I was loading my trunk in a dark parking lot when along came a boy no older than four who clearly knew no stranger. It had been a long weekend of standing on high heels, running frenzied errands, slapping yellow flies, catching my breath on various porch swings. I had just watched two of my dearest friends exchange forgettable words that held unforgettable significance, and now I was cleaning up their party and loading up their gifts. This sociable urchin with his round face and silky hair was a welcome reprieve. He was the sort who ought to be in overalls, no shirt, no shoes, with a creek in the vicinity.
"Yes, I saw that," I replied seriously. "That's why it is so important to listen when your mom is telling you to wait." I reminded myself of my mother, as I so often do when speaking to children. His own hovered in the background, nodding appreciatively. A moment ago she'd apologized to me after hollering "Car!" in my ear as I walked past, my arms full of silver-wrapped towels, spatulas, and casserole dishes.
"The music made my tummy hurt," he continued, clutching his little round belly and filling me in on the details while Mom fidgeted, clearly eager to put her family to bed. I tried to help. "I think your parents want to leave," I told my friend regretfully.
He stood eye level with my taillights and leaned in, lips puckered. "I'm going to kiss your car. Then you'll remember me."
I bent over and pointed to my cheek. "Why don't you put a kiss right here? That will help me remember."
He obliged. I'll keep up my end of the bargain.