A woman bustles a child through a shopping mall as if he were one of the paper sacks she'd filled and purchased at a designer boutique. It seems harmless enough. You wouldn't expect something bad to happen. He runs ahead with a sucker stuck in his mouth. She warns that he shouldn't run. She rustles her bags to corral him and keep him from running into an intersection. He slides his finger along the bottom edge of a metal yellow sign at the street corner. His mother tells him to be careful, the rough edge could cut his fingertip to the bone before he even felt it sting.
The boy handles and thumbs at splinters of wood protruding from a street post. He'd be better off playing with kitchen knives. A black widow spider lurks on the far side of the post, out of view. "Jordan," his mother calls. "Don't play with that. You'll get a sliver." She should've worried about his teeth instead.
Even though his adult teeth had only recently filled in the front of his smile, he'd inherited them from his father's side, and up until two weeks earlier, they'd been crooked, overlapping, and because of a medicine he required, his teeth were purple. To look at his face, though, you'd only see a gleaming row of porcelain veneers secured tightly to the gnarled violet clumps he'd grown himself. Those bright white, mathematically perfect, wear-resistant covers over his natural teeth cost 3000 dollars of his father's hard-earned money.
To protect the investment, at night, she played a video for little Jordan. He didn't much care for it, but his mother insisted. Each night, before bed, while struggling with his pajamas, he had to watch Timmy the Tooth Safety Turtle spiel on from a DVD and TV set in his room. Timmy the Tooth Safety Turtle droned at length about the evils of skateboards, bullies, and contact sports. And Jordan was about to meet Timmy in real life.
As his mother shepherded him across the parking lot of the mini-mall, Jordan pointed, ran, and shouted out, "Look, Mom! It's Timmy the Tooth Safety Turtle. Just like from my videos!" He spied a plastic carriage ride in front of a pharmacy, one of those jolting, bumping, kiddie cars that whirs and clicks when a quarter is dropped into the slot. "Can I ride it, Mom?" Jordan yelled as he climbed onto Timmy's fiberglass shell. "Can I?"
His mother settled her bags on the sidewalk to fish in her purse for a coin. When she loaded the machine up with her money, the big plastic turtle dipped down in front and made a terrible noise, wog wog wog wog wog . Then faster than a giant plastic turtle should be able to move it jumped backwards, crashing its shiny green head through Jordan's lips and, bucking him, forcing him to spit a bloody mouthful of porcelain and purple teeth.
"Look what you've done! Look what you've done!" she screamed.
WHAT I WILL AND WON'T WATCH THIS WEEK
Thursday, July 13
2006 Hot Dog Eating Contest
ESPN 10:00 a.m. Coming up on this week's To Hell with the Poor Marathon, we bring you the 2006 Money Burning Contest, the Diamond-Tipped Cane Polishing Race for Servants, and The Third Annual Monocle, Spats, and Cigar Relay, which you won't want to miss. Keep it locked right here on ESPN.
Sleepless in Seattle (1993)
TBS 10:00 p.m. Drunk Enough to Appreciate Eskimo Porn and Crying in San Diego , my sequel to Sleepless , was roundly rejected by Nora Ephrom, the director. I'm still waiting to hear back from Tom and Meg.
Friday, July 14
Splendor in the Grass (1961)
ISAT 8:00 p.m. This is my new favorite euphemism for revealing the location of dog landmines with one's shoe. Sure, it's easy and juvenile, but it's a hoot when you pick up a sneaker and go, "Oh ho ho ho! Damn. These are brand new. Oh, splendor in the grass. Thanks Rover."
Saturday, July 15
Fourteen Children and Pregnant Again!
DHC 12:00 p.m. Fifteen reasons a vasectomy should be free when you present your Wal-Mart receipt for an official NASCAR ball cap.
Trading Spaces: Going for Broke
TLC 9:00 p.m. If I were to redesign my neighbor's apartment, one room would be lined with child-sized snare traps baited with tacos and Chiclets, and along one wall would be rows of duct tape and socks made into gags. Then I'd sit back and hope they put dos and dos together.
Sunday, July 16
Cooking in Style
HSN 8:00 p.m. I've invented something. It's a hairnet for those of us who love to fry chicken in the nude -- but, sister, it ain't for your head. Act now and you'll get this waist-to-nipples splatter guard and a complimentary bar of soap, you nasty thing, you.
Monday, July 17
High School Musical (2006)
DISN 8:00 p.m. How about you slather my naked body with Alpo, marijuana, and gunpowder and time me to see how fast I can run from Tijuana to the San Ysidro side. Border dogs are taught to avoid the crotch and face. Besides, pepper spray doesn't have lasting effects.
Tuesday, July 18
Secret Window (2004)
FX 8:00 p.m. If I'm on the boardwalk in Mission Beach, wearing nothing but a pair of board shorts, I can walk right past the front doors of several oceanfront homes. But up here in North Park, if you're caught on someone's lawn in a pair of Choo Choo Underoos, a tablecloth cape, and high heels... WHOA! It's like you shot the President or something. Tires squeal, car doors slam, there are disco lights, and somebody yells, "Get on the ground, Fruitcake!" Oh, it's a big deal.
Wednesday, July 19
ABC 9:00 p.m. If you take enough ecstasy, your motor functions go the way of the Bigfoot, and your spinal cord takes over a lot of processes. The mind can wander when the granular pharmaceuticals slip into the bloodstream. One time, I was pretty sure I was running with the Serengeti gazelles, until I remembered I was trying to take a leak in a fiberglass port-o-john at Burning Man.
Thursday, July 20
Baby for Sale (2004)
LIFE 7:00 p.m. Got anything in an older model? Something that can cook and clean, but not so big that it can't fit in the box under my bed? Blind and mute would be best, but those factory options are pricey for something I could do myself.