The Matron And Me

My daughter decided, very belatedly, that she wanted to go to the school homecoming dance. She borrowed a dress and looked gorgeous in it. (My daughter did not inherit her mother's lack-of-attractiveness.) But, as always happens in a case like this, there was a vital part missing from the ensemble and a trip to the store was necessary. Well, what's a mom to do?

I slapped on a baseball cap, gathered up the car keys and drove her to the "Insert Syllable Here-Mart". Yes, I know the 'Marts are endangering the small business owner and are a blight upon the face of the universe, but cut me some slack, okay? We went in, wandered through the aisles and found the necessary accessory, though we were not sure on the size needed.

So, off to the dressing room we went.

The Matron of the dressing room–possibly a retired prison warden, or maybe just a former accountant–carefully double checked my daughter's count of "three" items and indicated an available changing room.

"Want me to come with?" I casually asked.

"Sure," daughter replied. It's a girl thing, you know. Sometimes you need that second opinion.

Two steps later, the Matron blocked my path. Her eyes glowed with simmering disdain building into complete outrage and her mouth opened to cut me to pieces with I-don't-know-what, but then, she looked down. At my purse. Her eyes lingered for a second and she stepped back with a grunted, "Hmph. Okay then." And I was allowed to pass the sacred portal.

As my daughter tried things on and debated in the non-stop chattering way of teenage girls everywhere, I sat on the dressing room's benchlet in stunned silence. The thought kept repeating itself in my head. She thought you were a guy. She really thought you were a guy. Going into a woman's changing room. With a fifteen year old girl!

Crap on a biscuit!

I swung between hilarity and indignation. Did the Matron think I was a teenage boyfriend? (In which case, some latitude could be given. Heck, gender aside, it's been a long time since I've been mistaken for a kid!) Or did she think I was a forty-year old pervert?

Had my voice dropped a few octaves while I wasn't paying attention?

What if I hadn't been carrying my purse? I don't always.

What would I say to her when we went back out? Should I try something witty? Something cutting? Something dismissive? Should I thank her for protecting my daughter's virtue? Offer a recommendation for a decent optometrist? Should I lash out or extend the hand of friendship?

When we went out, the Matron was gone.

In retrospect, I'd like to think that she was as embarrassed as I was and beat a retreat because . . . I mean, what can you say in a case like that?

In retrospect, I'd like to think that I'd have let the unintended insult pass with good humor and the embarrassed smile of an almost-joke shared.

I'd like to think that I would not have used the occasion to let pent up fear and anger coalesce into a deadly beam of laser sharp hostility. I'd like to think I'm better than that.

In truth, I don't know what I would have done.

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