I’m not proud of it, but for a few perilous minutes this week I was Plunged Into Depression as a result of not winning the metaphorical ashes of Steamy’s cat. I really wanted those pretend ashes.
You know how that is. One minute you’re redesigning your entire living room around a cat urn and imagining the admiration of your neighbors when you throw your first dinner party of the season (for which the neighbors with the indoor ducks would finally have to emerge from their house) and the next that dream is dead and you’re shopping for giant white shoes.
Which brings me to my first instructional moment for today.
1. How to kill your social status dead in the sixth grade:
For PE, choose pristine white shoes straight out of the ‘80’s. Be sure they are extra blocky. (Picture what Herman Munster would wear if he were to take up nursing, and yet still want to do a little cross-training immediately after his shift, so with a little swoosh and net detail, also in blinding white. That’s exactly the look you want.)
Be sure to stubbornly insist on these shoes, despite valid warnings from an experienced older sister, and the attempted redirection of your parents. Pretend, if it amuses you, to consider other, less horrific shoes for an hour or two, sometimes wearing a different style shoe on each foot and then climbing the fake shoe-store rock and leaping off the other side. Announce that the left shoe might feel different than the right, and switch. Repeat with two new pairs of shoes, ad infinitum, or until a parent’s head explodes.
Then announce you are going to get the Munster shoes.
2. How to Draw Unnecessary Attention to Yourself in Target:
Discover that your daughter, who has a math phobia, has neglected to tell you she must have the world’s most powerful calculator for Algebra II, the night before she needs it.
Build up some steam in the car on the way over so you can command the dazed stock boy in the red shirt to “show me where the ridiculously-expensive calculators are”. He will know exactly what you are talking about, and lead you silently to Aisle 13, moving quickly in a defensive, serpentine pattern ahead of you.
All the calculators will be gone, except for the toy calculators, and the one that will calculate the trajectory of the space shuttle, using only three buttons and a toggle switch.
It costs a hundred and fifty bucks, and comes with a decorative faceplate. For an additional 9.99, a holster is also available.
Ask your daughter if maybe it would be okay if you just bought the label maker you passed on the way. It’s a lot cheaper, and has a bunch of buttons to push, so it would look good, like you were busy. As long as you didn’t hit the “equals” button, because then a label would shoot out and then the jig is up. Speculate too loudly about whether the label maker would fit in the holster.
Agree finally to purchase the calculator after indignantly polling twenty people in the store and discovering that purchasing the ridiculously-expensive calculator is an unavoidable rite of passage.
Ask checker if the calculator comes with a padded case. To protect your investment.
In the car, mull over possibilities. A shag carpet sleeve? Bubble-wrap jacket? Have an “Aha!” moment in which you realize old stuffed animals would make a perfect graphing calculator housing if the belly were hollowed out. Like a cuddly friend with wicked math skills.
Come home and throw together a possible prototype for your new line of lovable holsters:
Give up on your dream when your husband points out that a calculator embedded in the belly of just about any animal is going to have unavoidable phallic implications.
Try to avoid the eager, aroused look in the yeti’s eye.
3. A Snack Is Nice After Shopping:
Have one. You’ve earned it.
Unless your snack comes with its own shovel attached. A good rule of thumb is always draw the line at shovels.