I have heard it said, “No good deed goes unpunished.” Isn’t a good deed a commendable act? Let me answer that for you.
The sign half hanging off the mailbox post was made from a cardboard box and in a child’s hand writing were the words “garage sale.” It was the handwriting that got me.
On that warm September Saturday, I parked my car and walked toward the small meager garage where a pitiful assortment of toys and Christmas ornaments were strewn on a haphazard folding table. Stationed behind the money box was a very astute little girl who looked to be about 9 years old.
I was her only customer, and her eyes were locked on me. I told myself maybe this garage sale was her way of making money for something she deemed worthwhile. I could feel her excitement as I attempted small talk.
Some people may have been able to walk out of there emptyhanded, but not me. I thought I had perused her entire inventory and had resigned myself to buying a useless Christmas ornament when I found a small black purse. I looked it over, and the zipper worked so I handed her 50 cents and justified my purchase because it made a little girl happy, and every big girl needs a little black purse.
Fast forward to a few weeks ago, when I was invited to my great-niece’s school for an evening of “Scrooge.” My great-niece was playing the part of Tiny Tim. I was told she had practiced limping all week. Here I was again at the mercy of a little child.
I dressed in my best Scrooge-watching clothes, tucked my evening essentials into my little black purse and hurried off for a fun evening.
The lights dimmed, and the curtain went up. Soon it was time for Tiny Tim to limp across the stage. I may be prejudiced, but it was one of the best limps I had ever seen. I smiled as the music teacher helped with forgotten lines and when a piece or two of scenery took a tumble. Without a thought, I reached into my purse and retrieved a lip gloss. I rolled it smoothly onto my lips and returned it to my bag.
A nagging thought was interrupting my watching of the ghost of Christmas past. I resituated myself on my hard folding chair and again tasted the minty lip gloss. That was it. I had never owned minty lip gloss. Ever. The sound of rattling chains was interfering with me trying to reason why I was wearing minty lip gloss.
Laying on my lap was my little black purse. My eyes widened. I was wearing — no, not just wearing, I was tasting a stranger’s lip gloss!
I held my lips apart as I did the ever-so-inconspicuous hunched over hustle out of the gymnasium. Once in the hall, I frantically searched for the ladies room. I pumped and pumped the slimy pink sterile smelling soap and rubbed it onto my lips and thought about rubbing it on my tongue.
I rinsed and rinsed and spit and spit and reached for a paper towel. There was not a paper towel in sight. Only hand blowers. Instead I substituted toilet paper.
When I returned to the mirror I discovered the toilet paper had shredded and stuck to the irremovable minty lip gloss. I returned to the pink soap. Dripping wet, I put my face under the hand blower. Turning toward the mirror again, I saw a wet blouse, red swollen lips and my hair was blown into a style befitting a Scrooge play — if I were playing Scrooge.
I watched the rest of the play from the doorway because I was making a fast getaway at the first sound of applause. I would tell my great-niece later she was the star of the play. On my way to the parking lot, I threw that lip gloss into the trash, and I may have uttered, “Bah humbug!” I was chilly because of my wet shirt, and my lips were raw.
On the drive home, I thought through my experience, and it became clear. A child. This whole evening centered around a child. The child whose eager face I couldn’t disappoint, the child who limped across the stage, and the Child who is the reason for this season.
I reasoned I probably wouldn’t die from stranger lip gloss poisoning, and I knew for sure it wouldn’t be the last time I was at the mercy of a child.
Amy L. Joseph is an auctioneer, Realtor and freelance author.