“Hey, you couldn’t have picked another place to do that?”
Instead of exiting the drive-thru, the lady has gone out of her way to pull into the parking lot, and has taken the trouble of positioning her vehicle to where it won’t be easy for me to avoid confrontation, and rolled down her window. Seems like a lot of trouble just to yell at a stranger, but here goes.
“I’m sorry; her English isn’t so good,” I reply, gesturing to my dog that has just taken a dump on a strip of grass abutting a Taco Cabana parking lot. I don’t bother to mention that I specifically stood between my dog’g butt and the window of the dining room, a location strategically selected to prevent Taco Cabana’s patrons from witnessing anything too unappetizing, or that the restaurant is well over 100 feet away from where we’re having this converation.
“You really think this is something to joke about?”
“I dunno. You really think this is any of your business?”
“Maybe I’m making it my business.”
I resist the impulse to throw the plastic bag of dog shit into her open window while thanking her for volunteering. A buddy of mine recently had a story like this, and he said the best way to avoid confrontation is to ratchet things up immediately and show a willingness to escalate further, thereby establishing yourself early as the crazier party in the transaction, and the other person will almost always back off. “Don’t be afraid to use the c word,” I can imagine him advising me in this situation. Instead I just walk around the back of her vehicle to resume our walk, carefully monitoring her reverse lights as we pass behind.

Kim returns to the kitchen after placing Maceo’s plate in front of him. We’re eating several kinds of leftovers tonight, and he likes his cold. I add a little tomato juice to a pan of rice so it doesn’t burn on the bottom.
“I guess you don’t want any zucchini,” she says.
“I was gonna try to focus on the taco stuff from the other night,” I reply. “I got distracted for a minute with those carrots, but now I’m back on track.”
“I’ve been trying to get him to try a new food. Would you mind eating some in front of him?”
“Just a few.”
We sit at the table, and Maceo wrinkles his nose. I assume it’s the zucchini he’s pushed to the margins of his plate, but I’m wrong.
“What’s that smell? It smells like…hmmm.” He takes a minute to comtemplate dramatically. “It smells like beer.”
It’s not beer, just a smell he associates strongly with beer. Kim gives me a look.
“Probably beer,” I say, then change the subject.
Later, Kim and I are doing dishes in the kitchen while Maceo picks at the remains of his meal, leaving the zucchini untouched. It takes him forever to eat because he’s always getting up to wander around.
“You really should wait until after he goes to bed to get stoned,” Kim says. Her tone is entirely non-judgmental, and being stoned, I’m especially receptive to suggestion. She’s a virtuoso.
“You’re right. But this is my first night off in a week, and I really wanted to make sure I’d be pleasant to be around,” I offer.
“You need to do that to be in a good mood.”
“It doesn’t hurt. Both of us have been pretty irritable lately with these allergies. I couldn’t even do my Neti pot today, I’m so stopped up.” I pour myself a glass of milk, grab a cupcake from a sealed plastic tub, and head to where Maceo is sitting.
“Hey, look what I’ve got.”
“Yeah, dad. A cupcake!” He’s excited. I may have an angle to work here.
“Yep. Good thing I ate all my zucchini.” I take a bite, and it’s a little stale.
“Dip it in your milk, dad.”
“You think I should?”
“Yes, dad. Dip it in your milk!” His eyes brighten. I hesitate a little, suspending the cupcake just above the surface of the ice-cold milk.
“You sure?”
“Mmm-hmm!” He can barely contain himself.
“Like this?” And then I dip it in the milk and take a bite, careful not to let any milk drip onto the table.
“Is it good?” He asks, excitedly.
“Yeah, it’s really good,” I tell him.
“YEEEEAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!” Euphorically he jumps out of his chair and high-fives me.
“Wow, you should eat a bite of zucchini so you can have a cupcake too,” I say casually, so as not to betray that I am playing my trump card. I made a good effort, but this motherfucker? Ain’t eating shit.
“He’s gonna be a hungry guy later tonight,” his mom warns from the kitchen. I concur.
“Yep. Grouchy too.”


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April 2012
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