This afternoon, my son and I were at the local mall, in a Turkish (I think) import shop which carries a brand of candles I simply adore.
Now, back to the story…
I was sniffing away, imagining the upcoming Fall season while making my candle selections; and during this, I was trying to keep my son from throwing himself into the beautiful tapestry pillows which were piled in a tempting display on the floor. Finally I quickly grabbed a few different fragrances, and I knew I would not regret any choices I made, because they were all exquisite.
I was finishing my transaction with the 60-ish woman behind the counter, who was kind and had generously offered to let my son sit on the bed display (I think to keep him away from the fragile things), when a very distraught woman in her 50’s walked into the shop.
She interrupted us and began asking questions about the large, brightly-colored bottles with flexible tubing and pipes at the end which were on shelves there. She was, in my opinion, a typical type for this area – loud… aggressive… wrinkled, sun-destroyed skin… long, flat-ironed hair with highlights… designer sunglasses on her face, inside the mall… and absolutely disgusting smoker’s teeth. She looked like she could be a really cute girl otherwise; what a shame.
Now, I can honestly say that the first time I was in this shop (last weekend), I was a little taken aback that these items were for sale in “my” mall. I don’t know anything about them, except that they look like a contraption that is probably used for something illegal… I really have no idea… I have never smoked a thing – never done drugs – I’m so naïve. (The couple of puffs I took on a chocolate-flavored cigar at a bar in Santa Monica 10 years ago in my metallic silver mini-skirt do not count; I couldn’t even keep the damn thing lit, and I was obviously completely out of my head to even have left the house looking like that.)
The woman was feigning curiosity, and at first I thought she was high on something herself and just needed a “hit” of something (is that how you say it?), but she had her agenda written all over her face. She was on a mission.
A ranting mother mission.
“Do you sell the ‘stuff’ that you use with these things? (pause) “What? I can’t understand you… well why should I – you can’t even speak English.” (the poor foreign woman attempts valiantly to be polite) “Well, all the kids in my town are using these things, and the word is, they’re getting them here. The kids are bored, and this is what they are doing. I can’t believe you sell this stuff here. I have a 16-year-old son, and he has asthma, and he should not being doing this.”
And I’m thinking, Then why the fuck don’t you find something else for him to do?
“And I told the police that all the gas stations on Route 9 are selling cigarettes to underage kids for eight bucks a pack…”
On and on she went. By the end of it, she actually said she is certain the draft is coming back, and it’s so unfair to send her son to a stupid war that no one wants… blah, blah, blah. I looked at her, and she was trembling. Scared to death.
I looked at my young son, six, scooting around on the floor with his gummy Sponge Bob crabby patties, and I drew in my breath sharply and said a quick prayer that he will never have such a fate. And I convinced myself that the war will be over soon, and that there will be no draft.
Then I focused on this poor woman once again, who was consumed with fears of all kinds – so terrified that she could hardly catch her breath. Desperately trying to control something. I felt sorry for her. She was never going to have answers. She was never going to have any guarantees.
And neither will I.
Time to breathe, do our best… and let it go.