Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Fishing Pants, Steve Irwin, and Tosk

When Eli 3.7 got up this morning, he decided that he wanted to wear some overalls that haven't fit him for about a year. They have a little bear or a zebra or a headless zombie or something on them and he's very attached. When Gloria told him that he couldn't wear them because they didn't fit, he had a total meltdown. Not throwing a fit, but weeping in despair that he couldn't wear his toddler clothes.

Plus these overalls are so big that they still fit in places, but they're way too short. The pants go up about four inches on his leg. Once he put them on, though, it was done. Gloria shrugged and started calling him Huck Finn.

Another bonus is that Eli can't really unbutton them, so when he needs to go to the bathroom he'll yell "HELP!" and Gloria has to do a Jackie Chan to get across the living room and in to the bathroom on time.

I stopped at Gymboree on the way home to look for a bigger pair of overalls, so that we could retire the trailer park fishing pants. Gymboree, in case you don't have kids, trades on "cute." Everything's supposed to be so gosh-darn cute that you don't even bother looking at the price tag. I would normally never go there, but it's just a short walk from where I work, and it's a nice day, so I gave in.

If you go into Gymboree, you're expected to talk from the second you walk in until you leave the store. Customers, clerks, kids--they're all yacking non-stop. It sounds like a hundred birds on a restaurant patio, fighting for table scraps.

So I did what I usually do, which is look for clothes for five minutes and stand in line for fifteen. At Gymboree, the shopping experience has only just begun when you get into line. It's in the employee handbook that you must be asked at least ten questions in the course of checking out. Multiply that by four people in line ahead of you and it's a long wait.

When I finally get up to the counter, the bonus experience begins. I picked out a little summer outfit that will make Eli look vaguely like Steve Irwin (The Crocodile Hunter), who he thinks is hilarious.

The clerk picks up the shirt.

"Oh, this shirt is so cute," she says. She spends thirty seconds looking for the tag, then scans it. "We have some other shirts with birds on them instead of bugs."

"Thanks, I think I've got it all," I said.

She picks up the shorts.

"These are my favorite shorts," she says. Another thirty seconds on the tag. "We had these last summer, and when they went away for fall I was just crushed."

She picks up the hat.

"Isn't this hat wonderful?" At this point, I'm wondering if I could pretend to have suddenly gone deaf. Perhaps if I waved my arms wildly and pointed to my ears.

But that's all wrong. It's just a short term solution. What I need to do is learn just enough of an obscure foreign language to speak to the clerk, then use hand signals to complete the transaction. Tosk, perhaps, or possibly Gheg. Now that's planning for the future.

"That will be nine million dollars," she says. "Do you have any Gymbucks?" she asks. I've entered a children's store, waited in line for an interminable length of time, and now I find myself in an imaginary currency discussion. It's not a retail store--it's one step away from a barter economy. I'll have to bring a wheel of cheese next time to complete a transaction. I AM IN HELL.

I just got home, and after posting this, I'm going online to buy a video course.

In Tosk.

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