On the southern end of Cuyahoga County there is a mall called Southpark. The only problem is that from where we live, there is no easy way to get there. Sure, we can take 480 to 71, but then the mall traffic getting off the highway is atrocious. If we take main roads, it is a series of twists and turns, and many of the roads are two lane roads, so that when we get nearer to the mall– that’s right, you guessed it–traffic! To be honest, I loathe going to the mall, but sometimes it is inevitable: someone needs a new outfit; I have to by a gift for a shower.
Today, I managed to convince Tom that it would be fun to go as a family. Yes, he fell for “family time” and got into the car with me and the girls. I just thought I would be more able to maintain my sanity if another adult was present.
When we got to the mall, after we looked for a shower gift for our friend, Tom realized that the girls wanted to go to Justice. Do you know Justice? It is a clothing store for children that is so over-crowded and so chromatic that they should have a warning that reads: Anyone over the age of fourteen, this store may cause seizures. It definitely causes high blood pressure, especially on a busy Saturday afternoon.
Anyway, standing near the entrance of the store, Tom decided that it would be in his best interest to go to Hoolihan’s and have a beer. Sadly, I agreed. I already felt my own migraine coming on, I did not want to deal with his agitation as well.
Of course, there was at least fifty people in the store, and most of them were pushing strollers. Each rack was so close to the next that at a few different points in this experience, I was literally stuck. To get to the wall, I had to walk out of the store to walk back in at a different angle. After a half hour, my children finally allowed me to get in the line that ran through the accessories. The accessories that the sales clerks kept sending the customers back to: “If you spend seven more dollars, you will get fun cash for your next purchase.” Well, who doesn’t want fun cash, these women thought? And then they would spend what felt like a decade picking out the perfect necklace.
When I got to the register, I presented my own fun bucks. (Hey, I spent over fifty the last time I was there; I don’t fall for the up-sale.) Everything in the store was forty percent off, and then I was getting $25.00 off of a $50.00 purchase. I was proud of my shopping prowess, well, that was until the sweet, little sales clerk said that I was unable to combine discounts. Suddenly, the forty dollars I thought I was spending turned into $78.00. I felt my face twitch. I would not have told Maggie to get two shirts and two shorts had I known. I wouldn’t have agreed to the dress and the stupid cheer t-shirt for Lizzie. It would have been fifty dollars of stuff only.
I looked behind me. The line was even longer than it had been before. There was no time to decide what to get and what not to get. Both Lizzie and Maggie were clapping delightedly next to me. My mind was a torrent of thoughts. These clothes are such crap! I cannot believe I am spending this much money on crap! But there I was, handing over my credit card, and thanking the girl for helping me. Walking out of the store, I felt vomitous. What just happened?
I wanted to go home. I just wanted to go home. I was having a moment. I don’t know if it was a Hall moment or an Oates moment, but it was a moment that said, I am not a “rich girl” and “I can’t go for that”. The girls and I walked to the restaurant. Tom was relaxing, finishing his second beer. He looked so content. We got in the car; I just wanted to take the most direct path to our house, and leave this big, boxy, commercialistic hell-hole behind.
But no. We could not drive directly. Tom decided to take the absolute longest route. Every time I thought, Oh yes, if he turns now, we will get out of this congestion, he nonchalantly went straight through the light. Every time I thought, oh yes, this road will lighten up and it will be better, Tom turned. It’s like he was going left when he needed to go right. He went straight when he needed to turn.
“Where are you going?” I finally asked. I was so agitated I felt like I wanted to punch him.
“Home, why?” he asked.
“Because you are taking the most ridiculous way. Why didn’t you take the highway or turn on Sprague or even Pleasant Valley?”
Now you have to know something about my husband. he doesn’t like to ask for directions and he does not like to be criticized about his driving. To prove that he was annoyed, he decided to turn into Giant Eagle’s parking lot just for fun. We pulled out and then pulled into another parking lot, just to drive through it.
The ride that should have taken twenty minutes took thirty.
I went running when I got home to try to relieve some stress.
It didn’t work.