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?”
“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!”
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?
- The Erotica Writer’s Husband and Other Stories by Jennifer D. Munro
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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.