THIS IS a story about the time I went shopping for boots. I had a wodge (is that a word?) of birthday money begging to be spent and footwear at home that let in the wet and kept out the heat. Standing at the school gate is a cold business and you take your health into your hands if you’ve got inadequate shoes and coats.
This year I was determined not to spend my hard earned birthday cash on running gear that I liked the look of but was a size too small. This year I was going to be sensible.
But not in a mammy kind of way.
I wanted boots for the school run, to go with my everyday mammy uniform, but with a bit of pizazz attached. Those ones.
And off I went.
Now, you know the way every town has a shop (don’t they?) you avoid going into for various reasons. You’re the only one in there and feel like you’re seven foot tall, taking up most of the space and they’re watching you waiting for you to buy something. Or worse, acting like you’re a hard faced shop lifter. In order to prove this is not the case, you feel guilted into buying something. But not before you end up having the obligatory Dougal from Fr. Ted type conversation.
Against my better judgement I found myself in this very shop over Christmas.
Shop Owner: “Not too bad out there now.” *Walking around with his hands behind his back, kicking dust balls along the carpet.
Me: “No. It’s grand. Cold. But the cold is good.” *Already regretting coming in. Should have stayed looking in the window! Should have stayed looking in the window!*
Shop Owner: “Christmas was quiet this year.” *Adjusts a pair of shoes and looks at me sideways.”
Me: “Yes. Yes it was. But quiet is good. Quiet is good. *Where’s the fucking door? Shite, he’s standing at it. I’m trapped!*
Shop Owner: “Indeed and it is. Can I help you with anything there at all? Do you know your size?” *Tapping a shoe off the palm of his hand.*
Me: “Ah, no. I’m just looking.” *And trying desperately to get out of there without breaking into a run*
And then it happens. Because he’s looking at me. Waiting for me to buy something. The fact that he’s still in the doorway with his arms outstretched and holding onto the frame hammers home the fact I am not going to get out of there without buying something.
In a moment of desperation and guilt I blurt out, “Boots. I’m looking for boots.”
Shop Owner: “Boots you say. What about these? These are a grand pair.”
Me: “Ah…………. no. Brown. I like brown boots.”
Shop Owner: “Well, why didn’t you say so? These have been flying out.”
Me: “………………………………………………” *If they’re a fiver I’ll buy them just to get out of there.*
Shop Owner: “Well? What do you think?”
I think I am caught in a twilight zone and I will never see my kids again. But I won’t cry. I won’t cry.
Shop Owner: “I’ll ring them up for you, will I? You’ll get great wear out of them. You won’t be sorry.”
But I already am. We stand there looking at each other. I am the first to break eye contact.
Me: “Okay.” *whispers* “Thank you.”
Moral of the story. Don’t ever go shopping by yourself. Bring your kids. Bring all of them. They are a great excuse to make a quick getaway.
I might have taken great artistic license with this story but a version of it did take place over Christmas. I was indeed beginning to fear I would not get out of the shop without making a purchase but then a beautiful sound. My kids could be heard haring up the street shrieking and roaring and before I could say “I have a verruca, I can’t try them on” they burst into the shop. In the end, after many many pairs of boots were foisted upon me, a grand pair was indeed located. And these are they. Warm, water proof and not a hoof in sight.