So I was in my hometown some five summers ago, getting some deliciously fattening boardwalk fries for dinner. See, I live in a beach town, and one of the few benefits of opening your life to an invasion of tourists is that the food is super yummy--and cheap if you're a local. The down side is that my idyllic little town gets turned into a long-range suburb of Washington DC, with all the traffic and uptight yuppies and insanely selfish greed directed toward relaxing. Yes: aggressively seeking vacation and peace. Viciously carving out a spot in line and holding it no matter the cost. Any line, as long as they get their piece of peace before I do, because, fuck it, they paid to be here!

But I digress. Most of them are nice. It's just that the ones who are too stressed, well... I like to fuck with people. And they're such juicy targets.

So, like I said, I was getting some fries. A woman--I'll call her Serena, because she was obviously at peace with herself--is screaming to her two spoiled and amazingly undisciplined kids, aged 5-ish and 7-ish: "Don't you move a muscle! Don't move! NO! Don't! I'll be RIGHT BACK!" She turns her back, and the 7-year-old, obviously enthralled with his job as big brother and role model to the younger, begins singing the following mantra loudly, proudly, and obnoxiously, with one foot planted:

"I'm moooo-ving! I'm moooo-ving! I'm really really moooo-ving!"

The younger brother, amazingly quick on the uptake, begins to ape his older brother. I took a long look at them, and then I picked up my fries. I was waiting in a short line for the condiments: vinegar, Old Bay, salt... you know the drill. Next to me was the substantial line for fries. Serena comes right up to the counter, throwing elbows like Charles Barkley, and catches the clerk's attention and begins trying to order, to the extremely vocal dismay of the other customers. I exited stage left, and took my place near the wee tykes.

With my best concerned-adult look (which I had to basically make up--I was a teenager), I leaned down to eye level with the older kid. I told him and his brother, in an ordinary voice, that they should probably hold still--their mother, had after all, told them to. Then, in my Army of Darkness demonic voice, I added "...and if you don't, I'll swallow your soul!" A favored him with a broad smile, got a good look at his panicked face (I think his brother missed it all!), and walked around a corner and through a small shopping area. I sat down to enjoy my fries, laughing a little at the small nuggets of chaos and order I had injected into the scene. They had, after all, held perfectly still as I walked away. I figured he wouldn't be able to lead Serena back to me, given my circuitous route... but I was wrong!

He was amazingly resourceful, and I was caught... dragging his very angry-looking mother toward me, pointing a finger of blame. Mom was carrying the five-year-old and the fries. She spoke curtly to me, spitting out every word:

"Did you just talk to my children?"
What could I say? "Yes, ma'am."
"And what did you say?"

"I told them that if they kept acting like that, someone would see that their mother wasn't there, and they might get followed, or stolen." I tried to emphasize the weak rhyme at the end, and knew, in my heart of hearts, that I was caught. I smiled wanly.

Serena smiled back, visibly relieved, all flowers and sunshine. Did I...? Did she... believe me?

"Oh! I think they misunderstood you. I'm sorry."

They walked away. The seven-year-old looked back my way, and I surprised him with the most purely evil grimace of Satanic glee I could manage.


If you were that mother, it wasn't actually me. I made this whole story up, and you will never find me anyway, because I don't live at the beach anymore.

If you were that kid, I'm sorry if I scared you. You were being a little shit, but in retrospect, it was a little cruel of me.

If you're a parent, I understand that this would probably outrage you if I did it to your kid, but if you're not an absolutely self-centered asshole when you're on vacation, you have absolutely nothing to fear. I've pulled kids out of the path of oncoming cars in my town... cars driven by people who feel compelled to drive city-style in my tiny town, like Serena probably still does. Please don't flame me to defend your kids' sanity.

If your name is Serena, I'm sorry for attaching such an otherwise beautiful name to someone so awful.

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