By John Stiles
You know, this having a granddaughter is going to take some getting use to. I never really considered the various ramifications in all the joy of watching Emma Kathleen over the last four years. Youd think Id be used to it, having raised a couple of daughters. Come to think of it, though, their mother raised them, so maybe this is a lot more of a culture shock than I thought. But, as I remember it, I wasnt near as conscious of my own machismo in my late 20s as I appear to be in my late 50s. What a difference 30 years can make.
Take for instance Emmys fourth birthday, which we celebrated earlier this month. As it is with any of the kids birthdays and/or Christmas, it was my job to pick up at least one specific present. And this time Papa Richs chore was "some dress-up" clothes. Now, that all sounds innocent enough when your adult daughter explains it in a telephone call, "Now dad, Emma is really into dress-up, and theyve got the cutest " In my eagerness to do anything for the little blonde-haired, blue-eyed grandchild, I wrote down my eldests instructions and attempted to carry them out to the letter. I went to a couple of different stores and tried fulfilling my quest. You know we macho men, theres something very unmanly about asking for retail help or driving directions.
Anyway, I was having more than my share of problems in my search for the Holy Grail of pretend, adult wear. And it wasnt helping matters any that a 56-year-old, bearded grandfather was in charge of the search. Finally, I tried finding a clerk to help me out. So you know I was getting desperate. Do you know how tough it is to find any help in a store these days? It almost seems like they use those in store security cameras to find out when customers need some assistance, at which time all the spare help heads for the back room. And, wouldnt you know it, the first person I find in one of those silly looking, striped vests is a 60-something guy who is probably supplementing his Social Security. Now, at this point Im facing two distinct dilemmas. Firstly, I find myself having to go to another adult male and ask him where the "girls dress-up clothes" are kept. And secondly, theres no way a guy this age will have the slightest idea of what Im talking about, let alone where they keep such items. After three different stores, at none of which I even consider asking for directions, I finally stumble across what Im looking for. I find this purplish looking long thing made out of velvet-like material and that mesh-looking stuff they probably use for womens veils. It has a princess hat, pointed on top with another piece of veil draping down from the top. That and a pair of fancy silver-strapped heels with purple fluff attached. I gather the stuff up. Wouldnt you know they dont have them in boxes?
So, I discreetly as possible grab the long sought item and head for the counter, which was, as luck would have it, about a half-mile away. I go to the shortest line where a 20-something guy is doing the checking. I lay the dress and shoes on the conveyer and try and look over the guys shoulder for the closest exit. Finally, the clerk catches my glance and just before he speaks, I blurt out, "Its none of your business, pal!" "Im sorry sir?" he said with one of those looks suspended between terror and incredulity on his face. "That will be $27.80, ple ... please!"