Chooch got his hair crafted into Warped Tour-approved follicular fringe this morning and bitched and whined the entire 15 minutes he was there. He kept saying he was “so scared” and Lucia—my stylist since 2004, I love her—was like, “Um, OK. Don’t you like zombies? And you’re afraid of getting your hair cut? Weirdo.”
Afterward, he was like, “Whatever, as long as MOMMY likes it.” Because that child knows what’s up.
I promised him that we could go to the nearby Dunkin’ Donuts afterward, because bribery gets me super far as a mom. On the way back, we had the unfortunate luck of falling into step behind a mom pushing a baby stroller and two younger-than-Chooch boys walking next to her. They took up approximately three quarters of the sidewalk and walked slower than a hoarder at the flea market. Had we crossed the street a half second sooner, we’d have managed to cut in front of them.
You may have not ever seen me walk in real life, but please believe that I walk fast and with purpose, without actually ever having any purpose but no one needs to know that. Keep pretending like I am walking to my high-powered job on Wall Street.
I kept trying to skirt around these sidewalk hogs, but Chooch wasn’t following my cues so I’d have to fall back behind them again and join Chooch’s quicksand cadence. These staccato little steps. Tiny shuffles. Maddening slowness. I wasn’t in a hurry to be anywhere but I suddenly had this dire need to be home immediately.
But the thing with Chooch, and any kid really, is that he doesn’t quite grasp the need for personal space, so he was right up on these people like he belonged to them which made it look like this poor prematurely gray-haired mom was walking down the street and oh boy, there’s her bastard ducklings, too. God help them if they had stopped abruptly because they’d be stuck wearing Erin and Chooch backpacks.
And then Chooch has to use his megaphone tone to ask me questions about them.
“Why are they walking so slow? Where are they going? They’re seriously walking really slow, right? Aren’t they, Mommy?”
One half second!!
Sensing our uncomfortable closeness, she called over her shoulder, “Feel free to pass me!” Not in a snotty tone, but one that showed she understood my need to walk with enormous strides and not stare at the asses of her meandering children all the way down the street for god only knows how many more blocks.
“OK thanks!” I answered in my best imitation of “cheerful” that I could muster and steered Chooch by the shoulders so that he was on the open side, allowing us to pass them in a singe file line.
But no. This is not what Chooch did. Chooch decided to WALK RIGHT NEXT TO HER like he was her fourth spawn, leaving me alone to follow in their wake, like I’m the pathetic step-kid. I kept thinking about that motherfucking half second.
Totally fucking awkward.
I kept trying to push him ahead of them without it appearing that I was opening abusing my son, just some fingers in between his shoulderblades, nothing to see here Officer, but Chooch was absolutely not taking the hint. Just kept walking, side-by-side, with this lady, a stroller and his new brothers. (They did not look like children Chooch would get along with, by the way. All crew-cuts, khakis and Crocs.)
By this point, it had only technically been two blocks, but I felt as though my hair must have been mirroring this lady’s silver strands. One gray hair for every tiny baby step. It felt slow motion was liquefying my flesh, rendering it into some kind of slow poke simple syrup and oozing it into the cracks of the sidewalk, like I was your basic, walking Salvador Dali painting, melting into the permanence of this scene where I would live FOREVER AND EVER OH GOD HELP ME. ONE MOTHERFUCKING HALF SECOND!
After a few blocks of this faux-coziness, the mom paused at a street corner and turned to cross over to the other side of the street. We needed to continue going straight so I did a little fist pump and began to take exaggerated lunges down the sidewalk as if to illustrate to the West Liberty Avenue traffic just how fast I really can walk.
But then I noticed that Chooch wasn’t with me. Oh, because he was still with his new family, waiting to cross the street with them.
“What the fuck,” I muttered and backtracked to retrieve him.
“I was waiting for my pass,” he cried as I steered him back in the correct direction.
“What pass?” I asked.
“That lady was going to give us a free pass!” Chooch cried. “For Kennywood, probably!”
“She wasn’t giving us a free pass! She said ‘Feel free to pass me,’ you dummy!” And then I laughed, because that’s what good moms do when their kids are being dumb.
And then we somehow managed to walk the remaining three blocks home without incident.
We bought Henry a pink donut at Dunkin’ Donuts just so we could take a picture of him eating a pink donut. Ordering his stupid donut was probably what knocked us ONE HALF SECOND off course. Thanks, Henry.