I was invited to a birthday party! It was to be the party for my four year old 'grand-godson'. Samantha and Edward were asked to be god-parents to their friends' children, and I suggested that if my daughter was to be a 'god-mother', this would, in turn, make me, by default, an honorary 'grand' person. I accepted the invitation and asked the question, 'What should I buy a four year old boy'. Surprisingly enough, the answer was the same as twenty five years ago. 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles', of course!
Our search began, last Saturday, in the big toy store with the giant giraffe, and the reversed 'R'. As we entered the shop, a life size model turtle (as in mutant ninjas, rather than genuine) greeted us. We could tell by the tell-tale orange band around his eyes, that he was, indeed, Michelangelo. Being the mother of a boy, born in the eighties, my knowledge of these mutant ninja beings was quite prolific, and having had to be completely proficient in all things 'turtle' circa 1990, unfortunately, I have not forgotten very much! However, I digress. Michelangelo welcomed me, with raised arms, and I very rudely, ignored him completely!
We wandered around the store and noticed the inordinate amount of 'princesses', skipping through the aisles. Eventually, we found their 'castle', which was a workstation near the entrance, where they had been making 'things'. I approached the desk, and picked up a small purple, plastic wand. Waving it around, in a semi-expectant way, not really believing that my daughter's attire would change from jeans and a t-shirt to ballgown and glass slippers, I was asked by the store assistant, 'Do you want to make a Christmas ornament?' I smiled, as sweetly as I could, but before I had a chance to refuse, my daughter repeated the question; 'Yes, do you want to make a Christmas Ornament, child?' A lady to our left stopped trying to unglue her daughter's glittery sticker embelleshed hands from the table, and did her best to smile. I was gracious, but honest. 'This is what you have to look forward to'. I pointed to her daughter, who was now trying to exit the area, still stuck to the desk, and waving my wand, added, 'One day, she will talk to you like this'. The shop assistant laughed slightly, and took the plastic stick from me, suggesting that she give me a demonstration as to how the wand was really to work. 'It doesn't cast spells' was written all over her face, but she didn't verbalise the point. Instead, she attempted to use the failing object to get a small mechanical dog to move. It would not work. No matter how many buttons she pressed, the dog stayed still. 'It's like your dog', I said to Samantha', 'Tell it to do something, and it ignores you!' We thanked the assistant, gave another sympathetic smile to the mother whose daughter now had a desk for gloves, and made our way to the exit.
Samantha's powers of observation were very sharp. Apparently, Michelangelo had been compromised. No longer were his hands held high, welcoming shoppers, but one arm was now down by his side. This was not right! She decided the matter needed to be rectified, and lifted his left arm to match the right. Satisfied with the result, she bid me to follow her out of the store. However, before leaving, I took one last look at the mutant ninja, just in time to see his left arm droop, then the right, and within seconds, his upper torso bent over and the renaissance artist's namesake crashed to the ground. Although we heard the crash, we were already heading stealthily towards the door, and did not wait to see the aftermath!
I did not take pictures! My daughter is adamant that there is no proof that she caused the demise of the once proud, tall, welcoming with open arms, mutant, and as her mother, I am bound to stand by her! However, if I were to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, I would have to say she was single handedly, fully responsible for the demise of the character that once was the mutant ninja, Michelangelo. There is a silver lining to this story. Just like the other chap that appears this time of year; the one with the long white beard and red coat, there are more than just one!
The present for my 'grand-godson' was not bought at the large store with the reversed 'R', but at good old Walmart. In keeping with the matriarch position with which I have been entrusted (or more realistically, self-imposed) my gift was a sensible one. An electronic turtle toothbrush. (This was for the child's teeth, not Michelangelo's!)
We arrived at the party a little early. Mt Playmore (anyone detect a play on words here?) is an indoor adventure playground, with a variety of padded obstacle courses. I was introduced to Noah's real grandma, and enjoyed watching all the trials and tribulations brought forth by a four year old's birthday party, without having to worry. Mom was making sure everyone was having a good time, ensuring that her child was being nice to all his guests, making sure that everyone had enough food, checking on the temperament of the younger sibling. The list goes on! The toothbrush was well received, as were all the other gifts, amphibian and all! The news of the demise of one of the mutant ninjas had not reached any major news stations, and my daughter's secret was safe, as well as her reputation with her godson, who thinks she is beyond reproach!
