“Did you just hear somebody scream?” I asked.
Andrew and I were Wal-Mart’s photo department Sunday afternoon to get his passport pictures. They’re cheap and the photos meet government specifications.
The portrait studio was pretty busy Sunday. As Andrew and I got in line, I heard someone screaming bloody murder
Andrew heard it too. The woman in front of us didn’t seem very concerned.
“Oh, that was my daughter in the bathroom,” the large, dark-haired woman said. “She screams all the time.”
She went into the ladies room and brought out a girl, about 3, who was, indeed screaming. She did not stop screaming and crying as long as we were there.
It seemed obvious we’d be there a while, and I was able to look into the studio where a family photo shoot was under way. It looked as if Dad were home from the military. He was wearing his U.S. Army fatigues, complete with his E-3 insignia. He looked fairly normal.
The woman he was with – I didn’t see a wedding band, but they clearly had a longstanding relationship – had gotten dressed up for the occasion. Her hair was three colors – auburn at the roots, blonde in the middle, dark at the ends, sort of like Neapolitan ice cream with bad hair dye.
She was wearing a little black dress, or rather, almost wearing it. Her tattooed titties kept coming dangerously close to falling out. They were much larger than appropriate for this little dress, but not as large as her belly. No, I don’t think she was pregnant.
She had a rose tattoo on her shoulder, and I’d swear I’d seen the same tattoo on her upper arm – which was a big as my thigh – on sailors coming back from World War II.
They had three kids with them. The two girls looked OK, except there just wasn’t any light on in their eyes. The boy didn’t look real bright, either, or maybe it was just my perception of an 8-year-old blond kid with wavy hair cut into a Mohawk.
They came out, and the proof photos the photographer on the computer screen were, well, photos of this family. That family looked very proud.
About this time, I started looking at the large, dark-haired woman’s family. The little girl was still screaming. My attention was drawn to her little brother in the shopping cart. I tried to keep from staring at the fact that he was crosseyed as a bat.
I think they were there to get pictures of the oldest girl. I felt so sorry for her. She had an underbite that would do justice to a Neanderthal woman, and her lower cuspid teeth protruded when she closed her mouth.
Yep. She had tusks.
Her little sister kept screaming, and any time she looked at Tusk Girl or Crosseyed Boy, she’d scream louder. Maybe I understand now. The large, dark-haired woman also had a baby in the shopping cart. I don’t know what was wrong with him, but there had to have been something.
I wonder – have the politicians who promise that all our kids are going to grow up and work for Google or become rocket scientists ever been to Wal-Mart?
Presiding over this all was a thin, young, pretty portrait photographer named Amanda. She kept smiling, being helpful, taking photos, selling photos, looking like it was just another day at the office. Screaming children, kids in Mohawks, Mom falling out of her little black dress, and kids with tusks all seemed, to Amanda, to be entirely normal.
Well, maybe it is. This is ’Merica, after all, and it was just another Sunday afternoon at Wal-Mart's.