Yesterday I picked Mister Bubby up from school and took him directly to the Target so he could buy himself a new basketball.  MB recently decided, after being introduced to the joys of the NBA video game, that he wants to be a basketball player when he grows up.  Currently he’s much better at video-basketball than actual basketball, but he knows he needs real-life experience in addition to virtual experience.  Hence, he needed a new basketball because all of ours were either lost or too small or too flat and non-reinflatable.

So, yes, I took him to the Target for a new basketball–a very, very quick trip so that we could get home before Elvis’s bus arrived.  He bought a red-white-and-blue Spalding mid-size basketball (appropriate for male players aged 9-13 and female players aged 9+).  He tried testing it out in the store, but it didn’t bounce very well while it was still in its box.  Anyway, we bought it and took it home, and he started playing with his brand-new basketball in our driveway when Elvis’s bus drove up.

While I was getting Elvis off the bus, Girlfriend was also having a turn with MB’s new basketball.  She dropped it and it rolled into the street and, unbeknownst to me, lodged itself right in front of the bus’s back wheels.  When the bus started up again, the sound of a brand-new basketball popping was heard ’round the world.  GF started screaming, MB was dumbfounded, and I laughed in horror.  He’d had that ball all of fifteen minutes, and it was just gone, baby, gone, in the blink of an eye.

The mother-guilt set in immediately because I was 100 percent certain I should have been able to stop what had just happened.  I mean, I should have known that balls don’t just roll into the street and not lodge themselves under any buses that happen to be idling there.  Anyway, I felt terrible, so I told MB that we would go straight back to the Target and buy him another one.  Never mind that I had only taken him to the Target directly after school so as to specifically avoid taking Elvis on a shopping trip to Target.  Plans change.  Mothers try in vain to compensate for their shortcomings.

So we all went back to the Target, and wouldn’t you know it, there were no more red-white-and-blue Spalding mid-size basketballs.  (Also unbeknownst to me, we had purchased the very last one.  There was another, red-and-black Spalding ball that MB liked equally well–perhaps even better, he assured me–but unfortunately, it was full-size, not mid-size.  (Suitable for NBA players, I guess, but not boys aged 9-13.)  So he was terribly disappointed, but I told him we could try another store.

He suggested the Sports Authority, which was just next door, and I thought that was a brilliant plan because what better place to buy a basketball than a store called “Sports Authority”?  A Sports Authority without a red-white-and-blue Spalding mid-size basketball would have to not be very authoritative, in my opinion.  Right?  Well.  We went to the Sports Authority, and there were no red-white-and-blue Spalding mid-size basketballs, nor Spalding basketballs of any color that MB approved of, as he most emphatically did NOT want any pedestrian orange one.  Also, all the basketballs at the Sports Authority were three-to-six times more expensive than the one we’d gotten the first time, and while I had to admit that seemed pretty authoritative, I was not otherwise impressed by that shopping experience.

So at that point there were about fifteen more minutes until Princess Zurg’s bus would arrive.  I dithered over whether or not it was okay to let PZ fend for herself while I dragged MB, Elvis and GF to yet another store–bearing in mind that I had not yet started boiling the corned beef we were scheduled to eat for dinner (because St. Patrick’s Day revelers can’t live on candy sprinkles alone)–and I finally decided that PZ was a big enough girl to come home to an empty house for a few minutes, and the third time had to be a charm with the basketball thing because seriously, we could not possibly have bought the only red-white-and-blue Spalding mid-size basketball in the entire city.  Could we have?

Well, yes, we quite possibly could have because the third store had nothing but stupid balls of incorrect sizes and color schemes as well.  Who could have predicted this chain of events?  Well, I should have been able to, knowing the way my life works–knowing as I should have the way my life works–but at least I knew when to give up.  So I drove three crying children home so I could start boiling corned beef, about an hour behind schedule, and I promised MB I would find him a red-white-and-blue Spalding mid-size basketball if I had to go to every Target in the greater Portland suburban area that evening (although I certainly hoped it would not come to that).

In general, I don’t consider myself a lucky person.  It’s not that I never catch any breaks, but if I had to bet, I would bet against me, every time.  You should, too, if the opportunity ever arises.  If it’s Madhousewife vs. Fate, you should definitely put your money on Fate, as it tends to kick me in the teeth whenever it possibly can.  Just a word to the wise, for those of you who are the gambling types–and even those of you who aren’t, because seriously, it is as close to a sure thing as you will ever get.

EXCEPT for last night, when I managed to finish boiling a corned beef brisket in record time, encounter absolutely no traffic on my way to tap class, so that I had time to stop at a Target on the way and FIND a red-white-and-blue Spalding mid-size basketball (only one in the store!), make it to tap class on time, and afterward stop at the Moonstruck Chocolate Cafe, where they were having a “Luck o’ the Irish” promotional event where all customers drew slips of paper out of a jar to win fabulous prizes, such as “10% off your order,” “50% off your order,” “one free truffle of your choice,” and your Gentle Giraffe, through none of her own doing, managed to draw the slip of paper that said “9-piece box of truffles”–a $19.00 value, not that you asked, but there it is.  Ladies and gentlemen, this never happens.  At least it’s never happened before.  Which makes it all the less likely that it will ever happen again!  So I told MB that he had to be extra-specially sure that he never let any more basketballs roll in the street, and if you’re ever in Vegas playing the Madhousewife vs. Fate table, you should still bet against me.  You should probably bet double or nothing because last night I used up every last shred of luck allotted to poor saps like me.  It was pretty awesome.

Last night PZ asked me if she had any Irish heritage.  She’s asked that before, and I keep meaning to ask my dad, who’s done some genealogy, whether or not there is any Irish in our family line.  I have some vague recollection that there might be, but I also think that I might be imagining things.  Also, if there is any Irish, it is probably so far back that it couldn’t possibly count for anything.  (I’m pretty sure our family was in some place like Missouri for the last sixteen generations.)  But that doesn’t detract from the beauty of this year’s St. Patrick’s Day.  It makes up for the fact that I inexplicably continue to re-live that moment when the original red-white-and-blue Spalding basketball exploded before my and my children’s tender eyes.  (I can’t shake it!  It was so awful!)  Please observe a moment of silence before placing your thoughtful and/or witty and/or reasonably-well-typed-without-too-many-spelling errors comment in the space provided below.  Thank you.

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