain cells I started out with before my pilgrimage down that river of diesel exhaust). Sadly, there is something else I have in common with the horror genre.

There is a sequel in the works.

Just when you thought it couldn’t possibly get any worse…


I see a video game tie-in.


Blogger houseband00 said...

Hi Quinn,

Self-expression is still a good thing. =D

Happy VD!

2:41 PM  
Blogger Melodee said...

I will have so much more compassion on those crazy people I see next to the freeway entrances. Perhaps they are just having an unfortunate "good idea" gone wrong . . . and maybe they'll write about it later on their blogs?

11:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Once, I took a cell phone call in the grocery store from the vet's office pertaining to the unexplained vaginal bleeding of my child's hamster. I'll try the purse thing next time!


6:19 AM  

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