Thursday, March 13, 2014

Babysitter of the Year 2014

I would not make a very good parent.  I can hardly produce a serviceable performance as an uncle.  But I try.

For example, today I picked my nephew up from school, and asked him if he wanted to go to lunch to get some chili fries at Del Taco.  Del Taco is a cheap fast food restaurant that serves the same chili fries the gods ate at Mount Olympus.  There are two within a five minute drive from the boy's school: one with an impressive indoor playland (where my nephew once told me he discovered a dirty diaper crawling around in the upper tubes).*  The other restaurant is right next to the high school, but has no playground attachment, and I don't have to try to cajole the child into coming down if we go to that one.

I guess we were early enough that there were a bunch of teenagers there, just crossing the street from the high school, including a kid with the most ridiculous afro this side of 1974 Harlem (except this boy was white, so I suppose it might qualify as a Jew-fro, if there were any Jews within a hundred miles).  My nephew is six, and in kindergarten, and he saw this teen's head and began to laugh and point.

I guess a normal adult would tell him it was impolite to point, but this kid's head looked like the private parts of the Biblical Goliath, so I just let it go.  Some people wear an "Ask me about my goiter" t-shirt around, and shouldn't be surprised if someone asks them about it.
A moment later, though, also from the high school, a teenage dwarf came into the restaurant, with one of his friends.  This poor kid looked to be about fourteen, but was smaller than my nephew, who isn't tall for his age.  I immediately averted my gaze, whether that's rude or polite, but my nephew zoned directly in on the small person, and said, "Hey, look.  Look at him."

Well, this one was a bit different from the kid with all the hair.  "Hush," I whispered.  "Don't be mean."

I don't think he thought he was being mean, but he gazed on in a sort of amused wonder.  The little student looked over at my nephew then and smiled at him, and I really pitied the dude, and appreciated that he recognized no ill will in the child's attention.

"Some people are small and some people are big," I said, not really sure if I should tell my nephew that because his own mother was born six weeks premature, she was smaller than anyone else she knew.

I bought my nephew a tostada, which is a hard tortilla, covered with beans, cheese, and lettuce (which you already knew).  He grabbed a packet of hot sauce and squirted it onto the tostada, then, before taking a single bite, put TWO MORE packets of hot sauce on it.  "You really like hot sauce, huh?"

"Yeah," he said, "I''m tough."

And the boy is tough.  But he took one bite of the tostada and winced.  "Yuck," he said.


"This tastes bad," he said.

"It's fine," said I, since I too had gotten a tostada, and mine was fine.

"No, the sauce makes it yucky," he said, and set down the food, never to pick it up again.  I tried to get him to wipe off some of the hot sauce, or just eat the sections where it was lightly doused, but he pretty much refused.  Sigh.

Loud, obscene, braying laughter drew my attention.  I think you know what I mean by that, and if so, it would come to no surprise to see three teenage boys, dressed in ill-fitting pants and t-shirts, making a lot of noise and grab-assing over at the order counter.  They were the kind of idiot teenagers that know darn well they're being noisy, and delight in the negative glances their way.

These boys (technically, one of them was the victim and the other two were the instigators, but I pronounce them all guilty by association) were teasing one another, trying to irritate the woman at the register, and pushing each other around.  They were the types to somehow think the lady saying, "Twenty-six cents is your change" is either an innuendo or a demonstration that she was mentally retarded, and had to respond in an overloud manner.

I gave my nephew a soft taco, telling him not to put any hot sauce in it until he'd tasted it first, then commanding he eat the whole thing without complaining.  In the back of my mind, I worried for the undersized boy sitting a couple of tables away from us, since the trio of loudmouths probably harassed him wherever they found him.

Instead, they continued taunting each other, and when they got their food, one of them actually slapped the bag out of the third kid's hands, knocking a churro onto the floor.  While this teen bent to clean it up, the other two congratulated themselves on the hilarity of their prank.  Then they headed to the door, where all three piled into a beat-up Jeep with the stereo blasting.

I looked at my nephew, all anger about the tostada forgotten.  "Those, my friend, were a bunch of fucking douchebags," I said, patting him on the back.

Unca Rish Outfield

*The boy was crawling around in the tubes, not the diaper.

**This story is 100% true.  Except that there's probably a jew or two in town, somewhere, not calling attention to themselves.  Sorry.

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