Chinese food. It was a good choice for a Monday night, having just pulled back into town after a long day in Atlanta. Too tired to cook and eager to appease the hungry clan back at the homestead, I teetered on the sidewalk outside the Hong Kong Café with bags of sesame chicken, chicken fried rice (no onions!) and egg rolls while a mother parked in a minivan next to me helped her small son from his booster car seat. I couldn’t get to my door, so while she wrestled the rest of her things from the van he stood by me on the sidewalk, staring.
“Hi,” I said.
Silence. I didn’t blame him. I probably still had a weird-shaped indention on my cheek from sleeping in the car on the way home from Atlanta, my face smashed up against my son’s backpack in the back seat. I slept for maybe a half hour, 45 minutes at the most, but that’s not the way my husband sees it. He worships at the altar of No, You Can’t Drive But You Shouldn’t Sleep While I Drive. And if I do fall asleep, he immediately loses all memory of how to tell time.
“Since you slept for three hours while I drove, I’ll let you pick up dinner,” he says. I did not sleep for three hours, I tell him. He tells me I snored. I did not snore, I tell him. Maybe I drooled a little, but I do not snore. He’s just jealous that I got a nap. I offered to drive, I remind him, to which he shakes his head. I’m unsure if he won’t let me drive because (a) he thinks I cannot drive, (b) he is a gentleman or (c) he wants control of the radio. I decide it is most likely a cocktail of all three.
The little boy on the sidewalk still staring at me, I make a last attempt at conversation.
“Your car is all shiny and clean. Do you like going through the car wash?” I say. Eyes that had been expressionless suddenly become large as saucers as he looked at the minivan, then at me, then at his mother, then back at me. I didn’t mean to, but I think I scared him.
“Sorry it took me so long,” his mother said a few seconds later as she joined us on the sidewalk. The little boy still gazed at me with a look of amazement mixed with fear as he walked away with his mother, and as I opened my car door I heard him tell her that I must be magic because I knew they had gone to the car wash. The mother’s face looked puzzled as she glanced back at me, and I waved as I pulled out of my parking space.
Magic? Naw. I’d just noticed the Goo Goo yellow baggie she’d forgotten to take off of her rear windshield wiper.
A -- Arrhea
B -- Bredele
C -- Coyota
D -- Krumkake
2 total votes.
I used to not mind my own children thinking I was magic, that I knew everything they were thinking and had done during the day. “How were those Oreos you sneaked and ate when I wasn’t looking?” I would ask when I noticed a single black cookie crumb on their shirt. “I know everything,” I would tell them. It worked for a while until they got older and wised up.
I miss those days.
I probably should have told the little boy on the sidewalk that I’m not magic, but knew his car was clean because I’d seen the baggie from the carwash on the windshield wiper. Then again, maybe he thought I was some sort of super hero ... yeah, that would be cool. On the other hand, I really hope his mother didn’t think I was creepy.
‘Cause I’m not creepy. And for the record, I don’t snore.
At least I don’t think I do.
Contact columnist Mandy Flynn at firstname.lastname@example.org.