To break up the monotony of being essentially housebound all week, Janna and I took Chooch to McDonald’s last Friday night. I love Playland because, unlike Chuck E Cheese, I can actually sit and relax and have adult conversations while Chooch acts a fool up in the tubes.
Chooch has a routine at McDonald’s: he’ll crawl the course of the tubes, come down the slide, push a bitch or two, then run back to where I’m sitting in order to plug a nugget in his loud mouth like a rag in a Molotov cocktail. Janna sat there and talked while I eye-flirted with the single dad sitting across from me, which made Janna roll her eyes.
A few minutes into Chooch’s reign of terror, a young boy stamped over to me and shouted, “Your kid keeps calling me a baby and I am FIVE YEARS OLD.” Chooch stood there and grinned proudly and I was like, “Oh. OK.” Then to Chooch, I mumbled with little to no conviction, “Quit calling him a baby.” Dealing with kids is not my forte. Later, that kid stole Chooch’s Spiderman, and after his grandma forced him to return it and apologize, Chooch laughed and slapped the thief’s arm which aroused chuckles in the other parents sitting nearby. The kid tried to tattle, but his grandma laughed at him, so one point scored for Team Chooch.
My pretend boyfriend and I, after making friendly eye contact and laughing at Chooch’s antics together, graduated into innocent small talk. I made sure I tweeted about it so Henry would know that I had an opportunity to upgrade.
A few minutes passed and I said to Janna, “I haven’t seen Chooch in awhile, have you?” and she realized that she hadn’t either. I knew I definitely hadn’t seen him come down the slide, so I assumed he was still up there in the tubes, but it made me nervous to see that all the other kids seemed to be running in a pack that didn’t include him. I didn’t even hear his obnoxious taunts and devilish laughs.
So I approached my pretend boyfriend’s son and I ask him if he’s seen my kid. He climbed up into the bowels of Playland, returned almost immediately and says, in a horror-stricken tone, “He’s up there and he doesn’t have no clothes on!”
My first thought was, “FUCK, Henry’s not here so now I have to actually be a fucking parent, are you goddamn kidding me.” As I began climbing up (and fuck you, McDonald’s! I kept my fucking shoes on), the little boy loudly added, “I saw your baby’s penis!” As my heart banged away in my ears, I vaguely recall hearing a small uproar of parental murmurings as they overheard this, and at that point, it might as well have been me who was naked.
I got to the top of the tower and turned around to see my son, completely fucking nude, lounging in a yellow tunnel. A group of children surrounded him on two sides, taking in impromptu Anatomy 101 with wide eyes and mouths agape. Chooch, he was just grinning away.
I’d have preferred a smaller audience for the night my son chose to announce his new lifestyle.
“Get your ass over here,” I hissed in a low whisper, and when he scrambled close enough I grabbed his arm–not so hard as to appear abusive!– and yanked him the rest of the way. Scanning the area, my heart sank as I discovered his clothes weren’t anywhere near him. A girl who appeared to be around seven or eight fetched them for me. Then she goes, “Oh, and here’s his diaper. Ew.” However, I was relieved to see there was no poop in it.
Or smeared across the tubes in Satanic shapes.
I gathered all his clothes and perched him on a ledge, angrily stuffing his head through his sweater. It was hot as hell in there and stank of dirty feet, prepubescent B.O. and stale fries, but I refused to drag him back down in his present full-frontal state. Some of the kids expressed their annoyance at my presence, and dramatically asked me to please move. I snapped on one kid and growled, “You have plenty of room to get past me, are you kidding?” Fucking children.
My favorite part, I think, was when I could hear one of the McDonald’s employees talking about the super exciting action with some of the adults. “And the mother’s up there now?” she asked. “Oh, that is just so cute! How funny!” YES, HOW FUCKING CUTE. AND FUNNY, INDEED.
As I stuffed clothing back on his nude body, I asked Chooch why he took his clothes off, anyway.
“I wanted my socks off,” he replied nonchalantly, like it was as sensible as a salad with low-fat dressing for dinner.
Once he was decent, I made him go back down with me. Janna and my pretend boyfriend were standing there smiling, and I just lost it, totally fucking cracked up. Janna and I talked about it for a few minutes when I realized again that Chooch’s absence was lingering a little bit too long for my liking. Pretend boyfriend sent his son back in, and he came back to report, “Well, he took his shirt off. But then he put it back on.”
To his father, I laughed, “This is a new thing, apparently.” And then I defeatedly mumbled a sardonic, “Awesome.”
Right then, Chooch came shooting out of the slide with his sweater completely inside out, and you better believe I grabbed his little exhibitionist ass. I plopped him down at our table and began stuffing his little asshole feet into his shoes while he took a swig of his drink.
“I can’t like lemonade,” he announced with disgust, setting the cup back on the table.
“Oh, so now that you’re a nudist, you don’t like lemonade?” Then I tried to explain to him the virtues of the “no shirt, no service” rule.
On our way out, some kid sitting with his parents pointed to Chooch and shouted, “That’s the kid right there! The one who took his clothes off!”