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The Anti-Aunt

, , , , , , , , | Related | August 3, 2023

I’m minding my own business in the toy aisle of a department store when a lady from the other end starts walking up to me. I haven’t been in retail for at least five years now, but apparently, one still maintains their Retail Sense.

Customer: “You! You got any kids?”

Me: “Uh, no?”

Customer: “Ah, darn…”

My Retail Sense is tingling.

Me: “I do have a niece and nephew, though.”

Customer: “Great! What would you get an eleven-year-old girl?”

I have always loathed that type of gendered question, as older kids are their own people! With their own unique interests and likes and dislikes! I internally sigh but figure I’ll help this lady so this poor random girl will at least get something nice.

Me: “Well, at eleven, she’s likely kind of established in her interests. Do you know what she likes?”

Customer: “Nope!”

The lady grins and continues before I can further ask.

Customer: “She’s my niece!”

Me: “…”

Customer: “She’s my favorite niece, actually; we have loads of fun together. I have eleven nieces and nephews, but I hang with her the most. I love that kid so much. But when I asked her what she wanted, she just told me to pick something I’d like! And…”

She begins to go into her Life Story while I desperately try not to judge how an aunt is unable to know enough about her favorite niece to get her something. Eventually, there’s a pause in her rambling.

Me: “Well, it sounds like she really enjoys spending time with you. Why not get an activity yins can do together? Or maybe a game?”

Customer: “Oh, yeah, we love games! That’s what my brother said, too, and…”

Another verse of the Life Story begins. Feeling that I’ve at least directed her to the right line of thinking, I go on my phone and pretend to compare prices or something. She continues her story with me giving small “oh”s and “mmhmm”s every now and then.

Customer: “Well, thanks. I have a good idea of what to get her now. Bye!”

I am so used to the “What to get [age]-year-olds?” questions during Christmas when strangers try to be nice and gift to the less fortunate. But this lady… I’m just shaking my head.

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