As I had booked my flight home, for Christmas, the shopping lists had started to pour in. Turtles in a half shell, were not requested, but being a ninja may have been an advantage, (not necessarily mutant, although never having put it to the test, I cannot comment with complete certainty,) as we headed towards the outlet mall beyond the south side of town. For eleven months of the year, Austin is a friendly, compassionate, delightful city. In the month of 'goodwill to all men', and the 'season to be jolly', the natives become aggressive, belligerent and hostile. We parked in an uncrowded spot behind the shops, and walked through to the disaster area that was 'the outlet mall'. If there was an abundance of green 'comic book' characters among the crowd, it was not the mutant ninjas but more of a likeness of 'The Hulk'. There were many orange 'masks'. They were not in the form of the simple scarf across the eyes, but more in the way of the colour of faces before turning red, then purple, in rage. I am not sure as to the other three characters, but Michelangelo would have had absolutely no inspiration for painting the Cysteine Chapel from this crowd, although by all accounts, he may have been 'in the thick of it', whilst being artistic rather than being an artist!
After making a few purchases, we headed back to the car to 'dump' the shopping and cruise along the highway for a quarter of a mile to the 'other side'. We entered the second half of the outlet, and merged with the traffic that appeared to be at a standstill for no reason. As stealthily as ninjas, we steered the car straight ahead. The other vehicles were turning to the left and right, and both drivers and pedestrians were using some very artistic language! We continued to the roundabout. The roundabout is not commonplace in the United States. Apparently introduced in the 1990's, it was met with a lot of opposition. Most drivers are unfamiliar with the concept, especially those in the vicinity of the outlet mall. I certainly mutated as we attempted to educate those around us as to the use of the roundabout but failed, as everyone was 'giving way'. Once on the roundabout, you do not 'yeild'! Fortunately, however, we exited no worse for wear, and once again found ourselves a parking space.
The second round was just as fraught as the first, as the season's 'peace on earth' did not apply to this region! Michelangelo's angels were not represented in the lingerie store that promotes them. Mutants would have been more apt! I was asked at the cash desk if anyone had assisted me in finding the items I wished to purchase, and Samantha's elbow dug into my ribs as I announced, "No, I found them all by myself!" The first item rang up at a higher price than advertised, and when I questioned this, I was slammed down by a very hard shelled person. Someone had put the item in the wrong place, and by all accounts, I should have known! Joy to the world, huh!
Eventually, it was time to leave the mutants, and teenagers, and make our way back to Austin central! We had one more stop to make. The 'coat factory' was busy, but the clientele was less aggressive. All four turtles were on display in one form or another. Michelangelo's orange mask shone through, and the others paled into insignificance. Children pranced around the area, with their weapons in an attempt to save the world from the enemies that were forcing their way through our galaxy, and finally we saw some smiles.
My daughter did nudge me in the ribs one more time before our trip was over. As we headed towards the exit, a couple in front walked through the doors, and the alarms started to bleep. "Ma'am, did you buy a DVD", was the question that was asked. As I exited, I said in what apparently was a rather loud voice, "No, she didn't buy it! That is why the alarm went off"! I can only hope the accent was too strong to understand.
We finally arrived back at my house at 6:30pm. It had been a very long day. I am sure Michelangelo had an equally stressful time painting the ceiling! I am not sure to how stressful is the life of an average turtle, but the mutant ninja teenage variety seem to get into a lot of strife! (Despite the one in the orange mask having been killed off by my offspring!)
With less than two weeks to go before the city returns to the usual calm and 'goodwill', I am counting down the days until my journey back across the pond. I think it will be a while before my grandson is ready to put on the half shell and reenact the performances of his father's former hero's, but I shall be there, in the toy shop, when the time is right, searching for the latest action figures. I may even buy him a toothbrush. However, the demise of one turtle gives rise to another, and more action heroes. Perhaps next year my 'grand-godson' will be into a different phase, and my daughter can render it permanently unconscious. Only time will tell in ........ another story.