Our city doesn’t put on airs. Yesterday The Child and I were at a local frame shop and gallery. This place is nice as hell, with breakable fine pottery and everything. Nobody so much as sighed when I strolled in with my four-year-old sidekick. In fact, the sales person (whom I’d met over the weekend while on a rare childless errand) engaged The Child in sincere conversation about trains, and asked him to find the painting she has lost.
“It has a bicycle on it. Do you think you can go find it for me?”
An owner of the gallery was walking by and quipped, “Yes, I think the bicycle was red, wasn’t it?”
I’ll say that again.
They told a four-year-old child. To leave us. And search for a painting. Alone. In a gallery.
And some minutes later, while the adults were discussing framing measurements, The Child yelled out, “Excuse me, momma! I HAVE TO POOP!”
In an instant, our frame design friend whisked us toward the bathroom. It was as if she were a preschool teacher, who hears this kind of outburst 50 times a day. Even the two other (quite well-healed) clients who’d overhead the grand poop-nouncement kinda nodded their heads at me as if to say: “Yep. Everybody poops.”
Grace about children in public and kid pooping isn’t even the reason I’m telling this story. This story is to give context so that you better understand what happened to me today.
This morning The Child had willingly gotten himself ready with minimal prodding from me. Our destination was the grocery store.
As we were putting on our shoes, momma’s little negotiator said, “Oh, but maybe we can go to two places! Maybe we can go somewhere that has toys for me to play with, and then go grocery shopping.”
“You know what? Because you got yourself ready so quickly this morning, we do have time to go to two places. Let’s go play at the train table at Barnes and Noble.”
Because momma can get coffee, and maybe some kid will entertain you for five minutes.
Indeed there were a few other kids there, one of whom we’d seen before. I did a little parent-chatting, pushed zero trains, got in one quiet round of refereeing, renewed a prescription, and looked online for some wallpaper for a friend. Modern life is strange.
As we were standing to leave, a couple and their child came to the train table. Dad had a complicated bracelet system going on. Mom was wearing shoes I’d like to own, and a t-shirt from a club that’s in Washington, DC.
Now, I really don’t know squat about music (Fugazi!). But if I saw any shows in DC, it was probably at this club. That is why her shirt stood out to me. I don’t know the name of the ticket/security guy there who died in the last yearish, but I remember how awesome he was. Shows from punk to bluegrass always managed to have such great crowds, and respectful crowd control. It seemed like a great place to perform, from a musician’s point of view. The first show I saw there was probably 2001, while visiting from Indiana. The last show I saw there was in 2010, a couple months before (wheee) getting knocked up.
I can’t hold my weight at all with music conversation, but I wasn’t going to pass by Hipster Mom without saying anything.
So I commented, “Hey, the Nine-Thirty Club. You don’t see too many of those t-shirts here in Michigan.”
She replied, “Um, ya.”
Now. This wasn’t a caught-off-guard-um-ya. It wasn’t a can’t-you-see-the-fight-I’m-having-with-my-partner-um-ya. This was a straight up why-are-you-talking-to-me-while-wearing-your-Target-leggings-and-we-are-in-eigth-grade-um-ya.
Just like when those older kids during the first rehearsal of “Carousel” didn’t recognize me as Orphan #11 from last year’s “Annie.” As if I’d bopped up to them and been like, “Oh my gosh! The 9:30 Club! Do you remember how rough that neighborhood used to be? My friends totally lived there before it got all gentrified. Are you from there? I snorted coke with the guys from Gogo Bordello in the green room.”
I stood there for a moment. I gave her time to expand on her umya. For a millisecond my brain thought about the times a stranger has caught me off guard by talking to me. Like that poor guy who tried talking about the Pixies show I didn’t see, but my friend (whom I’d ditched) got me t-shirt anyway. And when that guy talked to me, I’d forgotten what I was wearing, because The Child was an infant, and I hadn’t sleep in weeks, and we were in IKEA and I was hallucinating, and not sure if he was real or a centaur.
No expansion came on the umya. And The Child grabbed my hand and we walked through Dr. Suess and Mo Willems to the elevator.
If that family isn’t just visiting, I hope they just moved to town. Maybe they’ll head to an experimental jazz show at that art gallery some night. There they can learn that everybody poops.