Jesus. Claire and I hadn't even got to the sex part yet. Was this really how it would be? Before I demanded that this guy tell me something good so I wouldn't have nightmares tonight, his daughter Finley ran over to him with a book in her hands.
"Daddy, can you read me this book about horses?” she asked sweetly as she climbed up onto his lap.
“Sure, baby girl,” he replied, wrapping an arm around his daughter and taking the book from her hand.
See? Look at how sweet kids could be. They might be little hellions sometimes but they definitely had hearts of gold. And there was nothing sweeter than watching a father with his daughter.
"Oh Jesus, Mary and Joseph…where did you get this book?" the man asked as a few parents looked in his direction and shot him dirty looks.
I glanced over to see what the problem was and noticed the book in his hand read “The Big Book of Lesbian Horse Stories.” My mouth fell open in horror and I looked around to see if anyone had noticed that there was p**n in the children’s section of the library.
“Honey, go pick out another book,” he told her calmly as he hid the book behind his back.
“But I want that one, it’s got horses in it,” she argued.
“Well, you can’t read that one. That’s a big person book. It’s not for kids.”
Finley rolled her eyes and huffed, handing him the other book she brought over with her, “Poop Eaters”.
This time, her father was the one to roll his eyes. “Poop Eaters”? Again? Really, Finley. You need to find another hobby.”
“She’s got this thing about poop,” he told me as he took the book from her. “When she was little, she used to finger-paint her room with the poop in her diaper.”
He chuckled at the memory and I covered my mouth with my hand to keep the vomit inside. I stared at the little girl’s hands expecting to see it covered in shit.
“A few times when we were at the park she would run up to me and say she had a present for me. She’d hold out her hand and it would be filled with cat poop she found in the sand box. Ahhhh, good times,” he said with a bob of his head.
A few times? This happened more than once? Poop finger-painting? Poop presents? Shouldn't kids be born with the knowledge that you never touch poop? Is Gavin aware that this is a rule no one should ever break?
I looked over at him rummaging through a box of books someone placed next to the reading circle and wondered if he would find poop in there and bring it to me. What if he tried to finger-paint me with it? I’d scream. And you can’t scream in the library. What do I do? WHAT DO I DO???
"So yeah, good luck with the whole father thing, dude," the man said to me as he stood up to leave.
I sat there on the couch trying to stop the panic attack I was pretty sure I was having. I need a paper bag to breathe into. Why the f**k didn't I bring a paper bag? Oh Jesus. Poop hands. POOP HANDS!
"Carter! Hey, Carter!" Gavin shouted as he ran towards me and several other adults shushed him.
I stared at his hands, praying to God there wasn't shit on them. How would I explain to Claire that I made our son walk home from the library because I didn't want shitty hand prints inside my car? I winced as he raced towards me, bracing myself for a shit pie to the face or a shit ball to the arm. He was running so fast he couldn't stop himself in time and he slammed into my legs with an "Oomph."
Oh f**k, please let there not be shit on my legs right now.
As soon as he hit my legs, he scrambled up onto my lap, careful not to drop whatever was clutched in his hand. One can never be too careful with a handful of shit, obviously.
He put his knees on my thighs and I felt him crawl up onto my lap. My eyes were squeezed so tightly closed that I was giving myself a headache.
Oh sweet Jesus. Here it comes. A shit sandwich. He's going to make me pretend to eat it like kids do when they make you a Play-Doh cookie. The term "shiteating grin" will finally have meaning in my life.
"I got you sumfin' Carter. Guess which hand?" he said excitedly.
Oh, God, please don't make me choose. It will always be the hand without shit in it.
Gavin quickly grew impatient with my silence. "Come on, Carter, open your eyes. Don't be a wuss."
I swallowed nervously, trying to think of all the ways to disinfect shit from your skin.
Does bleach burn? Probably after I took a layer of skin off with sandpaper, it would. I slowly opened one eye at a time until I could see that Gavin had his arms behind his back.
“Come on, pick one of my arms and see what I gots,” he said excitedly.
"Gee, I guess I'll pick that hand," I said unenthusiastically as I tapped his right arm.
Good-bye clean, shitless skin. I'll remember you fondly.
Gavin bounced up and down on my thighs and swung his right arm around in front of him.
"You picked the right one! Here ya go!" he said excitedly.
I looked down nervously and breathed a deep sigh of relief when I saw what was in his hand.
A book. A beautiful, crisp, brand new library book. Not a book covered in shit, or a book made out of shit. Just a book. The title read “Come on Get Happy!”
I took it from his little hand and held it up in the air to look at the picture of puppies frolicking in a field on the front cover.
"This is a pretty awesome book. How come you picked this one?" I asked him as he put the hand that used to hold the book up on my shoulder and looked me in the eye.