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Wednesday, July 14, 2004   |    Fiction

Assignation at the Tot Lot

by J. Daniel Janzen

JACQUES: Bonjour, Madame.

SALLY: Hello, Jacques. Hi, Amélie-Pierre! Look, Connor, it’s Uncle Jacques with your friend Amélie-Pierre! Can you wave, Connor? Connor, Amélie-Pierre, look at all those shovels in the sandbox! Do you want to dig with some shovels? You’re so clever!

JACQUES: Yes, children, very clever! Yes, dig together in the sand of the sandbox…. Where were you on Tuesday?

SALLY: I was almost here and Connor had a total blowout. I had to go home and throw him the tub and his overalls in the trash.

JACQUES: You had no spare outfit with you. How charmingly negligent. You are almost as much a fool as my wife.

SALLY: Please. I didn’t have a chance to do the laundry because I had to pick up the backup stroller from the storage locker.

JACQUES: The brakes on the Bugaboo, they lock up again? Yes, I see …. Sally, how I suffer in your absence. Marie, she is impossible. She does not understand that the needs of a man do not end with the birth of his child, no, even if a woman’s do. But not every woman. Your Rick, he is a lucky man, the undeserving swine.

SALLY: Don’t worry, Rick’s not getting any these days either. Connor finally dropped his second nap and it’s thrown our whole duty roster out of whack. Look, Jacques, we’ve got to stop meeting this way. I think Rick is getting suspicious.

JACQUES: Not a chance.

SALLY: The other day he found a bottle marked in metric in the dishwasher and asked who we knew from Europe with a baby.

JACQUES: You couldn’t tell him it was from another child on a play-date? A chance mistake?

SALLY: He caught me by surprise. I just played dumb badly. He also asked me why, if I weaned Connor four months ago, I’m still getting milk stains on my shirts.

JACQUES: Tell him the truth. Tell him it is because your breasts flow from the same spring as the wetness below, rising in a tide of desire. Come, Sally—come away with me to the Carousel, far from the prying eyes of the Tot Lot. There, while the children amuse themselves on the wooden horses, we shall indulge our desperate desires in the shadows of the maintenance shed.

SALLY: Jacques, for heaven’s sake, don’t get me started—oh damn it, will you look at that.

JACQUES: Perhaps you should carry a spare outfit for yourself as well.

SALLY: You’re impossible. Sometimes I—Connor, don’t do that, sweetie, don’t step in his hole. No, he’s been digging that. Don’t mess it up, sweetie. Come over and play with Amélie-Pierre, she’s making shells. See? See the lobster shell? And now it’s gone! Do you want to make another lobster shell with Amélie-Pierre?

JACQUES: When shall we meet. I must have you.

SALLY: Come to my house Thursday at eleven-thirty.

JACQUES: Impossible. Amélie-Pierre has Music for Aardvarks from eleven to eleven forty-five. The class is on Union Street, upstairs from the Tea Lounge. I will be at your house at noon.

SALLY: Noon is no good. I’m hosting my baby book club at one and I have to make sugarless cupcakes.

JACQUES: A half-hour is all that you were offering me? Marie, she at least blocks out forty-five minutes.

SALLY: Then maybe you should be talking to Marie.

JACQUES: Now wait a—Amélie-Pierre, non cherie, ne manges pas… do not put the clumps in your mouth, they are not clean, they are the sands dirty. Zut alors, enfant, en moments comme ceci tu me rappelles de ta mère

SALLY: Goodbye, Jacques. I’m afraid it just wasn’t meant to be.

JACQUES: No, Sally, wait, I implore you—Amélie-Pierre, j’insiste, if you will not behave—give me the hand, give it here … no hitting, Amélie-Pierre, non, ne sois pas mechante.

SALLY: Come along, Connor. Good-bye, Jacques. Adieu.

JACQUES: Sally, wait—will I see you at the baby CPR refresher on Saturday?

SALLY: Probably. It conflicts with Connor’s swimming class, but I’m not going to have a chance to get waxed until Tuesday at the earliest. I’m totally Helmut Newton down there.

JACQUES: How cruel you are to torture me this way.

SALLY: Oh Jacques … until Saturday.

JACQUES: Until then.

J. Daniel Janzen isn't ashamed to make his living as a copywriter. There's a place in this world for well-crafted press releases and compelling brochures, and besides, a dollar per word is a hell of a lot more than he made working on The Clown's Graveyard for seven years. Dan takes out his frustrations by rejecting miscellaneous submissions to Flak Magazine, and vents any remaining spleen through the indulgence of such sites as Poor Mojo's Almanac(k), Kittenpants, Über, Haypenny, and the one you're reading.