Use Your Inside Voice


So…I’ve been out of touch for a bit. It’s not that I didn’t have anything to say, because heaven knows I’m rarely at a loss for words. It’s just that I was consumed by the election and every time I sat down to write, my words were more hostile than humorous.

Now that all of that unpleasantness is behind us, let’s move onto more pressing issues like reality television, fashion disasters, my son’s love life, and shopping in the presence of unruly children.

Wait…what? Mat has a love life? How did that happen?

More on that some other time.

Most of my mornings start with a walk. I used to walk alone, perfectly happy to listen to my music and check my Facebook and Twitter feeds along the way.

Jack: You read while you’re walking?
Me: Yeah…why are you looking at me like that?
Jack: Don’t you think that’s dangerous?
Me: Not really. I have amazing peripheral vision.
Jack: Except when you’re driving into potholes?

Such a smartass. Let it go. It was ONE FLAT TIRE (…and maybe a couple of alignments, but What. EVER.)

Recently, a friend of mine started walking with me. Yesterday morning was kind of cold, so we decided to go to the mall and walk with the senior citizens. It makes me feel better about myself when I lap an 82-year old.

I’m not proud.

Before we left, my friend wanted to swing through Target to pick up a few things. A woman was walking toward us, pushing a cart with two small children in it. As they passed us, one of the little girls let out a really loud scream for no apparent reason other than to entertain herself. I was walking ahead of my friend and immediately turned to face her. The wide-eyed ‘WTF?’ look on her face was priceless. She was reading my mind. The mother didn’t even bat an eye. It didn’t even occur to her to tell her child to please use her inside voice (or ‘shut the fuck up’, as I used to say when I was a young mother). She just kept pushing that cart with a far-away look in her eyes, as though she was trying to remember which ingredients she needed for dinner.

My friend is having a baby. I call her Barbie because she looks like a real-life Barbie doll (you know, from Mattel’s Knocked-Up Barbie series?). Her shower was today. I received the invitation sometime last month and had plenty of time to shop for a gift and an outfit to wear, but I decided to run out and take care of all of that last night when I was coincidentally at the peak of PMS.

Big mistake.

My first stop was the petri dish known as Babies R Us. I’m sorry, but that place skeeves me beyond description. It’s a conglomerate of crying, coughing, sneezing, runny-nosed kids, exhausted mothers and hapless fathers who look like they’d rather be getting a splenectomy than walking around the store scanning gift registry items with their waddling wives.

What made last night especially delightful was the idiotic woman who thought it would be a good idea to take her three children – who all appeared to be under the age of five – to get their Christmas pictures taken at 8:45PM (!!!). The entire time I was shopping, I could hear the photographer desperately trying to get the youngest child (18 mos??) to smile while he let out occasional mind-piercing shrieks. Every time that kid screamed, it felt like a knife going into my head.

When I finally made it out of there, I walked next door to TJ Maxx to find something to wear. While I perused the racks, I was treated to two boys who looked about 9-10 years old screaming at the top of their lungs and running up and down the aisle while their mother just flipped through the clothes on the racks as though she didn’t have a care in the world.

Sometimes I wish I could club people over the head.

This is Barbie’s first child. I am at once happy and exhausted for her. She’s a proud couch potato and a fellow TV junkie. I hope to Christ her daughter is one of those wonderfully lazy, laid-back children, for both Barbie’s sake and for her daughter’s, for Barbie is not the type to suffer foolish children or sugarcoat her feelings about their behavior. Good for her, says I. We need more mothers like her.

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