“Careful, Max. Not so fast, ok buddy?”
“Ya Mom.” But not a minute later, he misjudged a crack in the cement and wobbled like a top about to fall, his hands and knees catching him on the unforgiving cement.
Max was inconsolable as she carried him into the pharmacy, rubbing his face into her shoulder. She had cleaned the small scrape on his knee at home but, as she was about to cover the wound, Max began to throw a fit. Dorothy only had plain, flesh-toned Band-Aids, and those simply would not do.
“They’re. So. UGLY!” Max had bellowed. She knew it was because he refused to stop for breakfast, his empty belly making him exaggeratingly angry. Dorothy was becoming increasingly frustrated his fit wasn’t abating, and her reaction to the situation also reminded her she needed tampons. This tantrum wasn’t typical of Max, a sweet little boy who loved dinosaurs and helping make dinner every night. But regardless of the rarity of his mood swings and her time of the month, it was still difficult to deal with as a single mom.
“Ok, buddy. What kind of Band-Aids do you want? Race cars? Minions? Whatever you want!” Dorothy was scanning the shelves, the screams from her son getting louder and more embarrassing in the quiet store.
“NoooOOOoooo! I want dinosaurs!” Dorothy sighed, the children’s section of first aid supplies was limited and there wasn’t a dinosaur in sight. Then she saw him.
He was standing on the other end and like most of the other customers, had been unable to ignore their meltdown. He was wearing dark jeans, a white oxford, and a camel-colored blazer. He looked tan, Dorothy remembering he had just spent a week in Phoenix for work. He put the box he had been holding in his basket and walked towards them.
Dorothy’s heart sunk and looked down quickly. Maybe he didn’t recognize me. She hadn’t showered that morning and was wearing her yoga pants with the hole in the side showing just the edge of her faded, most un-sexy underwear. Not to mention the super-pack of tampons in her basket. She thought about dropping it and bolting when she heard her name.
“Dorothy, hi!” He looked surprised as she watched his eyes take in the messy scene. Max had only stopped crying for a second when this stranger approached. However, he quickly resumed his screams with shocking volume.
“Max, shhh. Now, that’s enough. Hi Luke, how are you?” She reached up with her free hand to make sure that, yep, she had put her hair into the messiest bun she may have ever achieved. She could just picture it, frizzy and piled high on top of her head, the highlights looked brassy. She was planning to get them done before their next date – which was supposed to be tomorrow – but surely that wouldn’t happen after this encounter.
“Hi buddy, what seems to be the problem?”
“Bu, bu, band-ayyyys! I waaaaaa ‘saurs!!!!” He wasn’t even speaking clearly anymore, the tantrum reaching critical levels.
“He wants dinosaur Band-Aids. He fell off his bike this morning, and it’s just a little scrape but he
also skipped breakfast so I’m pretty sure he’s just hangry.”
“Hangry?” Luke looked confused.
“You know, the only reason you’re angry is because you’re hungry? Hangry.” Dorothy looked down and saw a box of Trojans in his basket and looked away quickly, grinning because she wasn’t the only one caught in an awkward purchase.
They had been on two dates - Dorothy’s first since the divorce. She was going to tell Luke about Max on their next one. She just didn’t know how things were supposed to work, what was too much information and when to give it. It was supposed to be casual, easy. A quick swipe right. But despite her feelings about the “hook up” app, she was a mom on a budget and it was free, unlike Match and eHarmony.
“Hey, Max?” Max stopped crying hearing his name from a stranger. “You know, I’m a dinosaur guy too. Wanna hear something cool?” Luke grabbed a box of lizard Band-Aids covered in orange geckos and bright green iguanas. “Dinosaurs are still around! Have you ever been to the zoo?”
“Yes.” Max answered hesitantly between sniffles.
“Well, you saw the iguanas, right?”
“Ya but those are just lizards.” Dorothy could feel her son’s body relax, distracted while talking about his favorite thing.
“They are lizards, you’re right. Do you have any cousins?”
“Yep. Emily. She’s four. She’s annoying and doesn’t know nothing about dinosaurs.”
“Well, lizards and dinosaurs are cousins. How cool is that?” Luke smiled and glanced at Dorothy.
“Have you been to the zoo since they got the dragon?”
Max’s red eyes got wide, the last of the tears making them bright. “What? No.”
“Yep. A Komodo dragon. Do you think I could take you to meet her sometime? Do you think your mom would like to come with us?”
“Maybe, she’s pretty boring.” Dorothy and Luke laughed and Max smiled, happy in his joke.
“I don’t think she’s boring.”
“Thank you, Luke. Come on Max, will these work?” she said taking the box from Luke. He nodded.
“Let’s go get some lunch. I’ll talk to you later?” she asked, hopeful but already fearing the answer.
“Well, ya! We’ve got a date to the zoo!”
Dorothy smiled and turned towards the register. “Ok, bye! Say ‘bye’ Max.” He waved and grabbed the box, staring at the dinosaur-kin, “Bye!”