I flipped a coin with my husband — and lost. I tried to pass the task off on Boy in Black, but he came up with some excuse. (I’ve long suspected that he has the same fear of malls that I do.) My daughter was sadly unavailable. And so that’s how it happened. Suddenly, I was headed to the mall with With-a-Why, my quiet, long-haired baby-of-the-family.
In the car, I tried to convince myself that maybe it wouldn’t be so bad. We weren’t buying clothes. Nothing needed to be tried on. We simply needed to buy a present for a friend. For a birthday party that started in an hour.
Me: (cheerfully) Let’s make a plan! What do you want to get him?
With-a-Why: I don’t know.
Me: You must have some idea.
With-a-Why: (fiddling with the CD player) Where’s the Wilco CD?
Me: What kind of gift would a fourteen-year-old boy like?
With-a-Why: (shrugging) How should I know?
Me: Um …. you ARE a fourteen-year-old boy.
With-a-Why: But I’m not like most people my age.
Me: But you do KNOW him, right?
With-a-Why: He sits at my lunch table.
Me: So what do you talk about?
With-a-Why: He likes granola bars.
I looked at my watch. This was going to be a long hour.