Nail Polish and Supermarket Brawls

Today ended up being what I refer to as a Quintessential Shit Show. Children or not, we all have them. I have retained some memories of my old one woman Shit Shows and I have to say, the Shit Show starring Harried Mother is way more entertaining. Unless of course, you’re playing the role of Harried Mother.

It all started out reasonably enough. Despite day number two of persistent rain, I was playing it cool. I had it all together. I have to thank Dave for the good mornings we have around here. Not only does he hear and respond to his alarm clock, he’s suited up and adjusting his tie by the time he rouses me from a corpse-like slumber.

I’m not built for Maine’s climate between October 1st and May 15th. Climbing out of bed in mid-October is something like Chinese water torture, mainly because that morning chill lasts for months. What makes the torture worth it? Well, for the most part, Mainers are a kinder gentler people. I’ve enjoyed living amongst them and find that my New York edge has dulled a bit. I don’t need it here.

Inevitably, I get a little miffed when the weather turns cold and rainy. My edge gets a little sharper during this period of climate adjustment. Today the old sharpening tool started doing its job right away. After the bus pulled away, I sat down to whip out an essay I’ve been working on. I began perusing the four pages of notes I’d taken while reading the book I’ve been assigned and noticed that someone had done a lovely job of hacking them up with safety scissors. Kudos to her developing fine motor skills. Really, it made me proud. That is, until I realized I would need to find some tape to puzzle my thoughts back together before writing an essay worthy of graduate school. My puzzle took just under an hour, slightly intruding on the time I needed to shower and make lunch before hauling Gwen to preschool.

I was bounding up the stairs for that shower when I heard Kate’s quiet babbling. From her tone, I was able to discern that she was busy. That quiet babble suddenly lent an ominous air to the second floor. Or maybe it was the intense smell of coconut wafting out of my bathroom. I rounded the corner and found Kate shampooing her dry hair with what looked like half the bottle of my pricey shampoo thus whisking away an additional 10 – 15 minutes of precious shower time.

Fast forward 20 minutes and imagine a freshly bathed toddler and her mommy with freshly splashed armpits. Gwen had 10 minutes to snarf down her peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a glass of milk before we grabbed a cookie for the road. Despite the crazed frizzy hair and naked skin highlighting my dull reddened complexion, we made it to preschool on time. My edge was just slightly sharper.

From there, Kate and I had approximately 2 ½ hours to swing by the beauty supply and pick up some much needed frizz color and before heading to the grocery store. No problem, right?


Sally Beauty was uneventful enough. I was only mildly annoyed by the woman with shocking pink hair who seemed oblivious to the fact that she was blocking an entire aisle with her ass… I mean, her cart. I dealt with it and moved on. I made my purchases, including Kate’s coveted tiny bottle of pookie pink nail polish, and we hit the road, bound for the nearest grocery store.

First, it wasn’t my grocery store. I don’t have the layout of the aisles memorized. They never have what I need and there are never enough cashiers working despite its location at one of the busiest intersections in South Portland. In the interest of time, I decided to suck it up and bite the bullet. Somewhere deep inside my inner voice screamed at me, Are you sure you want to do this? The last time you went into this grocery store you nearly lost your grip on sanity. I ignored my inner-voice’s annoying habit of turning a statement into a question and decided that such negativity was just plain silly.

It was all relatively uneventful. With our groceries piled in the cart, Kate and I made our way to the checkout where, lo and behold, there was but one lonely woman working. The line snaked around the impulse purchases and past the seasonal displays. I glanced at my watch and realized that time was running short. Then I spotted the four empty self-checkout kiosks. They beckoned to me. I assessed the contents of my cart and guessed that I’d fill about four bags. Sure, that pushes the envelope at the self-checkout out, but they were empty. Besides, there’s no rule declaring them a 14 items or less zone. Right?

Of course, halfway through the hell of checking myself out, the lanes filled up with others clearly copying my genius maneuver. At some point, I felt a slight breeze on the back of my neck. Moments later, I felt it again. I turned to locate the source of the gusts and saw her behind me. Bitchy McAsshole.

She was impatiently waiting for me to wrap it up. When I turned, I caught her performing the ever-tricky eye-roll and huff combo. Hell, she even threw in an exasperated weight shift, moving her mass of nastiness from her left foot to her right. I ignored her and continued rushing my way through the pile. I kind of understood her frustration because I despise the grocery store too. I become bitter at the mere thought of entering any building where I’m forced to drop $200 dollars on things like cookies, wine and hormone injected chicken breasts.

