Bea and I went to the revenue office, which is what you city slickers call “the DMV.” At the time I tapped this into my phone, there were seven customers at the counter and someone had just called out for number 67. I held ticket 88.
Right after we got seated, a nice gentleman in the row of seats in front of us turned around and said, “Here, you want this?” He had a piece of paper between his fingers. Was he giving it to me or Bea? I thought he was kidding, so I stared at him slackjawed and dumbfounded until he said, “I gotta go.”
Before my brain could put together the fact that he was about to offer us his spot in line and bail out, the man currently sitting on the other side of Bea snatched the ticket from his outstretched hand. It was number 77. My stomach flopped. I started trying to come up with speed-related clichés to write here, but they all sounded banal except for “He who hesitates, masturbates.” That definitely has a ring to it, but it also sorta implies sexual assault, so instead you can have this metaconversation in its place.
A woman yelped and giggled because she had pulled number 94. She said she was going to have time to take a nap. They called 71, 72, and 73 to the desk, and then 74, 75, and 76 came in quick succession. The impatient crowd had apparently thinned itself out. Swiper (no swiping) startled beside us and lifted his ass from his seat on the call of “76” before he realized he was one announcement short of freedom.
77! Swiper popped up there like he was in a big hurry. The nausea I’d felt for snoozing and losing had almost subsided. He had been there first, anyway. 78. 79. Bea was playing a Strawberry Shortcake game on Cora’s tablet. We had just been at the assessor’s office and Bea had started crying for a cooking game on the way back to the van. 80. She didn’t have one downloaded, but Cora had left her tablet in the backseat, and she did. 81. 82. Thanks, Cora.
It’s a good thing, too, because there was no wifi in there and there’s no data plan for a Kindle Fire. You iPad folks are spoiled rotten. My shiny new Samsung barely works indoors unless I’m at home. I used to come up with conspiracy theories about bad phone reception (83) but the simple fact is that metal framed buildings are big-ass Faraday cages. Now, whether or not the business owners are glad their engineering is a de facto signal blocker is another discussion entirely.
Bea briefly sang a song about eating cake, and the guy behind us sighed. 84. 85. He was probably sick of waiting, but it was hard not to internalize everything with my Dad Instinct. 86.
87. I’d decided not to run like Swiper. I considered picking Bea up. My wallet had curved my spine on the hard plastic chair and my back hurt.
I shoved my phone into my pocket and set off without Bea. This is where the live dad blogging ended and the adventure began.
“Come on, Bea,” I said. I’d made it halfway to the other end of the long counter. The receptionist had her hand up.
“All the way down here,” she said.
Bea had just left the aisle we had been seated in. “Dad,” she said, “I need to go potty.”
“Uh,” I said, as I stood with my back to the receptionist. Forty or so people stared. Why are people so damned quiet in public buildings and why are going-on three-year-olds so loud? “Let’s get this done and then we’ll go.” I felt a disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out, “Bad Dad.”
“Dad, I need to go potty,” Bea said.
“Oh, it’s okay,” the receptionist said. “I can get started on this and you can take her back there, all the way back and to the right.”
“Oh wow, really? Thank you so much. I’m so sorry.”
“It’s okay, I have a two-year-old. I know how it is.”
I shoved my stack of paperwork at her and threw Bea over my shoulder. The employees behind the desk cooed at her. We busted up into the employee restroom and did our business in a relatively timely manner, ran the coo gauntlet again on the way back, and arrived at the desk to find the receptionist had already finished registering the Dadmobile.
“How old is she?” she asked.
“Not quite three, her birthday is in June.”
“Is this your first?”
“Oh no. I have two others.”
“Oh, I should ask you for tips. We’re having the hardest time getting my daughter to go.”
“I really have no idea,” I said. “They have a potty in the room at day care and they kinda make it happen.”
“Oh, where do you go?”
“Uh,” I drew a blank. She started to give me a weird stare so I made something up. “Um, Helping Hands Day Care. They’re great. They got my oldest one going on her own.”
