Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Let's Go Shopping

Flashback: 1972 The scene: My mother's dressing room. She is very carefully pinning her shining platinum blonde hair into a chic french twist as I groan and fidget nearby."Mummie!" I whine. "Why are you taking so long? We're only going to the grocers." (Not wishing to seem pushy, I naturally didn't mention the play park we were to visit afterwards, the true source of my eagerness to leave).My mother just smiled and replied "A lady never leaves the house without lipstick", as she carefully selected a glamourous shade of frosted cotton candy pink from her lipstick tree. Trying on a pair of her most exquisite stilletto heels, I increase the volume of my whining to ask, "Who cares what you look like at the grocery? It's not like we're going anywhere fancy."She turned and looked me dead in the eye and said, "I care."

Flash forward to last Saturday: It's at least 110 degrees outside. Just stepping out of the door is exhausting, but I can't put off the grocery shopping any longer. I take a quick glace at my disheveled state. No makeup. Bed head. A modest but tattered beach coverup I wear just for housework on hot days. I briefly consider at least putting on a bra, then decide it's too hot. Why bother just for the grocery? Off I go.

The minute I walk through those automated doors, who should spot me but Bunnie's new teacher. "I'm so looking forward to having Bunnie in my class this year.....She's such a great kid....Please come to the open house....etc., etc." Oh no! Why didn't I at least run a wet comb through my hair? I smile my best and slip away as quickly as good manners allow. Well, I shrug as I manuever my cart between the aisles, at least when Bunnie forgets to turn in a parent signature, she'll assume it's because the mother is a slob and won't blame the child.

Just then who should I meet around the corner, but that lovely elderly couple from church! I try turning my cart around to hustle the other way, but they see me first. "We just loved your cookies at the bake sale... That boy of yours is certainly a helpful lad... Will you be coming to the big event next week?...etc., etc. Dear heavens! Why didn't I put on that bra! Now I am totally humiliated.

After I worked through my first impulse to never go shopping on a Saturday again, I realized that all these years later, I finally understand what my mother was talking about. It's not silly or old fashioned to make oneself presentable before leaving the house. It's just a matter of acknowledging "I care".