I went to the store today. Near our house, we have one of those large chain grocery stores. Without giving away the name, on another Earth, in another universe, it might have been called Choose N Hoard. I have a card and everything.
Anyway, on the way in, two Cub Scouts eagerly asked me if I wanted to buy some popcorn. Their female chaperone (ostensibly the “Den Mother”) mussed their hair and smiled.
“Popcorn, huh?” I said, “Sounds good. I’ll catch you on the way out.” I nodded to the Den Mother as if to say: “I mean it. I’m not just saying that because I think they’ll forget when I sneak out the other door.”
My time spent shopping today was very enjoyable because I knew, when I left the store, I would then make a couple Cub Scouts very happy. Maybe I was helping fund a trip down to Chicago to visit the Shedd Aquarium or dispose of a body.
The doors opened and there they were. “Alright, fellas, what have we got here? Say, is that caramel corn?” I picked up a sealed bag of caramel corn roughly they size of a dictionary. “This looks delicious,” I added, and winked at the Den Mother, “I’ll take one of these. How much?”
“Ten dollars,” one Cub Scout said while the other put the bag in a different bag.
“Ha, ha,” I replied. There was a pause. “No really.”
“Really? Made from unicorn turds?”
[Author’s Note: I didn’t actually say that, but I really, really wanted to. I think I actually said something like: “Let me see how much I have.” In fact, I’m sure I said that, because the next thing I said was…]
“I only have eight.”
There was a frozen moment where it eventually became clear that there would be no bartering. One Cub Scout removed the bag from the other bag and placed it back into the open space. The other Cub Scout gave me that look; the look that said: “You’re just like my emotionally-distant father who never hugs me or keeps his promises.”
“That’s an awful lot of money for popcorn,” I said.
“Caramel corn.” said the Den Mother, “Sorry.”
“No, I’m sorry.” I walked to my car, and never looked back.
I fear that, for one Cub Scout, the memory of my betrayal will be the reason for the firecracker in the frog’s butt. But, c’mon. Ten bucks?