She mentioned the name of her day care, which I promptly forgot, and concluded our transaction. I thanked her again and we were on our way. Cue more coos from the citizens of Jonesboro.
Next, we stopped by Cora’s doctor’s office to pick up records for kindergarten registration. Bea allowed me to listen to NPR on the way there, which was a treat. If Cora is in the vehicle she’d have already flipped out about watching a DVD. Yep, I own a van with a DVD player. I’ve arrived.
NPR’s brain trust had a pretty level-headed discussions about Jeff Sessions and Russia. I realized again why I could never be a politician. Even the representative for the Democrat opposition was interested in fact-finding and procedural investigation. He was obviously concerned but at the same time his demeanor was so even keeled he might have been discussing a questionable speeding ticket. I, on the other hand, am prone to vituperation. I might suggest Sessions recuse himself onto a rocket into the sun.
“Well Steve,” I would say, “it’s a big shocker that the guy who Coretta Scott King said was, and I’m paraphrasing, an inexcusable douchenozzle, turned out to be the entire bag of douche.”
We acquired the paperwork without too many roadblocks. There was a tense moment when the receptionist suggested the vaccination program might be down, which would have necessitated a future return trip to retrieve the records, but she teamed up with a coworker to find a workaround.
“Are you nervous about kindergarten?” she asked.
“A little,” I said. “She’s already been going to preschool, so I think she has the hang of it, but it’s going to be a new place.”
“Yeah, new places are always difficult when you throw them in there, but it’s good she’s had some experience.”
We got up to leave. Bea was tired of walking, so I picked her up.
“She’s so sweet,” the receptionist said.
Procrastination had been nipping at my heels, and with every task I considered going home and putting everything off until my next free day, but no day is really free when you have three kids. There’s no time like the present. In that spirit, I set a course for The Mall at Turtle Creek, which will never not sound like a battle.
Bea and I had to wait a bit for Elite Eye Care to open. I wanted to make an appointment to get some contacts so I can cosplay the Brigadier more accurately. This never occurred to me until last time we attended FanExpo and a photographer requested I remove my glasses because “the Brigadier doesn’t wear those.” I was a bit pissed at the time, but I’ve had time to ruminate and decide he was correct, if not a bit of a dickhead.
A pack of kids hovered in front of GameStop. I’m sure they were hoping to catch an understocked Nintendo device. I’ve been dreaming about a Classic Nintendo since they announced the super cheap $60 multi-game set last year. I could get one today on Amazon for $150, but I’d rather wait. Nintendo has Apple beaten badly on the whole scarcity-of-new-devices front, but they don’t understand that you have to have at least a few to sell instead of banking on the phantom of a inkling that someday, someone might see a Classic set crest a hill under a rainbow like a fucking unicorn and spread its controllers, releasing a spray of Mario coins. As it is, Nintendo can’t properly stock the last umpteen devices they’ve released since last century, so why even bother?
I looked up, and Elite Eye Care had put their easel sign outside the door while I had my back turned. Bea was absolutely done at this point. Her mood was good but her body was no longer willing to mogate, as my mom says, so I picked her up and carried her into the lobby. Somehow, a dozen people had slid in there during the ten seconds I’d been proofreading this very post. Oh well.
There weren’t any appointment slots left today, so I scheduled one for next Wednesday. That’s plenty of time to ship contacts, a process that’s required because I have an astigmatism, so I’m all set. No nitpicky nerds are going to call out my screen inaccurate specs this year. I’m sure someone will find something to pick at, so bring it on, Big Bang Theory. Your criticism is the fire that forges this fine cosplaying blade.
We’re home now. Bea is plowing through my Ritz crackers, and we’ve already done a hundred Bea Push-ups. That’s when she sits on my back and helps me exercise. At 32 pounds, it’s quite a workout.
I’m hoping I can keep that up like Milo of Croton and his bull, but we’ll see. I’m not sure which will give first, my strength or her attention span. It’s still cool to help Dad, and that’s not a thing that lasts forever. Today, though, I’ve got the best errand buddy and workout spotter a guy could ask for.