Last holiday season, when I worked at the Barnes & Noble in Minnesota, a clean-cut 30-something man, about my age, approached me at the information desk. His short, sandy hair was neatly trimmed, his face freshly shaved, and he wore a grass-green long-sleeved polo, tucked into khaki chinos. He stepped up to the counter where I stood waiting to help him and said, straight faced, “Yes, I’m looking for a book called ‘Lost Balls.’ “
It had been nine years since I’d worked in the world, having stayed home with our kids until I started this job at the book store. Though I dressed the part in a pale pink button-down shirt and tailored black slacks, light makeup and petite pearl earrings, I wasn’t accustomed to maintaining professionalism. I smiled involuntarily, tucked in a giggle, and said, “I’m sorry, did you say ‘Lost Balls?’ “
“Yes,” he said, squinching his eyebrows and looking somewhat perplexed.
I typed it into BookMaster and tried to school my face, the hilarity growing inside of me as I watched the letters, one by one, fill in the search box. L-O-S-T- -B-A-L-L-S. The corners of my mouth twitched, and my eyes watered, and the more I tried to remain stoic, the harder it became to contain my Beavis and Butthead reaction. Huh huh. He said balls. I stifled a laugh, but my lips cracked into a smile despite myself.
He tilted his head a little, still serious, still knitting his eyebrows. “It’s about golf balls,” he said.
I looked up from the computer screen, straight into his searching eyes, stretched my mouth into a full grin, and said, “It’s still funny.”
P.S. I am in our kids’ elementary school cafeteria, seated in the half moon arrangement of folding chairs as I wait for our son’s 3rd grade concert to begin. Sitting next to me is a small child – maybe three? – farting up a storm. He squirms around in his chair, his butt aimed mostly at me, and I suffocate in a noxious cloud of toddler toots while he jabbers on, oblivious to his killing cloud. It is all I can do not to burst into laughter as I smell this kid’s farts and write about lost balls. (Okay, I did burst into laughter. The kind that you try to keep in, but still it escapes, through snorts and squeaky giggles. Our daughter is looking at me weird, head tilted, eyebrows squinched. Not unlike the man at the book store.)
P.P.S. I added the graphs last minute in response to the WordPress Image vs. Text challenge. That last one really has me thinking. Who is a subset of whom?
Originally published February 19, 2013.