I am a high-energy person. You'd be hard-pressed to find me sitting still any longer than I have to, so if I tell you I'm exhausted, you'd better believe I've been covering far more ground than usual.
My 10-year-old granddaughter, Sam, visited me for a weekend and begged me to take her to the mall.
"You know I hate malls, Sam," I argued. "They exhaust me."
"Please, Grandma. Pull-eeeease. You can sit while I go into the stores," she pleaded.
"That's not going to happen. I can't allow you to wander through shops yourself. I'll consider taking you if you promise that when I say I'm tired, you'll respect my wishes to leave. You know my arthritis rebels when I walk distances further than from my bedroom to my refrigerator."
"I promise. I promise."
"OK, I'm trusting you to keep your word."
Her face lit up.
The last time I visited a mall was to buy a birthday gift, and that was only after I had searched a dozen online sites and six free-standing stores. When I must shop for seasonal clothing I enter the mall wearing blinders, walk directly to my destination, purchase what I need, pivot, and leave. No trying on clothes or sniffing out the food court.
My first torturous experience with Sam was on Saturday, when my Lady Gaga wannabe begged for 4-inch purple high heels, a see-through belly blouse, glitter makeup and a push-up bra. It didn't matter that she had nothing to push up. She actually thought I'd buy her story about everyone in her fifth grade class wearing those things.
What she got from me instead was a purple plastic see-through pocket book that I filled with lip gloss, pink glitter nail polish and a mirror encased in pink fuzzy fabric.
Afterward, she talked me into taking her to a Chinese buffet. I could feel my ankles starting to swell even before the soy sauce touched my lips.
Next, she dragged me to an animated movie. I've not enjoyed animated movies since Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck, back in the forties. This day was no exception.
skating rink, sun glasses. neon, flashing strobe lights, hamburger roll, sounds of disco,
Finally, she coerced me into taking her to a roller skating rink where I wore dark sun glasses to filter out three and a half hours of flashing neon and strobe lights, and stuffed small pieces of hamburger roll into my ears to block out blaring sounds of disco that kept beat with my throbbing head.
The following day we found ourselves at the mall again. Until that day I had kidded myself into believing I knew how to say no. This time she was focused on coercing me into buying clothes. She must have had a divining rod under her shirt because she didn't waste a single step as she walked, with purpose, from store to store. And at each store, she selected skirts that revealed every inch of thigh, and tops that exposed her navel and wide expanses of midriff. We agreed on nothing, but it was clear that her clothing selection was based on her desire to attract boys.
It was at that point that we sat down on a mall bench while we talked and I painted her fingernails. We observed skimpily dressed girls who sauntered by, and I asked Sam what she believed boys thought of girls who dressed like that. I agreed with her belief that boys loved to look at girls dressed that way. But, I further explained, they liked them for all the wrong reasons.
Her head tilted. Her eyebrows furrowed. and I suddenly found myself in the awkward position of having to explain what those wrong reasons were. Since I've never been one to mince words with my grandchildren, she got the gist of my message even before her nails dried and suddenly it was apparent that she no longer viewed me as a fuddy duddy, because she now deferred to most of my fashion suggestions.
I drove Sam home Sunday evening, and I'm not even remotely embarrassed to admit I was thrilled that the weekend was over. Our time together was great fun and highly rewarding on many levels but, nevertheless, when I got home I crawled up the front steps, took the receiver off of the hook, slid under the covers and blocked out sights and sounds of the world. I was emotionally and physically drained, and happy in my knowledge that I had five whole days to recuperate and regenerate until next weekend, when I would have a chance to do it all again, with another grandchild.