I hate to be one of those curmudgeony old battle-axes, but other people's kids annoy me. I could never be an elementary teacher. Or Chuck E. Cheese. I can't smile and nod and pretend they're precious. I want them to stay away from me. Creepy kids. Not the youngsters I work with. None of the school family. I feel protective of them, like they're part of my pack. It's the strange, wild kids I want the dingo to eat.
Save A Lot is the scene of the most recent affront. I ran in for some milk and tomato sauce Wednesday evening. A dysfunctional family unit met me at the door. And proceeded to block both ingress and egress. Two girls and a boy, probably five to eight years old, and a frazzled mother with a cell phone glued to her ear. The Boy and Girl 2 forged ahead, opening the automatic door, while Girl 1 stopped to block the exit door and tie her shoe. A finished customer and I waited for them to clear out.
Boy stood in my way while I tried to pull out a cart. Girls ran ahead to grab some Little Debbie cakes. I'm not faulting them for their taste. I'm no stranger to Little Debbie. And her white and dark Christmas tree cakes were on a center display. Those kids followed me down the first aisle like geese in formation on a long trip. One minute I was ahead, then a kid would swoop past me, then I would retake the lead. It was close to being a beautifully-choreographed ballet. Except, well, they were dingo bait.
At some point, parents, you need to teach your children not to squeal and squall in public, begging for things or taking them and refusing to put them back. Teach them not to run up to people and stand and stare. Because curmudgeony old battle-axes want to shout, "Get away from me!" It was like running a slalom with my cart. Go to the right side of the boy, then the left side of Girl 2, then the right side of Girl 1...oh, here's Boy again. Left side.
It was like playing chicken with a really, really accomplished, world-class. chicken-player. That little grocery dash took three times as long as necessary.
At the checkout, Boy darted in front of me to the only open cashier. Being a skilled road-rage graduate, I maneuvered my cart at the last minute to cut him off by the big dill pickle/hot fries/Sugar Babies end display. Hey! All's fair. I doubt he had the money Little Debbie required. He looked at me all creepy-like again. He was like those twin girls in The Shining, except there was only one of him, and he wasn't a girl, was in pants and not dresses, and no wall of blood poured out from an elevator behind him. But other than that, he was just like those twins. The googly eyes. Silent. Staring through my soul.
The Mom caught up to him with her Girls. They all plopped their cake boxes on the counter while she continued to talk on the phone. Then she suddenly saw writing on the wall, or the sugar on the conveyor belt, and yelled at them to take back one box of cakes. It didn't look like that was happening. But I'm not real clear on that, because I was peeling Creepy-Eyes McCreeperson off my left hip.
I'll be gosh-darned if they didn't reattach themselves to me at the bagging counter. You know, the one with the sign about not letting your kids climb on the counter? Boy jumped up there like an Olympic-caliber high-jumper. He stood by the bag rack so I couldn't get one. Girl 2 closed in on my other side, playing with that bag rack. I rummaged for a box under the counter. The Mom was still at the checkout. She hollered at Boy to wait a minute, but he ran out the exit door ahead of me.
I rushed past him, hoping he didn't try to follow me home. Then the whole crew swarmed me, swirling on all sides, until they eddied away to car parts unknown.
I felt like I needed a shower.