Tartan Plaids and an Angry Boy

Monday afternoon the power went out in Monterey. There were high winds. I ran to the Goodwill after working in the wind, picking up pine cones, twigs, tree moss, and branches, and will have to do it again the next time I go down there to check on my little house.

While I was there, PG & E robo-called me, saying the power was out at my address. Since I was already halfway to the shopping center, I decided to go hit the GAP to see if there was anything good on the clearance rack. My GAP in the Bay Area closed down.

In the men’s section I found a blue plaid mismatched flannel shirt marked down to $12.97. It didn’t look plain enough to appeal to a man. The shirts that were just one kind of plaid were on sale for $29.99.

I’m still dressing warmly because of the longest winter I can remember. I like to buy in the men’s section because of my ridiculously long arms. A men’s medium has the exact right sleeve length for me.

At the register, the clerk asked if I wanted to use my $6.00 in rewards money. By the time I walked out, I’d spent less than $8.00. I went home and removed the mismatched breast pocket, because it was just too much.

I wore the shirt to chorus, where a fellow singer pointed out that instead of two kinds of plaid (as I thought), my shirt actually had four kinds of plaid.

“I know tartans,” Nancy said. “It’s still a cute shirt.”

I hadn’t studied the different plaids enough to realize that, although they were all navy blue, some had yellows, others had red, one was navy and green, etc.

I wore it the next day to a thrift store where the cashier commented on my cute shirt.  While l shopped, a boy was swinging around a yellow plastic bat. He had it up over his shoulder, and I was behind him when he started to swing it again.

“Careful with the bat,” I said. “You almost hit me.”

The other boy with him said, “Sorry?”

“I hit you?” the first boy challenged.

“You almost hit me,” I said in my calm teacher voice.

Later I heard the first boy scolding the other one in the toy department.

“Don’t say you’re sorry for me. I wasn’t sorry!”

The taller boy mumbled something inaudible.  Then a volunteer came out from the back and offered to pay for the bat.

“Grandma,” the first boy said, “give me the money.”

“I don’t have any change,” she said.

“Give me the money, Grandma. How can I buy the bat?”

I figured out that both boys shared the grandma, that she was trying to please the shorter boy, and that he was not very nice to his nana. He never stopped scolding the taller boy, either. He sounded like a kid having a bad day or a kid who was a teensy bit out of control. 

I have to remember that the world has changed since I taught in the 70s and 80s and that some kids aren’t as respectful of strangers as they used to be. The tall boy was, but not his shorter cousin.

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