I’ve spoken on the podcast about my favorite regular who always comes in on Tuesday afternoons with his two-year-old daughter and sits at the corner stool, perches her on the seat beside him, then drinks two scotches and boogies out the door, pulling his Tiny Likeness along behind him in a kind of Seussian wheelbarrow.
The guy’s very successful and funny and laid back and I get a kick to find that our politics align completely. Makes me think I’m onto something.
Anyhow: Whenever I hand this guy his scotch, I hand his daughter a cup of shredded mozzarella cheese. It’s a strange phenomenon, but I remember seeing it among a couple of my cousins when they were younger–little kids, around two and three years old, love to eat handfuls of cheese. It can be parmesan or manchego or mozz.
They’re not so picky about the cheese.
The only emphasis is on the word “handfuls”.
It’s like feeding a poltergeist.
Her dad gets bent outta shape over the mess and says that, as a 50-year-old man, he leans too hard on words. He tells her, “Baby, what are you doing? You can’t do that. If you get the cheese this time, you have to just eat it, you can’t throw it. OK? You understand?”
And she nods yes that she understands and so he gives her the cheese and she throws it.
The cheese doesn’t take even one minute to clean up after they’re gone, so I don’t mind the mess at all, but last week they left when I was over near the kitchen, I didn’t get around to cleaning it up for a couple minutes, and by the time I was walking back to the bar there was this other guy coming in, another regular, and he sat down on the stool beside where they’d been sitting, he saw the mess of cheese, and he grimaced. Said, “Who was sitting here? A child?”
I said, “Yeah actually it was a regular and his little kid, she can’t use utensils yet, she’s two.”
The guy pauses. There’s an expression on his face like he’s prepared to allow it. Then he clicks his tongue and shakes his head and unfolds his tablet onto the counter. Says, “I teach my kids better. Even when they were two, they knew how to behave. They didn’t do this.” Then he sighs. “Bad parenting.”
People make judgy remarks like this all the time at the bar. They’ll sit down and they’ll be friendly in tone but one of the first things out of their mouth will be how “people don’t know how to drive,” which is a pretty benign remark and basically a consensus in Miami, but then there are others who saddle up on the bar and give me an exasperated smile, and they sigh, and they’ll say something like, “These fuckin vaccine people. Sheep.” And then they’ll ask me if the meatballs are any good.
What’s also jarring is the frequency with which older white people say “the Blacks” while talking to their bartender.
I thought this guy at the bar should maybe take note of the fact that, as a man who criticizes not only the table manners of a two-year-old he’s never seen, but the parenting of a guy he’s never met, he’s probably a shit role model and I’m willing to bet his children suck. Either that or they’re remarkable for having endured his parenting without emancipating themselves.
Although even if they did emancipate themselves, soon as it was legally permissible, I’m sure they behaved while they did it.