You’re standing in the corner at your local Chinese food chain and you’re waiting for your order to be called. You’re pressed against a bright red post watching as more and more people flood the doors. Your number, thirty-one, has been called by a man in an orange polo shirt.
As you make your way to the counter there’s a little boy wearing a shark t-shirt with a yellow sweater, about five years old, and his mother paying at the checkout. The boy smiles at you and says, while pulling on his mother’s ‘Fist bump this baby bump’ shirt, “Look, mama, she’s big like you.” You drop a quarter and three nickels onto the countertop.
The mother of this little boy looks horror struck as she takes her bright orange tray and shoos her son to a nearby booth. She mouths the words, “I’m so sorry, before the guilty rouge color spreads across her cheeks.
The man at the counter places your cup down waiting for you to move so he can serve the next guest but your feet are stapled to the floor. To go please, you say in an almost scream because a child compared you to his pregnant mother. The cashier looks annoyed but takes your orange chicken and scoops it into a white box and closes the lid while he motions his head to the door.
You weren’t planning on eating in your car but you weren’t really planning on a child comparing you to his pregnant mother. So you drive.
You wind up in the Target parking lot and you park towards the back because it’s November in Minnesota and not a lot of holiday shoppers are looking for a brisk walk.
You slide your seat back giving you room to unfold the white box onto your lap. You take your plastic fork and stab at a piece of orange chicken a bit too hard before shoving it in your mouth.
My childhood wasn’t any easier
Read more about my emotional struggles here…
You’re watching as families and mall goers are frantically flipping through ads, coupons, and guest lists. You turn on Pandora and “Some Nights” by Fun starts humming its way through your car door speakers.
You’re mid-bite and also mid-jam when a sleek white SUV pulls into the lone spot next to yours. You freeze. The group of Burberry scarved girls all glance your way and make weird lines with their eyebrows.
You try and grab your phone and act like you’re sitting in your car for another reason besides that a child compared you to his pregnant mother but your phone is in your bag on the floor.
So you crush the white box and throw it in the back seat hoping the girls will walk away but they linger and the chorus of “Some Nights” is pounding louder and louder before it crashes to the bridge.
As the girls slink off with their bedazzled wristlets, the air in your lungs comes faster than you can breathe it out and now you’re crying hysterically in the Target parking lot because a child compared you to his pregnant mother.
After you wipe your tears away with a grease stained chinese food napkin you drive to the other side of the mall because you don’t want to be associated with the girl who ate her takeout in the back of the Target parking lot.
So you park in the back next to the movie theatre and boutique shops. You glance at yourself in the visor mirror and notice you have tear marks down your cheeks that are very noticeable. You dip a napkin into your water cup and slowly begin to make circles on your face.
You walk into the mall and head straight to Sephora’s foundation section. You walk past all of the beautiful signage and look longingly at the eyeshadow palettes and slowly begin to feel better. Until you catch a glimpse of yourself in the ultra-fluorescent lighting.
You immediately want to write a Facebook rant about how terrible it is that they control their lighting to make you feel so bad about yourself that you’ll buy more products. But you don’t. You sit in that uncomfortable movie star chair and let Billy the philosophy major paint your face to cover the parts you wish to not look at.
She asks what brings you into the mall today and you almost tell her that it’s because a child compared you to his pregnant mother but instead you tell her you’re Christmas shopping.
She begins her enticing story on why everyone on your list will love the new Sugar lip treatments. So when she’s finished you spend $129 on chapstick and walk out with your small black and white striped bag.
You figure while you’re at the mall you may as well get some shopping done so you walk into Nordstrom. You touch cashmere sweaters that you can’t afford and sharp heels you could never walk in. You don’t know why you’re looking here.
You stand tall on the escalator in the middle of the store as it takes you up, up, up, and into the children’s section. You step off of the escalator when you see a boy’s sweater.
A yellow sweater.
A yellow sweater that looks like the yellow sweater the child who compared you to his pregnant mother was wearing and you start to suck in a combination of air and Chanel’s COCO MADEMOISELLE.
You beg yourself not to cry here. You are in search of something to do that will distract you from the tears forming under your newly smoked eyes. Then you see it. A section that says Fall Essentials in glittering red letters.
So you walk. With a purpose. You grab as much as you can in your size. Tops with flowing sleeves. Velvet. Overalls. Designers you can’t pronounce are hanging sloppily in your arms. You walk quickly to the fitting room and close the door. You heave your pile onto the oddly shaped bench they have and begin stripping.
Growing up is all about understanding the world around us!
I learned the hard way…
You slip into a pair of maroon velvet pants and see the way the material swirls at your hips so you take them off. You try on sweaters, jeans, jump suits, and skirts before you finally realize that trying on clothes has never solved anyone’s problems and instead neatly begin to fold the clothes you’ve strewn haphazardly on the floor.
You spend time on each piece. You run the fabrics between your fingers and expertly match seam to seam. You open the dressing room door leaving a pristinely stacked tower of clothes behind.
You feel defeated. Deep down you know you can’t be mad at a child who compared you to his pregnant mother but you can’t shake the feeling it’s
You walk to Target.
There are no carts left and there’s a line of women holding feather-stuffed winter coats standing next to the empty space so you place your purse on your shoulder and continue walking.
You walk past the Christmas cards, crafts, beauty section, kitchen necessities, storage, and entertainment. You walk in circles keeping up with the rhythmic energy of the store.
Your therapist once told you to match your feelings with a movement but because you can’t run in Target you speed walk in your moccasins trying to burn out the memory that a child compared you to his pregnant mother.
You finally stop.
You walk back out to your car and someone has parked so close to the driver’s side door. So close that you can’t seem to shimmy yourself past to get in. You pace back and forth behind your trunk.
You want to kick the shitty person who drove their forest green Toyota Corolla to this mall and parked so close to you but instead you kick the snow that’s built up behind their tire. You realize you’ve done them a favor and immediately want to shove your fist through their back window.
You take three deep breaths, unlock your car, and proceed to try and climb in through the passenger’s side. The rubber on your shoe slips across the leather seat, as you try and push yourself across, which sends you flying towards the bottom of the driver’s side door and ultimately you smack your head on the inside handle.
You lay there for a minute. Face first into the cold leather seat. You start thinking about all of the times that you were a bitch in high school and start wondering if this is the universe’s cosmic joke to totally spin you into insanity.
You place both palms on the seat and prop yourself up into a sitting position, finally in the driver’s seat, and when you look over the Corolla is gone. You begin to cry and now you’re not sure if it’s because a child compared you to his pregnant mother or because you fucking hate Toyota Corollas.
You finally make it back to your house and when you walk in covered in fresh snow and misery you are greeted by your husband. He asks you how your day went and you go silent because it’s embarrassing to admit that a child compared you to his pregnant mother but nevertheless you rush into your story without air for a pause. He places his hand on your knee and smiles at you.
And suddenly all of the shame and all of the humiliation that’s been sitting on your skin evaporates under his palm. You think there’s a possibility that the child thought you were fat. You think there’s a possibility that the child loved the comforting appeal of your curves as much as he loved his own mother’s. You think about the fact that he was five. Finally, you think it’s time to stop thinking about it. You place your hand on your husbands and kindly ask that he gets you an ice pack.