Wednesday, August 4, 2010

a spot of brown

nothing cools the summer heat like an ice cream cone and if you happen to be in Lynchburg, VA that means Mr. Goodie's. there are other places where you can get any kind of process candy swirled into your stone slab treat in the air conditioned comfort of a pleather cushioned booth, but at this little shack, accompanied by four rainbow umbrella-ed picnic tables, you can get a small cone, ice cream rising seven inches out of it, for less than two dollars.

it is worth the wait in a line that stretches through the back lot of the CVS parking lot, and that just gives you a good reason to talk to a neighbor you have yet to meet. it is also a pretty good place to watch a homicide.

they are sitting at the second table to the left, she eating a sundae, he a chocolate dipped cone, which he is mashing into his five year old face as if he could capture the taste through any orifice. this is how the spot of brown chocolate found its way to the oasis of skin right beneath the dimples on his cheek, prompting her like many a mother to spit on a napkin and try to achieve flawless perfection in his face.

"now sit still and let me get this," her two lumps of sugar voice prompts him.

he is having none of this though, as he understands each second you take your tongue from the tasty treat, lines of gooey goodness drain down your fingers onto the table leaking through to the asphalt below. he does what any sugar crazed boy would do and tries to keep the cone in his mouth.

"just stop it! why do you have to..." the sugar has been replaced with bullhorn authority.

desperately she pins his cone gripping arm with her left while swooping in with the spit soaked napkin on the right, but he leans into her stretching his lips over her shoulder, dragging his chin across her shirt, leaving a three inch skid mark, on what must be her favorite blouse or at least one that was relatively clean.

"now look what you have done, don't you know...," really what she has to do this evening is of no importance to anyone but her, and we are all trying not to look as she sets in on the nature of his heredity that she was so stupid to sleep with, though it seems his father comes from the canine variety and the apple has not fallen too far from the tree.

his arm still pinned behind her, gravity is beginning to do its work on the once frozen mass of frozen chocolate, though he has retreated his lip quivering, the spot of brown on his cheek dancing up and down, while her crimson face keeps blowing steam, adding humidity to the already hot day. this is the moment that with a great sucking release the whole mass of ice cream tumbles out of his cone, rolling down her back, settling on the waistband of her pants, which are slightly distended from her leaning over to get the spot of brown.

i must say i have never quite heard some of the words, which i will assuredly look up online just in case i ever need to eviscerate someone, pinning them like a butterfly behind a glass case. no one is talking at this point, except her, but she doesn't really notice because she is busy trying to drag the "ungrateful whelp" across the parking lot to their four door beater. it's obviously all his fault, he should understand this of course, being all of five and having the audacity to ruin a perfectly good summer evening.

as they squeal out of the parking lot, we all recover at once from the shell shock of what just happened, though most of our cones have melted in wet, sticky rivulets down our fingers and now taste of battery acid. a line forms at the trashcan, no one saying much as we head to our cars, hugging our children, saying silent prayers for the boy with the little spot of brown...

...hoping not to see our reflection in her tail lights.

This is a Theme Thursday post.

97 comments:

Austin said...

This started off so great, with Mr. Goodies and all, then it turned to far too often. I loathe this. Extremely well written as I ran through two emotions very quickly in the read.

n. davis rosback said...

sometimes i get all looking at the spot of brown too. i think i will go and hug my kid. i hope she understands.

Kat Mortensen said...

Oh, I find it very hard to keep my composure in a situation like that - I'd be the first one to actually confront someone who treats their child in that way. (Not good, I know.)

What a powerful piece you have produced here, Brian. With hope, someone who may be inclined to react in such a way, may read this and see themselves in time.

Kat

Eva Gallant said...

You've captured an incident completely; you haven't missed a thing! We can see it all.

LadyCat said...

So sad. Children will make messes, that's part of the fun. It's a shame some "adults"
have to take the joy out of their childhood. It makes you want to give the little boy a hug : )

Becky said...

Great I felt like I was there.Im kinda feeling like Kat up there though.As I get older I would be tempted to confront, but I say WOULD be.I wouldnt ever.

Happy Thursday ahead Brian!

RA said...

Aha! Managed to make it here before the rush hour, didn't I. LOL

Such a witty tale! A brilliant take on TT. Thanks. :)

JStar said...

