Yes, it’s true. Even after my vacation o’ shopping it turns out we’re not done. But this time I knew it would be quick. After all, I had to work the next day. Just another miracle chalked up to the magic of Christmas, I’d say.
I’ll begin by stating that what transpires next happens often. Usually I can assuage all parties involved with a quick quip and winning smile. But sometimes all the good cheer I have left in my blackened heart gets left on the tarmac and my winning smile wanes and quick quips quiver. I tend to enjoy those times best.
I’m standing off to the side while Terry searches for the perfect gift to complete a basket she’s spent more time assembling than FEMA does responding to an emergency.
She really puts much thought into the smallest details. She works hard making sure each item fits not only the personality of the receiver but also serves up a dollop of whimsy. While she frets over each detail I can usually be found trying to teach hikus to cats. We each do what we’re best suited for.
Suddenly, I feel someone looking at me. I glance over and it’s a kid. Kids often stare at me. It’s not that they recognize me from wanted posters (at least I hope not) it’s always the same thing. The shaved head.
Some kids just stare and refuse to make eye contact. To the point of blending into the racks with the goods. Which lends itself to some comedy when we’re in a hard goods area. But others are louder about their discovery. And this was one of those kids.
“He has no hair!” The kid screams yanking on his mother’s coat. “That guy has no hair!”
I always love that moment between the kid saying it and the mother wondering what the hell the little brat is yelling about. I always make sure to look right at the parent as their head swivels around trying to figure out just what their little spawn is barking about.
The moment they make eye contact with me is priceless. Their face goes ashen before becoming very festive shades of red. They quickly drop eye contact and try to stop their kid from pointing out the obvious. I love when they pull the kid away saying it’s not polite or something with the kid still staring at me. I’ve had kids pull binoculars off the shelf to make it easy to keep an eye on me throughout the store.
“Stop or you’ll give the guy a complex.” The mother says to her still blabbering kid.
A complex? Me? Peshaw, you say! How in the world could this kid give me a complex? After all, I shaved my head on purpose, for a reason and, although no one believes it, sober.
Besides, if I didn’t have all that going for me, I’m sure I’ve forgotten more booger jokes than that kid knows. Complex my Golgi, you staring snot.
I engage the kid with my normal answers, “I don’t? I did when I left home!” “I must have left it on my other head.” “It shrinks in the rain so I left it home.” Trust me, as stupid as they sound, that’s kid ‘A’ list material. If I could work in boogers I’d be touring schoolhouses country wide and making a fortune.
But this kid kept breaking away from his mother and approaching me. I knew he was curious so I asked if he wanted to touch it. That usually elicits one of two reactions: 1) they run straight to their therapist or 2) they can’t wait to place their sticky little hands all over it but don’t.
This kid leaned towards being brave until I leaned down. He froze. Which is a good thing because his hands smelled like candy canes and poop.
He stepped back and kept talking about my head. And try as his mother might, she just couldn’t get him to shut up about it. I stood there smiling waiting for her to do what any other sane mother does: leave. Pack up the brood and skitter further into the store. But I guess she just had to look at the laughing Santa with the glowing eyes.
She’s now ignoring the situation hoping I’ll go away. What she doesn’t understand is, from my experience, unless I satisfy the kid one way or another, this will escalate until he’s screeching across the entire store if he thinks he sees the top of my head. Which is one reason I stay out of lighting stores.
I can tell I’m going to have to close this curious chapter in his over-sugared life. I take a step towards him the next time he screams,
“You have to see this. He has no hair!”
I lean down and smile. He alternates between looking in my eyes and scouring my head lice he’s taking his final exam at Phrenology U. His mother pretends to be enthralled by a dancing Santa while I say,
“No, I have hair. I just kill them before they grow.” The mother stops the Santa from dancing. The kid looks at me in anticipation. “Just like I did to all my kids.”
I watch them leave a trail of shivering Santa’s, shimmering tinsel, and rocking reindeer as she whisks her children towards a kinder, gentler, safer holiday season as far away from me as possible. And, really, that’s all I ever wanted.