Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Dinner with Spidey

My family had dinner with Spiderman last night. The web-slinger came to our table, crawled atop it, affixed his web to my husband's shoulder, walked up my daughter's leg, and generally made himself at home. If he hadn't been five inches high, we would have had to call the waitress to throw him out.

But in fact, this particular Spidey was the plastic action figure variety, wielded by a four-year-old whose awfully laid-back parents were at a table across the aisle. Maybe because I talked nice to him when he first visited our table (after all, since I wasn't sitting on the aisle, I wasn't the one being crawled on), he visited again and again, becoming more and more full-contact. And because he was four, and cute, and fairly oblivious to anything but his cool toy, it was okay. But I marveled at how nonchalantly his parents took the sight of their small son working the room. I mean, in this day and age, don't we try to discourage our children from talking to strangers, much less touching them? The kid just kept affixing his Spiderman's web to my husband's shoulders and chest while Mom and Dad chatted amiably with the couple at the next table, whose own Spiderman-shirt-wearing three-year-old was at our table too, looking like he couldn't have been more excited if it was Spiderman in the flesh.

So maybe we give out some sort of friendly, child-tolerant vibe. And maybe the parents were just so relieved to have the kid no longer crawling Spiderman all over them that they were willing to overlook his relentlessly forward behavior. I certainly did recognize their tone when they, very periodically, called to their child to come back and not bother the nice people. It was that sort of, "We have to call him because people will think badly of us if we don't, but we really hope they'll keep entertaining him" tone. I may have used that tone a time or two. When my son was reaching into people's pockets to look at their keys, say. And when he was well past four years old. Yesterday, maybe.

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