Your story Brian is so vivid..Like I was there...tasting the ice cream...Watching the occurances...

drybottomgirl said...

I wish I could say there weren't spots of brown in my past but I'm sure there were- they show up too often when we think only of ourselves. Excellent writing though, you made me feel mad, sad, and guilty in a matter of seconds but also grateful that my program has taught me I have a choice, to choose a better reaction than I did before.......

Susan Deborah said...

I expected an ice-cream treat but it was a treat of a different order. Sometimes it gets rather too much -- the spot of brown and other colours but it is part of the treat. Maybe she had a bad day. Forgive her. Maybe she was thinking of the washing and all that. One never knows. How about giving her a hug and patting her back saying: "Chill darling. It happens."

Joy always,
Susan

California Girl said...

My husband and I lived in Richmond for 8 yrs and he had stores in Lynchburg & Roanoke. It isn't indigenous to the South; it's just a sad tale of someone who has no business being a parent going down the same path she may have trod with her own parent(s). Sounds like the 5 year old already knows how to push her buttons.

Kathy's Klothesline said...

As hard as it is to hold your tongue in these situations, it is better not to confront that kind of anger ...... she would have taken that out on the little boy, too. Let's hope that he encounters a caring adult to be his advocate in the future and get him and his mom some help.

Not long ago we encountered similar behaviour here. The man was loud and abusive. Told us our campground was the nastiest place he had ever been and that he wanted his money back. He had his little granddaughters with him and was in such a rage that he tried to take off before one of the girls had gotten in the truck and shut the door. He ended up slamming the brakes and hitting her with the door. Since we had all the necessary info, we contacted the local authorities.
They did nothing ........ said since she didn't need a hospital, "No harm, no foul." Even when you try to do the right thing you sometimes hit a brick wall. The real reason for the man's fury was his Camp Club USA card. He wanted 50% off and it clearly states in our ad that we only give that during the off-season. He was given a 10% discount, but was not happy.......

Pop and Ice said...

So heartbreaking. It's the number one reason I don't grocery shop, rarely go to the mall and buy almost everything online. I can't stand seeing/hearing kids cry due to a parent's unrealistic expectations.

Meeko Fabulous said...

This is SO true. Parents sometimes have the stupidest reactions to something their kids do innocently or without thinking, because, well . . . They're kids. I hope to never be this kind of parent.

Aoife.Troxel said...

I felt like I was there too. The poor little boy, but what can you do? It might make it worse, that's what is so sad about situations like that. You captured it well without being overly emotional. :)

Claudia said...

...always feel sorry for the children when parents behave like this...but also for the parents because they are often so overstrained and some (not all) would be shocked if you would record them and play it in a quiet moment..
excellent - i guess real-life story brian - and you know what - my favorite color is brown - really love brown in all shades and think about even giving theme thursday a try now that i have holidays...let's see

AngelMay said...

Poor kiddo.

william said...

great post mate I agree with you re the parents... thanks for the comment re the poets alliance, take care pal..

tony said...

She Deserves a good Whippin'

sheri said...

oh yeah, been on both sides of the fence with this one, brian...and neither of them is pretty! your style of writing never fails to move something within me, and this beauty is no exception! i'm with the crowd...aching for that little fella and praying he'll get through the night unharmed!

TechnoBabe said...

We ought to be able to take a video of things like that and send them in the mail to the people who treat children like that.

Hilary said...

I could feel this lovely summer day deflate around me. So depressing. There's nothing happier than a messy little face.. dirty clothes and sticky hair. That's how I knew my kids had a great time by the end of a summer day. Sigh.

Tabor said...

Whether real or not you certainly took us there and mashed our little open mouths into the cold chocolate. Don't you wish you could stop time and take him away?

Mighty M said...

Feel bad for this child too....just wait until the cone is completely gone, then clean up.

DJan said...

Life is tough for that little guy, and for her, too. I cannot help but feel for them, and for the audience. More and more of these kinds of incidents are occurring, it seems to me, because of the stress so many of us are experiencing during this terrible economy. Who knows what the whole story is of these two?

Extremely well written, a real gem of a post, Brian.

CherylK said...

A very compelling story, Brian. I've got this all pictured in my mind and I'm so sorry for that little boy.

