For some women, the sweet smell of a newborn baby's head awakens long-suppressed maternal urges. For me, it's school supplies.
How I adore this time of year!
The intoxicating aroma of freshly sharpened No. 2 pencils. Shiny new safety scissors that couldn't cut through whipped cream but look so adorable in chubby little hands. Loose-leaf notebook paper - wide- or thin-ruled, I'm not picky - and glossy vinyl binders. Oh, and Trapper Keepers! Lord have mercy, how I love the Trapper Keepers!
The urge to mother children under 10 engulfed me like a tidal wave while searching for bridal shower invitations at Office Depot this week. There I stood, struggling with the big decision ("Do I go with the 2-up cards with the cheery Gerbera Daisies or the elegant 'Silver Shimmer,' four to a sheet?") when, out of the corner of my eye, I spied it a few aisles down - a huge end cap brimming with spiral notebooks in a rainbow of colors.
Angels sang in six-part harmony. My knees, literally, went weak.
Abandoning the invitations, I gravitated helplessly toward the display. Rounding the corner, I hit the mother lode. Or should I say, the mother lode hit me. Glue sticks by the gross! Washable markers by the dozen! A dizzying array of backpacks!
I felt faint. Thank goodness for the high-back executive office chair in genuine Italian leather across the way.
The chair was like an upholstered time machine with solid wood arms.
Suddenly, I was a 7-year-old girl in full Catholic school regalia - crisp white blouse with Peter Pan collar, plaid jumper with embroidered crest, bleached bobby socks and spit-polished saddle shoes. Sitting on the floor in my bedroom, I surveyed my school supplies, splayed out in front of me, like a queen reviewing her subjects.
There were Big Chief tablets and big fat crayons, soft-leaded pencils and hard pink erasers, bottles of Elmer's glue and a wooden 12-inch ruler, a large 3-ringed binder in standard-issue blue, cigar box pilfered from Grandpa's house, jumbo boxes of Kleenex, and a saddlebag, newly stitched in striped canvas, for the side of my soon-to-be assigned desk.
Lifting the Big Chief tablet to my face, I inhaled deeply, the potent smell of paper and ink leaving an indelible mark on my brain. (Little did I know, Big Chief was the gateway drug to a harder, more insidious stimulant - the highly addictive mimeographed copy. By age 10, I would join legions of hopelessly hooked classmates in taking desperate nose hits from our weekly geography quizzes.)
Shaking off sensory overload, I abandoned the ergonomically correct chair with built-in lumbar support to examine the notebooks. The assortment of styles and designs dazzled the eye, and I said to myself, "I can't wait to come back with the kids!"
"But wait!" I thought. "Reality check on aisle seven! I don't HAVE kids. Not little ones, anyway. My children's friends are getting married, for crying out loud. We're light years past No. 2 pencils. This calls for some creative thinking:"
So, once again, readers, I invite you to loan me your kids. Just for a day of shopping. Five or six hours, tops.
I know, I know. I made the same request last Easter but, I assure you, my motives are pure. You won't find my name on any national registry of offenders. I'm not interested in your kids.
All I want (it's so humiliating to admit this publicly) is to smell their school supplies.
If you're uncomfortable, I won't even pick them up at your house. We can meet on neutral ground. I'm easy. Just bring the little brats - er, I mean, tykes - their classroom lists, a hundred bucks in cash and I'll do the rest. Hours later, I promise to return them, no worse for the wear, backpacks full and ready to roll on the first day of school.
And here's the best part: For my services, I'll ask for absolutely nothing in return. Except a Trapper Keeper. Some things are non-negotiable.