Sunday, November 26, 2006

Over the river and through the mall.

This year, due to both my recovery from thyroid surgery and more importantly, my sheer laziness, I have done the bulk of my holiday shopping with my fingers from the comfort of my own recliner. It's been sweet.

And yet, despite the amazing bargains, the low stress and complete ease of shopping in this manner, I had a tiny stroke on Thursday evening and decided that what I really needed to do was go shopping in a place other than my favorite chair.

What an ultra maroon.

I called my Kitten and said with such enthusiasm that she could not deny me, "Hey, let's drive lots of hours to Yukon (Garth Brooks' hometown and suburb of Oklahoma City), sleep over at your Grandmother's house and buy things from a mall."

Before I go any further, let me say right now that what I'm about to tell you, you are not going to believe. You will totally think I decided it would be fun to lie to blog readers for no other reason than I am bored.

Not so, says me. What follows is an actual accounting of an event so un-freakin-un-believably funny and thoroughly embarassing that it needs not even the tiniest embellishment for comedic effect.

Kitten, Grandma to Kitten (aka my Mother), and myself awoke early on our designated shopping day and drove on over to the Penn Square Mall there in Oklahoma City. I was feeling pretty peachy, even though my Mother had been giving me her equivolent of easy directions to get to said mall.

You should know Mother's directions amount to pointing in a general vicinity and/or waiting until I am on top of a hard left turn, going 70 mph with a semi on my behind and casually mentioning, "This is your turn".

We wandered around the first floor of the mall for a few minutes taking in the sites and smells and trying to avoid the dreaded sample people who want to squirt things on your hand for no good reason when Kitten decides she is ready to move onto bigger and better things surely found only on the second floor. She pointed out the nearest escalator and we started that way.

"I hate them old es-cue-lay-turs," says Mother. (Note to reader: As I am a Southern person, making fun of another Southern person is allowed. If you don't eat grits and fat back regularly, do not try this at home.)

"Hey Kitten," I said giggling, "you remember when Buddy the Elf tries to go up an escalator in that movie?" We both agreed that was indeed a funny moment in recent cinematic history.

Kitten, my beautiful and coordinated 22 year old daughter hopped on the moving stairs with such grace and expertise, if there were a sport that involved escalator mounting, she would surely be rewarded with a trophy... or a medal... or perhaps a t-shirt of some sort.

"You go next," said the woman who swears there were no other brown-haired baby girls born on the same day as me in that hospital in Shelby, North Carolina and therefore she really is my birth mother.

Whether it was the tiny beads of sweat that were forming on her upper lip or whether my ESPN was working particularly well after watching that Lifetime psychic chick so much, I declined and said I would instead follow her.

Do you remember when you were a kid and used to double dutch with your friends in the school yard? Remember how you kind of start getting the rhythm before you actually try to jump in? You sort of sway to and fro, hands stretched out, waiting for just the right moment to hop in so you don't trip and fall in the moving ropes.

That's exactly how my Mother gets on an escalator.

After what seemed like an eternity of planning, reasoning and getting in synch with the rhythm of the moving steps, she carefully planted her left foot and off it went.

I say "it" because that's what I mean. Her left foot took off toward the second floor. Her right foot? Not so much.

When she realized that one foot was heading north and the other wasn't following it's example, she began to do what Mother does when she perceives, no matter how unreasonable her perception, that she is going to be ripped in half in a public place wearing Gauchos.

She screamed, "HELP ME!"

Not once, not even twice did she scream HELP ME, but repeatedly and with such volume and fearful pitch, I have no doubt security guards were on their way to our location in full riot gear prepared to fight off terrorists... or Freddie Kruger.

By the time I fully understood what was happening and that my Mother had no plans to move her right leg so that it too could come shopping with us upstairs, it was almost too late. Although I can't be sure, I would have to say a 61 year old woman is typically not capable of the kind of cheerleader flexibility required for doing the splits so magnificently that the cootchie is flush with the ground. Another few moments however and I would have known for real sure as we were nearing complete cootchie grounding.

My former life as a 9-1-1 dispatcher kicked in, I grabbed her around the waist and issued a firm, verbal command in a calm voice. "Move your leg." (Or maybe it was my former life as a dog trainer. Who remembers?)


We made it to the top of the stairs, took a moment to catch our collective breath and survey the majesty and wonder that was the second floor when I asked the question that begged to be asked.

"How is it, Mother, that in the year 2006, a grown-up American woman cannot master going up an escalator?"

She looked at me as though I had been the one to cause the kind of spectacle that makes it to You Tube via some teenaged boys video phone. "Them thangs will kill you! They will grab your clothes and suck you in and rip you apart and that's the truth! If you don't believe me, you go home and look it up on your computer."

So I did.

Hallelujah by k.d. lang If you don't love this song so much it makes your knees buckle, I'm breaking up with you. All of you. And I mean it.

Copyright © 2004-2006, Sherri Bailey
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