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Something struck me funny today as I was sitting outside of Coles at the mall, pimping my book. Two years ago, I was right here in this very spot, fighting for my life.

Okay maybe not my life, but certainly my dignity. Here’s a sweaty morsel from the story called “Shopping Maul” on page 123 of MotherFumbler. Max, two and a half, is in the middle of a full-fledged ginger snap, so I’m bee-lining for the exit.

I managed to drag him over to a bench. We were so close to the exit now. So very close. I could taste the asphalt and it was delicious. I just needed to gather myself together and prepare for the parking lot, where flailing gingers and hard pavement do not mix well. And why did I park so far from the door? I hate me.

 

En route to the bench, by the way, I saw my cousin and his new girlfriend. There was an on-the-fly introduction and they ran for their lives. He probably went straight home and hammered his nuts with a mallet.

 

I tried to sit Max on the bench, to get him to calm down a tad. There was no reasoning. The impenetrable wall of crazy was up and I was but a fetus with a slingshot. His arms were flailing, his teeth were gnawing, and my face was a bowl of sweat on the concrete floor. I think I saw a freckle float by.

 

A young father was sitting on the bench next to me with a little boy in a stroller. The kid leaned over the side of the stroller to look at the spectacle unfolding before him. His father looked astounded too.

 

“What? Like your kid is perfect! Look at him. He doesn’t even have any hair and what is he – five? Get that kid a toupee for Christ’s sake!”

 

That’s what I was thinking. What I said was: “Wanna trade?”

 

His silence meant no, I guess. Fine. Be that way, Caillou’s dad.

 

There ya go — 250 free words without having to buy the book. That’s seven cents worth of material, at no cost to you. You’re welcome. There’s another 67,000 words where those came from though, if you want some more shit to make you feel better about your life.

Today, however, there were no flailing limbs. No hissy fits. No need to call the adoption agency to see if anyone wants a Savage Patch Kid. Today, my four and a half year old sat at the table with me, flashing grins at potential customers, keeping me company as I waited for people to stop and check out the book that contains this very story.

HOWEVER! He won’t be getting the blue ribbon for best mall behaviour anytime soon. While I was signing books, he went to Sears with Nanny Shirley and Aunt Linda. Upon catching a glimpse of an interesting toy, he ran off. Fun trumps safety, like, obviously. Nan and Aunt looked high and low for 10 or 15 minutes. No sign of Max. Nanny was starting to panic. Aunt Linda was wondering where they might find another one just like him and replace him like a dead goldfish. A Sears staffer was just about to make an announcement on the loudspeaker when Nan’s cell phone rang. It was me.

“Did you lose something?” I asked her.

Max had wandered out of Sears and scurried all the way through the mall, finally getting escorted to Coles by a couple ladies who were wondering why this orange-headed gremlin child was running around the mall unsupervised. He looked like nobody owned him. No jacket, and face covered in chocolate ice cream. I wondered if this was what his father looked like all those years ago when he too ran off from his folks at the mall and was found two hours later with his pockets full of stolen candy and his shorts full of shit. But let’s save that story for another time.

Nan, near tears, was relieved that Max was safe and sound. But she was also really fuckin’ pissed.

When I hung up, I looked at Max. “Max, you ran away from Nanny. That’s not nice. Nanny was very worried.”

Knowing she was on her way to find us, he said “I don’t want to see Nanny’s mean face.”

Ha ha. Oh my. I’ll save my kidnapping lecture for tomorrow.

 Mall rat

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