Yesterday we availed ourselves of our veterans’ benefits with a trip to MacDill Air Force Base, where we shopped for groceries at the commissary. We charged Baby Bear with pushing the grocery cart, but we still have to keep a close eye on him, especially when we get to the end of an aisle, for it is here that he often attempts to make an escape by pushing the cart in one direction, only to let go of it and dash off in the other.
I tend to keep in close physical contact with him at the end of aisles, usually by putting my arm around him. Occasionally he’ll respond by looping his own arm around my waist.
We were thus entwined at the entrance to a very crowded aisle, from which we needed only one item. Mr. Lucky volunteered to plunge into the mob and retrieve it while Baby Bear and I waited for him with the grocery cart.
Mr. Lucky was about to step away just as an old man shuffled by and mumbled something I couldn’t hear, but apparently Mr. Lucky did, for he only rolled his eyes at the old man, then grinned at me and Baby Bear before disappearing into the crowded aisle.
Baby Bear and I waited behind our cart, arms hooked around each other as he swayed from side to side, taking me with him. No doubt we looked like a pair of human windshield wipers. The old man continued glowering and muttering inaudibly before vanishing in the crowd of shoppers.
We’re used to disapproving scowls and inaudible grumbles from strangers.
Mr. Lucky soon returned, still shaking his head. “You didn’t hear what that old guy said, did you?”
No, I hadn’t. The commissary is a noisy place. Apparently we’d inadvertently blocked the old man’s path by stopping the cart while I put an arm around my son and he returned the gesture. Indignant, the old man had growled, “Why don’t you two find someplace else to fall in love?”
I must admit, that wasn’t as harsh as being barked at to “get a room.”
So the old guy thought my son, only a couple of inches taller than yours truly, was my boyfriend. He’s just turned thirteen and because of his height, he does look older. But as for me, “Do I really look that young?” I asked Mr. Lucky.
Talk about your missed opportunities. If only he’d said something like, “Well, of course, Karen! You look younger than everyone! Why, people mistake you for my daughter all the time!” I would have baked him a chocolate cake.
But no, instead he scoffed and said, “Oh, that guy is old and probably half-blind. All he saw were two people in his way. He was grumpy because he had to go around you.”
So much for a detour into the chocolate cake aisle.