I love our local zoo. It’s a great place to spend the day with kids. They have 435 species – ferocious and scary animals of every kind imaginable. But you will find nothing in the zoo more frightening than (cue shrieking sound) Tiffany, Professional Mother of Three.
The last time that Sean and I took in the zoo together happened to be the same day that (shrieking) Tiffany, Professional Mother of Three was there too. I first spotted her as Sean and I walked towards the entrance of the zoo. As we approached the ticket line, I noticed that she was wearing perfectly pressed crisp white Docker shorts, sensible yet stylish white sandals and a matching navy blue sweater set. With the sweater draped perfectly about her shoulders. Of course. Never mind that it was 93 degrees outside. Each of her three perfectly behaved children were dressed in matching white shorts and navy blue tops, the little girl with a matching headband. Perhaps they had just come from a JCPenney catalogue photo shoot. Or maybe they were going sailing later. Or maybe… MAYBE they were going back to (shrieking) Stepford!
I looked down at my tank top, blue jean shorts and flip flops and felt good that I didn’t have a coffee stain on me anywhere. That I could see. As we walked past TPMO3, with her perfectly dressed brood, she leaned over and said, “What a cute little boy! Did you know he has on two different shoes?” “Yes,” I lied with a straight face. I looked at Sean and no, the shoes were not an EXACT match, but they were close. They were both brown and they were both sandals. “He was very insistent about that!” I laughed. “Kids! What are you gonna do?” And I shrugged my shoulders. “I hear some kids do that!” she said cheerfully. SOME kids?? And then winked. Winked! Lucky for her, the only weapon I had readily available was a well worn flip flop which I was not willing to defile by using in a manner for which it was not intended. Unless she winked again. Then all bets were off.
One would think that given the size of the Ft. Worth Zoo that one probably wouldn’t bump into the same person more than once. At least that was my prayer. When we ran into her several hours later, she still looked as though she had just come from the spa while Sean and I looked as though we had just been pulled out of a commercial dryer. We had stopped to play in the sandbox and we had also bought a blue Icee drink, which we were both wearing.
We were looking at the horses in the area of the zoo that features all things domestic livestock, when TPMO3 came up behind me and squealed “Hi again! I’m TiffffanEEE!” She thrust her hand towards me in a manner that suggested she had practiced in the mirror. I thrust out my sandy blue hand in response. She took one look and slipped her hands into the pockets of her crisp white Dockers. “There’s that cute little boy with the two different shoes again!” she cooed as her children stood robotically still behind her.
Sean was standing on the second rail of a wooden fence to get a good look at the horses. “Oh be careful Sweetie!” she called to Sean. “I don’t want you to fall-all!” she sang. I was waiting for her to sing the second verse: “unlike your irresponsible negligent muh-thurr.” I failed to see her unrelenting interest in me unless she were looking for a project, someone she could lift up out of the sandy blue depths of haphazzard apparel and into the realm of clean, matching and pulled together.
“He’s fine,” I said to her after unhinging my jaw. “I let him climb on a ladder at home all the time.” Why oh why would I share this information with someone who probably has CPS on her speed dial? When I mentioned the ladder, her expression was one that you might wear if you had just discovered that your husband of twelve years was a female.
“No really,” I continued, “He’s pretty athletic and has a good sense of balance.” I added. Why did I feel the need to defend myself to this woman who was probably a good ten years younger than me? “Besides, if he falls, it’s not THAT far and I doubt that he would be seriously injured or that the horse would actually, you know, kill him!” STOP TALKING STOP TALKING NOW the voice inside my head screamed.
While I blathered on and on about my how horses almost never kill children, Sean had wandered off and I happened to catch sight of him out of the corner of my eye. He was bending down on all fours and was licking a grate covering a storm drain.
The look of horror on her face was priceless — as though she’d never seen anyone licking a storm drain. She abruptly gathered up her matching children and hurried off towards the Herpetarium. I swore I heard her instruct them to run, but maybe she said something about fun. I couldn’t really tell.
I called after her, “Tiff! Let’s get together for a play date! Call me!” No I didn’t really say that. I would have lobbed my flip flop at her though, but I’m not that good of an aim and she was moving pretty fast.