Neither First Steps nor Toddler Trot carried boots for one year olds. A clerk at the second store even went so far as to consult an online catalogue in order to try and find a pair for them. She stood behind the register gravely shaking her head as she read through the hundreds of different kinds of shoes that were available. No one that supplied her store seemed to manufacture anything like what Tara was looking for.
They went to Foot Kamp, they went to Soul Power, they went to Rugrats and Pumps and Flats and still they came up empty. They tried the discount shoe stores that were packed with boxes of sneakers up to their ceilings but none of them had boots to fit a toddler. They tried the malls one western wear store. The people there looked at them like they were crazy.
“Maybe you could just get him one of those costumes that come out of a bag.” Myrah suggested as they walked between the kiosk and shops which lined the first level.
Beside her, Tara shook her head. “Honey, I teach.” She said wearily. “I’m going to see hundreds of store bought costumes this Halloween. I do every year and they all look like trash. I’d like Gage to have something a little bit more personal.”
“I’ve seen them with these little cloth boots that you can slip on over their shoes.” Myrah offered. “Maybe you could just use those and do the rest of the outfit yourself.”
“Well I don’t know any boot makers.” Myrah said with notable frustration over her friend’s predicament. “Jack says that they hurt his feet and the kids have always liked rock and roll too much to be caught dead wearing a pair of them.”
“This is so aggravating.” The woman growled. “I’ve got a pair of jeans and a gingham shirt with mother of pearl buttons that I found at Lil’ Duds and Dainty Dresses last week so I don’t understand why I can’t find a pair of boots. Who wears mother of pearl without boots?”
“There.” Myrah said pointing into the window of an adolescent clothing store named North Fang. “I see gingham with mother of pearl on that shirt that they have in the display and they’re pairing it with sneakers.”
Tara slowed, looking into the window. The abstract headless body of a wooden mannequin stood among paper leaves and cardboard trees as the lone representative for their fall fashions. She wore a blue-jean skirt, thigh high stockings, tennis shoes and a pink blouse made of gingham fabric and mother of pearl buttons underneath a grey sweatshirt.
“It’s a cowboy fabric.” She said as they passed. “Why would you want to ruin the cowboy theme with sneakers?”
“I don’t know.”
“It seems like everyone’s trying to stand out and be creative these days.”
Myrah slapped her arm. “Have you seen what Jill’s done to her hair now?” She asked excitedly. “She’s gone off and dyed every last bit of it black!”
Tara rolled her eyes. “Oh boy.”
Tara stopped at one of the booths. A row of pill bottles declared themselves to be the next great weight loss miracle. “I don’t understand that girl.” She said as she took one and turned it over in her hands. “It’s unfair how gorgeous that she is and she just keeps doing everything that she can to ruin it.”
Myrah leaned her butt against the cart. “It actually looks pretty nice on her.”
“I wonder what Thom thinks of her changing the way that she looks all the time?”
“He probably doesn’t even notice.” Tara said. She held the pills out to Myrah. “I think I’m going to get these. What do you think?”
Myrah shook her head. “I wouldn’t. You don’t have anything wrong with you that a little walking couldn’t fix and besides, didn’t they kill a bunch of people a few years ago?”
“Those were different.” She replied tapping the products name with her finger. “See? They’ve changed the spelling. The others are illegal now.”
“I still wouldn’t get them.”
Tara put the bottle back and they walked on. After a while she said, “Thom’s a total curmudgeon. I think I would go slowly insane if I had to spend all of my time around him.”
“Do you think Jill’s gone insane?”
“No.” She said shaking her head. “She’s just an airhead and a bimbo. They’re born too stupid to go insane. I bet she’s dressing like a goth kid now.”
“No.” Myrah chuckled. “That would be something that I’d like to see but she still dresses like Jill. Lots of flowers and soft colors.”
“Did Clara ever get her detergent ad approved?” Tara asked changing the subject. “I haven’t seen her in a while.”
“She’s out of town right now trying to sell it. She hopped aboard a plane on Thursday to go up to Chicago and give a presentation. I think she’s going to go with the one that has the different colored bubbles on it.”
“Didn’t Jill suggest the bubbles?”
“I think that the bubbles suggested themselves.”
A man with a tray of perfume stepped out from behind one of the kiosk. “Would you like to try a sample?” He asked spreading his palm out over the vast assortment of fragrances.
“Give me a shot.” Myrah said. She pulled up the sleeve of her jacket and held her wrist out in his direction.
“Which one?” He smiled. He was young and good looking. He had short, messy hair and innocent eyes.
Plucking a bottle shaped like a torpedo from the tray he grinned sheepishly as he gave her a squirt. “That one is called Passion Bomb.” He said. He watched her as she held it to her nose.
“Do you think that Jack would like this?” She asked. She held the palm of her hand out for Tara to get a whiff.
The woman wrinkled her nose and shook her head.
They walked on.
After a while Tara said, “Wash on the Excitement Cycle.” repeating the words that their neighbor had spent two whole months developing. “I’d buy it.”
“I would too.”
“It’s a good saying.”
“It’s a good box.”
Tara pointed towards Decoys and Deer. “We might as well go in here.” She said as they approached the entrance. “I think I’ve tried everywhere else.”