We took our four-year-old and his friend to see a Monster Trucks show at the local sports arena. I had never been to such an event and did not know what to expect. All I could reasonably be sure of was that the boys would enjoy themselves at a show featuring big trucks with big tires crushing stuff.
Before the show there was a pit party. Everyone got to get a close-up look at the trucks and meet the drivers. The first thing the boys noticed when we got there was that some other children had Monster Truck flags for the drivers to autograph. Well, if people we’d never heard of before, and would never see again, were signing other kids’ flags, then we needed flags for signing too.
The flags hadn’t looked like such a liability for other parents, but as soon we handed over the money for them, we realized what a bad idea they were. Give a kid a flag at the end of a stick and he is overcome by the need to wave it recklessly. Correction: Give a kid anything at the end of a stick and he is overcome by the need to wave it recklessly. Correction: Give a kid a stick and he is overcome by the need to wave it recklessly.
It was a crowded arena, and many times I had to deflect one of our jubilant flag sticks from the vulnerable parts of strangers. But the kids needed the flags to collect autographs and that is exactly what they did, until they had each collected one autograph. You had to wait in line to get an autograph, and waiting in line is not nearly as fun as running off and waving your flags in each other’s faces.
For the one autograph they did get, my wife held our places in line while I refereed their flag fight. I’d hoped this might get it out of their systems, but they were still in a waving frenzy as we rejoined the line. We needed to have a man to man to man talk about flag safety before somebody got hurt, and somebody got sued.
I knelt down and made them pay attention. “Listen, if you put out somebody’s eye, I don’t know you,” I told them. “When they ask you who brought you here, you go point out somebody at the other end of the arena so I have time to get back to the car. Got it?”
A minute later, they got their first and only autograph from a very nice man whom I could not now pick out of a police lineup to save my life. He has a very snazzy signature though. It looks great on the flag, but it’s illegible, so we are unlikely to ever know who he was. He’ll always just be that guy who drove the red truck, or was it orange? Oh well, the important thing is that nobody lost an eye needed an attorney.