I always try to do something fun for Margo’s lunches. And because of it, Margo seems to refuse to get get a hot lunch. I kinda wish she would. I’ve been living hand-to-mouth lately and saving money on all the stuff she demands for lunches would be nice. But I can’t help myself. I leave little drawings in her bag and she tells me how she saves the ones she likes and gives away the others to kids who like the drawings. For a while, Margo would bug me to teach her how to draw stuff. Like a car, or a house. So I left little notes in her bag on how to draw things. She told me that there was a boy in her class who would ask her for them because he wanted to learn. It’s cute. And it kind of feels good to know that I’m going to be part of some random kids memory of elementary school. Maybe he’d save one of them and run across it when he’s older. But it went south when I started putting bubble gum in her lunch.
It started because we were at target. I always tell the kids that it’s important to get a “Summer Gum”. I stole the concept from some a really lame thing I saw on funny or die. But I liked the idea because it reminded me of summers sucking on huge Jolly Rancher bars until they formed the shape of your tongue. Audrey loves it so she pushed to get something while we were there. In the end she landed on a huge bag of Super Bubble bubble gum. I bought two bags. Since then we’ve all been chewing on it. I even filled a dish Audrey made with it and keep it by the door for “guests”. And I started dumping a handful in Margo’s lunch bag with a note that told her to share it with friends. I even put a handful in a paper bag for Audrey with a drawing on it of a piece of bubble gum winking.
On our drive to the Mall of America, Margo asked when I was planning on giving her gum to take to school again. It had been a week. I asked why. She said because all her friends have been asking her for it. I said that they sounded like fair weather friends. She said that it was good. Because she had been using it as a way to meet new kids. She made a new friend because the girl came up to her after everyone else had got a piece and asked if there was any more. Margo gave the girl her last piece that she was saving for herself. Since then they play on the playground every day. Audrey said that all her friends keep asking about the gum too. And how she keeps telling them to “be patient”.
We got the the mall and headed for the Journey’s shoe store. I walked in and was greeted by a guy with tattoos, including one of a girls name on his neck, and a huge beard. I said that I love that we live in a world where everyone has beards. How, in the ’90s, I tried to wear a mustache but everyone made fun of me. So I was glad he was carrying on where pioneers like myself couldn’t continue. He put his hand on my shoulder when he laughed. I told him that Audrey has a birthday coming up, and I said I would buy her a pair of roller-shoes. Of course I would buy Margo a pair too. He turned to my kids and whispered them over to a stand of kids roller-shoes. They picked out the ones they liked and he squatted down to show them a selection of laces. He was like some kind of Shell Silverstein. My kids loved him. He showed them how to lean back on their heels and how to keep their balance. I told him how I was surprised that my kids didn’t know about the shoes, since I’ve seen them around for years. Once I told them, it’s all they wanted. I said that if they made them for adults I would get a pair too. His eyes got really big and he brought me over to another part of the store to show me the adult sized versions. Christ. I bought a pair. As he fitted my kids, he talked about how he was a single dad too. How it’s important to do things like this. To roller-shoe with them, stay in their lives. How his daughter was graduating this year and how he is best friends with her boyfriend. I really liked the guy. I wish I would of remembered his name.
When we got home we all put on our shoes and ran outside. Margo was struggling and basically gave up. Audrey was excited about how good she was doing and wanted me to watch her coast down the parking lot. I told her that none of us can have fun unless everyone was having fun. So we both took the time to help margo learn how to do it. The sun was going down. With every time a car pulled up they’d yell, “CAR!” and veer off to the curbs. It was dark by the time I told them we should get ready for bed. We all walked clumsily down the hall to my place. When we got in the door Audrey couldn’t stop talking about how much fun it was, how it was hard to learn at first but now she wants to do it right away in the morning before school. I told her that wasn’t going to happen. Margo brought up the sales guy as she was unlacing her shoes.
“I really liked him.” She said with her little back to me.
“Yeah, he was a nice guy.” I said.
“He seemed to like you too.” She said.
“Well, we both have tattoos. And we’re single dads.”
“I think the girls name on his neck was his daughter.” She said.
They went to bed, and I filled a bag of bubble gum for each of them in the morning.