I’m on about my business, you see, and it was a normal day much like this one. Life’s road has led me to the humble aisles of Walmart – sacred ground to a guy like me. For whatever reason, I’ve ended up in the toy section. It was probably flashbacks to my youth when I didn’t have my own debit cards and had to ask for the small pleasures that this section of infinite wonders beheld.
Or maybe I was looking to buy a new set of hulk hands. Doesn’t matter.
Seemingly out of nowhere, this child of ten maybe – or twelve, I kind of suck at guessing the age of the youth – sieges upon me.
It’s worth mentioning that kids make me nervous. I don’t know what they’ll do. They’re unpredictable, unreasonable, and very very capable. Comedians often compare them to small drunks, and similar to how society doesn’t trust the inebriated to make high-stake decisions; behind the wheel of a car; or really in public, generally speaking – referring to the public intoxication punishment we have in the U.S of A. – I try to avoid unnecessary encounters with children.
I totally want to be a dad some day. But until that day arrives, I keep my head down, you know.
Anyway one of them approaches me.
Can I stop again to say that modern culture also makes it – I don’t know – inappropriate? … to be near a kid that isn’t your own. For example, when I was growing up adults came up and talked to me all the time at parks, or in stores, or whatever and there was nothing creepy about it. Heck, adults would give me spare change at the ice cream truck if I had underestimated my funds. And that was the end of the story. Now, if a kid approaches you, as Louis C.K. observed, you have to throw your hands in the air and profess that you’re not a pedophile, plead your fifth amendment rights to any questions the kid might ask, and try to continue about your business as legally as you can.
So one approaches me.
“Will you watch Jeffrey?” he asks.
“What?” I reply, backing away cautiously so the Walmart cameras can observe me standing at appropriate distance while engaging this child. My hands were all but raised above my head, as if a ten (or twelve) year old were mugging me in the toy aisle.
I would describe my demeanor as if a wild tiger had wandered upon me in the grocery store.
“Can you watch Jeffery?” he reiterates.
“Who’s Jeffery?” I ask.
No lie turns to his right and says, “this is Jeffery.” Nobody was next to him.
The hell? I think quietly to myself. But before I could puzzle my escape together, he’d thanked me and took off to another aisle. So now I’m just standing there by myself, kind of.
In my sarcasm, I say quietly to myself, “So how’s it hanging, Jeffrey?”
“Notha’ day, notha’ dolla,” I imagine Jeffrey’s response would be.
After a few moments the kid returns.
“Where’s Jeffrey?” he asks, concerned.
I point to the spot where he had looked when I previously asked him who Jeffery was. Honest to God, his reply:
“THERE’S NOTHING THERE!”
He takes off again and screams out, “JEEEEEFFFFFFRRRRRRRYYYYYY!”
It’s stupid, but I was kind of heartbroken. I failed that kid, and Jeffrey. He had trusted me.
But I also wonder where the kids parents were?