Crappiest shopping experience ever

Go ahead, take a seat.

“One more word,” my wife hissed, “and you will spend the rest of the day in the car.”

“Really?” My two-year-old considered the offer. “Okay. That’s more fun.”

“I can take Ricki to the car,” I proposed.

I love being helpful, and I hate shopping. This could be a win-win-escape deal.

“No,” Allie huffed. “I need you to help me pick out everything to redo the bathroom.”

“Mom!” Ricki whined at full volume. “You said if I talk I get to go to the car!”

Allie sighed.

“And I’m talking!”

“I’m talking too,” I added. “Can we both go to the car?”

“Marshall, I told you we’re picking out a new bathroom today!”

Eight months of pregnancy hadn’t improved my wife’s mood. Or mobility. Or figure. Long ago I had learned to kept these observations to myself.

“I trust you to pick out something great, Allie,” I said slowly and rationally, like I was talking to a toddler holding a grenade. “Plus I only have 49% of the vote in this, so you’re the decision-maker anyway.”

Allie sighed a second time. Slow and rational didn’t work; I was now on notice. Three sighs in a day means something bad happens. Bad with a sprinkle of pregnant-fury on top.

“Actually,” I said thoughtfully, “I want nothing more on this beautiful Saturday than to spend it with my wife … in a crowded store … deciding how to maximize our bathing and pooping experience.”

Third sigh. Humor didn’t work either. When we got home I was going to suffer.

“Marshall, you are going to help me. Ricki, you are going to follow without whining. If you two can do that, we can get home sooner rather than later.”

We followed my beluga bride to the bathroom section. A dozen faux toilet/tub/cabinet/tile arrangements stood in sparkling glory. Several women ooohed and ahhhed at the displays. Several men stood far away with phones out. I joined the man herd and pretended I was elsewhere. Netflix helped.

My wife started measuring, pricing, and running her hands along pretty much everything. If it couldn’t survive her touch, we probably didn’t want it in our home. Ricki wandered quietly around the displays. At age two she could mostly take care of herself.

And she did.

“Uh … sorry, buddy,” a guy whispered. “Is that your daughter?”

From the least popular bathroom display, what I’d call Truck Stop Chic, Ricki waved. She was butt naked. And sitting on the toilet. Straining. Amber liquid flowed over the floor tiles.

“That’s your kid, right?”

Allie might verbally pistol-whip me for this. She had probably assumed I’d watch my toddler instead of The Walking Dead on my phone. After six years of marriage Allie still doesn’t know me very well.

I motioned Ricki to come join me. She shook her head no.

“Why is she naked?” my new BFF asked.

“She just started potty training,” I whispered. “Last week she somehow managed to pee on her pants. Now to avoid that she strips before using the toilet.”

“Good solution … you’re whispering so your wife doesn’t hear?”


“But she’s going to find out eventually.”

“Maybe not. She’s not that observant.”

My daughter waved at me urgently.

I waved back more urgently. I gave the universal hand motion for get over here now before Mom notices!

“I went poopie, Dad!” Ricki shouted. “I need toilet paper!”

Heads whipped around. Truck Stop Chic became the most popular display.

Allie noticed. And she was not amused. Not at all.

“Dad! Where’s the toilet paper?”

My wife rushed toward me. She wasn’t holding anything to bludgeon, so this would be a bare-knuckles punishment. Instead of knocking me out or ripping my arms off and beating me with them, Allie continued past at a fast walk.

“I’ll get the car,” Allie whispered. “You get the kid.”

I wanted to talk, maybe renegotiate the who-does-what part, but Allie was gone.

“Daddy! Toilet paper!”

“Your wife noticed,” my ex-BFF laughed.

“Thanks for the update.”

“DADDY! I have poopie all over my behind!”

I pushed my way through the crowd of bemused shoppers. I tucked Ricki under one arm, like a squirming football, and grabbed her pile of clothes.

“Dad! I need to wipe the poop off!”

“Not this time, sweetie,” I whispered. To the crowd I announced: “There’s a slight discount on this unit. And feel free to test anything here. Toilets, showers, bidets— try it before you buy it!”

I ran out of the store. Every few steps my naked two-year-old demanded we stop and find toilet paper. She had just learned this potty trick, there was an order to follow, and she wanted to do it right.

Allie had the minivan waiting at the exit. We jumped in the open door and sped away like we’d robbed the place.

“You look terrified,” Allie chuckled. “Did you finally get some embarrassment you can’t take?”

“I got lucky.”

“You leave our daughter unattended and she poops in a display toilet in public and you’re lucky?”

“I’m a grown man running out of a crowded store with a naked and protesting little girl under my arm,” I explained. “Then I jump in the back of a waiting van and speed away. That is in no way sketchy! I’m lucky I’m not on the ground in cuffs or being beaten by some civic-minded dads.”

“I see.” Allie laughed.

“You’re enjoying this, aren’t you?”

“A little bit. You’re also lucky I have a sense of humor.”

Next time I reach my wife’s three-sigh limit, I just need to create an amusing crisis to avert her wrath. I’d remember this. And to be slightly fair, Allie is not actually violent. Her ‘wrath’ is limited to an hour of icy stares and passive-aggressive rumblings, then absolutely no action for at least 48 hours. So her wrath can be pretty heartless.

“Daddy! I didn’t get to wipe my behind!”

Ricki sat naked and fidgeting in her car seat.

“We’ll wipe it when we get home, dear. We’re almost there.”

“I told you I need toilet paper to wipe!”

Ricki held up two poop-smeared hands. She tried to clean her hands on the sides of the car seat. That didn’t work, so she wiped her hands on her bare legs. Everything she touched became coated, and evil-smelling.

“Lucky you,” Allie smiled sweetly. “As a prize for watching our daughter so well, you get to clean this up.”

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