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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Relative Direction

I spent the day Christmas shopping, of all things. I started at Barnes and Noble, then hit Goodwill. By lunchtime I needed a break, and instead of braving the mall, where I was ultimately headed and which has food built in, I stopped at Eat'n Park for their comprehensive soup and salad bar and my frequent treat, a Pepsi-Cola. (I do not drink soda pop at home, but I almost always order it when I go out. I've taken to calling it "soda pop" since I feel awkward just saying "pop," but I like the innocent sound of it. "Soda" is too clinical by itself. And around here, most places serve Pepsi and not Coke, so I usually ask for a Pepsi. Before I knew the lay of the land, I would ask for just "cola," but that only confused most people.) They also serve pie, but I didn't end up needing any.

I was having a hard time, and kept my head down, trying not to make unnecessary eye contact. It took a couple plates of greens and a cup of soup before I felt at all comfortable. But the first thing that shook me out of my self-absorption was the voice of the little girl with her sister and mother in the next booth.

At the table next to me, this Mom was a fantastic teacher with her two very little girls (1-3 years old). It first caught my attention when the older of the girls was talking about a fictional character. Her Mom couldn't figure out which she meant, and the girl said, "I'll show you when we get home." I expect that being able to put something off that is important to you ("delaying gratification") is a late-blooming and advanced skill requiring abstract thought. I have a lot of trouble with it, partially because I know I will forget about what I said by the time "later" comes. I was impressed; it sounded much more mature than I expected from such a small person.

Later, Mom successfully explained how your right and left stay with you when you face a different direction, but change relative to everything else. How as they were facing each other, their respective rights and lefts were different, but if she were to turn around, they would be lined up. Relative direction (e.g., right or left) versus absolute direction (east or west). This time, I was impressed by both parties involved. It brightened my day.

After lunch, I was able to do the rounds of two floors at the Mall,  finally finding relief with the kind ladies at Julia's Sweets and Stems. A candy store worthy of the name is what I'll call it. Spent a few dollars there on gifts. I was spent myself, and returned my library book into the Book Drop bin outside the library without getting out of the car. I was thirsty, too, but I didn't want to go anywhere and buy water. I put on Moira's sun hat, which was wedged between the dashboard and the windshield, to cheer myself up. If you're feeling crabby or blue, put on a silly hat. The quicker you say, "no, that's stupid," the more you need it. Put it on and give a big, goofy grin to the first person that snickers, and you won't be able to wipe that smile off your face. It's magic.