Whatever happened to chivalry?

Like any writer, I?m always on the lookout for good subject matter. As you can probably tell, I enjoy writing about my daughters. But I also enjoy re-hashing humorous or otherwise entertaining material through this column.

Just last week, in fact, I stood amid the perfect storm of column material. Here are the key components. The five Ws. Who? My daughters and me. What? Stranded in bewildered helplessness. When? A weekend shopping adventure. Where? By Auntie Anne?s. Why? We were hungry.

Here?s what happened. It all started with a rushed lunch before heading out to meet my mom and sister for a returning-to-school shopping trip. (Side note: my youngest sister is starting her senior year at Smoky Valley High School this week. I feel old.)

Anyway, it was mid-afternoon, and we were hungry. And thirsty?it was 107 degrees outside, after all. So we split up in the food court to enjoy various food items. I wrangled myself and my girls over to the line for pretzels.( I can?t pass up the cinnamon-and-sugar goodness, even though I know the calorie count is out-of-this-world). While the line was long, the wait was surprisingly short, and soon I had my pretzel and drink in hand.

Enter the lightning and thunder.

There I stood, my 3-month-old strapped to my front in our Moby Wrap. My 2-year-old directly in front of me, strapped in her stroller. And my hands full of pretzel and drink. Oh. And the diaper bag hanging on my shoulder.

Now for the dilemma. How do I get myself, the stroller, the girls, the diaper bag, the pretzel and my lemonade to a table?

I stood for a second, waiting for one of the myriad shoppers to offer me an extra hand. But no one came to my rescue. What happened to aiding a damsel in distress? Is chivalry dead?

Then I looked around for my mom. Nope. My sister? Nope.

Great.

Then a bright idea. I have two free feet. I?ll push the stroller with one of them, I thought. That went a little something like this: small push with foot while I balance myself. Stroller moves two centimeters. Try again. Stroller moves two centimeters in the wrong direction.

And now I?m sure the pretzel guy was laughing behind my back that continued to be only two feet away from the counter.

Now my stress level was sky-rocketing. Man, it was hot. And my face was burning. So much for random acts of kindness. I?m sure I scared away potential aid with my crazy eyes. Or maybe my hair was too frizzy. Stupid humidity.

I was out of ideas. I couldn?t just leave my daughter strapped in the stroller in the middle of the food court while I dumped the food on the table, even if she was being whiny. And I couldn?t push the stroller without my hands. What was a hungry mama to do?

Finally, I spotted my mom. But she had her hands full, too. So, we each used a thigh to push the stroller, while we tried to avoid hitting tables and people. Again, no one came to our rescue, even with two damsels (or four if you count the girls) in distress.

And then we found an empty table. We sat down. We ate and drank. And we watched my toddler dip her sweet pretzel into cheese sauce. What? At least she ate. And at least she was quiet for a moment. Garbage went into the trash can. Our hands were free to continue shopping.

Later that night, I was re-telling the tale to my husband. And I was a little perturbed that no one had offered to help. I mean, most of us grew up hearing, ?treat others as you want to be treated? in school. I?m pretty sure that cliche is a teacher?s No. 1 discipline trick. Really. Who hasn?t heard that one?

But instead of sympathizing with me, at the end of my rant, my husband looks at me, and in all seriousness said, ?Gracelyn (my toddler) could have pushed the stroller for you.?

And the wind blows, the lightning flashes, the thunder rolls.