How long had we been there trying on shoes? Maybe a half hour? Maybe more.
It had seemed to me to be a long time, anyway. The trip getting to the store was fraught with other commuters tailgating or performing automobile ballet and other magical maneuvers to get just a few feet ahead of us on the road.
I tried to relax by pretending there was a fire. Maybe they have an emergency to get to, and that's why they are so impatient. But I swore under my breath anyway.
Everyone always in a stupid rush to get nowhere.
She had her heart set on “combat boots,” or that's what she called the lightweight lace-up boots made of pleather that her generation would pair with a frilly dress and opaque tights. I didn't tell her about how my generation wore them, not after I saw the shadow of all the fashion possibilities parading past her eyes in the catwalk of her imagination.
And like any child about to get this weeks' heart's desire, she was thanking me profusely for this extra special spending spree.
I forgot my wallet.
Well, not exactly typical. Typical, for me, is walking to dinner with friends, having the wallet (unzipped) but not noticing as a credit card falls out of it like a single, solitary leaf windmilling away from its plastic tree.
Typical, as luck and mortification would have it, also involves friends finding it forthwith and spending the majority of the dinner hour making jokes.
Because, I can admit, my usual clueless has a humor all its own.
But I digress.
My daughter tries to conjure the card from thin air by going out to the parking lot to check the car as I dump out my bag's contents on the counter. Also a futile act, since I can see the card in my mind's eye where I left it … in a different wallet … on the dinning room table. At home. Twenty minutes away.
The lady behind the register is smiling her least awkward smile, not to mention apologizing to me for my own oversight.
My daughter came back into the store, arms lifted with the disbelieving expression of the tailgating drivers minus the anger.
Was it a minor or a major disappointment? I couldn't tell from her face. There were no frowns or tears. Just a half smile I couldn't decipher. She had planned to wear the boots tomorrow she told me; only I would be returning to the store at the same time to pick them up and pay for them. So she'd be wearing them in her mind.
But it was OK, she said, as the lady at the register tore a bit of tape, wrote our name on it and affixed it to our box, now stacked at the top of several others whose would-be owners also vowed to return at a later date.
It's just Picture Day tomorrow, and they don't show your feet.
And we drove home in a familiar silence that isn't exactly quiet since its filled with mild disappointment and pop radio banter.
I know I will drop her off at home, collect my wallet and go back to the store.
Who needs the hassle of a morning commute they don't need to make?
Especially when I'll get to see the official pictures: Her smiling face and unseen boots.