It was almost eight o'clock last night before I summoned up the strength of character to drag myself to Wal-Mart. I wouldn't have gone then had I not been out of dogfood, but I'd used up the hurricane-emergency canned dogfood earlier in the weekend and no longer had a backup plan.
It was even more nightmarish at that time of the evening than it would have been earlier in the day. Not as crowded, perhaps, but all the pre-school-aged shoppers were tired, cranky, and prone to letting out sudden, ear-splitting screams. I was at the point of wishing birth control pills could be added to the public water supply until I spotted the little guy in front of me at the checkout stand.
He was probably about five--maybe a tall four--and he was sooooo cute! I'd noticed him in the store earlier, but not because he was one of the screaming, crying, whining kids. Au contraire. He looked like "Joe Cool," trailing casually behind his mama in his jeans and oversized, red-and-navy-striped rugby shirt. His hair was styled in beginner-dreadlocks, and to complete his Lenny Kravitz persona, he wore a pair of wraparound sunglasses. The lenses were smeared with fingerprints, and one earpiece was wrapped in grey duct tape and barely hanging on.
When I saw him again at the checkout stand, he was no longer wearing the glasses. He still wasn't complaining, but he was beginning to squirm a bit and his frequent coughing made it obvious he wasn't feeling too well. And then romance blossomed.
The family in line next to us included a little girl who was about a head shorter than our line's little Rastafarian boy, and she took an immediate fancy to him. She moved over closer until she stood about two feet away from him, smiled her biggest, brighest smile, and silently watched him. When his mother noticed the little girl and pointed her out to him, he whirled around to face her. The cough was immediately cured, and the squirming was gone. He stood perfectly still and studied the little girl for a moment. Then slooooowly, he twisted his body away from her and reached into his pocket. Out came the cool shades. He put them on carefully and, apparently satisfied that his "look" was complete, turned back around, cocked his head ever so slightly, and posed once more for his admirer.