It was late fall, and Katie – our oldest, and at that point, only daughter – had just turned one. One Wednesday evening, Mama was stuck at the office so it was just Katie and I at home. I was recuperating from a sinus infection and tired of being in the house, so I bundled Katie into her car seat and the two of us went to church. After the service let out, I called home to find out if Mama was home yet and whether or not she’d had supper, which she said she had not. So on our way home, Katie and I stopped by the Taco Bell near our house.
I placed my order and drove up to the pick-up window. I paid, and the lady told me it would be just a minute or so. I realized at that point I hadn’t heard Katie since we pulled in, which tipped me off that she was probably doing something she wasn’t supposed to do. I glanced in my mirror – I was still driving my wife’s college car, a Mustang, then, and I kept the mirror angled so that I could see Katie in her car seat without having to turn all the way around in mine. She was chewing on her container of Cheerios, and had managed to get part of the wrapper to start unrolling.
I didn’t want her to get choked (good parent!), but I also didn’t want to be a rude customer and turn away from the pick-up window so I started trying to reason with her (new parent!). So just to recap the scene, I’m sitting there with my window down, head turned toward the pickup window, eyes on the mirror. Unfortunately I didn’t see the Taco Bell lady come back, and at the same time she was handing my food out to me I said, not in my high-pitched ‘Daddy talking to baby’ voice but in my ‘raspy, sinus-infected Barry White wanna-be’ voice, “Come on baby, give it to Daddy.”
Let’s examine the context here. Inside the car, that was a perfectly valid and innocent statement. From the perspective of the nice Taco Bell lady, though – who couldn’t see into the back seat because of the window tint, and who hadn’t even heard Katie because she was happily chewing away on her Cheerios wrapper – well, it apparently wasn’t something she wanted to hear since she shrank back into her window and took my tacos with her.
I ‘fixed’ things the only way I could think of, which was to turn around in my seat and yank the Cheerios container away from Katie so she’d start bawling. Then I took my tacos and sped off, and I still try to avoid that Taco Bell to this day.