The Floor Show
Have you ever seen a dad walking around with his infant son sitting in a harness that hangs from the dad’s shoulders? Those things are incredibly useful. For those that haven’t seen one, it’s a series of padded straps that go around your shoulders and waist. The child rides sitting upright with his back to your chest. For shopping, it can’t be beat. Not only are your hands free, but the child is easily entertained.
There are dangers, however.
When C was about 8 months old, we went to a local mall. I don’t remember what we were shopping for, but we were there for a while. I was wearing C in the harness. When lunchtime came around, we headed towards the food court.
I’ll admit that I’m a sucker for the mall food courts. There’s something about them that I just like. In this case, I opted for an old standby: cheesesteak with mushrooms and shredded lettuce.
When we sat down to eat, I discovered that C had fallen asleep.
Now I had a problem. I couldn’t take C out of the harness without waking him up. Even were I willing to risk that, we didn’t have a stroller with us for him to rest in. I had a choice between having a sleeping baby in the harness and having a fussy one in my arms.
I left him in the harness and sat carefully on the edge of the chair. He stayed asleep.
While J happily munched away on her chinese food, I carefully raised the cheesesteak up and over C’s head and took a bite.
I don’t know if you ever tried to eat a large gooey cheesesteak without leaning forward or spilling any. It’s really quite difficult. Every bite was an adventure in balance and planning. I had to sit far enough back from the table that when I picked up the sandwich, my arms were fully extended. I’d raise it slowly up in my right hand, using my left to catch any possible drips, then bring it in for a careful bite.
You know what’s coming as well as I do. Three quarters of the way through the sandwich, a big hot glob of cheese, steak, ketchup, and mushrooms squirted out the back of the sandwich and on to my sleeping infant’s head. Plop.
J and I panicked. I tried to get it off before it burned him, and she grabbed napkins to try to help.
Rather surprisingly, the tables around us burst into noise as well: laughing, gasping, people knocking chairs over in a rush to help. A general explosion of activity.
Apparently, my careful maneuvering of the cheesesteak over C’s head had drawn the attention of everyone at the surrounding tables. J and I hadn’t noticed, and when the cheese finally fell, so to speak, they all reacted.
Fortunately, C wasn’t burned. In fact, he slept through the whole thing.
We chatted with our helpers, smiled politely at the people who were laughing – and finished up as fast as we could.
Not that I minded being the floor show, but it was my first time and I wanted to get off the stage quickly. Leave ‘em laughing, as the saying goes.