Mother Earth was having a hot flash.
It had been stinking hot, hasn’t it? My air conditioner has been dripping sarcasm and my body parts have been sticking to each other like Post-it notes.
One day last week, I was hot and cranky, and although there had been a lot of domestic nudity, I had the decency to throw on a caftan before going on an ice cream run.
No sooner do I walk into the store when an itty bitty sweetheart of a gal comes up to me and asks, “Can I have that dress when you grow out of it?”
I’d bought my caftan in Mexico; it looked like what Mrs. Roper would wear if she’d moved to Cancun. This pup tent was not going to be form-fitting even if I ate three scoops of maple walnut ice cream.
“Pardon me?” I ask.
“I love your dress, beautiful lady. It has jewels. Can I have it when you grow out of it?”
Beautiful lady? I love children’s perception of things.
“How old are you?” I ask.
Her grandmother yells from behind the counter. “She’s four.” The little doll confides, “I loved three. It was a much better age.”
I started looking at all the tubs of ice cream, window-shopping with my mouth. I wanted something — either sweet or crunchy or salty or maybe a trifecta of abuse — but it was hard to concentrate with Sweetie Pie following me. She was breaking out her dance moves and rolling around the floor on her head, jabbering away the whole time.
“What are you looking for? Do you want to see me dance? If you buy an ice cream cone, you won’t be able to balance it and drive your truck at the same time.”
Oh yes I will, I thought.
As the little girl’s innocence washed over me, the need to obliterate my discomfort began to melt away. The three scoops of ice cream I’d had my heart set on became two, and eventually just a single scoop.
What a child she was — innocent like we all once were before we became filled with doubt and cynicism. She still had that openness to say what was in her heart.
As I left, she called out, “What’s your name?
“Deborah,” I said.
“Mine is Ruby.”
“Nice to meet you, Ruby.”
“You too, beautiful lady.”
I finished my one scoop — as I drove, thank you very much — and it made me feel a little less cranky. I had to admit that three scoops would have been overdoing it. We don’t have to eat more than we really need just to escape what’s troubling us. Sometimes, I thought, our inner child encourages us to accept ourselves, caftan and all.
And sometimes life just wants us to see the gifts before us and delight in a sweet treat like Ruby.
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