Tonight, I entered the seventh circle of Hell that is Back to School shopping.
I, like about ten thousand other local moms here in Tennessee, decided to take advantage of the "sales tax free" weekend to find all the items on the somewhat lengthy lists of needed supplies sent to me by each child's grade. I had the opportunity three months ago to purchase these supplies from our school's PTO and I turned it down, convinced that if I did it myself I could save money.
This was one of the stupidest ideas I've ever had.
Next spring, when I'm offered the opportunity to pre-buy school supplies and I mention wanting to do it myself to save twenty dollars, somebody slap me.
I entered Wal-Mart at 8pm, deluded into thinking that most moms would be done with their shopping or having dinner with their families or tucking their children into bed or just somewhere else.
This was not the case.
Not only were there plenty of other moms in Wal-Mart at 8 pm, they were toting all of their spawn with them. Wal-Mart allocates a measly three aisles to school supplies and those aisles were fifteen families deep with carts, screaming toddlers, grade schoolers darting in and out of tiny gaps to grab items their mother had just specifically told them not to get, and teenagers smacking gum, glancing coyly at the opposite sex, and - my ears are still ringing - squealing like baby pigs over pink furry lunch boxes that I'm guessing are the next "thing".
Two minutes of this and I was ready to hurl some of those pink furry lunch boxes at the people in my immediate vicinity just to see if I could drive a few of them away.
My left eye began twitching - never a good sign. My jaw clamped tight. I began to feel more than slightly homicidal.
I wished a particularly nasty strain of belly-button plague on the entire crowd, glanced at my lists and quickly wished even worse on the teachers who thought it a good idea to ask for folders (pocket only!) in shades of teal, white, black, orange, purple, and red.
Wal-mart had folders (pocket only!) in orange. Period. If the other colors ever existed, they were long gone. As I stood and tried to decide if I should just buy 12 orange folders or check Target before making a final decision, some enterprising mother shoved her adorable four year old in front of me and had him snatch up the remaining folders for her. Right out from under my nose.
It hit me then.
Back to School shopping is war.
The rules of shopping that apply to polite society do not apply to war. Anyone will tell you that. In war, those who hesitate are dead. Those who take too long deciding, have the decision wrenched from their hands. Those who walk too slowly down the aisle, get rammed from behind.
I got into the spirit of things.
I knew scissors were on my lists. I wasn't sure how many but I snagged an entire handful as I went by the display. Same with the erasers. The crayons. The colored pencils. The Expo Markers.
I saw a light of frenzied ferocity reflected on every mom's face. It was a race to fill our carts with anything within reach. We'd sort through it later and toss out what we didn't need to those poor souls just joining the fray.
I dodged children, whipped around the corners on two wheels and when one woman turned her cart horizontally across the middle of an aisle as she perused the sharpies, thus denying the rest of us access to binders, pencil cases, and notebooks, I rammed her cart out of the way and tossed a half-hearted apology over my shoulder.
Two hours later, I gathered the supplies I could (no teal folders, no white folders, no black folders, no 3x5 cards, and no pencils...) and stood in line. Both eyes were twitching at this point and I was muttering dire threats under my breath at anyone who looked my way. I noticed the woman in front of me yanking out her own hair and understood completely.
From Wal-Mart, I went to the grocery store (who had no teal, white, or black folders, no 3x5 cards, and no pencils either). Spent some time in there grabbing milk, eggs, cake mix (Mal's birthday is Thursday!) and wondering why everyone in the store gave me such a wide berth.
I loaded up the car and admitted that I was done for the day. It was late. I would start fresh tomorrow.
Anyone who knows me will be impressed with this next bit: I actually looked at the gas gauge and noticed it was near empty. This is no small achievement on my part.
I stopped for gas, filled the tank (making the dire mistake of leaving the driver's side door open while I filled it), and headed for home. I was in the act of turning onto the main street when I saw it.
In my car.
Fluttering along the dash board, coming steadily closer to me.
I froze. Literally. I froze in the act of driving my car and nearly forgot to complete the turn.
Those of you who read this blog regularly know that while I can handle spiders and wasps, I am deathly afraid of moths. Horrible little fluttery creatures. I hate them.
I hate them and one of the was flopping around on my dash board.
I stopped looking at the road and began hunting for something to smash it with. It's not actually a good idea to drive while looking around on the floor of your car.
I realized this and quickly yanked my attention back to the road.
Somehow, in the space of time it took for me to glance around my car and then look back, the moth was gone. No where to be found.
This was not good.
I knew it was still in the car, I just didn't know where. Unfortunately, that situation was quickly remedied as the moth FLEW DOWN THE FRONT OF MY SHIRT.
I drove the car off the side of the road.
I must have looked like a lunatic, hopping out of my vehicle and repeatedly slapping myself in the chest while doing a graceless little shimmy.
The good news: I didn't hit a tree, a telephone pole, or a ditch and my car is unscathed.
The better news: I killed the moth.
Now I think I need a little dose of that Everclear-soaked cake.