Scenes from a Food Court

>> Tuesday, February 26, 2008

It was a dark and stormy night...

So we went to The Food Court at The UTC Mall after work to grab a cheap bite and avoid traffic. The Food Court is great for our family because one: it’s loud, so we blend right in, and two: it surrounds an ice skating rink so we can people-watch and fantasize that we’re all great skaters. (Elizabeth, who’s never touched a pair of ice skates, is the best skater of all.)

The Ice Skating Rink

The rink sat below The Food Court so we looked down into it from our table. Immediately below us, a perky blond instructor taught two small children (about Lizzy’s age) how to skate backwards. Apparently, learning to skate backwards as a 4-year old involves bending one’s knees and shaking one’s butt vigorously from side to side like a Hawaiian dancer. Who knew? Hell, even I could do that! So we put down our plastic forks and tried it. I remained seated, but Lizzy and Samantha not only stood up, they stood on their chairs. “I’m going backwards!” said Elizabeth while shaking her booty. “Me, too!” shouted Samantha. “I’m shaking my BUTT!!” Aren’t girls fun?

Then I made a mistake.

“Yea, so I wonder how you go forwards, then?” I asked absent-mindedly.

To which Samantha enthusiastically shouted, “You shake your VAGINA!!!” Then they stuck out their tummies (because it’s not easy to stick out your vagina) and wiggled while standing on their chairs and shouting, “Shake YOUR VAGINA!!! Shake your VAGINA!!!”

Somehow their voices rose above the din of the cavernous food court. This is not my imagination -- this is fact. I’m pretty sure I blushed -- and laughed, because, you know, it was funny. Until I realized that they may never stop shouting, “Shake your VAGINA!” A slow panic crept into my chest, “Please stop. Girls? GIRLS?”

“Shake your VAGINA!!” they shouted and giggled.

“Please...” Oh, ha, ha! “PLEASE!”

We all know how they responded to my urgent requests, right? Needless to say, I think we got them to stop by saying something random and distracting like, “Oh! Look at that man with the ice cream cone on his head!”) Honestly, I can’t remember how we did it exactly because all the blood had rushed out of my head by then. The girls would never forget the extreme and total satisfaction of making their mother squirm, however, and used every opportunity to remind me of my Achilles heal throughout dinner. “Can I have some more vagina noodles?” Samantha would ask through her megaphone.

Uh, huh...

The Machines

Having survived all that, it was time to leave. We needed to make a pit-stop before the long ride home, so we headed to the bathroom. Past all the candy machines. And the $.50 car rides. And the weight scales that light up and go ding, ding. It was like trying to pass through the freakin’ Fair and the girls wanted to partake of each and every brightly-colored, 50-cent experience. “I want to ride the motorcycle! I want M & M’s! Mommy, can I ride the helicopter?!”

Damn Food Court! It’s a miracle any parent makes it through alive! Next time I’m bringing a handkerchief. Look girls, before we go to the bathroom, you’ll need this blindfold...

I took Samantha first because she needed it. She’s still in diapers and I was pleased to find a changing table. The only problem is, it was located right below the automatic paper towel dispenser.

Stop and think about that for a second...

Remember the episode of Lucy where she tries to pick chocolates off the conveyor belt? It was like that. Every time we moved, or breathed, that damned thing would spit out paper towels. Unzip the diaper bag... towels. Pull off Samantha’s pants... more towels. I learned that if we stood as far to the right as possible, I could avoid initiating the dispenser. That’s the same time Samantha discovered that if she waved her hands, or did anything AT ALL, it would initiate the dispenser. Between me, Samantha, and The Dispenser, I lost the battle. Paper towels piled at my feet.

That’s when the large man stepped out from one of the stalls.

Here are my thoughts in this order:

Am I in the men’s room?

Is this guy a pervert?

Either way, he probably doesn’t want to see my kid’s crap.

As he washed his hands I watched carefully with my Mom Eyes, looking for signs of malicious intent. In a flash I rehearsed a few kung fu moves. Let’s see, I can swoop Samantha down to the floor while administering a round-house kick and banging his head into the mirror. Got it.

