So off I headed to get my supplies. Now in a funny Pavlovian way, Kate knows that the Pizza Hut Express at Target is a regular part of the trip and heads there automatically. She's the walking incarnation of my taste buds.
I grab a personal pan pizza and head to the cashier, a middle-aged man I've seen there before.
"Just the pizza, a kid's Icee, and a small drink," I say, still proud of my New Year's willpower enabling me to resist grabbing some breadsticks for myself.
He tells me the total, I hand him the money, and I smile. I don't exactly know why and it's more of a reaction than anything. I don't realize I'm smiling until he smiles back.
"Wow, you're always smiling!" he says. I could feel myself thinking and blushing at the same time.
"Why not?" I say, a phrase giddy enough to start a big song-and-dance number in any musical I've seen. But it's true.
"You're totally right," he says as he smiles and giggles a little bit. Now I know why I'm smiling: I'm happy that I was able to make him smile.
So Kate and I sit down. Across from us sits an older woman reading a romance novel. She's noshing away on her pizza while wearing a sweatshirt that reads:
I smile at the thought and wonder what kind of steamy words she's devouring along with her lunch. Loins has to be one of them. I also wonder how many people are kneaded by their cats that there would be a market for those shirts, but I let the thought float away like most of my other useless thoughts.
So there I sit underneath the bright florescent lights sipping my Diet Coke, observing others. Then my eyes fix on my daughter sitting across from me. She's happily squirming in her seat and her face is covered with sauce. She lifts her eyes from the pizza and looks at me. Then she smiles and giggles a little bit. I'm happy that I was able to make her smile. And I realize that at that moment, a small table with swiveling chairs at the entrance to Target is the best place in the world to be.