they're too young to know
how much life sucks.

i offered to sit at the kids' table, since i really didn't feel like answering questions about my job or my goals in life. my parents sat with my cousin and her husband, a doctor, at the table next to ours. the three kids looked happy to finally be on their own. the waitress asked me, "how did you end up at the kiddie table?" "i don't know," i said. the three kids, maya, josh, and jacob looked at their kiddie menus. "what do you guys want?" i asked. one after the other, they all said, "spaghetti." "what do you want to drink?" i asked. "milk," the two said, then jacob, "chocolate milk."

i asked them questions about school and movies and tv shows. they said that school was good, and they liked their new school, the one in savannah, better than their old school, which was in alexandria. josh was the oldest, and he seemed to carry the weight of the world on his shoulders. he studied things with great intensity, everything from the menu to the blood orange crayon he held in his hand. maya was like an old woman, pushing her glasses up at the bridge of her nose, inhaling audibly between sentences, as though the smallest phrase took her breath away each time. jacob was the dumb fun one, interrupting everybody, living in his own little world.

"at my old school, i had like five friends!" jacob said. "after school, i have gymnastics...(inhalation)...and then, sometimes, i go to soccer," maya said. josh very meticulously colored in boxes of his crossword puzzle. i couldn't remember the last time i had talked with such enthusiastic, high-spritied individuals. i remembered a line from it's always sunny in philadelphia: "they're too young to know how much life sucks." when the food arrived, jacob stopped me and said, "you forgot to pray!" "i am praying," i lied.

i wanted to mess with them a little bit. i wanted to say things like, "have you ever considered the possibility that there isn't this all-knowing invisible being who can read our thoughts? and even if there was, wouldn't you find that a little bit frightening?" i wanted to be like royal tennenbaum, making the kids run through the crosswalk when the signal turned red. i didn't do any of this, of course. when the waitress brought us mints for dessert, the kids wouldn't even pop the candy into their mouths without getting mom's approval first. jacob came running back to our table. "she said we could eat it!" he said.

after dinner we all decided to go for a walk to volunteer park, even though it was getting dark out. when we got to the park, jacob said he really had to use the restroom. his parents asked where he might be able to use the restroom. i told them i could help him find one. "come on," i said. visibly worried, jacob followed me into the night. we power-walked a few blocks south, then a few blocks west. there was a church, but it was closed. i kept reassuring him that we'd find a place soon, but at each closed restroom, he looked a little more panicked. he started farting rapid machine-gun farts, and for a moment, i was afraid he was going to shit his pants. where's your god now, buddy? finally, the girl at the harvard exit theater said he could use the restroom.

when it was over, i asked him if he felt better. "yes," he said. "we can run back," he said, "if you want to." i challenged him to race up a hill. i started out slow, but then i started going faster, faster, until it was clear i was ahead. nearing the top of the hill, though, i slowed down to let him win. because that's what grown-ups are supposed to do.

1 comment:

Aby said...

Very nice post. 'Where's you god now, buddy? That was too funny.