And now, the continuation:
On the return trip, he began sipping from his sports drink, and I advised him to take it easy, as we wouldn’t be in bathroom range for quite while to go. Amazingly, he didn’t argue. He just screwed the cap back on the bottle and, I swear I’m not making this up, he actually behaved himself all the way to Walgreens! But as we entered the automatic doorway of our local apothecary, I knew it had been too good to last. Almost immediately began the demands to look at toys and to be given candy. And when I picked out my deodorant, the primary reason for our visit (Christmas came early for my wife this year!), he began asking why I needed it. Luckily, before I would have had to improvise an edited version of The Birds and Stinky Bees, he asked if we were getting anything else from that section of the store, like nighttime diapers or… toys. Again, I told him that we weren’t getting toys or chocolates, and reminded him that if he couldn’t pull himself together, he would find himself without a snack. He led the way at a steady pace, head hung in resignation, toward the beverages and snack aisle.
I grabbed a couple snack wraps and bottle of Code Red, while David chose a Lunchable. He tried to convince me that he should get a soda too, since I was getting one, and then caught himself, and said, “You know what, Dad? You’re right. This comes with a Wild Cherry juice. Do you know why they call it ‘Wild Cherry’?”
Before I could respond, he blurted out, “Because the cherries are so Wild!” I stared blankly down at him, as the maniacal giggling had begun, and simply shook my head. I placed my hand upon his back, and did the best I could to guide him the the register before he had the chance to ask for anything else, or worse: attempt another “joke.” I glanced over at the Redbox kiosk on my right, but needed both my hands for what they were doing, and after paying for our stuff, I could use David’s backpack to free them up to browse. So we entered into the line, three back from the cashier. The photo department called out for the next in line, and we were left behind a woman trying to scrounge enough change out of the bottom of her purse to buy a bouquet of drugstore roses. Five minutes (no exaggeration), and a constant stream of my son schilling for the candy companies, later, we were finally able to buy our five items and be on our way. It took just under a minute (including packing everything into his backpack), and we were walking to the rental machine.
Like I said in Part One, Guardians of the Galaxy was Out of Stock (with prejudice) and I began scrolling through the options to find some cinematic delight acceptable to both my son and to myself. His eyes lit up at How To Train Your Dragon 2, but I’ve already purchased it for him as a Christmas present, and have, therefore, become on willing to spend any more money upon it. Most of the other films they had on display seemed wildly inappropriate for him, but then I saw that The Giver was in stock, and remembered just how proud I’d been when we actually got through that book together.
On a side note: From when I first read that book, many years ago, I could only remember the messages of the dangers of conformity and that adults are stupid and not to be trusted. I wasn’t prepared for how Old Man and The Massage it was. I guess if you’ve never experienced anything other than your childhood innocence, then everything is filtered through that lens. My son seemed only to be interested in the parts where Jonas discovers color and the meaning of life, skipping over, in its entirety, the mentions of implied pederasty and having children sponge-bathe senior citizens. Also, I realized that the Divergent series seemed to be nothing more than an expansion on the notions first put forth in The Giver (which I’m sure probably robbed from Dr. Seuss), but somehow made it sexier, and aimed primarily at teenaged girls. Rant concluded.
Redbox then offered me the chance to save fifty cents (OMG! Half a dollar!) if I rented a second movie. I figured, What the heck! and began scrolling through again. David felt this was his best chance to snag the film he wanted, but I decided on the new X-Men flick because who doesn’t enjoy watching stories about time travel, mutations, and Peter Dinklage. My son was, of course, disappointed in the films which I’d selected, but I reminded him of who was paying, and he backed down, just a little.
In all our walking and our haggling over the things which I would buy, we’d only managed to kill just under ninety minutes since the end of school. I allowed my son to talk me into heading to our cool, secluded lunch spot (just behind the Not-Quite-Richmond City Hall). We ate our prepackaged “meals” and talked about the weather. And squirrels. And whether or not he would be allowed to play the Xbox later, since it wasn’t a school night, and he’d been such a good boy that entire day. I told him that we’d see, and stole a cookie from his snack platter while he wasn’t looking.
We finished up and headed home, taking the back roads to heighten the sense of adventure. We played that we were elven scouts on the run from some bedeviled goblin army, and that we had to make it to our castle without being seen by their patrols. This game stretched out what would have been a ten minute walk into something closer to about twenty. I’d managed to buy my wife another couple hours of uninterrupted sleep, and could do no more, as the time had come that David had to use the restroom.
TO BE CONCLUDED…