I think the pressures of homeownership are beginning to get to Brakes. He’s been acting out. It started with a lower tolerance to noise. He would snap at the dogs more easily and startle if the doorbell rang (before it broke- but that is whole other story). He sometimes cringes when I talk. Hmmm. Anyways, these issues really culminated last week at Old Navy. (Remember my big spree? I got $20 in Old Navy bonus bucks! Holla- whaaat?!) Never one to let a coupon expire, I hauled Brakes and Baby out to battle the pre-Christmas crowds. I also had to exchange a pair of pants that were apparently too edgy for Brakes ( you knew Old Navy is the new Hot Topic, right?). I chose a pair of shoes (adorable bronze flats with a fab ruffle along the toe), that were exactly $20 with tax. (I am so good.)
Shoes in hand, we joined the line. It was a long one, and I settled in for the wait. Brakes and Babe do not have the shopping stamina I enjoy so within minutes, Weezy was grabbing socks off the rack and cramming them into her mouth. Brakes was perseverating on the lights in the ceiling. When the muscle in his jaw began to clench and unclench, I suggested he take the baby and meet me at Home-Depot (or as we affectionately call it: our vacation home, as all our free-time and the equivalent of a second mortgage are spent there each weekend). He grabbed Weezy’s stroller and hightailed it out of ON. When I got to the front I had Brakes’ edgy pants to return but no shoes. “Where’d my shoes go? I had them right here.” Then my mind flashed to them hanging from the back of the stroller. The stroller Brakes was happily wheeling around the Depot by now.
I said, without thinking, “My husband took them…”
Realizing how that sounded and picturing security torturing me until I ratted him out, I lamely finished up, “… and put them back on the rack. He is always doing that. Ha. Ha-ha. What a wacky guy. Ha. Ha-ha. He sure does some crazy things. Yes-sir-e-bobby. Wacky. Waaa-cky! W-to-the-A-to-the-c-k-y! Whoo! Wacky! Anyways.” Just. Stop. Talking. My mind yelled. I bit my tongue, signed the return receipt, and booked it out the door, squeezing my eyes shut tight as I passed through the metal detector and obscuring my face with my purse as I passed by the video camera. I added a limp too, so as to further disguise my identity.
In a panic, I combed every aisle of Home Depot until I spotted Brakes. Still attached to my innocent baby’s stroller was the evidence of his crime. It was true. Brakes had shop-lifted a pair of shoes. I slowly approached the criminal and warned him not to do anything rash. He pretended shock at his deed and tried to use reverse psychology to distract from his error. After gazing at our sweet girl, happily munching on a paint-brush (which we paid for, I’ll have you know), we knew what we had to do; we had to return the shoes. I suggested Brakes launch them through the front door than dive into the get-away car but he insisted on doing it the old fashioned way. He marched us up to the counter, intent on explaining the situation. Before the words were out of his mouth, the cashier said, “You must be the husband that stole the shoes.” I started to babble incoherently again, but Brakes shot me a look. He gave the cashier a charming smile (Sigh.) and said, “That's me; but I’ve seen the light, and I would like to pay for the shoes now.” The 16 year-old employee just about swooned and happily ran our card. (I wonder if I earn bonus bucks on the bonus bucks?)
As we drove away, a contemplative Brakes confessed, “I have tasted a life of crime and it was bitter. Just bitter.” Something tells me I’ll get the old Brakes back soon.