So I picked out my sugar bowl, and I went up to the counter to get my colors, and the girl (seventeen or so?) told me that I couldn't paint it. Because they didn't have any tables left. And all those empty tables? Those were for a big group that had reserved the place for 5 p.m. But it was only 4:30. It would take me longer than that, she was sure. I really didn't think it would. She was insistent -- she knew how long it took the paints to dry. I should come back tomorrow, she said. But I was leaving town tomorrow. She was very sorry. Before I could completely lose it and start yelling at her, asking her why she hadn't bothered to move her ass over and tell me that I wouldn't be able to do anything in the forty-five minutes I'd spent looking at white ceramic in her empty store, Kevin had gently steered me out. I was ready to cry. Not for any good reason -- just 'cause I couldn't stand the frustration of the whole experience. He gave me a hug. He fed me dinner and took me to a movie. I had cheered up by the end of the evening, but I held a grudge against those stores.
Several months later, it was my birthday. Or perhaps Christmas? My birthday, I think. Among other things, Kevin gave me a little box. Inside it was one of the ceramic dragons, the ones I'd thought were too expensive, that I'd reluctantly put aside in favor of a practical sugar bowl to give to someone else -- he'd gone back and gotten it for me, and painted it himself, green skin and yellow spots. I could imagine him in that little store, ignoring the snide sales clerk, carefully painting one layer of color, waiting for it to dry, adding little yellow spots. I was totally charmed.
So many years later, just the thought of that little dragon still makes me smile.