Some people don't sweat the small stuff, I've opted to go them one better and not sweat any stuff, be it big, small, medium, or any size in between. I like to think of it as a "philosophy", but it's really just pure unadulterated laziness. It was this very laziness that left me high and dry a few Mother's Days back.
Don't ask me how a man forgets that he must offer up compensatory damages in the form of a gift for impregnating his wife. I cannot conjure up a plausible explanation for this happening, I just know it does. I have a calendar, in fact, I have three calendars within sight of my desk right now, but unfortunately, they don't float in front of my field of vision when I leave the office. And so, I awoke on this particular Mother's Day with a song in my heart and panic in my veins. There would be no time for planning, this required quick action, so I invented some story about an errand and squealed out of the driveway in route to the nearest store, which happened to be a Wal-Mart.
I don't normally shop at Wal-Mart; I'm more of a dyed in the wool Target man. Oh sure, I read their sale papers on Sunday, but that's more for entertainment purposes. Did you know that Wal-Mart uses actual employees and their kids as models in the ads? Makes you wonder how often Cashier Reema's son Billy got his ass kicked after that Route 66 jeans spread last week, doesn't it? Not that there aren't bargains to be had at Wal-Mart, it's just that I decided a long time ago to boycott the chain. This is not for any economic or political reasons, I just prefer to avoid buying substandard merchandise against a backdrop of carnival workers and old ladies with teddy bears on their sweatshirts.
Now if you've never been to a Wal-Mart, I would not recommend going on Mother's Day morning. It seems absent-minded fathers from a 30-mile radius descend on this God forsaken discount waste and, and lacking any better plan, they stick five bucks into each of their kids' chubby, little Cheeto-stained hands and turn them loose to find that perfect little gift for mommy. Unfortunately, five dollars can go a long way at Wal-Mart, so the precious little imps are going to have to sift through a myriad of potential gift choices. And apparently, once you've considered an object for purchase, it's perfectly acceptable in Wal-Mart circles to holler, "Ain't Momma's size" and simply drop it on the floor. So, as I'm moving through the store, I'm more or less wading through discarded merchandise that was somehow deemed unacceptable to the Wal-Mart shopping throngs.
And, as I'm slogging through this quagmire, I'm just doing my best to avoid bumping into any camouflage-clad fathers, who are already pissed off, because this little shopping trip is cutting into their drinking time. I'm pretty sure they were hoping to have half a load on before they hit the Mother's Day brunch at Old Country Buffet, and now they've got their itchy trigger finger on their buck knives, just looking to stick someone who doesn't know who Darrell Waltrip is. It's not that I'm afraid to die, it's just that when I do shake off this mortal coil, I'd just as soon it doesn't go down between the Malted Milk Balls and the Huggies at my local Wal-Mart. Believe me there's enough unsavory facts that are going to come out in my obituary, I don't need "Wal-Mart shopper" being the cherry on the embarrassment sundae.
After a general perusal of the clothing, jewelry and perfume options, I decide that a couple of CDs would probably be the least painful alternative. What I entered was called a "Music Section", but "Corn Cob, Rap, American Idol Crapland" might have been a more apt description of the department. I thought about asking one of the clerks if they had any Franz Ferdinand, but I was 90% sure his response would involve telling me they didn't sell liquor there. And so, the woman who spends 10 hours a day raising my children was repaid with Brian Adams and Train CDs. My only hope is that she did not interpret my paltry offering as being directly proportional to her value as a mother and a wife; at the very least she's Springsteen or Dylan worthy.
I would like to say that this little foray into hell and back has changed me, but it hasn't. Even as I write this, I have not shopped for any Mother's Day gifts or cards. Alas, the phrase, "I couldn't have planned it any better" will continue to rust in the graveyard of my limited vocabulary. But rest assured, the next time I screech out of the driveway on a last minute, gift buying bamboozle, my car will be pointed in the opposite direction of the local Wal-Mart. Perhaps I'll give Costco a whirl. What woman wouldn't be bowled over by a five-pound jar a mayonnaise?