I’m just going to jump right in and pick up where we left off last week. I’m now slowly traversing the parking lot towards the entrance of Walmart with a toddler at the end of each arm. Every 10 steps or so I look back towards my minivan to check the progress. It’s slow and arduous with seemingly no respite in the standoff between my wife and our 10-year-old. At least they were both out of the vehicle now. Another few steps and I look back again. My beautifully spherical bride is now walking towards us while Cybil is still leaning against the car, arms folded, and now crying. It was the longest walk of my life.

I made it into the foyer of the store and went to grab a cart. They were out of the tandem seat carts that I can safely sit both toddlers in. Presumably because Cletus was on his smoke break. So I now have to put them both in the basket portion of a regular cart so they don’t fight over who gets the seat. This is the point when my 4-year-old notices a pink elephant she’s particularly fond of in the claw machine deviously located in the vestibule of retail hell. The news that I had no coins in my possession was received about as well as a fart in church. She precariously wedged herself between the claw machine and the wall and proceeded to tell me how much she hated me.

I now focused on getting my 3-year-old in the cart. My eerie calmness was met with a range of emotions from passers by. Those with children viewed me with empathy, while those who are not parents looked at me with a blend of disdain and fear.

I eventually get the pair in the cart and proceed forth into the warehouse of nightmares. To the naked eye, I’m now completely void of any emotion when in fact I’m keeping them bottled up like a Genie in a lamp. By now, the other two members of my party have arrived in the store and things don’t look much better. They got as far as the produce section and I headed in the direction of nothing with the other two. Just aimlessly wandering about to stay out of range of the approaching tornado that is my wife and Cybil.

I started searching for the school supply section since that was our original goal. Like an idiot I made the mistake of heading to where the office supplies were. Nope! The same assholes who put a claw game just inside the front door have conveniently placed the school supply section in the toy section of the store. I find my way there, and let my 4-year-old pick out a backpack. My 3 year old wanted to pick one out as well. And though she won’t be attending school for another year, she’s the only one who hasn’t made me want to slit my own wrist today so she got one. While picking them out, my phone rang. I reticently answered to hear a demonic version of my wife’s voice say; “We’re in the car!”

I got to and through the checkout line as quickly as possible. As we are exiting the store my 4-year-old spies the claw game again and all hell broke loose. I had neither coins nor time for this. We got as far as the sidewalk when she threw her stuffed puppy (that goes everywhere with her) as far as she could, sat down on the ground, folded her arms and lost her mind. Again, all passers by taking in the spectacle that is my life.

After about a 4 minute volatile standoff I looked up and saw my own van heading towards us. I scooped up the 4-year-old and tossed her gently over my shoulder for a fireman’s carry, took the hand of my 3-year-old and started towards the car. Just then, the brakes were slammed on, the driver’s side door flung open and out jumped my wife in the middle of the parking lot. She opened the side door and began scolding the 10-year-old. I got to the car as quickly and calmly as I could with a screaming child on my shoulder. She screamed louder and louder as I strapped her into her seat. My wife was strapping the 3-year-old into her side at the same time. We got everyone safely in their seats and now all three were screaming and crying.

We passed each other walking around the car, so she could get into the driver’s side and I could sit shotgun. As I’m getting into the car I hear my wife shout; “What?!” I looked over to see a scarlet throated douche bag standing next to the car with his chest puffed out. My wife said to me; “what did you say to him?” I responded; “nothing, I didn’t even know he was there.”

Now let me remind you that at no time did we strike, harm, or threaten any of our children, nor did we use any inappropriate language.

Apparently this ruby neck had been standing just inches behind me for about the past four minutes but suddenly decided he was a badass when I was in the car with the door shut. I’m sure that in his tragically limited mental capacity he had convinced his own two digit IQ that he was being a good Samaritan.

I need to thoroughly describe this inbred, his girlfriend/sister, and their vehicle to properly set the stage. He is standing there with his chest puffed fully out yelling at the closed windows of my car. It’s 94 degrees yet he’s wearing jeans and boots. He of course has on a white sleeveless undershirt that we’ve all come to know as the “wife beater”. Fortunately it’s the ribbed variety so it should absorb his blood quite nicely. His generic brand cigarette dangles from his mouth as he chastises me. He’s wearing sunglasses that I can only assume he bought on ebay because they were worn by the cop in the Village People. His overall ensemble wreaked of emulation of Kevin Federline. If you don’t know who that is, (and there’s no reason you should), he was the coat tail riding ass clown that was married to Brittany Spears for a few minutes earlier this century. And at that juncture, sharing sack time with Brittany was about as notable a distinction as being the valedictorian of a midwestern VoTech high school.

Behind him was his grossly oversize pickup truck presumably compensating for a host of physical shortcomings. In the back window was one of those “in memory of” decals honoring one of his friends who passed away at a very young age. I’m guessing the result of either an accident involving fireworks, or a drunken fall from a deer stand. But hey, nothing says you will be missed and memorialized like your name and lifespan on a bumper sticker positioned right next to one of the little boy urinating on the Chevy logo. Unless this kid was murdered by a Camaro, I fail to see how this is appropriate.

Standing on the other side of the truck was his dentally challenged sibling/spouse. She looked like a cartoon character trying to eat a small piano. Her complexion made Manuel Noriega look like the after picture in a Proactive commercial. I can only assume that either she used to be a goalie on a professional lawn dart team and was very good at her job. Or she had spent a significant amount of time on the business end of a pipe. The pair’s complete misunderstanding of what they were witnessing told me that they did not have children. And on behalf of all inhabitants of Earth I say; “thank you for that.”

So now he’s approaching my car with chest out, and fully inked stick figure like arms raised. So I open my door and get back out of the car. At first I thought he was actually pissed that we had him blocked in his parking space. But then I realized he thought he was some kind of vigilante rescuing obnoxious children in distress. I stood up and looked at him and he says; “everything OK?” I said; “yeah, everything OK with you?” He said; “yup”. I said; “if you want it to stay that way you’ll turn around and walk the other way.”

Now I’d have to check the timeline of my bio, but I’m pretty sure the last physical altercation I was involved in was over a box of crayons. The pugilistic encounter was almost immediately defused by my kindergarten teacher. The point being, I’m not a fighter. But at this point after the day I’ve had my mindset was this. I’m furious with my kids right now but I can’t beat the crap out of them. You on the other hand are completely inconsequential. My always quick thinking wife realized that I was about to bludgeon this asshole within an inch of joining his uncle/father in the seventh circle of hell. So she started driving away with me only half in the car.

It was a long quiet ride home as I contemplated over whether I’d failed to defend my wife’s honor, or succeeded in not giving my kids a mental image that would scar them for life. And that’s how a day of school supply shopping went.

Thanks for playing along. Until next week, Syd Nichols