Just as it was when we were kids, there’s an established seating arrangement—my Mom sits at the end, across from my grandmother, I sit next to Nana, Ashley next to my Mom, Tiger next to her, and my Dad sits next to me, affording him the ability to orchestrate the entrance of the hot fudge sundaes after lunch has ended, and also get everything tidy before that. That’s important for him.
Today, as we were finishing up dessert, a grease fire started in the kitchen. We could see a huge billow of smoke from where we were sitting. Immediately, all the alarms sounded in the building, with bright white lights flashing from the ceiling.
We just sat there, entertained. Tiger kept on playing with his Happy Meal toys. My mother, who had picked up thee other Happy Meal toys—two for her, one for Ashley, continued to play with her toys, too.
At a nearby table, a retarded boy who must have been about 23, smiled and said, “I’m scared. I’m getting really scared.” He kept repeating that over and over and over again.
Finally, it became clear that they wanted us to leave the place, even though it was also pretty clear that they had everything pretty much under control. We threw on our coats and straggled out.
Outside, along Route One, a selectman had set up camp, trying to hawk his candidacy. His hands blue, he stood by the highway with a heavy coat and gloves and a large “vote for me” sign in his hands.
I immediately strode over to him. “What is your stand on grease fires at McDonalds?” I demanded to know. “What are you going to do about them?”
The poor man looked at me, aghast.
The retarded boy made his way out of the building. “I’m scared, I’m so scared,” he kept saying, with that weird smile frozen on his face.
“And THAT poor boy is scared!” I said, inspired in my role as the voice of the people. “He may not look it, but he’s scared. What are you going to do about that, if you were our selectman?”
Suddenly the boy changed his tone. “I’m hungry, I’m really hungry,” he started to say.
“And now he’s hungry!” I exclaimed “Can’t you see how these grease fires are tearing our town apart???”
It as at that point that the selectman-wannabe grimaced, lifted up his sign, and proceeded to slam the sign down onto my…