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The Danger of Grandchildren


John Foster

Having spent two hours shopping in town, I decided to find a cafe where I could relax with a cup of coffee. Against my better judgement I had taken my grandson with me, which was the ultimate reason for the following chaos. We went into a cafe and took our seats at a table which had steel chairs fastened to the floor. Why anyone would want to steal these chairs was puzzling, but the fact that they were quite low and two feet from the table raised a question. Was it possible I had taken a table exclusively reserved for tall portly midgets? As I pondered the situation, nearly ten minutes passed and I began to think that the only way to find a waiter in this establishment would be to hire a private detective!

With all my attention focused on the service counter, I did not notice that my grandson had decided to relieve the boredom by opening a tiny plastic cup of milk which obviously was for the coffee. Unfortunately he had opened most of them and had his side of the table looking like a lake in winter. He had also opened the little packets of sugar and was now creating what looked like ice crystals on the frozen lake.

Before I could do anything, a pimply faced youth with staring eyes arrived in front of me, looked at the table and asked if we would like anything. I was tempted to say that I would like to be served preferably by someone of my own species who had scrubbed their fingernails that morning, but I resisted the temptation. The alien waiter produced two paper napkins, a plastic knife and spoon, one paper plate and retired to his spaceship with an order of coffee, biscuits and diet coke. Looking around the cafe and wondering if I had entered another dimension, I suddenly heard the sound of something tearing. My grandson had taken possession of the plastic knife and was proceeding to render the menu card into the smallest pieces imaginable. The pieces of sliced card had transformed into miniature boats and were now floating on the frozen lake he had created.

Grabbing a plastic knife from a child of three was possibly the biggest mistake I made that day, apart from walking into this cafe. With a squeal that could be heard two streets away, he withdrew the knife blade from my hand, cutting my index finger and narrowly missing a vein in my wrist. Drops of blood joined the boats on the lake and the table now resembled a modern art painting which I attempted to clean with the paper napkins. I do not know how the napkins were manufactured, but it certainly had no effect on the rain forest as they were about two microns thick. I tried in vain to clean the table and smiled softly at the other customers as I squeezed the little hand until it dropped the bloodstained knife.

Soon the alien waiter arrived with the order. As he looked at the table his mouth dropped open, fortunately reminding me to make a dental appointment the next week. He then asked if I would need some more napkins to clean up the mess. I wondered if the cafe would have about two thousand in stock, which would allow me at least a few centimetres of paper to mop up. Thanking him for his assistance and having done my best to clean the table, I decided with a sense of foreboding to try the coffee. Forgetting that my grandson had destroyed all of the sugar, I promptly emptied two small packets of salt into my coffee and stirred vigorously. As I swallowed the first mouthful I realized there was something terribly wrong and called the waiter. He replied that no one else had any complaints and the coffee was always fresh. I thought perhaps this was a bad dream, I was not really in a cafe, but inside an alien spacecraft with peculiar seating.

I was suddenly brought back to earth as I noticed some dark brown fluid dripping down the back of a customer at the next table. My grandson had obviously developed the art of propelling diet coke through a straw at high velocity. Trying to remain calm in this clear and present danger, I forcibly removed the straw from between the tiny clenched teeth. My grandson having lost the straw was now determined not to lose the glass, which he seized with both hands, spilling the entire contents over the table and unfortunately my trousers. The glass, which now seemed to have a mind of its own, bounced off the table, covered a distance of about five metres and smashed into thousands of pieces against the far wall.

As customers dived for cover, the cafe staff having decided that I was a reformed lunatic still under psychiatric care, offered more coffee and coke at no charge. The plan was obviously to get me and my demonic grandson out as soon as possible, thus reducing the possibility of bodily injury to innocent customers, not to mention multiple lawsuits.

I declined the offer in fear of what might happen next and decided to leave, as I was not in a financial position to completely refurbish an entire cafe. Making my way past the terrified customers, I stopped at the cashier to pay the bill. As I fumbled in my waterlogged trousers for money I quickly learned a scientific fact that not many people know. Diet coke has an incredible shrinking effect on trousers and I was unable to put my hand into my trouser pocket which now appeared to be about three inches wide. I explained to the suspicious cashier that I had money but it was difficult to produce at this moment. With a sneering grin she replied, “They all say that.” During this embarrassing explanation the problem was quickly resolved as my grandson inserted his hand into my pocket and pulled out a fistful of coins which he then scattered on the floor.

Using the best excuse I could find, I informed the cashier that I had a bad back and they could keep the change. My normal disposition had now suddenly changed to a mixed mode of embarrassment, humiliation and nervous exhaustion. Grabbing the tiny hand, I left the cafe and walked quickly to the car, wondering if this child in future years would become a world renowned painter or demolition expert. As I proceeded with the best speed possible in wet trousers, my grandson attempted to escape from my hold. This he succeeded in doing and as I bent down to catch the elusive hand I unfortunately walked into a telephone pole which some stupid company had obviously put in the wrong place.

Stunned, with small splinters of wood protruding from my head but still holding the tiny hand in a death grip, I was surrounded by onlookers who enquired about my state of health. As I was unable to speak clearly, a debate began on whether I was epileptic, diabetic or drunk. The biggest insult came from an elderly lady who remarked that I was obviously incontinent!

After a few minutes begging the bystanders not to call an ambulance, I got to my feet and reached my car. However, the person who decided I was drunk in charge of a three year old child was not satisfied and called the police. How I hate mobile phones! The police duly arrived to find me sitting in the car with a large bump on my head, wet trousers, a cut finger and near to tears. After being told to blow into a breath analyzer and walk in a straight line, I replied I could do neither, due to mental and physical injuries, but the police insisted they would have to “look into this.”

As I had only one nerve left and everybody was getting on it, I replied that some workmen were digging a hole in the ground nearby and why did the police not look into that! Within two minutes my car was locked and my grandson and I were conveyed to the nearest police station. I was accused of not providing a breath sample, attempting to drive a car under the influence of drink or drugs and the possibility of child abduction. After legal representation, medical examination and two finger sutures, I was released without charge. The police against all my protests gleefully telephoned my wife to collect my grandson and what was once a normal human being who had now lost the will to live. When I arrived home I looked into a mirror to examine my head injury. I immediately recognized the face, but I could not remember the name.

Husbands and wives sometimes have different opinions, but on this occasion I totally agreed with her when she said, “You will never take this child into town again!

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