I generally avoid the video store with the boys – a quick stop becomes an hour and one movie becomes four when they can’t decide or can’t agree, and someone’s sad because they want to see something inappropriate, and with online and mail-order and On Demand, why bother?
But this day I did, and for once, they were quick. They agreed on some Star Wars and we waited at the register, and can I have this? Jakob put a candy bar on the counter.
No, I said, and put it back.
What about this? He asked replacing the bar with M&M’s while the boy-clerk roamed behind the counter with an old-fashioned phone snuggled between his shoulder and ear, the cord wrapped round his finger.
No. No. I was firm and returned the candy to its place and Viggo grabbed the Skittles—can I? No, and I was shelving candy and it was piling up on the counter and there were fifteen or twenty large candy items and No! I said and they laughed, and I put it back but the pile grew larger, and then I laughed and couldn’t get my money and the boy behind the register hung up his phone and asked if I wanted the pile and I said No and he smiled then struggled to break my twenty, and the boys and I were still moving sugar, and the line behind me shuffled like a heavy sigh, and then They stopped and I still laughing and couldn’t stop and we put the candy back and I stepped away from the counter and gave each boy a quarter for a gumball, and They, caricatures of themselves. And no, I know, means nothing.