I learned an important lesson today – if you speak with a British accent around strangers you look slightly less ridiculous. I think a New Zealand accent would work, too. Also, you need to not be in Britain when you do it, which I think goes without saying.
Here is the story behind this: I have a race this weekend and needed to go to the runner’s expo in Tempe today to pick up my race number, swag bag, etc. I took my 3 little kids, of course, and it was packed with many people, booths, lines, and narrow turns. Picture a large job fair or carnival both outdoors and indoors. As we entered, Sam was struggling to push Audrey in a stroller she is way too big for, and she was crying because the seat harness wouldn’t fit around her to strap her in. To enter, we had to cross under a large red arch which was blown up just like a kid’s bounce house. Nicolas is petrified of bounce houses, which makes perfect sense to me. So when he saw that, he climbed up my side like a spider monkey and sat on my head while pulling out most of my hair and screaming. He stayed up there while I navigated the rest of the expo. As we walked down the first aisle, Sam was struggling with a turn and I helped him push the stroller…right over a lady’s foot. (She was wearing Tom’s, so this is really her fault). During this incident and our subsequent, profuse apologies, the stroller’s wheel fell off and Audrey tipped over to the side and fell out of the stroller onto the pavement. Obviously, the lesson here is, make sure your child is strapped in because the ONE time you don’t do it, she will fall out in a huge crowd and you will look like a terrible parent. She began crying while I picked up the stroller, grabbed her hand, steadied Nicolas on top of my head, and we carried on. I made Sam carry the broken wheel, and he didn’t seem to mind.
We looked through the registration books for my race number, along with the race numbers for two friends that I was picking up stuff for. We wrote down all the information we needed and as luck would have it, each of the three bib numbers required us to stand in a different line to pick up the actual bib and swag bag. We waited in each line, collecting more paraphernalia for me to carry each time. As we approached the front of the second line I was feeling more and more ridiculous and the kids were likewise losing their patience. Finally, we were asked for the name and number we were picking up, and when I spoke and it came out with a British accent. I must have had a surprised look on my face because the attendant looked very surprised and handed over my bag without question. It all seemed to make sense, and I felt less ridiculous! In the next 2 lines, I continued in this manner. Thankfully, Sam didn’t say anything. We even picked up three t-shirts and commented on how popular they would be “back home.” We tested out the timing chip in each bib, laughing with a humble, British laugh. Things only got a little awkward when we signed up for a shopping spree raffle and one of the requirements to win was that we needed to be a U.S. citizen.
As we attempted to find the exit, with our items in hand and only one child still crying and a rogue stroller wheel, my foot caught on the electric cable that powers the giant, blown-up, red arch. I tripped, but when I stood up and straightened myself and the children and assured bystanders that everything was fine, in my British accent, I felt calm and cool and collected. Ever so slightly less graceful, but sort of Bond girl-like all the same.