Judging from the adult I’ve become, I would have been an incredibly loud and annoying child. Needless to say, I recall whiningly arguing with my mother about things I wanted her to buy for me at the supermarket.
There were all sorts of items I would try to negotiate with, my major weapon being the tears of disappointment as I was stuck into a shopping trolley and simply moved away from the item of my desire.
One such instant was a bottle of shampoo in the shape of Maggie Simpson.
My parents, hard-working migrants, were delighted at the introduction of a cartoon that was aired in the evenings to give working parents a rest. They sat me in front of this TV show in 1989 without realising that said cartoon was The Simpsons, and that it was all but a kid’s show.
In any case, I grew very fond of Maggie as we were roughly the same age and both heavily dependent on a pacifier to get through the day. However, due to my tender age I wasn’t truly able to comprehend much and called the entire show ‘Bart Simpson’. This wouldn’t be so upsetting, but I also called every single character ‘Bart Simpson’. As I couldn’t operate the TV yet, I also said ‘Bart Simpson’ when I wanted the TV to be switched on.
So there I sat in my shopping trolley at the grocery store, and suddenly spotted a figurine of Bart Simpson, aka Maggie, and immediately wanted it. I remember my mother picking up the item, thus giving me false hope that I might miraculously get what I pointed at, which generally never happened.
She read the label and explained to me that it wasn’t a toy but shampoo. Excited at the thought of being able to take my new toy into the tub, I voiced the possibility of using it as a shampoo on the palm-tree shaped hairdo she had given me. She said that the shampoo would burn in my eyes and put it back.
I didn’t need an eye-burning shampoo to burst into tears. She had just ruined my chances of playing in the tub with Bart Simpson.
Fast-forward many years, I find myself at a grocery store as an adult, being able to do all the things I couldn’t back then – walk around, reach things, carry things, pay for things and effectively communicate with other human beings.
I am the Queen of the grocery store, I can buy anything I like! Wheeling the trolley around, my eyes finally light up at the sight of a shampoo bottle with a sticker of good old Bart (Maggie) Simpson. Sure, it wasn’t as cool as the one I saw back then, but here was my opportunity to undo the injustice that was done to me. I reach for the bottle and inspect its content.
A mother walks past me with her two children climbing all over the trolley and sees me reading the label of Maggie’s shampoo.
Clearly, I am now old enough to be mistaken for a young mother in need of advice from more seasoned caretakers, because she approached me with the following:
“Excuse me, I just wanted to warn you – I bought this last week for my girls, and it really burned in their eyes! I use this other one all the time [points at a boring shampoo bottle], it’s great. Works on curly hair like yours, gorgeous! Hope I saved you some headache with the little ones!”
So then we stood there.
She looked at me, smiling, waiting.
Disappointment of a whole new level washed over me. Heartbroken, I forced the world’s most agonised smile, mumbled a pained ‘thank you’ and put Bart Simpson back into the shelf.
I stared at my shopping basket on the ground, feeling powerless despite my adult position in society. Inconsolable, I walked out of the store, empty-handed.