But then I thought, "Well, she did buy him an ice cream cone...maybe she has some little soft spot somewhere." I hope so.

Tina said...

Oh, the poor kid. You told the story so well I could see it all, in it's ugly reality. I find it so hard to stand by in situations like that. I want to throttle the asinine parent and rescue the kid.

Prayer Girl said...

I know, I know, my comment will be way too harsh, but what comes to mind is "May that mother rot in hell and may the person(s) who made her this way rot in hell too."

Now I must say a prayer for forgiveness and release from these thoughts.

PG

Baino said...

GAH I hate the spit and wipe thing. Ugh. The whole point of eating ice cream is to spread it as liberally as possible when you're five years old and if mine were anything to go by, managed to do it very successfully. Some parents require a license I swear.

mouse (aka kimy) said...

your last line is very heavy and fraught with layers of meaning....wekk tiy oysged kits if buttons.

TALON said...

It seems bad parenting is abounding these days which is heartbreaking. It does make you hold your own children close and send up a prayer for those poor innocents who are so less fortunate.

Bonnie said...

Too bad someone didn't speak up when the evisceration (emotional abuse) began.

All too common isn't it. Please, no reflections!

sagirl said...

Sometimes I'm so ashamed of the human race. I used to wonder how sweet, innocent children could grow up to be such devils - now I know. And she was also a sweet innocent kid once.

justsomethoughts... said...

you are guilty of something, for writing that


unbelievable

Syd said...

I can't tolerate such mistreatment of children. A bit of enjoyment in a morbid life and then that too is smashed. Sad what we do to children when it's our own rage about ourselves that is the issue.

Mama Zen said...

Wouldn't you love to have the nerve to say something to her?

ModernMom said...

Seems to me she had it coming. Hope at the end of that ride she cools off and offers up a hug and an apology.

emily wierenga said...

this is so well written. i am your newest fan.i love the advice you gave me on my blog, the reminder that i must lay down my life... thank you.

Daniel said...

This episode kind of left me deflated. Why couldn't she just let him have his moment of enjoyment before she took things from him that were not hers to take.

Lori said...

Oh Brian, this is so beauifully written. Wow. Makes me extremely sad for all the little one's in this world with "a spot of brown" and their mothers and fathers that act in this way because they either don't know any better/differently or are so over stressed that they repond in such a way that all of us parents are guilty of on oaccasion or is it because they really don't care?


I have had my little one's out for icecream and have witnessed such parents that expected their children to eat their icecream without getting messy. I have witnessed parents punishing children for something they couldn't help. Sad. The fun of eating icecream is enjoying it so much that it's joy is evident on face, hands and everywhere else. :) I have learned that some parents cannot allow children to simple pleasure of just being children. So sad.

Great post Brian.

kkrige said...

my mouth has gone sour :(
love chocolate ice cream
but need a napkin,
versus the delightful finger-licking that could have been
on a warm, summer's eve
gone wrong...

CM said...

The last line says it all. We all get frustrated with our children now and then, but no matter what, we have to keep it together or else we will see ourselves in those tail lights.

Joanna Jenkins said...

So sad but so well written. My folks owned an old fashioned soda fountain and we've seen those moments a few too many times.
Nice job,
jj

C.M. Jackson said...

given the blankin' humidity that ice cream was tasting so good and I didn't even care it was melting down my arm..so sorry for the child that just wanted to be in the moment--hated his mom for ruining the moment--great work-happy tt-c

Cloudia said...

Aloha from Honolulu :)

Comfort Spiral

The Urban Cowboy said...

I'm feeling for the little boy. I wonder if I could have kept myself in check witnessing such a display.

The Urban Cowboy said...

I'm feeling for the little boy. I wonder if I could have kept myself in check witnessing such a display.

Kay said...

ha! you know, at the beginning I was thinking "ah, Brian, you don't have to pretend you're a 5 year old..." ha! as if you were really the boy...

but I know your lovely wife would never be on the receiving end of that story...

:( poor little boy... ice cream so much more enjoyable when allowed to enjoy it!

LadyFi said...

Oh, how terribly sad!

Francisca said...

You have a gift for exquisite descriptive and evocative writing, Brian. Kudos.

anthonynorth said...

