“I want macaroni and cheese,” H- said as the waitress held out her pad. She smiled at the girl’s boldness.
Then addressing the little girl’s dad, the waitress clarified, “It’s not Kraft macaroni and cheese, but our own homemade version. It has a heavy cheese sauce-”
“I love homemade macaroni and cheese,” H- interrupted.
Again, the waitress smiled. As did the dad.
“I need a few more minutes,” he said, “but you can bring hers out whenever.”
Minutes elapsed as H- and her dad partook in their respective lunches during spring break.
H- broke the silence and smartly volunteered, “I should eat all my macaroni and cheese before the strawberries, right?”
Smiling, her dad answered, “Right.”
A few more minutes of diligence on H-‘s part passed.
“You really should eat more, H-.”
“Eat? Look at my tummy. It’s so full,” she began, attempting to stick her non-existent belly out. Then, as if realizing she may be her own worst enemy, she added with determined eyes, “But not too full for dessert.”
“It’s not even big, H-,” he answered, rolling his eyes at the four year old’s endeavor.
“Do you know what a pooch is, Daddy?”
He didn’t want to let her see his shock at her question, so he delicately, though quickly, shifted his eyes from hers to something a few inches away. “Pooch?” he thought. “Why does my daughter know what a pooch is? What moron–no, what mother fucker is using the word pooch around little girls? As if little girls don’t have enough bullshit to worry about in this world, some knucklehead is even now ruining their already set-up-for-failure image innocence. Never again will I let her out of my sight-”
“It’s a dog!”
He turned. Relief? Alleviation, perhaps? Mitigation? Easement? None of these words capture the feeling this answer gave him.
“Maybe the world’s not such a terrible place,” he thought.