We were walking through the mall near a maze of vendors selling feathers and seaweed lotion and rhinestones to put in your nose piercing.

A man stepped toward me, ready to spray me with something, I’m pretty sure.

“Ma’am, would you like to…”

“No, thank you.”  I continued my stride with Tucker beside me.

The salesman stepped forward again with a louder voice.  “Ma’am, it will only take one moment.  Would you –”

I made eye contact and spoke with greater assertion.  “No.  I said no.  Thank you.”

When we walked into Eddie Bauer, just a few yards away from this guy with the spray, Tucker squeezed my hand and tugged a little.  “Mommy.  Why did you talk to him that way?  Why did you use that voice?”

“Because he wasn’t listening to me. I had already told him no and thank you, and he chose to ignore me. When a girl says no, a man should listen to her the first time.”

“I think he just wanted to ask you a question.”

“Honey, he wanted me to try out the stuff he’s selling, and I don’t want to right now.  I’m here with you, and I don’t want to do that.  It’s not why I came here.”

“How do you know what’s what he wanted?”

“Because it’s not my first rodeo.”

He was quiet for a few seconds, probably processing the metaphor of a rodeo which he’s never actually known me to attend.

“Mommy, I think maybe he just wanted to ask you to marry him.”

“Buddy.  He didn’t want to ask me to marry him.”

“Then maybe he just wanted to say, ‘Ma’am, could I please take your son to San Diego?'”

“I’m pretty sure he didn’t want to ask me that either.”

“But what if he did?”

“Then I’m still very confident with my answer.  No to both.”

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