A little background for you before we begin this story:
1) It is nearing the end of the end of the semester. Near the end of each semester, I fall apart. If you don’t believe me, check out this photo of my room, taken this morning:
Somehow, despite how bad this is, it doesn’t quite capture the slovenliness of my room right now. My roommate peeks in every once in awhile and puts on a determined “I will not judge you” face. She has the Health Department on speed dial.
At the end of this semester, as with each one previous, I have forgone showers, laundry, sleep, and healthful food; makeup and hair styling are distant memories. I have gained about 10 pounds of “last-week-in-the-semester” weight (and you think baby weight comes on fast!). I haven’t been outside in what feels like months. If I were invited to a costume party, I would throw on a white T-shirt and go as an albino beluga whale. It’s that serious.
I spend all my time either working on homework, procrastinating from homework, or having breakdowns because I have been procrastinating from instead of working on homework.
2) I ran out of deodorant on Monday. I mean, really ran out, as in, even my thrify Amish kinsfolk would have given it up for lost. The head of my deodorant applicator fell off two weeks ago, so for 14 days now I’ve been collecting slivers of deodorant in my hands and trying to smear them on my armpits before they disintegrate. I should probably be more embarrassed to admit that, but I’m a girl who once wore culottes printed with moose. Abject humiliation and I are dear friends. Anyway, on Monday the deodorant had disintegrated its last, so I skipped it, reasoning that it didn’t matter–I had no plans.
3) I also had a hardcore breakdown on Monday. It consisted of weeping, wailing, and throwing ashes on my head; and when my mom asked me specifically what was wrong, all my highly-trained, emotionally-attune, counselor-to-be self could say was “I don’t KNOW!!!”
Not all of the above is immediately applicable to the story below, but hopefully these examples demonstrate my general state of duress. Monday was, as Alexander would say, a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day.
Anyway, after this breakdown, which left me with a puffed up face and splitting headache, I realized I had to go to Target to get some materials for a presentation. I slogged my way to the car, wondering if the Target people would recognize me from my visit the day before; I was wearing the same clothes.
I made it to the store, collected the items I needed, and turned my head as I walked past the card aisle to find myself face-to-face with a munchkin sitting in a shopping cart. The kid’s eyes, when they met mine, were distinctly reproving. Under his gaze, I felt like a 16 year old who had just been returned to her parents’ doorstep by the police after TPing the principal’s house. . .and trespassing. . .and vandalizing the statue of JP Hibbock, legendary town founder. . .and robbing a bank at gunpoint. Something about my existence was deeply disappointing to this tiny person. Our heads swiveled and our eyes remained locked as I walked slowly past him, wondering what I had done, and how I might rectify this situation.
As I finally withdrew my gaze, I heard the child turn to his mother and exclaim with mixed glee and sorrow, “I thought it was a cow!”
Heaven help the American school system.