Scene: The bike shop today. I’m waiting on a minor bit of service. The only other customer is a 40ish man with three lovely children. He’s got the whippet-like build of a dedicated amateur athlete. He’s buying the kids an assortment of sports equipment. His youngest two, a girl and a boy about 4 and 5, are riding display bikes around the perimeter of the store.
The girl clips a line of expensive — there don’t seem to be any other kind here — road bikes, sending the whole line down like dominos. “Margo,” her father says. “Look what you did.” Margo doesn’t. Margo continues to ride.
The ranking senior employee comes out from the back, sees thousands of dollars of inventory, all with sharp edges capable of scratching the bikes lying below and above, and blanches. “What happened?” he asks the closest person, who happens to be the boy. Also still riding.
“My sister knocked them down,” he says, and giggles, then rides off. Margo makes another lap. “You have to get off that bike,” the employee says, rather weakly, to her back.
“Margo, get off the bike,” her dad says. Margo ignores them both.
Around and around ride Margo and her brother, while the employee resets the lineup and dad continues to shop. “Margo, get off the bike,” he says again, absently. Margo ignores him. Eventually he concludes his business, pays up and summons Margo and her brother. She gets off the bike and leaves with dad.
Often I feel like I’m too hard on Kate. I wish I had ten times the patience, ten percent of the temper, a tongue less sharp and a voice less aggressive. I wonder, when she still asks for permission to make a phone call or wear flip-flops, whether I’m one of those horrible domineering mothers who will end up trading slaps with Joan Crawford in hell. Then I see kids like Margo, and I think: Consider one alternative.
Kate broke a glass at Pier One when she was about Margo’s age. You’d have thought, from her reaction, that she personally pushed the button on Nagasaki. I tried to calm her down — it was one crummy glass, in a store full of them — while the employees rushed with a basket of penny candy: Here, kid, have a handful, and really, it’s no big deal at all.
At least she didn’t giggle.
Bloggage: The NYT ran a story on the Styles page Sunday that, even for Sunday Styles, seemed to plumb new depths of silliness: Gay or straight? Hard to tell. Evidently Brad Pitt’s fashion sense and hair color has just thrown everyone’s gaydar off, and oh, but it’s tne end of the republic. No one can tell anymore! It’s awful!
Anyway, the web version didn’t include the sidebar, which divided various signifiers — preferred brand of jeans, TV show, dog — into straight, gay and “gay vague” classifications. I learned Boston terriers are straight, French bulldogs are gay-vague and Jack Russell terriers are gay. My own Jack Russell was outraged, particularly because we have a French bulldog across the street and he just seems so much gayer. Says Sprig: Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Share a bad-kid story in the comments. You know you’re dying to.