Among “things that go” are families, especially in the summer.
This vacation is to visit relatives in the midwest, where summer is hot and humid. After walking around outside for a bit, now so are the kids. Hot and humid, that is.
F (sweaty-faced): Papa, can I please have some ice with water?
C (flushed): I think I’m going to have sassafras, Daddy.
Papa suggests something that looks like a deli: Sandman’s. A place for dreams? It might have bagels. The twins like bagels, his with peanut butter, hers with cream cheese. It will have air conditioning.
C (she doesn’t know what she wants): A bagel!? I don’t want a bagel!
F: Can I please have some ice with some water, Daddy?
The place is busy, but there is an open table. Everyone sits. Nearby restaurant-goers smile at the kids banter. A nice waitress, Laura, comes over for some small talk before taking drink orders: Diet Coke for Papa, Coke for Daddy, milk for Cory Bee, and ice with water for Fisher Bug.
P (getting impatient, cycling through non-bagel options): Cory, look, they have a hamburger…
C (she doesn’t know what she wants): Eeewww. But, I don’t like hamburgers. I want a bagel.
F: Papa, can I please have peanut butter on my bagel?
As Laura returns with the drinks, Daddy reaches out to place a hand on top of Papa’s to try to impart his own dwindling reserve of patience. Daddy looks around at the chattering patrons, while Papa orders: hamburger for Papa, chicken enchilada for Daddy, bagel with cream cheese for Cory Bee, and bagel with peanut butter for Fisher Bug, who takes a long drink of his ice with water.
P: And, if it’s possible, can you bring the fruit for the kids as soon as possible?
L (seeming distracted): Uh huh.
P: We’re on a short fuse to a meltdown at this point.
L: Uh huh.
Thankfully, the place has crayons and paper placemats for kids. Fisher begins looking for animal words in the search-and-find, while Cory draws tic-tac-toe boards. Daddy again faces the dilemma: tell her how to make sure every game ends in a draw or continue to beat her until she figures it out herself. Fisher finds “dolphin.” The distraction of the games and a long drink of milk for her, a long drink of ice with water for him, push the chance of a meltdown down a bit. The mood at the table lightens. Laura returns.
L (placing what is clearly the check, reading “paid”, face up on the table): I’m sorry, gentlemen, but the manager has indicated that we can’t take your order today.
P: Excuse me? Why not?
L: The family that owns this restaurant are devout Christians, and to serve certain customers would just go against their consciousness. (She means conscience.) So…
P (voice rising): Are you serious?
L: I am. I do apologize, but I am going to have to ask you to leave. There’s no need to cover the check for your drinks. We have other customers waiting for the table.
The kids stop with their crayons and look up awkwardly. People at nearby tables are glancing over.
P (anger rising while Daddy squelches his): You are asking us to leave? That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. I want to talk to the manager.
L: Sir, that’s not going to be possible. I am asking you politely to leave.
P: Polite, my ass. We’re not leaving until the manager comes over.
P: It’s not going to happen.
Laura momentarily retreats, presumably to go get reinforcements. People are now staring.
P: Can you believe this bullshit?
P: Can you believe this BS?
C: Daddy, did that woman just say to us to leave? Why did she do that?
F: What?! I don’t want to leave. I want a bagel with peanut butter. Why doesn’t that woman like us?
Apparently among “things that go” will have to be this entire family, again, this time from the restaurant, as unwanted. Daddy asks the kids to come outside for just a second, nodding to Papa, who needs little encouragement to give the manager hell when the guy comes over.
F (standing outside): Why didn’t that woman like us?
C: Why can those other people eat lunch in there, but we can’t, Daddy?
On a hot summer sidewalk in the midwest, Daddy begins to lay the foundation needed for them to understand bigotry, in this case by Christians who know precious little about, of all things, Jesus Christ. Daddy imagines an angry Old Testament God with a sense of irony raining fire and brimstone down on Sandman and this Laura for their lack of charity and hospitality. That wouldn’t be very fair to the decent folks among the other customers, though. Better to dump a little pillar of salt on each plate of food before it’s served?
Who in his or her right, decent mind would want to live in a world like that? Wake up, Indiana (Arkansas, North Carolina, Missouri, any other state considering such stupidity).
A couple of days ago, a classmate accelerated for Fisher the process of losing a second tooth.
The precise sequence of events remains clouded. Fisher’s current version, one day and two apologies from Little Mike Tyson later, involves some innocuous running together on the playground interrupted by a single mysterious punch, definitely on purpose but exact purpose not known, followed by blood. Cory’s version is delivered more authoritatively, but it comes from adding together stories from her friends who saw everything: running, a punch, and some blood.
The suddenness of Fisher’s loss prevented the tooth fairy from squeezing him in on the night of the punch, but Kirkle fit him in last night…
ZADGOOKS, FISHER BUG!
WHEN I GOT BACK FROM PICKING UP TEETH LAST NIGHT, I HEARD HOW YOU LOST YOUR SECOND TOOTH! I HOPE THAT DIDN’T HURT. I AM SURE THAT THE BOY WHO HIT YOU IS VERY SORRY, AND I THINK THE BETTERISH THING TO DO IS TO FORGIVE HIM. I HOPE YOU WILL TRY!
CAN I TELL YOU SOMETHING? YOU DIDN’T SEE ME, BUT EARLIER TONIGHT, I SPIED ON YOU WHILE YOUR DADDY WAS READING TO YOU. THAT WAS SO FUN, EVEN THOUGH YOU WEREN’T FLOSSING. THAT’S A VERY GOOD TIME TO FLOSS. OH, I CAN’T WAIT TO HEAR YOU READING, FISHER! YOU HAVE A HANDSOME VOICE.
KIRKLE (YOUR TOOTH FAIRY)
P.S. TAENA CAN’T WAIT TO COME VISIT AGAIN. SHE WAS SO JEALOUS THAT I GOT TO COME!
Mighty giggles at “gadzooks” and “betterish.” They investigate the possible scene of Kirkle’s spying (for tooth fairy dust), and Cory reaches up to wiggle a loose incisor. She is clearly worried about Taena’s (her tooth fairy) jealousy…
Both stand there, transfixed. She asks whether another bird (perhaps a whole murder of crows?) did it. He offers a theory that has the cute little rabbit (cute because it has yet to start reproducing) that lives under the shed turning vicious predator to take the jay down. Daddy suggests that maybe now that Kohl is gone, a neighborhood cat felt brave enough to come into the yard, and the cat took it down, which would still have been quite a feat.
F (getting a little teary as Daddy collects the pooper scooper and a bag): Ooooh, that bird was a little baby when it just died. It didn’t have much life, Daddy. That makes me sad.
Daddy explains that the jay’s color and size indicate that it wasn’t a baby, that it was an adult, and that it probably lived a very full life. Fisher settles on the trampoline, eyes still a little misty, to watch.
C (eyes clear as can be): Hey, Daddy?
C: Can we get a cat?