Usually the rule around the house is that once I go outside alone, Mr. Zoom knows to expect a story when I come back. To lessen the chances that I get myself beat up, arrested, or made to cry - Mr. Zoom will actually accompany me many places. This seems to keep the weirdness away.
And this is one of the main reasons I carry a camera with me at all times. If I didn't have actual proof of some of the things that happen to me, I'd think I'd gone "Beautiful Mind", without the brilliant part. Just the seeing things part.
Monday Mr. Zoom went with me to the gym. It was less of a protection thing for me and more of a want to get exercise for him. I was elated to have him with me. For all kinds of reasons, the most obvious being that I would be story free for the evening.
After I kicked the ass of a treadmill*, I went to the little lobby area to wait for Mr. Zoom. This area is directly in line with the "Kidz Klub" and often parents are streaming in and out with their minis. I was checking my e-mail with my phone and I looked up to see a little red headed kid, probably no more than 5 years old standing right in front of me. I exaggerate not, her face was inches away from my face. She asked me very loud and VERY directly, "Are you someone's mom?"
I went immobile in the head and body for a moment before I squeaked "No...no, I'm not." Her Mom raced back towards us to grab her, said "I'm so sorry!" to me and then drug the little depression machine off and out the door. I felt worse than I do when I'm forced to take a treadmill in front of the t.v. playing Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune. SMART. What is FAIL? THIN? fail. And now, YOUNG? fail.
It was already feeling a little unhip girl logic that told me this stranger's little girl thought I was a mom because I was old. It could have been because I was in the lobby area. It could have been because I had a cell phone and was using it. It could have been ANYTHING, but Mr. Zoom got to ride out the wave of self critical jibber jabber that followed. And I am quite surprised that he didn't sit me on the couch and tell me to shut my hole, life is pretty damn good - what some strange kid innocently asks me should not bring my whole world to a halt. Especially since I didn't know where the question was coming from.
But he didn't. He let river jump to conclusion run itself dry.
I like to think I don't have any illusions about being 39, and looking 39 - whatever that means. But you know that idea you have in your head of what an age looks like to you? But I suppose the truth is, that just like I believe the dryer shrinks my jeans, I love to believe that maybe I look pretty good for 39. And that nobody would ever mistake me as someone's mom. But just like the phrase "looks 39" is ambiguous, so is "looking like someone's mom". Because there are a lot of moms out there who are fantastic looking, as well as genuinely wonderful people I'd be honored to be compared to/mistaken for.
So what have I learned? That the dryer really DOES shrink my jeans. That's what.
*Not really, as everyone knows only Chuck Norris can kick treadmill ass.