Thursday, June 2, 2011

Summer Kick-Off

The Duchess and I went to Target in Everett last weekend to shop for our Memorial Day barbeque party. She loves the child-oriented carts that Target has thoughtfully provided only three of, thus ensuring agita on my part every time I go there, trying to get there early enough to snag one and avoid a meltdown.

This time, the Duchess saddled up in the eighteen-wheeler of shopping carts, a giant plastic seating thing wedged between me and the cart itself. I felt like I needed to look around for my CB hookup before finally focusing on my shopping list, which I have to have at Target or I end up tossing endless numbers of $10 items into the cart, and then get a giant bill at the end.

That Target is going to be even more dangerous once their renovation is complete and there are aisles and aisles of actual foodstuffs to complement the multitude of aisles of stuff-stuff that are already there.

They have already sent me a coupon for a free dozen eggs, although I am not going to use it because my husband, The Grump, who usually could not care less about today's penchant for overexplaining food provenance, actually has a preference for the froufriest eggs possible - from cage free, vegetarian, happy hens who lay on a satin pillow and whose eggs are collected by elves at midnight, etc. He says he feels sorry for the chickens, which is a hilariously sentimental comment coming from him.

Anyway, I know all about these giant food and stuff stores because I have shopped at an enormous Wal*Mart near my parents, who live in Philadelphia. Some of you may scoff at Wal*Mart, but during the years I lived in Virginia, I became a convert. Wal*Mart, which started out as a discounter, never could match the chic factor of Target, which started out as a department store, but the merch at both places is usually pretty similar, so let's not be snobby here.

Our party turned out to be lots of fun with great weather. I always like to make one experimental item at a party to test-drive a new recipe, secure in the knowledge that if it is a disaster, I'm covered by the other stuff available. (Fortunately, my fancy burger turned out well, and the Duchess actually ate the leftovers).

I felt very nervous because one guest was French, although he laughed when I told him my concerns. "Ah, oui," he mocked me in a Pepe LePew accent, "le barbeque est terrible!" The children were running around so much that they kept us all busy and nobody (but me) had time to drink much wine (although the Grump and his friend managed to choke back a couple of Foster's 25oz. Oil Cans.) That's okay because the extra wine I have will certainly not go to waste, bwa ha ha.

My high school friend, who randomly lives in town, showed up to our party visibly pregnant (ok, so we don't keep in touch that well, do we?). Even though it was obvious that she was several months along, and she was grinning from ear to ear with joy and excitement about surprising me, I still could not bring myself to say, "Hey! You're pregnant!"

That's because I am still scarred from an experience I had in New York City on the Upper East Side one hot summer day a whole decade ago. I was wearing a very loose sundress and needed to shop for a posh baby gift for a friend. Let's just say that I hadn't exactly watching my weight too carefully at the time, and with one thing and another, the boutique proprietor burst out excitedly, "When are you due?" I was so embarassed (although not as embarassed as she was) that I threw out the dress as soon as I got home.

My rule of thumb is from the humor writer Dave Barry, who said that you shouldn't ask a woman if she is pregnant unless you can actually see the child emerging from her.

I had fun at my own party but didn't get to eat anything because every time I attempted to put a bite in my mouth (over the head of little Honey, whom I was carrying in a Baby Bjorn), the Duchess, who has a great sense of timing, would drop whatever mayhem she was creating with the other kids and race over and stand in front of me, shifting from side to side. "Mommy, I have to go potty," she would say cutely. How could I be angry when she is doing exactly what I ask her to do? Sighing, I would put down my burger and escort her to the powder room.

So summer has been kicked off with a bang (and this week, some tornados - what was up with that? Terrible!). Hopefully we can ride our high through the next couple of weeks, when we embark on our annual beach vacation with my family. This year, we'll also be joined by my in-laws. As we used to say in college about first dates, it will either be a good time or a good story.

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