Walking down the crowded sidewalk in Moreland on a perfect Friday evening. Past the spicy Asian restaurant, under the marquee of the decades old neighborhood theater with the smell of actual buttered popcorn. Moms and dads and kids out walking around, groups of smokers sitting on the benches outside bars, clinking their glasses, laughing hello, hugging goodbye.
My fedora and I walked along. My stomach was full of stir-fried green beans and chicken and delicious chili sauce. My head was full of indecision as to which bar to spend my money in tonight.
Ahead of me on the sidewalk was a woman; blonde hair pulled back in a pony tail, tanned shoulders inked with red roses with soft white cotton hanging from spaghetti straps to cover curvaceous breasts and a flat tummy, her ass rhythmically moving under worn blue denim, moved by dainty pedicured feet in flip flops. A beautiful woman.
And a mom. Her three young children, all between the ages of 3 and 6, I think, scampered and shouted and strolled along in a youthful cloud of energy. Two girls and a boy, in generic Gap Kids togs, blue and red and brown and green.
The mom was walking along at about the same speed as me, but just enough out of sync that I wanted to either speed up to pass or slow down to avoid the appearance of following. Considering her butt in those jeans, I slowed down. I was in no hurry.
The tallest girl child, in a dress with dark brown hair, stayed near her mom’s left hand. I heard no words or sound from her at all, and then her mom looked down at her and said, “Your attitude! You’re really pissing mommy off right now, you know that, right?”
Again, I heard nothing from the little girl in response. I heard no crying or sobs, no backtalk. Either she was too quiet for me to hear or her response was entirely body language which I couldn’t see from my position several yards back.
But mommy continued. “All through dinner you gave me nothing but attitude. I’m sick of it. You need to straighten up.” Her voice was cutting and sarcastic. The little girl continued walking. Her head was not bowed down but it also wasn’t raised up in defiance. Her lack of affect affected me deeply.
The two other kids had danced ahead, and now mommy and daughter stopped next to a giant white sports-utility vehicle parked next to the sidewalk. The mommy shouted at the other two to come back, and as soon as they heard mommy’s voice they did so, excuses tumbling out of their mouths. “We saw the car, mommy, but it was locked!”
“Uh-huh,” mommy said as she dug out her keychain fob, “See that?” she pointed, with her chin, at where the two had been playing. “That’s a driveway. You could have been hit by a car.” She sounded to my, now disapproving, ears, to be entirely non-chalant to the fate she was describing.
She pushed the button on the fob, beep!, and the giant white vehicle’s horn beeped in response. Kids opened unlocked doors and climbed in and mommy walked around to the street side to get in.
And then the truck’s horn beeped again. And again. It was a pattern, a warning, an alarm. The headlights, taillights and parking lights all flashed in time with the horn.
Mommy fumbled with the keychain fob – beep! – again and again – beep! – beep! – but the transportational alarm continued. Mommy climbed inside – at least part of the system was working since the doors were now open – but nothing silenced the honking horn.
I walked another half-block, waited my turn, and got some weekend spending money out of the ATM, then walked back past mommy and her children.
The horn continued honking.
Mommy’s brow was furrowed in anger and frustration.
I’m just some guy… but I think she deserved it… but the poor, poor kids didn’t deserve such a bitter (though beautiful) mother, I think.