Attention, Yupster parents of Bethesda:
If you want to keep a close eye on your cute kiddo while he plays with the toys at the coffee shop, might I recommend that you sit at the empty table next to the toys?
I went to the Caribou Coffee in Bethesda today, right at the corner of Woodmont and Old Georgetown Road. Truly, I felt like I was cheating on my beloved Mayorga, but, honestly, on a Sunday evening when the fuel tank's nearly on empty, a stop at the local Caribou is a lot more convenient that a drive up to King Farm or over to Silver Spring. This was especially true today, as I had to swing by one of my favorite Bethesda spots, The Store That Has EVERYTHING (aka, Bruce Variety - and yes, that is a link to an NY Times article about Bruce Variety!!), which is next door to The Hardware Store That Has EVERYTHING (Strosniders.) Man, I love that strip mall! You can go into Bruce Variety and ask for a shepherd's crook, buttons, a bra, contact paper, flip flops, a tiny notebook, a bag of little green army men, and pirate eye patches, and the staff will quickly direct you to everything on your list. I swear, it's true. Today, I just needed shower shoes and some buttons & thread. Mission accomplished in about two minutes. It's like ropin' calves.
After my swift victory at the five & dime (more like $8.50, really), I snagged a parking spot right across the street from the downtown Bethesda Caribou, in front of the new, incredibly pretentious "doorman building" on Woodmont with the creepy, deformed lion statues at the entrance. Sorry if it sounds mean, but I'm hating the continuing devolution of Bethesda from what was once a town with some character (hooray that places like Stromboli and the Writer's Center survive!) into an overpriced Stepford Wife plastic crap land. Grr.
And Stepford Wife communities attract Yuppies. And Yuppies breed. With alarming regularity. Bethesda has more than its share of vaguely absentee, yet paranoid Yuppie parents. I encountered a set of these parents today when I walked into Caribou. This particular Caribou location is tiny. If you get there at a busy time and find a place to plant yourself, count yourself lucky. Today, I was fortunate to find a small table open, right next to the toy pile, where a happy toddler was investigating a Fisher-Price barn. (And may I say, the modern Fisher-Price barns are not even close to being as cool as the old wooden ones were back when I was a toddler. We had wood grain contact paper and doors that moo'ed! And sharp corners, too! YEAH!) As I approached the table, which is nestled in a narrow corner, a man jumped up from a table two spots down from the oblivious toddler and stood in my path, glaring. After pondering my human roadblock for a moment, I realized the man-wall was the father of the toddler. Mommy sat at the table, blankly staring at me as I tried to get past her mate.
Finally, I said, "EXCUSE ME." Politely, but very loudly. Daddy-o hustled over to the toddler's side, squatted down, and stared daggers at me as I settled in and set up my computer. After a couple of minutes, he retreated to his table and watched, glowering from a distance. I could feel this guy's eyes boring a hole into my back, and every time I turned my head or stretched my arms, he started to get up again. I've looked at myself in the mirror many times, kids. I'm not exactly child predator material. Nor am I swift enough to grab your toddler and run for the door with any chance of successfully making a break.
And why, oh why, if you are incredibly paranoid, wouldn't you take the damn table right next to the pile of toys, rather than make a stranger feel like Chris Hansen is going to pop up out of nowhere and ask your intentions?!? When I got up to get my iced coffee refilled, dad bolted up from his seat again and watched my every move. And that's when I said, "You know, the table next to the toys was open when I got here. Why didn't you sit there - or move there - rather than sit at a table so far from the toy area? I'm not posing any sort of threat to your kid, and I have a right to sit at any open table." Father of the Year didn't say a word, but he did sit back down. When I got back to the table, the kidlet (who was adorable) dragged the big plastic barn down onto the floor and over onto my feet. I finally had to say to him, "You know, I bet that barn is supposed to stay on the table, buddy." He stared up at me and grinned. Before I'd said another word, his father had swept down like a one-man locust plague and snatched the kid up. (Not the barn, though.)
I swear, it was as if I had "HORRIBLE DISEASE CARRIER - DO NOT TOUCH" tattooed on my forehead. The Yuppie Clan was out the door immediately, with the little guy crying to take the barn home with him. I moved the barn off my feet and back to the toy table and just shook my head. I yearn for the days of old school parenting and parental responsibility. Or, at the very least, parental attention. Bethesda is seriously lacking any of that.
Rant over. Nothing to see here. Move along, move along...