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This is a bottle of gin.  This is a bottle of cheap gin.  This is a bottle of cheap gin purchased at a Target.

Not sure how I feel about that.

Not that it’s the gin I’m uncomfortable with – though truth be told I’d prefer another brand, the taste and tambour of the budget leaves something to be desired.  No, rather, it’s the checkout.

I am met with the doll-faced doe-eyed stare of next year’s graduating class.  Either no make-up at all or far too much.  And always handling the bottle with something like trepidation; like its forbidden-ness is catching.  And in turn I start to develop a certain sense of embarrassment, or the misappropriated feeling that I am somehow aiding in the delinquency of a minor.

As if they were unaware before this moment.

And my brain starts to wander away, contemplating the confusion of other people’s thoughts.  Do they wonder at my purchase? Do they think me alcoholic?  Who buys gin at a Target anyway?  But the convenience!  I have conquered my afternoon! I have eliminated the need for an entirely separate errand to make my entirely reasonable purchase.

But the brace-tooth baby studies it with wrinkled nose.  Not her too!  Alas! Trapped in a world of critical eyes and assessing glances.  No, you don’t understand!  Give me no looks of distain for I have done nothing wrong!  Even so, I brace myself for the reproachful interaction.

Alright, darling, let’s have it then.  She looks at it and looks at me and valley-girls the words:

“Is this water?”