The Theoretical Dump and Run, III

[continued from last week]

III. The Dump and Hesitation

I’d heard that places like Chuck E. Cheese’s were very careful about policing the premises, not allowing adults without kids to be there. I assumed a video game arcade, where I was taking the Little Monster for a birthday party, would be the same.

Not so. The place was huge, with multiple entrances and upstairs/downstairs restaurant/bars. Bars, like, where drunk adults hang out.

The Little Monster and I circled through the blitzkrieg that was the gaming center, electronic victims biting the dust in massive explosions, gunfire, and car crashes all around us. LM was so amped up that he could have won the NASCAR without a car. He could have passed Tom Cruise scaling tall buildings. We finally found the birthday party tucked away in a quiet room next to the upstairs bar, which, unlike the downstairs bar, was empty. This could be interpreted as a positive sign for humanity, or maybe it’s just that daytime drinkers know better than to navigate stairs.

The Little Monster zoomed to the far end of the big table to sit next to the birthday boy and that was it, I’d donned the Cloak of Invisibility. Oh my Lord, that child wasn’t happy; he was ecstatic.

The birthday boy’s parents clearly had their acts together despite their folly in agreeing to watch my sugared- and carbed-up child for two hours. They’d brought along a sister/brother-in-law couple to help corral and subdue the ten boys (I wonder what past transgression of theirs had led to a payback like this?). They explained to me their supervision plan once the boys inhaled their pizza, soda, and cake and the hellions were let loose to practice the electronic arts of war and destruction. As the dad explained the plan to me and we exchanged phone numbers and all of the Little Monster’s vitals should he be misplaced, including his doctor and dental records, and I considered requesting a criminal background check for the four supervising parents, eight other parents came and went, barely dipping their big toes into the room before giving a perfunctory air kiss and wave and then sprinting back outside. It was hard to tell over the explosions and implosions, but I think they were all humming Aretha Franklin. Freedom. FREEDOM. FREEDOM!

I backed slowly out of the room and then hung out in the doorway for awhile. Then I made it as far as the bar. Which is where I could just park my fanny for the next two hours. I could sit there in the deserted bar and keep an eye on things. It was just past noon, after all, and I wasn’t driving. But that would be pathetic, drinking alone in a dark bar in the middle of Armageddon; I’d wind up embarrassed since I’d keep diving under the table when I heard the screech of bombs. My Duck and Cover would become more and more likely the farther I got into each martini. It was sunny outside, a week before Christmas, with the jingle of bells and the crush of rampant materialism, and I was briefly liberated! I’d been waiting for respite like this! I could relax! But instead of a Dump and Run, I was totally In The Dumps.

Wait, hang on, hold the plane, stop the presses, rein in your horses! I only just got my son! He wouldn’t even be legally my child for another two weeks! I waited a long time for him, and you’re asking me to let go, already? The Man I Married and I had spent every waking moment of the last three years trying to turn this kid’s life around, trying to keep him safe, and now I’m supposed to just leave him? I’m supposed to trust other adults when all of the adults in his past failed him?

I made it out the door, staggering into the blinding light, then turned around. Then turned back around, walked half a block, then turned around again. I wasn’t doing the Dump and Run, I was doing the Hokey Pokey.

I was scared. What if something happened, and here I was gallivanting amidst the loaded charge cards? I should just go back, bite the bullet, and endure the bombs and guns. Parenting was all about sacrifice, right?

No, no I shouldn’t. He needed this chance to prove he could be trusted. I should treat him like a normal kid, whatever that meant. I should be a normal adult and spend the next two hours stimulating the economy.

I looked like what my car looked like when I was learning to drive a stick. I’d lurch forward for a bit, then stall out and stand there, screwing up the traffic flow, then I’d lurch forward unexpectedly again.

WTF, I decided. I’m going to do this. I’m going to let go. I spurted forward.

I could always go check on him from time to time. I could show up early. I think I can, I think I can, I know I can, I know I can. I merged into the masses.

Next week: Part IV, in which I try to kill time by drowning my olfactory senses


The Erotica Writer’s Husband and Other Stories by Jennifer D. Munro
Kindle Edition $1.49 at Amazon.com 

Twelve humorous stories about sex and the sexes. These sensual yet comic stories offer a fresh take on literary erotic fiction, as if Anaïs Nin and Erma Bombeck met at the library to spin tales of laughter and the libido. Collected from the pages of Best American Erotica, Mammoth Book of Best New Erotica, Best Women’s Erotica, Best of Literary Mama, Clean Sheets, Zyzzyva, and others.

The Theoretical Dump and Run, I & II

I. The Invitation

The Little Monster was invited to a birthday party, which was lovely; he’s been invited to very few. Although the parties are great for him as he experiences what it’s like to be a kid like any other, I dread them, because the Man I Married and I haven’t been able to do the Dump and Run like most parents. We watch with envy as other parents drop their kids off with a nicely wrapped present and then wave goodbye with giddy grins. We wonder what they do with their two hours of freedom. I know where we’d be: in bed.