I'm all for families, but sometimes the parents don't deserve it.
Excellently portrayed.

Zuzana said...

What a sad tale about something that should only bring happiness and joy. Terrible what some children go through...
A truly poignant post, with so much depth and images painted by words.
Have a great day Brian,
xoxo

A Daft Scots Lass said...

awwww - what a rollercoaster for me.

Birdie said...

this is so sad, poor little boy, what was supposed to be a moment of joy and relaxation turned into something he doesn't even understand why his mom is like that ... his mother must be a very unhappy woman ... very well written Brian

Gabriela Abalo said...

a very sad-real tale...

a good eye opener!

Great take on the theme.

natalee said...

wow... my heart just broke for this kid.....whew i am praying that this wasnt based on reality....

the walking man said...

Why did no one step in? Was this broad that fearsome? Shit some of you all need a taste of Detroit realism. No one gets that far with a kid who one day may be the thug I have to kill because they are stealing my shit. Better to step in and let moms know she is an asshole right then and there. and if she swings on the kid she gets to be an asshole in handcuffs.

I loathe parents as you have described here Brian and NEVER hesitate to put the brakes on their bullshit.

I hope she was cleaning hardened ice cream out of the crack of her ass for three hours.

Valerie said...

You met my mother, Brian! I remember similar scenes so well. It's only in later years that I came to realise that there is always an underlying 'reason' for such behavour. In my mom's case, she was taking out her various frustrations on me. Yes, I still hate her for such harsh treatment, both mental and physical!

Barb said...

man, you really know how to touch someone's heart. If they weren't all sleeping, I'd go hug them all right now.

Vicki Lane said...

Nice ending too!

Goofball said...

poor poor boy. I can't help enjoying a bit that her shirt got ruined, I hope it doesn't wash out.

Just read a post from someone who spent a long train ride across from a bully dad and his kid. You feel so helpless when you see/hear such things

croneandbearit said...

oh my - and that child will no doubt grow up to be a serial killer or some such thing due to the loving influence of his mother, the sweet-mouthed lady. How horrid for the poor tyke. Nice take on the theme, though! Enjoyed it. Like Lynchburg area too - I grew up in No Va - hubs went to Va Tech. Ahhh Virginia...

sweetmango said...

that was brilliant brian, really one of my favorites so far. Loved it!

"i must say i have never quite heard some of the words, which i will assuredly look up online just in case i ever need to eviscerate someone, pinning them like a butterfly behind a glass case."

BRILLIANT!
There are too many in here to quote them all. I really like this.
xxm

Monique@Mommyhood Exposed said...

That was SO beautifully written. Have you thought about writing books? I would be the first to buy one!

That poor child. That's just part of the whole parenting "thing". Messes and all.

Betsy said...

Awww... I always witness this stuff at the grocery store. Makes me sick.

Brian Miller said...

PG, i know how you feel and mark brings up a great question...when and how do you step in...this one happened so quick it came and went before we even could take a breath it seemed...

AmyLK said...

What a disappointing evening. I was looking forward to a description of the creamy goodness.

But I understand why it had to go there. Poor little one!

VE said...

Apparently ice cream can't resolve everything!

And yes...see...I DID stop by!

dustus said...

Some "adults" are just awful... great write. Can picture your words clearly.

Magpie said...

Wow...a cloud sure came over the day. We felt the fall as surely as if we were there with you. What a roller coaster ride. Wonderfully written.

slommler said...

Oh my gosh! I could see this scene so vividly and feel the heat of the day. I have seen this happen and it isn't a pretty sight. A emotionally battered mother with a love starved child. Nothing good comes from this.
Well captured Brian.
Hugs
SueAnn

moondustwriter said...

Too bad such a small thing can put some people over the edge. Moms all know that getting dirty is part of life.

Nicely done Bri

PattiKen said...

I knew when I read that there were seven inches of ice cream standing menacingly above that small cone, and knowing you are in Virginia in August, oh, yes, i knew that this was not going to come to a good end. It must be a mommy thing.

Been there, done that, but not anywhere nearly as entertaining. Excellent as always.

BTW, bulldog or golden retriever?

Raven said...

I agree with Lady Cat, some adults take all the fun out of being a child. It's a shame really. Kids get dirty, that's part of their job description.

