Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The black balloon

"Well, I understand why he might have thought maybe you were homeless or something" said my very undiplomatic partner tonight. "I mean," said he, "look at what you are wearing".
I glanced down. It is true my mother used to say I often looked as though I dressed in the dark, grabbing things at random. Fashion was never my calling. And for our long day up north, distributing our paper on a cold and rainy day, I had dressed warmly: old boots, black; pink turtleneck under fuzzy gray sweater under big puffy black jacket that is about 4 sizes too big, but is very warm; long many pocketed fuzzy pants over sweatpants. And then there were the four pens stuck into the v-neck of the fuzzy gray sweater, just in case I had to write something. Never travel without a pen.
And then there are my reading glasses. I bought them at a discount store. They are black plastic, merrily adorned with splotches of yellow daubed at random. They are my favorite reading glasses ever, second only to the pair that had rhinestones on them. People used to laugh at those. People just kind of stare silently at these.
And I was carrying my son's earphones (big ones, to keep him calm in noisy places, since he has been very sound sensitive from birth) and a nice action figure, and my old, somewhat battered purse.
Partner/true love P. had gone off with Gabe to the men's room at the big mall up north.
The big mall, my idea of hell, is Gabe's idea of true delight. There are shiny things, everywhere. Even the ceilings are mirrored and glitzy. There are stores and stores and stores, and lots of tired looking people carrying bags, and a food court where the most enticing sort of junk food--the kind I do not buy anywhere else--is fried or flipped or stirred.
And tonight, Christmas music.
We had dutifully wandered the gleaming, enclosed corridors, and Gabe had played some video games at the big video game place, and he had had a gardenburger and a soda, and we were going to go home after those hours of stopping at odd places in many towns, putting out piles of our radical paper.
But who can say "no, you cannot go to the restroom, kid?" Even though the Great Mall was closing down for the night.
So off they went, and there, in the increasingly sparse food court, by the tubs of plants, I stood. I wandered over to look at those plants--variegated ficus, and some ivy. Real ones. I touched them, and murmured a few kind words to them, along the lines of "good job, plants, hang in there".
The security guy, splendid in his blue uniform with lots and lots of gold buttons, stared across the court at me. I smiled at him.
Some teens tried to come in the door, and he rushed over to push them out "No, we're closed". He walked slowly by me. I went to check on the wellbeing of another tub of plants (dracena, doing pretty well). Again, from the other side of the court, he stared at me, pondering. I smiled, cheerily.
But I guess I wasn't too surprised when he walked over, somewhat ponderous, very official, and said, very carefully and slowly, lest perhaps I might have trouble understanding him, or be drunk, or something, "The. mall. is. closed." Yes, I know, I said, I'm just waiting for my son and my partner. "You really need to leave, mam" Thank you, I will, just as soon as my son and partner come back. "You need to leave". Yes, right, I will. He hesitated. Must be hard sometimes, I said to him. He looked relieved, possibly convinced of my sanity.
And then the little boys ran up, on their way out with their mom. They'd been listening to this exchange, and the oldest child, who was perhaps about 8, came over to me shyly. "You can have this" he said, and gave me a balloon. "Don't you want it?" "No, I think you need it" I thanked him, and told him I'd give it to my boy. "Hey, god bless you, lady" he said, and went on with his younger brother.
And P. and Gabe emerged, much, I am sure, to the relief of the poor guard. Gabe wasn't too interested in the balloon--it's black, and advertises a communications company, and matches my reading glasses very well. I am delighted with it, because I suspect it was that child's way of reaching out to a woman who might--who knows, look at her clothes!--have been homeless, or crazy (did you see her talk to that plant?). The gesture of a loving heart. It bodes well for the future, having children like that around.

7 Comments:

Blogger David said...

I tend to dress more for function than appearance, also. When I am working outside, I wear old long clothes and a great big hat. Mostly, I dress to avoid sunburn when I am working. However, I have to admit that when I go to a mall or grocery store, I will usually wear some of my nicer shirts and pants. I suppose that I don't like to draw attention to myself.

Btw, I am not a hater of all weeds. :) You can read what I really think back at my site.

11:14 PM, December 09, 2005  
Blogger marlyat2 said...

Now I am basing my picture of your bookstore on your mall-going attire--colorful, jammed, lots of nooks and crannies of books (if not part of the space, then nooks and crannies made by piled books), used as well as new ones, bright peeks of your cottage garden (without the cottage) barely visible through windows, no counter surface, wacky little book paraphenalia and fun whimsies near the register, a dust bunny and the dried mummy of a queen bee on a windowsill, little wooden chairs for little children, maybe a fresh flower in a chipped spatterware pitcher even though books don't like water...

6:18 AM, December 10, 2005  
Blogger jarvenpa said...

David--I simply forget what I'm wearing; my mind drifts elsewhere. In my own community people make allowances, having known me so very long. I do try to not disgrace myself when meeting Important People on behalf of the health center, though my concept of appropriate attire is different from most I find. Some years ago I was asked to go to the state capitol to lobby poltical leaders and found myself the only person in the corridors not wearing a black suit (male or female). I was wearing a nice hand crocheted shawl in emerald green, though, which had been given me at the last minute by a friend. The guards at the state building searched me thoroughly, including purse. Who knew I was traveling with three plastic dinosaurs and some moonflower seeds I hadn't gotten around to planting?
The politicos remember me, though.
marlyat2--pretty close! My partner and I have argued for years about the "books don't like water" concept, because I do have fresh flowers throughout, and many plants. I try to keep the plants near my desk, rather than his. (There are two desks, because two big front windows, and we both grow towards the light). And we don't have a cash register--an old cookie jar serves the purpose, with a notebook. Many chairs (yes, tiny ones for tiny people, big ones for big people). The beautiful antique chair given me some years ago, piled with cushions, usually holds Champ the pitbull pretending to be a bookstore cat.
Just checked the windowsills for bee mummies. Nope; usually I try to let the bees out when they fly in. But I had forgotten that sand dollar I picked up by the ocean a few years ago...

11:14 AM, December 10, 2005  
Anonymous marly said...

Cookie jar... I like that. A bathtub reader from early childhood, I think that the first book I ever doused was Huck Finn. Appropriate.

5:07 PM, December 10, 2005  
Blogger Kimia said...

:) I think the main reason of his thought was hearing your talk with security guy at end of the day in a warm mall and cold outside. I liked your post :)

4:10 PM, December 11, 2005  
Blogger Spyder said...

I always wonder what the future has in stored for my daughter. This sotry of the kind young boy, gives me hope.

8:43 PM, December 15, 2005  
Blogger Caroline said...

Hi!!! Thank u 4 ur comment!!! see u later! :) bye...

9:23 AM, January 12, 2006  

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