Friday, December 23, 2005

How to Grow a Grinch

First you pair an adult daughter with an 80-something mom. The mom walks with a cane, is hard of hearing, has other health issues that make long car rides and wanderings through large stores a dicey proposition, and has a habit of not telling the daughter about impending incidents related to these issues; but by golly, she wants to go Christmas shopping. "I'll go wherever you go," says the mom. "You're the driver. And this is for your birthday present, so I'll get you whatever you want." The daughter knows this means two stores, tops, neither of which are really where the daughter wants to go, and that if the daughter goes where she really does want to go and indicates what she'd really like, the mom will start to argue with her about why she should want something else. So the daughter says, "Let's go to Kohl's," because this is the kind of store that the mom actually has in mind when she says, "I'll go anywhere you go." (Barnes and Noble is not.)

Next the daughter and the mom travel to the nearest mall -- the scene of absolute shopping chaos. The daughter lingers in the jewelry and perfume department, a department that the mom does not care for; the mom starts doing the pacing and eye-rolling thing and says, "Let's hurry and go to the clothing department," because that's really what the mom wants to buy the daughter anyway. The mom buys the birthday present; which is something that the daughter did want, kind of, but in the meantime the daughter buys herself something she wanted a little bit more, back in the other department .

The daughter and mom head for the kitchen appliances. En route, the mom stops in the card section. She shows the daughter a birthday card she is considering purchasing for the daughter. Don't ask; it's how things work in this family. The card is slightly naughty; the front shows a retouched 1920's-era photograph of a matron at a writing table with a message underneath that says something like, "I was thinking of getting you five Chippendale dancers, a trapeze and a bottle of champagne for your birthday." The mom thinks this is funny; the daughter thinks, Huh? The daughter wonders if the mom gets the allusion to the trapeze, and finds this possibility disturbing. The daughter goes on to think, I really don't want to have a conversation about the situational inappropriateness of this card in the middle of the stationery aisle at Kohl's, even though the mom's hearing loss might prove to be advantageous. ("A Presbyterian? What do the Presbyterians have to do with this?") The mom winds up not purchasing the card. The daughter sighs in relief.

Within the next hour and a half, there is 1)a Bathroom Incident (not the daughter); a simultaneous traffic jam on both of the main streets running through the mall complex, resulting in a 15-minute commute 100 yards to the main street; 3)a temporarily lost mom in the supermarket ("I had to sit down on the bench in the entryway"); 4)a shopper in front of the daughter whose check keeps getting rejected by the cash register, flustering the cashier and causing much sighing in the line rapidly forming behind; 5)the cashier seeing the daughter take two gift cards from the rack, but then asking her, not once but twice,"So are you buying these or redeeming them?"; and 5)a Bathroom Incident with the dog, discovered when the daughter and the mom return home.

On a positive note: The daughter now has a new sweater and a little bottle of Cool Water men's cologne, which the daughter prefers to the women's version -- it's got that evergreen-woodsy-mossy thing going on, which the daughter finds much more friskifying than either champagne or Chippendale dancers. And a box of Stash white-and-green tea, which was found after finding the mom in the supermarket. And a sample packet of Mackinac Island Fudge coffee, which the daughter is drinking right now while listening to Brian Setzer sing "Boogie Woogie Santa Claus."

It could be worse.

(My Grinchy pic is courtesy of Animation Artwork . And I really did not do this to my dog, as much as I felt like it.)


J.C. Fisher said...

So There w/ you, LC (for deafness, substitute ALS and 'tude to match).

(See above comment, and email me!)

Nicodemia said...

I'm going to copy this and keep it safe so that when I get to your Mum's age (not all that far away!) I can use it as an Awful Warning and try not to get like that!!!!

LutheranChik said...

And the drama continues into this morning...but I'd better not get into it or I'll just start ranting, and I'll wind up with coal in my stocking.:-(

Anonymous said...

Oh, how I have experienced similar travels with my mother. The only difference is we don't have a Kohl's around here.
Thanks for the laugh. I could not write something like that on my blog since my mother reads my blog:)

deb said...

Hey, thanks for posting The Mom story. Now I don't have to - it might be considered plagarism if I did! hee-hee!

Songbird said...

Our big dog pooped in the middle of the oriental rug in our dining room last night. He had to go under the table to do it, so why there?
We discovered it when #1 Son woke us up by needing to vomit at 3:54 a.m.
However, I wish you a Merry Christmas. Enjoy church!

bls said...

Aging Moms and caretaker daughters. Ah, yes: I remember it well.

It's a total calamity - but then there are rewards, too, and even times of total detente and (dare I say) friendliness. As much as it fried and exasperated me, I was glad, after all was said and done, to have been there. Small comfort now, of course. Ah, yes: I remember it well.

Merry Christmas, to you and your Mom. May your days be merry and bright - or at least, low-conflict.