But if the Little Monster attends a party, so do we. He requires supervision, so we trail him around for two hours. This is okay if the parents, like one couple we know, shove big drinks into our mitts and keep them topped off (we walk to these parties). But normally attending a boy’s birthday party is about as fun as sitting inside the kettle drum as the ape tosses the bone in 2001: A Space Odyssey.

But this birthday party would be with ten boys at a video game arcade downtown.

“Well, I’m sure as shooting not going to that,” I said to the Little Monster when I read the invite, tossing it aside.

I do what I can for my kid, I really do, but to communicate my aversion to accompanying him, I would have to write a new Inferno—it would be very short, because hanging out at a game center for two hours with ten boys would comprise all seven levels of my hell. Even a hip flask wouldn’t improve things much.

We could say no to this one, which was downtown a week before Christmas. Were the parents nuts? But, gosh, it was just great that he got invited.

Then I had a thought:

What if we just…left him there? (And then actually picked him up again two hours later?)

Like the other parents do?

Maybe it was time. Maybe he’d earned the privilege. Maybe we could be normal? Finally?

“Okay,” I told him, “but only if your therapist says it’s okay for you to be there without us.”

So at our next appointment I explained to the therapist about the party and how I couldn’t go because it was at a gaming center.

“Sure you can go,” he said cheerfully to me. “You could play a few games.”

“NO,” I enunciated between clenched teeth. “I canNOT go.”

“Ahh. Well, actually, a game center is one of the better scenarios. Nothing much can happen there.” He went over a few simple ground rules for the Little Monster and we moved on.

But I couldn’t let it go. I kept bringing it back up.

“So, Little Monster, what would you do if, say, a, a teenager came up to you and wanted to play the game that you were playing? What would you do?”

Then,

“What if you scored really well on a game and a young man came up and sort of put his arm around your shoulder? What would you do?”

Maybe the therapist was wrong! Here we were worrying about the Little Monster’s behavior, but game centers are filled with kids! What better place for icky people to hang out to prey upon them? Oh, my! Here I was worrying about the Little Monster all this time, but now I needed to worry about the entire rest of the planet!

II. The Journey

But to get to the video game arcade we first endured a bus ride downtown (I’d have to write a longer Inferno if I added in a chapter about parking downtown the week before Christmas). On the bus, we heard all manner of profanity and racist remarks, plus a story about a female critter that was about to sprout a huge schlong. Don’t you wish you could turn around to request a tad more info about a cell phone remark like that?

It becomes more and more likely that I’m soon going to let loose the uptight old biddy I’ve become in my attempts to protect this child who’s been given to me to safeguard. “You watch your language, young man!” I almost snapped. “There are children present!”

Yes, Timmy, that was 'schlong,' not 'shnoz.'

Why did I give up my television? We got rid of the boob tube because it’s too difficult to police the language and content, but we landed in the middle of an R-rated movie on a bus ride and then a walk through downtown. Even the mannequins in the purse department at Nordstrom were purposefully nude.

Wait, the purse department? Yes, naked mannequins artfully holding purses. Yeah, sure, I do that all the time. Because, being naked, I have no pockets, so I need the purse.

Why do I spend three hours per week driving the Little Monster to therapy so we can teach him what’s appropriate when our entire culture is inappropriate? How is he supposed to learn the difference? Believe me, he might not know the word hypocrisy but he gets it that his behavior is expected to be different from everyone else’s. Because of his background, he’s held to a higher standard. But I suppose that Barack Obama’s kids feel the same. Just yesterday the Little Monster and I were discussing how it must stink to be the president’s kids and have an adult follow you around all the time. Hm. The Little Monster commented that it must be boring for the men in black to hang around children the whole day and to have to go get them milkshakes. Gee, I can’t imagine.

“Are you finding everything you’re looking for?” the saleslady asked me as I charged through the store. Seriously? Do I look like I’m looking for anything other than the exit as I drag the Little Monster and Timmy the Play-typus Sock Puppet past the naked mannequins, regretting the decision to take this route through the store so that we could cross the neat pedestrian overpass?

“How about a blindfold and earplugs?” I didn’t ask. Maybe that’s what the naked mannequin had in her purse. Along with tampons. “How about a valium?”

Or maybe she could fish a couple of pasties out of that giant leather bag?

Next week: Part III, in which we reach the video game arcade


The Erotica Writer’s Husband and Other Stories by Jennifer D. Munro
Kindle Edition $1.49 at Amazon.com 
(TAX DAY SPECIAL: FREE KINDLE EBOOK DOWNLOADS 4/15 – 4/19/12)

Twelve humorous stories about sex and the sexes. These sensual yet comic stories offer a fresh take on literary erotic fiction, as if Anaïs Nin and Erma Bombeck met at the library to spin tales of laughter and the libido. Collected from the pages of Best American Erotica, Mammoth Book of Best New Erotica, Best Women’s Erotica, Best of Literary Mama, Clean Sheets, Zyzzyva, and others.