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the big sleep

Thea and I were at a trendy/shlocky Kensington Market gift store the other day, buying a birthday present for a seven year old boy. (If you are interested, the Potato Gun -- a classic -- is still around, and still a winner.) We overheard a question from the next booth that made me stare, and her gag.

Do you have any children's chopsticks?

I peered around the corner. A couple of thirtysomethings, stylishly underdressed, with a young child between them, were examining a pair of regular chopsticks.

Marlowe here is too small for these, said the woman, but it's important to learn to eat with them, don't you think?

I thought she was kidding, but no. She was serious. She wanted little Marlowe -- at 4 years old or whatever -- to learn to eat with special chopsticks. I couldn't help thinking back to my own kids who, at that age, considered utensils of any kind a needless sophistication. Sometimes they didn't even use their hands, just dived in face first.

The man on the other side of Marlowe nodded earnestly. We saw them on the internet, he said.

The saleslady was cool. She did not snicker. Did not bat an eye. Just said she was sorry, and the couple left with Marlowe between them, hand in hand in hand.

When I got home I checked, and sure enough there are kids' chopsticks out there. They even have pet names: Smiling Sunshine Chopsticks, White Bunny Chopsticks, Little Chick Chopsticks ... Little eaters can use all your help when it comes to making mealtime fun and fulfilling, says the tag.

I sighed, thinking of poor Marlowe's future -- the teasing, the therapy, the unhappy relationships. He might get a gig as a Chinese restaurant stunt double, but that's small recompense for a dismal childhood. Would he ever know the feeling of power you got when you held a loaded Potato Gun?


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