Remember back when Jessie began her transition and I lamented the “CVS” moments that would, on a nearly daily basis, stop me in my (emotional) tracks? You know, the awkward moment when people who knew me to have two boys would spot me in the toothpaste aisle alongside a child who looked remarkably like George but/and/yet was wearing earrings and something pink? Yeah, well, I had not had such an encounter in so long that I had plum forgotten what they were like. Well, I was reminded just now in, for real, CVS. (Note: these moments are not unique to CVS, but they seem to happen there with remarkable frequency. Perhaps that is because I am there everyday, but whatever, don’t judge.)
At Jessie’school it is not until 5th grade that the kids procure lockers, and it is a time-honored tradition in that year for the girls to surprise their birthday-celebrating classmates with a decorated locker – usually wrapping paper, bows, and other girly crap, er, stuff. Being the awesome mom that I try to be, I drove Jessie, in the spitting rain, to “our” CVS to load up on the supplies necessary to adorn Sally’s* locker in honor of tomorrow’s birthday. As we walked in, I gently reminded her that if I should bump into anyone I know (which never doesn’t happen) she had best not start pulling or otherwise irritating me, or else I will pull the plug on our impending purchase. She quickly agreed and in we went, through the automatic doors and directly into my friend Riva and her daughter Sofie (aka Jessie’s idol). Jessie could hardly contain her excitement, although I believe she was torn as to which was revving her up more: the reason for our shopping or knowing that Sofie, having graduated the 5th grade five years ago, would guide her in precisely how to make Sally’s locker da bomb. I saw it as a win/win; I got to see Riva and Jessie had a better partner in crime than I would have been.
Riva and I caught up for the next several minutes while the girls gathered the necessary materials and collectively we headed to the register to pay. (Aside: we were total rebels and actually had a person ring up…no self checkout for these divas.) Okay, so all is fine so far, right? I started this story by telling you that there was a CVS moment in store…and by this time you are probably wondering if I have forgotten. Fear not. I never forget the CVS moments. So here it is…
For as many years as I can recall there has been a woman who works at CVS who is also a nanny for a family in the neighborhood (although, truth be told, I am not sure which family, but that is neither here nor there, just one of my many asides) and knows my kids. We often exchange pleasantries, her with her cool Jamaican accent which is so melodic and tropical that it makes me want to pop a Red Stripe and, on the rare occasion that I manage to go there unencumbered with offspring, she always asks how they are doing. Apparently it has been some time since we have been there on the same shift because today she stopped me, looked at Jessie (who looks suspiciously like George) and said, “Didn’t you have two boys?” Um, gulp, er, deep swallow, is it hot in here, awkward, ummmmm.
She is a lovely woman, although (and remember, I do everything I can to keep this blog real) I don’t think she is necessarily the brightest bulb on the shelf. (Case in point: blurting out in the middle of CVS – and not in an inside voice – that the little girl standing next to me is not what she may seem.) It took me a beat and a few curious glances in her direction, before I was able to form a response. I then told her, with a smile and in the quickest, most straightforward, most matter-of-fact way possible that we’d had some changes and that, yes, she used to be George but is now Jessie. It was, to me, anyway, patently clear that she did not quite get what I was trying to tell her but (and for this alone I am assured that there is a G-d) she let well enough alone and moved on to ask about Harrison.
For the first time in many (many) months, I left CVS feeling unnerved and shaken, mostly because I was caught off guard and not at all because I was uncomfortable with the story. That represents a new kind of CVS moment; one which is preferable for sure. Jessie, to her credit, was unfazed. She stood by my side (role reversal?) throughout the conversation with nothing but a sweet smile. She knew to just let me handle it. Thanks, I guess.
I am quite certain that as we departed the store this woman was left with more questions than answers, but if I have learned nothing else over these past few months, I have learned that it ain’t my problem. I will also admit that, was it not for the $14 in Extra Bucks burning a hole in my wallet, I might think twice about going back any time soon just out of association of an uncomfortable moment. But, in a delicious turn of events, I have already moved past the uncomfortable exchange and am confident that the likelihood of returning to the store within the next 48 hours is all but assured.
*Not her real name. I only use real names when I know that it is okay and this particular schoolmate has an unusual name and the last thing I need is to piss off a parent. Can you blame me?