Thursday, July 13, 2006

The dark side of reproduction...

A few months back, I was browsing in the basement of a local used bookstore. This was the middle of the day, so I pretty much had the place to myself. At least I did until Lil’ Trevor and his unbearable mother came down the stairs. The latter situated herself in front of a shelf on the other side of the room and began to root through their stock of remaindered Jane Smiley novels while Lil’ Trevor, he of the apple cheeks and roguish grin, began tearing around the place like a bipolar baboon on bad methamphetamine. “What are you finding Trevor? What are you finding?” his unbearable mother screeched every so often.

Occasionally, Trevor spouted off some gibberish in reply, but for the most part he was too busy shrieking at the top of his lungs over and over and over again to pay his mother much mind. “Are you singing?” she would ask him, “What’s that you’re singing?”

I gritted my teeth and kept on shopping. People letting their bleating, snot-crusted, germy progeny run wild in public is just something you have to get used to if you want to live in contemporary America. These days, when you pump out a brat, the entire world becomes an extension of your living room. You just show up and take over the place, letting your precious little lump of suet do whatever they want to. You couldn’t imagine clipping their wings. They’re a fledgling American, after all, you want them to grow up secure in the knowledge that they own the world and every single thing in it.

I could go on and on about this. But, that day, I steeled myself to ignore them. There was a book on the lowest shelf that looked interesting, so I kneeled down to have a look at it. In doing so, I presented an irresistible target to Lil Trevor, who was currently devastating the poetry section. He came waddling over, shrieked in my ear, and proceeded to grab my ear. “Gaaaah!” he said and began the complicated process of working his free fingers into my nostrils.

This was more than I could bear. “Aarrgghh!” shouted as I leapt to my feet. Lil Trevor let out a delighted squeak and went rushing away then, but my cursing had caught the attention of his unbearable mother. She came flowing over in her flowy dress and, once she had established that I hadn’t done any harm to darling Trevor’s self-esteem, began to chuckle at me.

I was not amused, however. I gave her my worst scowl, but it must not have had any effect because—and I swear I’m not kidding here—she just beamed and said, “Trevor’s been exploring faces recently.”

In the secret heart of me, I kind of lost it for a moment. Nevertheless, it was with admirable poise and calm that I informed the unbearable mother that, while I really didn’t give a shit what Trevor was exploring, I would appreciate it if, in the future, she kept him the hell away from me.

From the look she gave me then, you would have thought I said something indecorous. She stared at me for awhile, her mouth opening and closing at random intervals, until she finally hollered out for Trevor to follow her up the stairs. When they were gone, I savored the silence. I got back down on my knees and flipped through book after book, my soul alight with the peculiar glow that comes from even the slightest of victories.