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9:13 a.m. - 2012-03-05

Wrote this yesterday and tried to post but D-land was having a bad day.

One of the handier aspects of being other directed is occasionally being tugged toward a retail establishment I don't usually shop at and finding a bargain. The last couple days I was hearing the call from this odd ratty liquidation place over in the saddest part of Malltown. When I was a kid this place was our Walmart, as in everything was stupid cheap and you could find just about anything there. Luggage, potted plants, holy communion dresses, pool chemicals, underpants, dishes, shoes. Most of the stock was seconds and irregulars, thus it was possible to buy shirts with three sleeves and jeans with the back pockets sewn on upside down. My mother loved/hated the place. As a single mom she found it terribly handy for the bargains, as a horrible snob she loathed the dinginess and the other shoppers (mostly poor, badly dressed, often smelly and dentally challenged). When we'd go on Saturday mornings she always made sure she was dressed to the nines so everyone would know she didn't HAVE to shop there and was just larkishly slumming. She also doused herself in Jean Nate perfume so she wouldn't accidentally smell any of the other patrons. Amazing, really, how much effort she put into trying impress people she wouldn't speak to in a million years.

Anyway, this odd dingy store changed hands and names a few times over the years, and even closed entirely for a while, but re-opened about 10 years ago and managed not to lose an ounce of its cruddy 'charm'. The ceiling still leaks and catch buckets dot the aisles. The overhead lights buzz and blink. The accumulated stink of decades' worth of body odor and bad breath still mixes uneasily with the greasy garlicky scent from the pizza counter in the foyer. Me? I love this joint. Always have.

Yesterday we set off to run errands and get the kid caught up on some essentials. Wolf is growing and growing and growing, the way teenaged boys do, and needed replacements for all the outgrown stuff. Mick was a little surprised when I insisted we go to the dingy store, he knows I know he doesn't like it there. Going somewhere he doesn't like is a rare thing for him and it puts him off his game, but after wigging for a while he chilled and was a good sport. Besides, the dingy store wasn't entirely without precendent, he and I bought our kitchen cart there. It was the first furniture we ever bought together and the cart's assembly went really well. Boded well for our budding relationship that we could assemble furniture together and not come to blows.

I was right to heed the call of the dingy store. Everybody ended up with something fun. School supplies and gym clothes for Wolf. I got a new summer housecoat and a big stainless steel footed colander. Something I've been needing since ever. My other strainers are small and don't stand well on their own. Mick got some goodies in the stationery department. The house got new bathmats and we chose a new game to add to our stash for family game night. Mastermind. It grieves Mick that neither Wolf nor I play chess, it's his favorite game. Mastermind isn't on par with chess, but it's tricky and requires logical thinking.

The rest of the day's shopping was in less outre locations. Wolf scored two new pairs of sneakers, jeans, shirts, and at Hot Topic some cool dude (to his thinking) accessories. He and I got into a wrangle there, Wolf wanted this t-shirt with some grim soldier of fortune heavy with weaponry and flames on the front and I vetoed it outright. It was a dumb shirt. I understood his thinking, Wolf's having trouble with this guy in his classes who's a real butthead and Wolf's trying to up his macho and look more bad ass, but this shirt wasn't going to help. The only thing that shirt said was, "I'm a thug enthralled with idiot video game violence." So there was sulking and not even a new Ramones shirt made up for the loss of the flaming soldier. Too bad, kid. Ramones? Cool. Flaming Halo characters? Nope.

Wolf and I rarely get into wardrobe tussles. At most I will insist he change his shirt when he's been wearing one for so long I can't remember the last time it was off his body, but mostly we're cool. So like Mick's pique over going to the dingy store, Wolf was tweaked because I was firm about something and insisted on having my way. But see? I told you I'm trying to do better at saying no and at asking for what I want. It was only mildly uncomfortable for everyone and by the time we got home it was smiles all around.

Today we're just hanging out. Mick's inside right now flipping and scrubbing beneath the huge cutting boards. A special request from me, it had gotten funky beneath them and the smell of exposing the gunk would kill me. I always remind him that while there might not be dragons for him to slay, he is ever and always my hero for taking on the smelly jobs for me. Scrubbing up goo and killing stink bugs might not be typical knight in shining armor stuff, no heroic couplets written to honor the guy who gets the sludge out of the dishwasher filter, but it definitely merits praise and mention in this fair maiden's blog. Thanks, Honey.

Wishing you all a mellow and non-smelly Sunday. ~LA

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