I admit, it was all because of my addiction to catalogues.
If I'd just put up that "No Junk Mail" sign on my letterbox, it would never have happened.
But I was weak and Go-Lo were advertising some amazing pieces of utter shit from Taiwan that cost 7 cents to make and that I could buy for the bargain price of 2 bucks.
The local Go-Lo was located in a little shopping strip that might best be described as down at the heel. A bit povo, if you will. The main attraction within the strip was a massive establishment that offered both pokies and an all you can eat buffet restaurant. So, suffice it to say, it attracted a certain kind of clientele.
But my classist snobbery was no match for my desperate need to purchase junk from a discount store.
It was pre-Zee. LD must have been around 9 months old. He was sitting in the pram, his normally angelic demeanour having been pushed to breaking point by my endless laps up and down the crap-filled aisles. He could not be drawn on the wonder of half price tealight candles, nor was he feeling the thrill I was currently experiencing at the plastic hairbrush that was only $1 and smelled a little like petrol.
We stood in line at the registers. With my credit card, I paid a lazy $50 for my purchases at the $2 shop (hang on, what the fuck?). LD was sitting quietly but I felt, not particularly patiently.
That's when she noticed him.
She came from…I have to say, nowhere. Just appeared. And then there was nothing but her.
She stood about 5"5. Average height. I suppose she was overweight but not freakishly so – although she would definitely have benefitted from the wearing of a bra. Her hair was mousey, long, straggly. Very straggly. And she had approximately three teeth.
"Oh, what a cutie!" she exclaimed, sticking her face as close as she could to LD as he sat in his pram.
To be fair, he was a wildly attractive baby whose cuteness never failed to draw comment whenever we ventured out. But he didn't smile. At anybody. People would ape and coo and carry on and this kid gave them donuts. A big fat nothing. So cute but not friendly. No.
At this point, the woman may have asked me how old LD was. And maybe I answered absent-mindedly. But all I remember is looking on, bewildered, as my infant son fairly beamed at the toothless hag.
I mean, his smile lit up the Go-Lo store like it was Christmas.
"Oh my God," I breathed, "he never smiles at anyone."
"Oh well," she said happily, "It's probably because we have the same amount of teeth!"
"Yes!" I agreed. "A kindred spirit."
The words, as they fell from my mouth, almost gagged me. What the fuck was I saying?
As I was finishing up at the checkout and struggling with the various oversized pieces of Taiwanese bargaintry, the toothless hag spoke.
"You've got your hands full. Do you want me to push the pram back to your car?" She took hold of the pram and began steering it out of the store.
"Oh thanks," I said, shaking my head, trying to hang 37 plastic bags from my arms and reach for the pram, "I've got i-"
"Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!" screamed the hag as she ran, barefoot, down the footpath, the pram holding my tiny son hurtling precariously along.
I struggled haplessly after them, 37 bags of flimsy imported plastic suddenly weighing a tonne.
"Where's your car?" the hag was looking back at me, having slowed her pace not a bit as far as I could tell. Her unrestrained breasts were swinging haphazardly to and fro.
"Just up here!" I cried, "You can slow down."
At this point, Toothless did slow into a walk and I hurried to catch up. I shuffled ahead so as to catch a glimpse of my son's face. Huh. Still delighted.
As I began putting all 37 bags in the boot of my car, Toothless began to give me marital advice.
"Now don't you let that man of yours try to get in your pants again if you're not ready. You're tired with a baby. If he complains about it, you tell him it's his fault you're tired in the first place. If he wasn't always trying to get some, you wouldn't have had a baby would you?"
She cackled and winked at me knowingly.
I giggled nervously and swallowed a little bit of vomit that has risen up into my mouth. "After my son was born, my bloke always wanted sex. Heaps of it. I told him, 'I need a break! You try giving birth, mate. Nothin's the same down there!' I told him to sort himself out!"
Again with the cackling. And the winking.
By now, I was literally throwing the bags into the car, shoving things into the tailpipe, I didn't care.
"Well," I said, in that way that wraps a conversation up.
"You remember what I said, love! If you don't want sex, you tell him to bugger off!"
Toothless beamed at me, a sisterhood bond.
"Oh, I sure will!" I said, now strapping LD into his car seat with an urgency befitting a person competing in the Baby Restraint Championships.
And then I was behind the wheel of the car, manoeuvering out of the parking lot while in the rearview mirror, Toothless waved us goodbye.
At which point, LD began to wail.
No doubt, he was missing his kindred spirit……