This sweet, sweet little orphan Annie was just about lost forever. Get comfy and I'll tell you the tale.
I was all of 3 or 4 in this picture. After it was taken I went with my older brother, Buddy, who was about 5 or 6, to his friend's place, and I was going to play with this friend's sister.
Let's remember that this was back in "the day" when little kids didn't need seat belts, let alone a car seat until they are 12. There were no bicycle helmets. There were children roaming the neighbourhood on bikes and roller skates from sun up until the street lights went on, which was the cue to get your butt home. We explored. We got (gasp) exercise.
I'm rambling. I'm setting the scene so that you won't judge my mother, who judges herself enough for everyone.
These two little kids walked over 10 blocks to this friend's house. When Buddy was finished playing and was ready to go home, I told him that I didn't want to go yet. I was having far too much fun, and yes, I knew my way home, thank you very much. I was just little, and new to the neighbourhood. What did I know?
Well, definitely NOT my way home, I'll tell ya' that!
When I was ready to go, Joanne's mother said to me, "Are you sure you know how to get home?"
I'm three. I didn't even know my last name for crying out loud! How was I supposed to find my way home??
Yes. You know this is coming.
I got lost.
The only thing I got right was the part between the door of their house and the side walk. The rest was inside out, upside down and backwards.
I wandered down the busiest street in our area (which my mother will have me point out is interstate-busy, and that there was not even a sidewalk, but a grassy boulevard). Crying. Sobbing. Uncontrollably.
Many cars kept driving. Losers.
One car finally stopped.
"Are you lost?"
"No." (Seriously, that's what I said to them.)
"Are you sure?"
Sniffle. Gulp. Nod.
"What's your name?"
Silence. (I didn't have a freaking clue!)
"Where do you live?"
Silence. (Again. Nothing.)
"What's your phone number?"
Strike three. I'm lost.
Well, let me tell you. Those delightful strangers gathered up this cute little girl with the really bad hair and snuggled her on the lady's lap in the front seat. They dried her tears and gave her hugs and told her it would be okay.
Then they dropped her off at Walmart.
Yes, folks. Walmart. (Or for my fellow Canadians, back when Walmart was still Woolco!)
Do you care to venture a guess as to what was brewing on the home front while I was being rescued?
My family was searching for me. They were riding their bikes up and down the block. They were calling my name. They were cussing out my poor brother, who at five, should have had the good sense not to leave me alone. This went on for a while.
Finally, close to the Amber Alert phase of the search, my mother thought of the one last resort.
Yes my friends. No only do the kind strangers think of Walmart as a great option for a lost little girl, but apparently my mother does also.
They flew into Walmart, these frantic parents, who should have felt a little weird about looking in Walmart for their lost child. But then again, Walmart advertises having everything you could possibly need, so, really, why not a cute little girl with bad hair. (Perhaps those kind strangers should have dropped me off at a salon?)
There, close to the doors, sitting at one of the check out counters was I. Eating licorice.
And that, folks, is one of the events that helped shape me. (Serious pun going on there!) When all else fails. Eat.
It also helps me to understand why even now, when I'm feeling sad and a little lost, I end up at Walmart.