It seems several times a month, I get into an online conversation (sometimes on Facebook, much more often on Twitter), where I want to relate this story. But it’s too long for Twitter, and the main character (my youngest child) sure doesn’t want to have his Facebook friends see it. So I’m writing here, and that way I can link to it. Often.
This happened in Central Indiana in 1996; my youngest was 3, and my next youngest was about 5. I picked them up from daycare after work and headed to Wal-Mart, where we did a lot of our grocery shopping back then. We had a few items in the cart, and next on the list was breakfast cereal. We turned into the correct aisle, and there at the other end was another mom with her child, roughly in the same age bracket as my two. Only hers was stretched out full-length on the floor, shrieking and kicking and crying. She was standing over him, trying to get him to stop, failing miserably and getting angry. My two looked shocked; I stopped the cart at a distance and had a moment to pat myself on the back that my two were being so good and not making a scene. Ha!
(I should probably explain here that I have two older children, so the younger ones have been exposed to films, games and television shows beyond their age level and understanding. Also, that it’s a favorite conversational game in our family to insert familiar lines of dialog when someone says something reminiscent of a favorite film. Got that?)
So the out-of-patience mother leans over her screaming son and shouts, “If you don’t stop that, I’m going to give you a spanking!” At which point my cherub sings out, in a faultless English accent, “A spanking! A spanking! And after the spanking, the oral sex!”
I have never moved with a grocery cart so fast in my life. I whipped around the corner and down two aisles over, with one child laughing maniacally while the other shouted, “Mommy, Mommy, we didn’t get any cereal! We need cereal!” “No, no, we don’t really need cereal, we weren’t going to get any cereal,” I insisted, trying to get far enough away that no one could connect my kid to the voice they’d almost certainly heard coming from the other direction. I took another corner and almost crashed into a cart coming the other way — the cart being in use by the wife of the president of the college where my husband and I both worked. Wow.
Fortunately, this was just as bad for her as for me; her grocery cart held nothing but large bottles of gin and vodka, and after a quick, awkward acknowledgement, we went our separate ways. We never spoke of it.
So that’s the story. You can find the relevant moment in Monty Python and the Holy Grail at the 5:20 mark here.