it keeps you running

When I was young, my parents rarely left the house without informing us of where they were going (which I suppose constitutes “good parenting”). This info was usually imparted using very specific (read: unique) verbiage: “I’m going to the old Kroger store” (to describe a supermarket that was a Kroger two store changes ago) or “I’m going to Boatmen’s” (the original name of the bank, which has since swapped ownership two or three times). As a result, there was never any mystery surrounding their destination, and we knew if we were expected to help carry in groceries when they returned, or to steer clear of a potential bank-induced bad mood.

In movies and in TV, however, busy moms and dads and singles “run errands,” which is a term that always fascinated me. Esoteric and vaguely glamorous, the concept of “running errands” seemed to imply a sort of city-wide scavenger hunt. It probably involved stops in places I had passed but never entered, like hobby shops, or dry cleaners, or doctor’s offices. These movie- and tv-people did things like dropping off luggage for repair, or picking up a prescription at the pharmacy, or returning a recent purchase: all things my parents never did.

As I’ve gotten older, I approach the task of “running errands” with a blend of hopeful anticipation and gut-rending dread. While the prospect of being able to cross off items on my to-do list is inspiring, the idea of having to zigzag across the county in order to do so isn’t always my fave.

I wish I could recapture that mystery, that glitz, that sense of optimistic urgency and cosmopolitan-ness with which I always associated this most mundane of chores. Perhaps if I actually structured it like a scavenger hunt I’d be more interested.

That’s not a half-bad idea. Maybe I’ll also construct my next List O’ Errands while intoxicated. That way, when I read the list the next day I’ll be able to enjoy myself while deciphering just what the hell I thought was so important the night before. I imagine half of my tasks will read something like “buy more vodka” or “move to san francisco,” but I’m sure there’ll be something worth something in there.

Maybe being a grown-up isn’t so bad after all.

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