by Lisa

I blame the Playplace.  We drive through, but we don’t go in.  The Playplace keeps our butts planted in the car, and I’ve always prepared an excuse before offering the Nuggets or granting a request for them.

Just the Nuggets alone disturb me.  I grew up loving them.  Because of Nuggets, I know how to use chopsticks.  Before Nuggets, I made my own, inferior chopsticks out of actual sticks.  Gram thought I would poison myself by eating off of green wood, but I had done my homework.  Mimosa wood is not toxic.  When Nuggets came along, they were packaged with Asian-inspired sauces and disposable chopsticks.  No one seems to remember this!  I ate the food, including the incongruous fries, with my uncrooked, unbendy, unsmelly chopsticks.  At eight, I washed them in the McDonald’s bathroom and dried them under the hand blower, and slipped back into their amazing red paper sleeve (with handy how-to instructions printed on it).  All Gram had to say about my obsession was, “At least she’s not gonna make herself sick with that old green wood.”

But, no more chopsticks come with Nuggets.  The two almost-Chinese dips still maintain a tender spot in my heart and belly.  Now, I keep chopsticks in the silverware drawer of my adulthood.  Always will. The daughter adores Nuggets for themselves, not what comes with them…but Ranch dip is essential. Ranch dip wasn’t one of my choices as a child, as far as I remember. It was still just salad dressing, runny.

The Playplace of my childhood stood outside and got rained on.  Now it just steeps in its own bacterial filth.  Hand sanitizer?  Useless to the kid hiding in the top bubble with his finger up his nose, and every kid to enter that bubble after him.

That bugger kid and all of his snotty comrades are responsible for my daughter’s stuffy nose and sore throat.  Always, ALWAYS, a few days after a Playplace experience, comes the virus.   Was the fun with her little best friend worth it?  She would probably say so.  She was so happy to be invited, and I was happy for her happiness, and prepared to play nurse with Tylenol and Little Noses in a few days.  Trade-offs don’t have to suck.  We take it in stride, she better than I.  I miss class, she misses school because of fever, and we do catching-up as best we can.

We do as best we can.

I should be finishing my outline.  I should be reading the next chapter.  I should be in class.

Instead, we will reluctantly get dressed, drive five minutes to the pharmacy, replenish the OTC supplies, and probably drive through McDonald’s without stopping at the Playplace again, dammit.