I was in a crowded gas station yesterday with my son. I had promised to buy him a juice on our way back from our drive into the mountains and we arrived at the peak time for soft serve ice cream, so we were having to maneuver through a line that stretched all the way up the center aisle of the store. I was in a good mood and Gideon was very giggly, so instead of taking him to the juice section, I stopped in front of a rack of steak sauce and fancy mustard.
“Okay, would you like the A1, Liquid Smoke, maybe some of this Honey Dijon?”
His mouth fell open as he tried to figure out if I was joking or not. “That’s not juice, Dad.”
“I know, I’m just kidding with you.”
He laughed. “Oh, it’s funny, Dad! Because we would not want to drink those.”
“Right,” I said, excusing my way through the crowd.
“Then how about these, dad? We should drink this too!” he pointed at a bag of pork rinds and laughed again. He was really getting into the spirit of the absurdity. Point at something that you would never drink, and then pretend we are going to buy it and drink it. It’s good for a laugh.
I played along, “Mmm. That would be quite refreshing. Maybe we could get a can of this Cat Food too!”
Gideon thought this was great. And I could see he was looking around the store, trying to find something else that we would absolutely never buy that would be the next level of hilarious. Surely there was something. What would we never buy? What could we pretend to take with us in the car on a hot summer day?
Suddenly it occurred to him. I saw the light come on over his head and his eyes lit up as he peered up at me with a face of intense excited shock. “Dad! I know! Let’s buy Alcohol!”
I coughed and quickly looked around at the twelve or so people that had turned to look at us.
“No. Um. Stop, we don’t do that.”
This just confirmed that he had picked the right thing to suggest. “Oh yeah, Dad! We should do it. You and me, we should get some Alcohol and drink it in the car on the way home. Right Dad? Mmmm. That would be very tasty!”
“Okay, you need to stop talking about alcohol now.”
He was practically rolling on the floor. He had hit the jackpot. “You don’t want to drink juice, dad. You want alcohol!” he yelled this across the store so loud that they probably could hear him outside at the gas pumps. “That’s what we should drink. Alcohol!”
I quickly grabbed a soda from the cooler and ushered my boy towards the cash register. Then I stood in line for another three or four minutes, the whole time holding my son in front of me with my hands over his mouth while he tried to sing some song about how we were going to drive home with the windows down, listening to music, and drinking alcohol, and I glanced around apologetically at every smirking person in the gas station.
“Just the juice and soda today?” the man at the register asked.
“Absolutely,” I said, with a nod. “Just the juice, the soda, and permission to leave as soon as possible.”