Last night, on the way home from dinner, I asked Anne, "Do you remember Highlights for Children?"
"Of course I do," she said, "I remember how I hated going to the doctor when I was a kid, until I started reading Highlights in the waiting room."
"Turn right at this intersection," I said, "and Trader Joe's will be on the left in a block. She turned right, and I realized that Trader Joe's was actually to the left. "Oh, my bad. It's actually back there."
As we drove under the freeway to a place where we could make a U turn, I said, "Did anyone ever read Highlights in someplace that wasn't the doctor's or dentist's office?"
"The library at my school had a subscription, so we'd read it there," she said.
We got to the next intersection, which featured a nice big NO U TURNS sign.
"Well, this quick stop at Trader Joe's is turning into quite an adventure," I said as we waited at the red light.
We were quiet for a second, and I said, "I bet seeing Highlights in someone's house would have been like seeing your teacher at the grocery store, you know? Like it was something familiar, but totally out of context so you wouldn't know what to do."
The light turned green and we made a left onto a dark, industrial street.
"You know what I always hated about Highlights?" Anne said, "some idiot kid had always circled the hidden pictures."
"Seriously!" I said, "fuck that kid, man. That kid's a dick."
"And what kind of parent gives their kid a pen to draw all over a magazine that's obviously intended for more than one kid to read?"
"Asshole parents," I said, "it's called Highlights for Children, you jerk, not Highlights for your Children."
"Because doctor's offices don't exactly have pens just lying around," she said. She pulled into a driveway about halfway down the street and turned around.
"Yeah, some mom had to go into her purse, dig around the used Kleenex and that giant checkbook/wallet thing moms carry, and find the pen." We turned back toward Trader Joe's. I raised my hands over my head as we went through the freeway underpass. "Wheee!" I put my hands back in my lap. "I mean, that's a lot of time for her to think, 'Hey, maybe I shouldn't be giving little Johnny Snotface this pen to ruin the magazine for all the other children.'"
We turned into the tiny Trader Joe's parking lot and parked the car. As we got out and walked in, I said, "Highlights should have done a Goofus and Gallant about that, man."
"You've spent a lot of time thinking about this," Anne said.
"It's what I do," I said. I pulled a cart out of the stall and pushed it into the store. It had a wobbly wheel and pulled to the right.
I silently cursed the shopping cart gods, and caught up to Anne in the produce section.