I was riding in a car to my grandma’s house with my father and sister when we stopped off at the dime store. It was Mother’s Day and my dad was buying flowers for my mom.
Can there be a better place in the world for a kid than a dime store? Comic books, candy bars, plastic toys, pink superballs, squirt guns, and a mynah bird in the back that said the store’s name over and over. “Ben Franklin… Ben Franklin… Ben Franklin…”
It was like a paradise. You could not have invented a store more designed for me.
And then, as we slowed for the big curve that told me without looking that we were about to enter the neighboring town, my father asked if we remembered to bring our cards. Our Mother’s Day cards.
“Of course,” said Ellen, bored. Without looking up from her book she held up her construction-paper heart. Somehow it had lace around it. It looked perfect.
HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY, MOM
My cards never looked like that. Mine looked like someone dropped glue and glitter and construction paper and a magic marker into a blender.
Her cards looked like a machine made them. Mine looked like the product of a sneeze.
But in this case it was even worse, because I had no card. For Mother’s Day! Her day.
She had two kids. I was one. And I had forgotten to make her a card. I was about to let her down.
I started to cry. I could sign my name to Ellen’s card, but that’s what I always did, and lately I’d begun to suspect that people saw through it. Certainly Mom would know. She saw through everything.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” said my father. “What’s going on?”
I shook my head, unable to speak. My face had melted into tears. My mouth was stuck open.
“He forgot to make a card,” said Ellen, my interpreter in these moments. I hadn’t said a single word about the card. Somehow Ellen operated by big sister ESP.
“Oh the heck,” said my father. “Well, don’t worry. You can buy her one at the dime store.”
Buy her one! This was a treat! I could pick out something fancy, a perfect card. A card better than Ellen’s card.
I cheered up immediately. Vanilla cokes or cherry cokes (another dime store bonus), plus a perfect card, plus the flowers.
I was on my way. Continue reading