Thursday, October 04, 2007

Little Mister Chaos Engine

A couple of times a week I find myself parked on a set of aluminum bleachers, either watching my daughter work a gym or waiting for her to come pouring out of her martial arts class. Sometimes it is the most boring part of the week, occasionally there is an interesting parent to talk to. I usually can't even bring work as most of it is marked "Confidential." That is a sure fire way to attract curiosity. Reading is a bad idea anyway, as you are likely to get beaned.

The gym is part of our park district. In the evenings it is a clean, free, brightly lit place to bring your kid. The perimeter is carpeted and bleachers are placed strategically, to put parents in the line of misfired basketballs. Numerous baskets dangle from the ceiling at various heights, depending on the age of the kids shooting for them. One end has several large plastic climbing toys.

This week I plunked down on the low front of one bleacher next to a mom that was waiting for her twins to come out of their tae kwon do class. My daughter ran off to find just the right basketball from a large rack, sensing that she had a few minutes of free time before her class. I had a basketball under my feet, but whatever. She returned immediately, this time really intent on showing us that she could really dribble this perfect basketball.

A small serious boy about 4 years old came up to me, gave me a bad look and took the basketball from under my feet, At first I thought I had his ball and was prepared to apologize. Then he drop kicked it. Something about his serious nature and the random act had us immediately transfixed. He turned to my daughter "Can I have that?" he asked. She was affable and gave it to him. He drop kicked it.

The other mom and I started to laugh. I saw my daughter in her little gi with a stunned look that was rapidly turning to an intent to do some drop kicking of her own. I asked him "Hey, can you get that for her?" He brightened and said "Sure! and he did. My daughter thanked him and contentedly returned to dribbling. He turned to me and said in wooden explanation "Soccer." I was tearing up and holding my stomach.

Little mister chaos engine made the rounds from basket to basket. He walked up to each ball holder, asked for their basketballs, GOT THEM and DROP KICKED THEM. He was skilled at firing the balls as far away from their owners as possible. We were howling with laughter. He left a gymnasium full of disbelief in his wake. He promptly, calmly went on to the next victim. I turned to the other mom and said "this won't last long." Sure enough, most of the gym, a few dozen people, were now on to the little imp. He would walk up and ask his same disarming "Can I have that?" The answer was now a steady look and a deadpan "No." He continued to work the room and found a few stray balls to kick, invariably at some more unsuspecting victims.

Classes let out and my daughter bowed her way into her lessons. The other mom left with her twins and I looked up to see Mr. Chaos Engine was gone. Some parent had picked him up when I was distracted. I returned to the normal boredom, this time halfheartedly helping young park district employees collect and rack 30 or more loose basketballs. The games took several minutes to recover from the random assaults.

I can't wait for next week.