September 9, 2018

you made me feel young again

I've emerged from the depression and I'm looking at my mood with a raised eyebrow and The Look because I suspect it's swung right past level and up into mild hypomania.

This is the only possible explanation for my behavior in Target last night.

Or maybe it isn't.  Maybe it was the Halloween decoration in that lady's cart.

At first, we thought it was someone's croupy baby or maybe a Nazg├╗l loose in the shampoo aisle.  We were looking at protein cookies and shakes.  It kept happening.  The noise.

It wasn't just annoying to the point of distraction.  It started at the top of the spinal column and traveled down it in a way that made you want to leave your body at the next exit.  I stared at the end cap display of hearing aid batteries and envied someone.

It kept happening.  Over and over again.  Cheap electronic shrill screech-cackle.

"Ah, it's a Halloween thing they must have set up somewhere," said P.J.  I just looked at her, shaking, incapacitated.  "Well, then," she said, "they've got it switched on and somebody can damn well switch it off," and we left the aisle we were on and started walking, listening for the piercing noise so we could hone in on its location and do Things to its source.

It didn't take long.  A few aisles over I actually yelped and jumped when we heard it, because the source was only a few yards away, in a lady's cart, being held and repeatedly activated by her peacefully amused three-year-old.  Neither she nor the kid seemed bothered by the ghastly sound.  That must be why it never occurred to the lady that she was tormenting every customer in the store.

P.J. and I ducked into the candle aisle across the way, because confrontation isn't really our thing, but after the cackle happened a few more times and I grabbed her shirt and used her as a shield without realizing that I was holding her up like that, she decided that enough was enough and went to sort it all out.

The lady chose that moment to move on and, strangely, the noise stopped.  Prescience never ceases to amaze me.  P.J. came back and I was breathing heavily and vibrating.  We sniffed wonderful candles until the shaking stopped and the noise was forgotten.  Aromatherapy is real.

(It's a good thing we didn't end up in the next aisle over, where the cast iron skillets were located.  I don't want to go back to the psych ward.  It was not fun.)

In fact, I felt so much better that I became chipper, even gregarious.  Relief flooded my psyche.  I held agape love for everyone else in the store who wasn't that lady.

We came to our intended destination, the reason we were there in the first place, which was to buy a TV.  Our current one is fifteen years old and has had some slight trouble displaying the movies on our movie nights with The Kid, and the movies always involve someone bringing down a laptop and hooking up a cable and going behind the couch to pause it if someone needs a bathroom break.  Target was having a massive TV sale and we decided it was time.  The Kid is with his dad this weekend and it would be a surprise.  We were feeling fiscally irresponsible.  Why the hell not?

We were greeted by a twelve-year-old kid who actually wasn't but who seemed that way, except he was in a Target uniform, and we told him we were going to peruse the TVs along the wall and we'd be buying one.  "Just let me know when you're ready," he said.

We picked out the one we wanted and I went to find him, only to round a corner and see that he was occupied helping a tall, heavy-set guy with a couple of PlayStation games, unlocking the glass cabinet.  "Which two were you wanting?" "Uh, Destiny 2: Forsaken and God of War," the guy mumbled.

Unfortunately, The Kid, who spends most of his spare minutes with us rambling about whatever the game of the day is that he's playing, had recently told me all about Destiny 2, and it had been one of the rare times I had listened and asked questions in an attempt to appear to take an interest.  So the suddenly-social me, standing close enough, said to the tall, pasty gamer guy, "Have you played that version of Destiny 2 yet?  The four-on-four battle structure is awesome, with the crossover from the other team.  Major improvement."  I smiled.  I was being social!  Look at me, world!

They both turned and looked at me.  The tall guy had a blank expression - no, it wasn't blank, it clearly contained a measure of disdain - and said, "Um, yeah.  I have."  He turned his head back to the glass cabinet.

I stammered something like, "Cool," and went to find P.J. right then.  "Come over here, come on, back here, in the corner.  We have to stay here until that guy up there goes away."

"What guy?"

"The pale mouth-breathing basement-dweller at the counter."  I pointed.

"What the fuck happened?" she asked.

"I was ... I opened my mouth and tried to be conversant and just made a complete and utter ass of myself.  I'm a mom and I was trying to talk Gaming-ese.  What the fuck got into me?"

"Oh, dear."

I'm forty-one, that age where everyone older than you says you're not middle-aged yet and just-you-wait, and everyone younger than you thinks you're ... matronly.  And what I had just done was the equivalent of walking up to a football coach after a game and saying, "I think your team is great!  They got a lot of home runs."

Some time passed and we checked, and the coast was clear, so we walked over to the counter and told the twelve-year-old that we were ready.  Then I blurted out, "And sorry I was trying to act like I knew what I was talking about over there.  I think I weirded that guy out."

His face brightened and he said, "Are you kidding me?  That was great!  Seriously.  It was awesome."

I said, "Yeah, but moms aren't supposed to go over and try to talk gaming.  My son was just talking about all that stuff."

He said, "Sure you are.  And that guy was probably like, 'Oh, crap!  Female!'  He couldn't handle it."

It hadn't occurred to me that this short kid, who has probably taken shit all his life from taller, self-absorbed guys, might have enjoyed the moment.

We paid for the TV.  Sadly, there wasn't a tip jar on the counter.

One of the questions we asked in all of the interviews last week was, "Can you provide an example of a time when you received good customer service, and describe what that was like?"  If I were sitting on the other side of the table, I would say, "This one time, a wiry little twenty-year-old guy working in the electronics department of Target made me feel like I wasn't a middle-aged, socially inept dork who doesn't know her place in society."  It wouldn't have gotten me the job, but it would have been the truth.


  1. I love you, and hate you right now - you can raise one eyebrow?! I've been trying to do that for years, occasionally I'll do it and can't work out what muscles did it :(. The young lad is quite correct - gamers, especially older gamers, cannot cope with females. When my girl met her boyfriend and brought him home (after explaining to me that he was very nervous about meeting me, and that he was a gamer) I tried to put him at his ease by discussing Doom, the original. Apparently it took him quite some time to work out how to talk again. He has now put me into the 'this person isn't normal, but in a good way' box. Which cancels out the 'mom' and the 'female' logic (or lack thereof) of his brain.

  2. Hurrah! Another ridiculous stereotype struck down, and it was even approved by Target guy! Kudos! This is so important because we matronly 40-plus-something women aren't stereotypes. We are real, we have brains, we know shit, we sometimes swear...a lot, and our place in society is wherever we happen to be at that moment. We come in all shapes, sizes and other demographics! So good for you, Lille! If you're interested, I wrote about a similar but different encounter at (which was my working title and then I renamed it to If the Gasp Fits..., but if you click on the above, it should take you to the right post.) It's about my encounter with trying to fit in with a younger-than-me writer's group and how that took a horrible turn. I think that was about three years ago. Wow, time flies. Anyway, my post also provides a link to an article written about the differences between what men can say and get away with and how women would have to say the same thing but differently in order to not freak people out! My encounter became a whole "thing" and I wrote and talked and bitched about it for a very long time before I worked it out of my system.
    Writing is good therapy for me. Which reminds me, I need to write something new for my blog. I certainly have enough fodder at this moment but writing is time-consuming and I'm limited with time at the moment. Maybe sometime this week!


  3. Okay, apparently, you can't just click on that like I was hoping you can. But you can find that post in the index if you click on the menu of Wayward Sparkles and then click on Index, then you can find it alphabetically under "I", click on that, and it will take you to that post. Whew! I'm making this out to be more complicated than it should. Sorry.


  4. The poor basement dweller is just more awkward than you are, that's all! LOL