Can I ask you a question, and please pardon the colorful nature of my language…

What the ever loving fuck are people doing in the bathrooms at the mall?

A much ballyhooed dalliance with Jessica Simpson notwithstanding, this man is fucking genius.

The other night Sean and I packed the girls in the car, Grandma tucked snugly betwixt the car seats, and headed for points south (just Albany, but that sounded slightly more jet set). After dropping Grandma at the airport, we headed to Crossgates Mall. I had two bags in the car, one was the “in case of breakdown and sub zero temperatures” bag- gloves, hats, snowsuits, pjs, food, and blankets. The other was the “diaper bag light”, meaning just diapers, wipes and middle of dinner in a restaurant tantrum stalling tactics like crayons and dead cell phones. No extra onesies, no extra nothing. Writing this after the fact I realize how egregious my error of not packing a “cover any eventuality” diaper bag was. We were going to the mall, what was I thinking? To hell with traveling light, I should have been packing 16 changes of clothes, 8 bags of princess food, coloring books, special cut a wavy pattern scissors and a kitten, because, you know, kittens can fix anything. Nothing to do now but share the miserable story with you. Or make that the “You are going to feel like a better mom and smarter human being” once you read this story. You’re welcome.

We stooped over clutching our sweet girls to our chests as we made our way through the cold, wet night, the wind whipping ferociously at our bare hands and faces. Once in the mall we began the requisite unbundling and relentlesss, “Do you want to walk or do you want Mom to carry you?” game.

“Briar walk. Mama carry Briar’s doll.”

“Ok, sweetie.”

We slowly searched for a mall map to find out how to get to the Apple Store.

“Mama up. Mama pick Briar up.”

“Ok, babe.”

Looking at the map we realized that we just may have parked as far as physically possible from both a bathroom (Damn mom of two, peanut bladder) and the Apple Store.

“Briar walk. Briar walk now!”

“Here you go, Briar.”

After a race walk to and through the Apple Store we decided to eat, mull and return. I won’t go into the sordid details of our Outback experience other than to say that my stance on spanking (Don’t and Won’t) was soundly reinforced by the ragamuffin, mop top who after making what I think would fall into the “peep” category, was wrenched from the booth by his up until that moment sweet and serene mom, his little body swooshed up in the air, Dad and the other kid studiously looked away and seemed to be praying that mom wouldn’t turn her wrath on them.

“Oh mommy, no. Please don’t spank me.”

Mom then swore something hateful, frightening and evil through clenched teeth as the child swung limply from her tiny clenched hands. They disappeared for about 5 minutes and I found myself seriously worried that she would decide to spank her other child and then mine. We weren’t too torn up about leaving our barely touched Outbad food and making a swift exit.

Heading back to the Apple Store I carried Briar and said:

“This is almost impossoble.”

“What is?”

“Passing H&M when I am so desperately in need of pants that don’t make me look like I’m headed for a clam bake.”

“Go in.”

We swapped kids and bags, Sean taking Briar and the coats, and me heading in with Avery and the diaper bag that wasn’t. Ok, actualy it started the other way around, but Briar’s threshold for shopping is up there with mine for Rachel Ray. So 5 minutes into my speed shop Briar ignited into a raging meltdown, drawing stares from everyone and Sean came to my rescue. Avery was a happy, compliant cuddle lump, flirting with man, woman and mannequin alike. We made record time until we hit the check out.

By the time the second woman cut in front of me I realized that I was cupping a hot denim cheek, soaked through to my palm with poop. Oh yes, this was no pee leak, this was a shit explosion and the smell was making my upper lip sweat. The woman in front of me was returning a pile of clothes (Good call on the white suit return) and each item bore some sort of explanantion in her mind-

“My daughter like bedazzling, but these jeans weren’t her es-tyle.” Honestly, she said “es- tyle” like “t-shirt.” And I realize there is no “s” on like, it’s what she said. I tried to prevent my mouth from falling open as I listened.

“I was diggin’ on this here sweater, but I tell you the girls weren’t havin’ it.” The “girls” meaning breasts and at the size of hers it goes without saying that you can neither reach your arms around back or expect a twin set to survive the challenge.

After a merciless 15 minutes we made it out of the store. I was more than a little thrilled to find Sean happily chasing Briar, rather than lobbying that we institute a spanking clause. I let him know that I needed to change Avery. He started to ask why I didn’t do so in the dressing room, but he’s a smart man, and stopped. He pointed out a bathroom. I hurried over plotting how I would ditch her tights and onesie and clean the jeans as well as I could.

We entered the bathroom and I quickly scanned for a changing table. No dice, so I made a beeline for the handicap bathroom. Foiled again, some hateful mall rat had slithered underneath the door and locked it from the inside. I turned and faced the counter. 3 sinks with about 7 inches of space between each basin. The entire expanse of formica was soaked and in a failed bid for cleanliness there were nothing but touchless blowers, no paper towels, no toilet seat liners and the tp was .25 ply and would not have withstood the swiping of 2 hummingbird tears. I pulled my sleeve down, wiped a baby sized area of counter and laid her down.

I retrieved the wipes and a diaper and made a hopeful pass of the bag thinking perhaps there might be a rumpled onesie. Nope. I removed the jeans, the back pocket literally tinted brown from her explosion. Then came the tights, soiled from knee to hip, I chucked them in the trash and sort of missed, the tights hung precariously from the edge of the can. She was remarkably calm, and dare I say content, whilst I worked at keeping her from falling and protecting the counter from shit smears. I removed her sweater and onesie, setting aside the sweater to use as a shirt. Damnit, she was content because she had been using the touchless faucet to soak her sweater and her sister’s coat from wrist to collar. Bag it, she’ll wear a coat and the jeans. Then I looked at her feet, her bare pink feet. Super, fast tracking for mom of the year as I take her out into the mall in a too large coat that exposes tender collar bone, clad in ass soaked jeans tht smell faintly of diarhea, with bare feet. Whatever. I flipped the heavy diaper toward the garbage can just as, wait for it, an elderly woman walked in. The diaper swirled overhead making its way to the can, the puffy cloud, of pristine silver hair entered the frame. Time stood still as I waited for the soggy package to explode against a soft, grandmother cheek. Silver rimmed glasses turned toward me as a white blur whizzed past and hit the can sending a pair of crappy tights into the garbage.

“Hello.” She said to me as the diaper made the can gently burp as it hit bottom.

Avery kicked her legs and cooed.

“What a sweet littel angel,” she said.

“Thanks.” I said as I felt Avery toot in her diaper. “Please don’t poop again, please,” I silently willed.

She walked into a stall and I saw a tan streaked wipe disappear into the stall from the corner of my eye. I admit it, I didn’t say anything. I made a hasty exit, cradling a pair of not yet chilly toes in my hands. Luck took pity on me and I was at the register of a Baby Gap store in less than five minutes. Avery and I used the bathroom there, no wet counter tops thank you very much, as I changed her into a white, cable knit sweater one piece. I breathed a sigh of relief as I shook the shitty experience and prepared myself for the Apple Store. Avery looked up at me with a sweet smile. There was no judgement for the ill packed bag, no disappointment for having lost my internal cool. I was no longer sweating.

“I can totally do this.” I thought.

Just then Avery made an odd sound and face. What’s that? Shit, she’s gagging. I clapped her back, reached in her mouth and removed a large piece of broccoli. What the hell? I flung it off my finger and into the can onto the mirror. A nasty, green glob. I stared at it. I pondered. I toyed. I did the right thing and cleaned it off. I will not be fodder for Dane Cook’s next bathroom bit.