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20160414_174655I was venturing through my local Walmart, intent on a left turn at the electronics department to make my way toward the grocer side of the store to grab a package of toilet paper and a couple of gallons of milk. As I approached my intersection, I noticed a peculiar site. There was a small child in holy vigil before a grand and glowing display. And lo, as I drew near to pass by, I heard him whisper…

O, most holy television, patron keeper of children and revealer of all things both light and dark, good and evil, deigning to spread thy digital wings across the span of this obtuse terrene, showering us from thy bounteous reserve of dross; hear the prayers of thy humble servant this day as I kneel before thee in the glory of thy most splendid Walmart sanctuary – right here between the clearance items and the digital cameras.

I lift up my eyes and I behold upon thy face a message of cruelty and sorrow, pain and the threat of death at the hands of storm troopers. I fear my petition to you is of a kindred spirit.

My mother cast me here, O lord, commanding that I wait while she hastened to complete her shopping apart from my tiny strides. And my father, he departed by the same mandate, heralding a great journey to seek out a case of Pabst Blue Ribbon at one corner of thy kingdom and wiper blades at the other.

I bless and adore thee that thy 24-hour temple of consumer devotion is plentiful, and while it has only been two hours since I was dismissed, I know not when they shall return and I fear that I’d have perished in this late hour had it not been for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and the 98₵ candy bin beside me.

Hear my plea, good lord, and be mindful that even as I praise thee for thy merciful care in these hours – and I confess that while so many would forsake me, you are with me – please, send to me my parents that I might dwell with them, smiling as the little one with the video camera upon the banner above me, flourishing as the potted plants being displayed by the sentinels on the wall behind thee, and as bright as the “Clearance” balloon hovering in the fluorescent glow of thy face and this holy troposphere.

I deserve not what I have petitioned, and yet I sit before thee as thy servant asking according to thy will. Hear me and grant that they return soon to take to themselves their son, lest the lack of a careful eye be the cause for someone to snatch me and I be lost, for I am very young.


20160604_210154This poor lad. I nearly shed a tear for him as I watched him stare at the TV. But I didn’t. I called protective services, instead.

Well, no, actually I didn’t. But when I see this kind of stuff – a 3-year-old child at Walmart at 10:30 pm with no one around except a blue-vested electronics department worker with a clashing lime green headband and another red-capped gentleman beyond the TV who, technically, showed up after me – I get somewhat downhearted.

C’mon people. We can do better. This kid deserves better. He should have been dressed in his Spider-man jammies, read a story, given a hug and a kiss, and then tucked into bed two hours ago. Why is he here on the floor at Walmart watching Star Wars? And where’s Mom? Where’s Dad?

Okay, so maybe I’m assuming far too much and there’s more to the story than I know. But still, there’s no one keeping an eye on this child, and in an age of daily abductions, at such a late hour, I can’t see how this can be a good thing.

One drastic detail observed often provides reliable insight into the remaining trivialities. In other words, this is probably not a “first” for this kid.

And so I bought my toilet paper and milk and went home for a drink – the Springbank 12-year-old Cask Strength edition. It seemed the only untapped, but sturdy, dram in my cabinet. A perfect stress-reliever for a father concerned for the well-being of another’s child.

Sure enough, the Springbank is a reliable and calming hand, beginning a description of its ability to bring a troubled spirit into submission with a vigorous scent of malt, damp peat just beginning to smolder at the edges, and fruit cocktail.

And so it isn’t enough to be told of its might. A sip is required in order that the hearty 54.1 ABV can begin the bout and prove its worth. And it does. Downheartedness is pinned, not with an ugly and uncoordinated struggle, but with the well balanced finesse of peat-smoked concord grapes drizzled with a slightness of caramel and chocolate. Truly marvelous.

And the finish, well, it is a medium conglomerate of sugar malt and smoke, a remnant of the previous cares having become a more focused concern, not for what I am powerless to change with regard to the parenting skills of others, but for what I can actually do to become a better parent to and for my own.