About a week ago, we went out of town for a tennis tournament. This involved a small amount of packing, planning and preparation and allowed my control-freak self to swing into action. But just as I was making the packing list on my mental dry erase board, Charlie cautiously informed me that he was going to pack his own clothes because there were certain tennis shirts he wanted to bring and he was sure that I would screw it up. Normally, relinquishing any control whatsoever makes me stammer when I speak and break into a sweat. But since we were only going to be gone for one weekend, I figured maybe this would be the perfect time to let the boy do the math and figure out how many pairs of socks to bring.
Turns out, he brought enough socks. He even remembered to pack underwear and pants. Unfortunately, though, he didn't remember to bring pajamas. And while this wouldn't have been a huge deal had we been going on vacation, it was a huge deal this particular weekend because we were at a tennis tourney so therefore weren't staying in a hotel that featured Egyptian cotton sheets on it's list of amenities. In fact, I think if I were to have read the fine print, it would have described the bedding as "Minnesota's finest 60 grit sheets."
After spending one night exfoliating all the skin off of his legs, we headed to Target in pursuit of some pajama pants. Or, at least I would have went to Target if I hadn't missed my exit. And I certainly would have just taken the next exit, waited at several sets of stoplights and went back to the Target exit if Zoe hadn't just said the dreaded words "I have to go to the bathroom." So while I normally don't acknowledge the existence of a Wal-Mart, I saw this one because it was right there and I knew that I only needed two things: pajama pants and a bathroom. As soon as I parked, though, I instantly regretted not telling Zoe that she would just have to hold it a little longer.
While Charlie waited for us and people watched, Zoe and I sprinted into the bathroom with one goal in mind: Don't. Touch. Anything. And then I felt like I was on a game show, trying to pick the one stall that wouldn't make me dry-heave. Stall #1 was out of the equation because it suffered from a combination of Bad Aim/Failure to Flush, Stall #2 was occupied, the handicapped stall was available and that extra elbow room is always so hard to resist, but Stall #3 was also a contender. Or so I thought.
Although the door to Stall #3 was ajar, it was very much occupied. Like, really oh my holy shit you can't even believe how occupied it was. A fairly voluminous elderly woman who, from what my olfactory senses told me, had forgotten she was lactose intolerant so therefore ate an entire Dairy Queen ice cream cake and four grilled cheese sandwiches and maybe a cheese ball right before she came to Wal-Mart, was sitting in Stall #3. With the door open. So that's it, we're taking the handicapped stall. And why Mrs. AARP Digestive Disturbance wasn't in there herself, I'm not quite sure.
As soon as Zoe was done with her business, she stuck her leg in the air, flushed with her foot (oh my god I was so proud!), I opened the door with my elbow and we were both about to make a beeline for the sinks. But then someone started talking to me. Someone in Stall #3.
"Excuse me, ma'am, but can you help me stand up? These stalls are just too narrow and I can't seem to find anything to hold on to. I can't even turn around. Do you have a minute?"
Seriously, people! What the fuck was I supposed to do? My kid is standing right there, pinching her nose and waiting to see if I'm going to be a good person or a candidate for Hell. There was no way I could have walked out of that bathroom knowing that I just left a poop-covered helpless old lady sitting on the toilet! Besides, I figured she had been in there a long time so obviously had figured out a way to maneuver her, um, panties to a location other than around her ankles (I would be wrong). After all, it's not like she said "Can you help me wipe my ass and then pull up my underwear, and while you're at it come over to my apartment, make me an egg salad sandwich and program my VCR?" All she wanted to know was "Can I grip your arm with both of my unwashed hands without traumatizing you for life?"
When we finally walked out of the bathroom, Charlie was standing there with his arms in the air and a "What the hell took you so long?" expression on his face, and all I could do was give him a "Don't ask. Just, don't ask." shake of the head. I did manage to say one thing, though: "Don't touch my arm."