He's a pretty good kid, but when it comes to shoes, Granger can be incredibly hard to please. He's usually OK with a pair of Converse high-tops, but then there's the need for running shoes for PE, basketball shoes that shall never touch anything but the hardwood floor, new cleats every year for baseball because the old ones just never feel right. Dress up? Every once in a while, and so there's a pair of those. Hiking boots from when he went to Yosemite for a week.
In his closet you will also find every pair of shoes he's ever owned. A pair of low-top Converse, but these have red stitching that looked OK at the time we bought them but are now not cool, though they fit OK and are hardly worn. There are half a dozen pairs of sneakers, some worn a little some worn a lot, but you never know when you'll need an old pair. At least three pair of running shoes. Probably some after ski boots I vaguely remember purchasing for that one ski trip he took with the boy scouts. Slippers.
"I'll buy you a new pair of Vans," I intoned the other night, though his 15 year old ears were plugged with the white buds signifying he'd "borrowed" "my" iPod once again (for the 174th day in a row). "Can you hear me?"
"I'll buy you a new pair of shoes, IF you will bring me six pairs of shoes out of your room. They'll go to Goodwill or in the trash."
"Oh that will be easy," he says. (No kidding, I'm thinking.)
Knowing how particular he is about his shoes, I insisted he call around and find a place that sells the ones he wants in the size he needs. The only place in a 25-mile radius is the Big Evil Mall From Hell. The one with no parking, ever. The one with miles of walkways, two stories of high-end stores with snooty salespeople and size 0 clothes punctuated by a few skater stores and Claire's Boutique where everything is just adorable. And you really can't get there from here on the freeway.
But after wiggling out of the commitment on Monday night, I picked him up after school Tuesday, we did a couple of my errands and then went to the mall. I found the perfect parking place, right up front. Two, side by side, even. Not handicapped spots. It wasn't until we were out of the car that I saw the (really) very faded signs that said "Expectant Mother Parking." I looked at him, he looked at me and I said "I expect this will be very quick, right?" He agreed. "I'm an expectant mother then," I said under my breath. (Forgive me, I'm sorry, really, there was another spot empty next to me the whole time I was gone, I don't think I hurt anyone, and I promise never to do it again.) (And never, once, in my whole 27 months of being pregnant did I ever get to park in a space like that, so I'm kind of due, aren't I?)
We went in, around four miles of corridors, down the back secret hall, around the bend, up an escalator, down another, up another and finally arrived at the store that had The Vans. But not in his size in black. Or gray. The kind he wanted were the Old Skool model. They had the Cool Skool model which (honestly) looked exactly the same but were declared "too puffy" to be right. I
spewed a fountain of fiery venom tilted my head sideways and said "Is there another store in the mall that sells these?" Um, probably not, the perky blonde (and her ever-present sidekick laying on the counter the whole time) said, though you could try over there, she said, pointing to a store across the way that could have been a twin for her store except for the signage.
They didn't have them either. Nor did the other two stores we checked. I was no longer expectant that this was going to be easy. We went back to the original store, Granger mumbling that they had said on the phone that they HAD THEM. I asked if another store in the area might have the ones he wanted and she perkily called another store and found them in size 10 and we got them held. When I asked her where, she said "Oh it's in the Other Great Big Mall From Hell Clear Across The Valley That You Can Get To Only By Using The Most Congested Freeway In Town." Near the food court.
We got back to the car, I kept expecting things, like a nasty-gram on the windshield. I was walking with my hand on my back and my stomach forward but Granger said to stop it because it didn't look pregnant just ridiculous. Which kind of hurt my feelings because, well, that is how I looked the whole time I was pregnant.
We got to the Second Circle of Hell and couldn't find a parking place. I tried the proven approach of staking out a lane of cars and patiently waiting there. With 22 cars in this aisle, someone has to come sometime, right? After waiting nearly 10 minutes Granger points out that this aisle is right in front of the movie theaters and that the "someone has to come sometime, right" rule might not apply as readily. He was right. I start circling, and a woman comes out walking purposefully to her car. "Are you leaving?," I say pleasantly down the window.
"Yes," she says, "but I'm only in the 15-minute parking." "Drat," I say, pulling away.
Then Granger reminds me that I just parked in expectant mother's parking at the other mall AND that buying shoes probably won't take more than 15 minutes but the spot is gone. Finally a shaft from above illuminates an SUV departing and I
outgun and threaten the owners of a Honda and a Corolla glide in.
Fortified with a Starbucks vente latte (non-fat with two sweet-n-lows) we make our way to the store, they have the shoes, they fit he declares without lacing them, I pay for them ($10 more in this circle of hell than in the last but I am ready to go home). He's deeply appreciative and I forget to ask for the $20 he was going to contribute to the purchase but I'll remind him come allowance time this weekend.
"Mommy! Mommy!" My little kids are so glad to see me when I get home. I tell them where I've been without telling them the rest. Kayla goes back to reading "James and the Giant Peach."
Walter, who's four, wants to play chess, but when we sit down the first thing he says is: "Mom, can you take me to buy new shoes tomorrow?"