Why I fast-forward disaster movies
2 year old son: Can I have some of your chocwut cake?
Me: Only if you're careful not to get it everywhere. [This statement rates near the top of the list of Stupid Things Mothers Say.]
2 year old son: I pwomise.
Me: Okay, here you are.
Here, we will have a short break from the scene. You know those bits in films where two people get into bed and then, although you don't see any action, there is a wild storm outside, or a seascape where waves crash against the rocks which is meant to tell you EVERYTHING. Well, here, imagine not romance but disaster movie, so perhaps the sound of trees crashing to the ground in the wild storm, or a ship creaking and moaning as it breaks up and sinks.
Cafe. Five minutes later.
Me: Oh, just LOOK at you. You're COVERED in it. How did you do that? [This is also fairly near the top of the STMS list.]
2 year old son: I ate all the chocwate cake, Mummy. [This is the literal answer my last question deserved.]
Here, we will have another short break. Imagine the crashing trees noises and the breaking-up ship, and then imagine some more, for the disaster has not yet reached its peak.
A lady enters the cafe - an elegant lady, dressed in a cream suit - and takes a seat just behind Me and Son.
Lady: Hello, little boy. What a sweet little boy! Isn't he sweet! How old?
Me: He's ... er ... he's 2. But, careful, because he ...
Lady: Ah, he's such a darling. Look, he's holding out his hands to me. Does he want to shake my hands? Oh, how delightful!
Here, we will have another short break. Something very, very bad is just about to happen. Cue not just crashing trees, cue not just sinking ships, but cue giant oaks ripped from their roots and flying through the air to destroy fields and houses, cue passengers and crew leaping to their deaths over the ship's railings ...
Lady: Would you like to shake my hand, little boy?
Me: I ... er ... I wouldn't .... [IS THIS WOMAN BLIND?]
Lady: [shakes hands with Chocolate-Flavoured Boy] Hello, little boy, nice to ...
Here, we will break again, for that moment in which the director cuts to a slow motion shot, this time, dispensing with all that metaphorical rubbish, but coming in for a close-up of the Lady, the gradual realisation as she finds that what she thought were nice little baby, podgy, smelling-of-Johnsons-talc hands are in fact slimy, sticky and thick with chocolate. At least, she hopes it's chocolate. Cut to close-up of her own hands, now equally slimy, sticky and brown. Cut to the brown stains on her cream suit. Cut to the widening of her eyes. Cut to bewildered face of Son, wondering why the sudden rejection from One who Seemed so Friendly. The camera moves back to her mouth as it opens in a large, round O. There is a suspended moment, as, at first, no sound comes out. Then ...
Lady: Aaarrrrrrgghhhh! LOOK what you've done to my hands!
Here, we will break again, for that little frisson of tension as we all think back to the fact that 2 year old boys do not realise that what might seem a clear instruction does not always have that function. The camera is on Son's mouth, his innocent little lips, currently hidden under chocolate fudge frosting, are about to make an utterance.
Son: Dat's funny. Your hands are all chocwatey, like mine. Mummy, look at the Lady's hands. They are all chocwatey, like ...
This is the point at which, in disaster movies, a plane arrives to pick up the drowning ship's passengers, or the storm abates and the sun sparkles through the clouds like a miracle. In Greek tragedy, this is when the gods turn up in chariots to save the day.
Think abased apologies. Think scrabbling in a messy handbag for tissues which the Lady refuses to take. Think shame. Think humiliation. Think everyone else in the cafe watching.
My advice to you, A, is Stay Home.