BlueMist said...

Free flowing words and very gripping. Very well written brian :-)

Alan Smithee said...

On the 4th of July, I once saw a father say to his son, after his son had ran into the house to escape the sound of fireworks, "You need to NOT be afraid of the fireworks!"

Jessie said...

i've witnessed similar incidents--i have yet to understand them. it's sad...so very sad.

smiles to your writing and
tears with a hug for the boy,

otin said...

Some people just shouldn't breed!!!

Mona said...

You saw ice cream becoming gutter water? :)

And sugar lump becoming bitter gourd?

That is magic! :D

Mona said...

Sorry, nothing of that kind irks me. i see this all too often in India. They sometimes kill their kids in rage at a small thing!

The Girl from Cherry Blossom Street said...

The scary part is how the kid gets treated when they are not in public!

The Girl from Cherry Blossom Street said...

The scary part is how the kid gets treated when they are not in public!

Sam Liu said...

Transporting words, Brian, truly transporting. I agree with Eva Gallant's comment - your beautifully crafted words allow one to see the scene completely. You are a writer of the highest degree :)

Greyscale Territory said...

Seeing a situation like this makes you feel so helpless! It is all wrong and yet we feel we can do nothing! So unfair all round! And loved you last reflective line about the tal lights! A great piece of writing!

joanny said...

Brian

Sending prayers healing energy to help diffuse the negative energy.
I would have gone over and given her a bottle of or cup of water to help wash his little face. and tried to talk her down to gentle. I have tried it and sometimes it works, understanding and calm. It is hard to stay unaffected by seeing this sort of stuff in our daily lives.
Thanks for sharing,
Joanny
My post for #35 shows the wrong entry know not how it happened, how do I remove it? -- I re-entered the correct link #54.

Calli said...

A trying moment for sure. As I feel for the boy I also wonder what happened to the woman sadly to make her that way. I have this fault, maybe not? of seeing the big picture; every angle and I truly feel for both of them.

Great writing as always, Brian. You have completely engaged with your story.

Betty said...

Sad. I'm not sure whom I pity more ...

Well written, Brian.

Debbie said...

You made me feel like I was right there. Excellent writing.

Who Is Afraid of Alfred Hitchcock? said...

Hi! Brian...
Wow! your post did take a turn from what started out as a nice visit to an ice cream shoppe...and eventually, descending into a "nightmare" for the child, the onlookers, and even the (your)readers.
Unfortunately, the mother set the ball in motion and hopefully, she just sent him to bed without dinner.

Thanks, for sharing...
DeeDee ;-D

Sophia said...

Coming from someone who always wanted children but unable to carry- it breaks my heart when I see a child mistreated like that. I realize that no one is perfect and we all may tend to fall into the position of being too focused on the “brown spot” for one reason or another, but the difference is those who catch themselves and make it right and do their best not to repeat it. I can only imagine the horror and disappointment that child felt (and will never forget). May we all remember that each day is a precious gift. Let us not waste it on petty little things like “brown spots”.

Timoteo said...

Nicely done. Even though this mother's actions may have been done in the heat of the moment--they exist for all time and cannot be erased.

only a movie said...

I spend most of my school year trying to undo this sort of thing. I know you do too.

I wonder how that mom is feeling today. Hope that is a snapshot and not her default. I know that kid very very well.

And ice cream shacks are my favorite.

secret agent woman said...

My first thought was, "Oh, poor kid." And then a wave of sympathy for the mother who is so clearly lacking in skills and resources. Somehow, I suspect that her life is not an easy one and so I hate to judge.

Cheryl said...

Another emotionally wild ride through the world of insanity and priorities gone awry.

ds said...

Wow. So hopeful at the beginning, so...sour...at the end (battery acid--wonderful). You describe this so well I can feel the little boy's excitement gone to fear. And I tremble for him.
(And then every quick, frustrated thing ever said to one's own child hits the ears and you hope, please god, i wasn't like that!)

Pat said...

Well damn it all to hell! I was enjoying my cone and then THAT had to happen. How sad. Hard not to say anything. I would have wanted to shove my cone in her face but a) I am a wuss, and b) violence begets violence.

Marla said...

...hoping not to see our reflection in her tail lights.


Yes....