As I scanned and Bitchy McAsshole performed her complicated routine of huffs, eye rolls and shifts, Kate was happily babbling away about Mickey Mouse balloons, the crayons I was buying and mostly, her new bottle of nail polish. She was so thrilled that she proudly held the bottle up to Bitchy McAsshole and said, “See my new naiw powish? Ith pink!” Bitchy McAsshole sent another breeze in my direction and snarled, “Oh.My.God.”

By now, my edge had been honed to a state of razor sharpness. Suddenly, her toe taps and exaggerated eye rolls became infuriating. Deep down inside, my inner New York girl was roused from her slumber. She’s a person who can turn and unabashedly hurl profanities at subway gropers. She’s a girl who was once overheard singing “turn around tight eyes” set to the tune of Bonny Tyler’s Total Eclipse of the Heart, after her She-Devil boss got an eye-job. (Shit like that doesn’t float in law firms, by the way. I speak from experience and have a copy of my first unemployment check stub to prove it.)

Anyway, when Bitchy McAsshole’s disgusted response to Kate’s nail polish display happened, the dormant New York girl came alive with a hearty roar.

Slowly, I turned and caught her at the end of a dramatic eye-roll which was followed by the beginnings of a dirty look. Clearly she thought she’d be delivering that glare to the back of my head. Mild surprise passed over her features when she realized that I was looking at her. She was in the process of reassembling her mask of annoyance when New York girl spoke. No, that’s not true. New York girl yelled. Loud.

“You know what lady? I’ve got enough shit to deal with today without you throwing more crap onto the pile!” I turned back to the scanner, but New York girl wasn’t done. “Does it look like I’m enjoying this fucking party? I was poised to continue but quickly realized that Bitchy McAsshole had never had a run-in with a person who may or may not be slightly crazy. I’m not sure if it was the volume of my voice or the fact that I used the F word in front of my toddler, but she stepped back and her jaw grew slack. I reigned New York girl in just slightly and jabbed a finger toward an empty checkout lane. That’s all. I just pointed and raised my eyebrows at her as if she were nothing more than a petulant little girl. And you know what? It felt good.

Now THAT, my friends, is a lovely ending for a Shit Show. 


  1. Awesome…just f*Cken awesome. I would have done the same exact thing!

  2. OMG….I love it! How I wish I had the ability to say what I think half the time! You always make me laugh! I hope you are able to enjoy that wine…..and you can blame the outburst on the hormones in our chicken!


  3. Kind of funny that an innocent little bottle of nail polish was the tipping point in all of this!

  4. I’m proud of you. Very proud, in fact, so proud my chest is swelling up. Hasn’t done that since I was preggers.

    Came out of Key Foods in Mahopac, parked nearby some babbling idiot of a woman who was unloading her shit into her Jeep…while yakking on her cell.

    Considerate person that I am (yes I are)…I walked my empty cart to the cart rack thingy and turned to see this miserable, ugly, foul-smelling (I’m on a roll here) bitch PUSH her cart away and it slammed into my car.

    Game on.

    I went after her and screamed….”Are you on fucking drugs????” She said…”Yes”

    What else could I say after that?

  5. Impressive! I am a NY girl too…ok well I was born in Syracuse and lived there till I was 3. But still I might use it to my advantage next time I have a grocery store incident.

  6. We are twins… husband also puts on his tie and leaves as we open our eyeballs and I also have a new York girl inside me that is usually quiet because she is tired and fat, but when provoked………

  7. I would have loved to have seen you in action…that’s just awesome 🙂

  8. way to go kell! no one messes with mama bear! last night was my sons birthday and while at a kiosk in the mall he was being swindled into buying some cell phone case by some ‘suave teenager’. I couldn’t take the b.s. from this kids mouth anymore! I said ‘look, you know he wants to buy that thing RIGHT NOW so you are trying to soak him for double the price for 1/2 the product! I am not an idiot, we saw it on the web 30 min. ago and can order it NOW! so don’t tell me it is $40 bucks ….I won’t give you more than $20 right now or we are walkin” my son was MORTIFIED!!! he wouldn’t talk to me the whole way home, oh yeah…he got his cell phone case…FOR 1/2 PRICE…..thanks crazy bitch mommy!!!!

  9. Yeah, we may live in the Middle of Nowhere, but there are cities girls deep within these Merrills. I was in Boston this weekend and it felt DAMN good. Sometimes it’s good to remember where you come from.

  10. That’s awesome! I’ve told a couple people off here, but the problem is I do it in english not french or arabic so they have no idea what I’m saying. So I guess that really doesn’t count….

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