My wife and I are not what you would call natural parents. Neither of us would spend our off time hanging around a maternity ward ooing and cooing over the newborns. In fact, 25 odd(very) years later, we would probably still be talking about whether to have a child were it not for an accident(which we later named Jared). Once the rabbit died, or in this case, the strip turned pink, however, we were committed to our fate and determined to be the best parents we could be. One of our early parenting decisions was not to use baby talk to describe body parts or functions. No pee pee, ca ca, poo poo, boom boom, fanny or bo bo for our child, it would be strictly urine, bowel movement, rectum and penis, etc.
Now, fast forward about 4 years. It was a Saturday morning and as usual my wife was out of town. As was our habit, my son Jared( now 3 ) and I would take care of the grocery shopping in her absence. Saturday morning in any grocery store in the U.S. is barely controlled pandemonium and this Midwestern debacle was no different. After about an hour and a half of dodging people and carts, including a young woman that had no less than three kids hanging off the sides of her cart, as if it were a float in a parade and a handicapable couple piloting electric scooters which they insisted on motoring down each isle 2 abreast, kids and adults screaming, me throwing things into the cart and then putting things back on the shelf that Jared had thrown in, while I wasn't looking, and I was done. One final glance at the meticulous grocery list prepared by my o.c. symptomatic wife to make sure each item had been crossed through and I was more than ready to check out. On my initial approach, each one of the 10 or so check out lanes was packed with customers and their carts lined up four deep(which severely impacted the plans of the handicapables to double buzz the produce counter). We were 4th in line at our register when the young cashier from the next lane left her position and approached us. She was from express and for whatever reason, at this particular fateful moment, her lane was empty.
"Sir, nobody is in express so you can bring your cart over and I'll check you out," she said.
In the blink of blue light we were at her station unloading a cart full of groceries. As usual, I tried to keep Jared occupied by having him put the things that we were actually buying on the conveyor. This was no small fete because from his little command seat at the opposite end of the shopping cart, he was easily within reach of the 2 mini flashlights, 2 pocket combs and 2 National Enquirers that were rung up before I saw them, on the previous Saturday.
As soon as I started to unload, a steady stream of people without carts and an armload of items(did they all have to have ice cream?) walked up to the express lane. In reality or in my paranoia, I could sense them all boring holes in me with their eyes."Hey, he's got more than 10 items. What's he doing here? We don't want your kind here!" They all pressed closer, each of them seemed intent on my every movement, as I stood directly under the sign that said 10 ITEMS OR LESS-NO CHECKS-CASH ONLY, while a bagger packed up our mounds of stuff and I wrote a check to cover our purchases. As I filled out the check, the cute high school age cashier engaged Jared in conversation. This was not difficult because he was verbal, precocious and a flirt, even then. After her initial question, the one all of us have to ask tikes, "How old are you?", went by uneventfully, whatever they said after that went right past me as I focused on my task at hand. That is, until I heard Jared say with a clarion-like voice, "I know....you're a girl."
"You're right", Miss Perky responded
"You don't have a penis", he added knowingly.
Now scarlet faced, even the chatty teenager was struck silent. This awkward moment was followed by one of those times that it seems the whole world just went still...except for Jared's voice.
"My Daddy has a VERY BIG PENIS."
Now at this point, my brain is first in denial, next in total overload, as nonsensical responses flooded in.
How many people heard him?...Was he really speaking directly into the loud speaker?"Wet clean up in aisle 6 and my Daddy has a real big penis"...... It's not really that big it's just his perspective folks, you can ask my wife....Where was this kid when I was single and a nonChristian?....Did I remember the peanut butter and did I cross it off the list? How far apart was he holding his little hands when he said VERY BIG? ...Is this check out girl legal and am I libel for some type of sexual harassment?...Is anyone from our church in here?
I probably looked like an amateur forger as I oh so carefully completed my check, so as not to screw up something complex like my signature, causing me to have to rewrite the whole thing again. I felt people's eyes on me as sweat started to run down my temples. I prayed silently that I had remembered my check cashing card so as not to prolong this agony one extra second. After awkwardly concluding the transaction, we headed for the door. I was in full metal flop sweat as Jared happily waved bye bye to all.
As we walked in the front door of our house, my wife happened to be calling on the phone. I opened the conversation with "Here's one for you to cross off your list. I will never go to that grocery store again...without a disguise!"