The week before Christmas I ran into Borders for a few last minute gifts. As I entered the old building that had been recently renovated, I thought of Blue Wren. She'd kill me if she knew I was coming in here!
This Borders was tiny with tall, stand-alone shelves packed with books, and tables loaded with novelty items placed every which way creating a cramped yet cozy maze. No room for televisions! I breathed a sigh of relief.
I weaved in and out of the displays and the hordes of shoppers and after about twenty minutes, my left arm full of DVDs and books, I started toward the front of the store to check out. On my way I spotted a book on the top shelf of a bookcase that I had forgotten I wanted to buy for a couple of friends.
Yay! There's Bossy's book!
In that moment I was really proud that I had a blogging friend who is a real writer who had a real essay included in a real hardcover book being sold in a real bookstore. Without TVs.
I made a beeline to the bookcase. I set down all the DVDs and books on the floor and transferred my nine thousand pound purse from my right hand to my left. In a rather graceful ballet move, that would put you in mind of Gilda Radner, I stretched up to get a couple of the books off the top shelf with my right hand as my left arm naturally swung from the front to the back of me just as I caught a shadow out of the corner of my eye.
As my purse connected with something, I heard a THWUMP! And I turned quickly to see a little half pint flying a foot off the ground, landing on her pampered butt with a THUD! Some of you may consider Baby Dropkick a perfectly acceptable reindeer game, but it's not one that I'm proud to be so good at.
I was stunned and so was she. I knew right away that she wasn't hurt but she was still trying to figure that out. I knelt down, apologizing in my best Goo Goo Gah Gah voice while she peered up at me, tears welling up into the folds of the bottom of her eyelids. She had a sleepy, peanut-shaped face, pale skin and bright red lips that were quivering and contorting into all kinds of expressions. Surprise. Anger. Shock. Sadness.
Deep despair. That only years of therapy would ever be able to erase.
As I continued to talk to her, preparing at any moment for her postpartum mother to blindside me with a good swift kick of her own, the peanut baby reached up and pulled off her hat. Static electricity made every light brown hair on her head stand straight on end -- eight inches high in all directions. She was breaking my heart. I couldn't help but smile. As Christian on Project Runway would say, "She was a hot mess."
Her mother appeared looking frazzled that she had lost her baby. I explained what happened in my very best Extremely Concerned and Apologetic, Oh my God, I'm an Idiot, But She's Okay, Please Don't Beat Me Up or Sue Me adult voice.
"Maggie, you okay? She's ok. She's a toughie. You didn't mean it."
Maggie was holding a small book in her tiny hand and reached out to give it to me.
"What do you have there?"
"What is it?"
"Eh!" She croaked, a single tear slowly falling down the right side of her cheek.
"You want me to read this to you?"
She and I sat there together on the floor and I read the book to her.
"Judy can pat the bunny. Can you pat the bunny?"
"Eh!" And as she rubbed the white fur, her quivering lips broke into a beautiful, drooly smile.