Going Greene: The Twinkie

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I have a confession to make: kids make me a little nervous. It’s not that I dislike them. They’re just fine from a distance. But up close they’re all fluids and stickiness and entropy, and I simply can’t abide any of that. In a moment of weakness, I consented to allow Sandra Bullock’s kid’s third grade class to come to The Greene Grocer on a school field trip and now I am a wreck. A squat yellow omnibus bearing the words “Chipping Norton Public Schools” in blunt black letters pulls up in front of the shop.

“The Twinkie is here!” exclaims Sandra Bullock as she fidgets with unbridled glee. “Twinkie” is her word for the ugly yellow bus outside my shop, which regurgitates its squirming, giggling, snotty-nosed cargo like an Armageddon of Cuteness. In an instant they are through the door and upon us, and Miss Armentrout their teacher is introducing them, and all sixty beady little eyes are upon me, and it’s showtime.

“Well, children,” I stammer, rivulets of perspiration flowing down my back and into my underwear, “welcome to The Greene Grocer! As you can see, we have several leafy offerings, from the common lactuca sativa to the more complex but utterly delightful ocimum basilicum…”

“Hey, mister,” says one of the cherubs, “you talk funny!”

“Are you really the Queen’s brother?” asks another.

“Why don’t I take it from here?” Mary Robins says gently, separating the group into two. She assigns one group to herself, the other to Sandra Bullock, and relegates me to the till, where I retreat with no small relief. I must admit that I am much happier grumbling to myself about the noise and the grubby little paws all over my candy bins.

The door bells chime and — for the first time ever — Dog Walker saunters into the shop. Clutching a tin of dog’s food from one of the shelves and plopping it down at the till, he fishes a wad of grimy bills from his pocket to pay. He is regaling me with an unintelligible story, gesticulating with delight at every indecipherable phrase. I am enrapt by his language-less narrative, and therefore unaware that one of the third-graders, seeing Dog Walker’s pack of dogs waiting patiently for their master outside the shop window, has opened the shop door to invite them inside. Chaos ensues.

Children squeal, dogs bark, produce flies, and I panic. I run to the meat cooler and grab a steak hoping I can lure the curs back out the front door, but they are uninterested, choosing instead to abet the children in wreaking havoc on my shop. Dog Walker makes a sudden, shrill whistle and every living thing inside The Greene Grocer freezes in place. He makes another whistle and his entire menagerie of dogs sits on the spot. Walker picks up his tin of dog’s food, grins a coffee-coloured grin and strolls out of the shop, his pack of companions in obedient tow.

© 2014 Middlechurch Musings, LLC

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