Then something reassured me. Perhaps it was the graceful way he moved his wrists or the softness in his shoulders. Regardless, I was relieved a thousand times over when the man turned out to be a friendly lesbian with a warm smile and a sense of humor. Once again, thank God for lesbians. (And yes, I’m 99% sure she was a lesbian since most women who look that manly are usually attracted to other women. It’s in the DNA.)

With Samantha freshly diapered and my kung-fu moves packed away, I put Samantha on the floor, scooped up an armload of paper towels, and heaved them into the trash can -- all the while The Dispenser kept shooting paper towels at me because, you know, I looked at it.

Fuck you, Dispenser!! I left quickly.

On my way out, I noticed a blood pressure monitor. Ha! This should be good, I thought. It just so happens that I’m visiting my doctor soon because of migraines and high blood pressure. So, like a good little girl, I tried to take my blood pressure. I knew it probably wouldn’t be good, but good to know, nonetheless.

But I couldn’t figure it out.

I pressed one button, then another, and nothing worked. I pressed harder, faster, one time, two times. Nothing. It occurred to me that The BP Monitor was the exact opposite of The Dispenser. It was like I was on a series of bad dates. First I went out with one machine who was all over me, and then I went out with the distant machine who never called. Can’t I just find a normal, healthy machine?!

Fuck you, BP Monitor!!
I left quickly.

Who’s Your Daddy?

Finally, we announced that we were leaving The Food Court. Hurray!

The girls didn’t buy it. They never do. The only language they understand is the language of action. I’m not sure why this is. We follow through, don’t we? We do what we say. But it’s relatively pointless. They respond when we get up from our chairs, not when we’re sitting. I’m not sure why we even talk anymore. If we want them to eat, we should shove food in their mouths. If we want them to sleep, we should strap them to their beds. If we want them to leave, we should walk away. Speak with action, not words.

So we did. We headed for the doors. As usual, this motivated our girls immediately. (I suspect this tactic won’t last forever and one day they’ll be thrilled at the idea of being left somewhere without us.) They scrambled out of their miniature cars and helicopters.

Magically, a group of people materialized holding their red food trays and hunting for tables. That’s when I noticed Samantha walking in the opposite direction while holding tightly to a strange man’s pair of baggy pants -- not Michael’s pants nor the lesbian’s! The man didn’t notice as he was too busy carrying his tray and looking for a table. I hollered, “Wait! Samantha! That’s the wrong pair of pants!” The man turned around to see who was screaming and noticed the small child attached to his butt. Holy cow. They each parted eagerly.

I took a deep breath and hugged Samantha tightly. I vowed to become a better, more vigilant mother. I vowed to add Machines to my list of kung-fu targets. And I vowed to take some Rolaids when I got home. Because by now, my blood pressure was sounding alarms and the spicy stir fry I’d eaten for dinner was restless.

Outside The Food Court, the girls hoisted their Froggy and Lady Bug umbrellas. Elizabeth skipped in the rain and jumped into mud puddles while holding Michael’s hand. I tightened my rain coat and planted a garlicky kiss upon Samantha’s fleshy cheek.

Adieu, Food Court. Until next time...


Mumsydoodle February 26, 2008 at 1:25 PM  

I love your world and all the fascinating people in it! 'Nuff said. :)

Jessie February 26, 2008 at 4:23 PM  

I added you to my feeds the other day, and I am glad that I did. You're funnier than hell. Awesome recount of the day's experience.

Rima February 26, 2008 at 5:43 PM  

Who knew the old food court could provide such awesome blog fodder? This was a very entertaining read!

mimi of sexagenarian and the city,  February 26, 2008 at 7:09 PM  


Dawn February 27, 2008 at 6:31 AM  

That's freakin' awesome! Loved the shaking of the vaginas and it is SO nice to know that I am not the only one who practices mental kung fu when strange people approach my tots.

Michele February 27, 2008 at 12:13 PM  

I'm laughing so hard. Mental note, never teach Zoe the word vagina.

Molly February 28, 2008 at 5:48 AM  

That's one exciting visit to the food court!

Christina February 28, 2008 at 10:20 AM  

If only my trips to the food court could be so exciting! This post was hiliarious! Thanks for the laugh! :-)

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