Monday, May 9, 2011

The Time I Slapped a Stranger's Baby

Our best friends were here a year ago, visiting from Sweden.  It was early summer, but even in early summer in Dallas, it is ridiculously hot and we were looking for ways to entertain our guests in a comfortable setting—indoors with air conditioning.  One day they were here, we opted to visit NorthPark—Dallas’ premier shopping center of the elite, the privileged, local [and visiting] celebrities…and then us.  We went to enjoy lunch, do a little shopping and take in an afternoon movie.  A cold movie theater is about the only thing that can soothe me during the summer months—I’m perpetually irritable from June until October, but I swear that has nothing to do with what happened.

Following lunch, our guests wanted to stop by the Apple store to see the iPads.  You see, in Sweden they have pickled fish, vodka and self-assembly furniture, so an iPad was a particularly exciting piece of technology for them to witness.  As we made our way to the Apple store, I was telling a story, as friends do when they are catching up after not seeing each other in nearly three years.  In honor of my Italian ancestors, I use excessive hand gestures and arm flailing to stress points and for dramatic effect during my stories.

Paying no attention to my surroundings I continued with my story, unaware of the stroller that was approaching.  Before I could process what was happening, it was already done—I had just back-handed a toddler in the face.  Since we passed going opposite directions, we were already several feet apart before both parties caught on to what had just occurred.

My immediate response, naturally, was shock followed by denial and then horror.  Did…I…just…no way.  The parents gave me a disgusting look, as they very well should have—I had just slapped their baby!  It was my fault regardless of the fact that they were the ones walking against the natural flow of mall traffic and even though they clearly were not paying attention to where they were going either.  It was my fault because it was the back of my hand that collided with their child’s flawless cheek.

As soon as I realized what happened I believe I blurted out something along the lines of “Ohmigod,” and then it happened—my friends and I were overcome with laugher.  It is hard to sound sincere with an apology while laughing as hysterically as my friends and I were laughing.  With as crowded as the mall was and how much distance there was now between us, both parties went their separate ways without any conflict, thankfully.  It was an honest accident and although laughing uncontrollably most likely wasn’t the most appropriate response to the situation, it was just the way it went.  I believe what made it the worst is that of course it had to be me who slapped someone’s child—the person who gets taunted for not liking children [which is not true!] and my circle of friends’ years of teasing had finally come to fruition.

This was the ongoing joke for the remainder of their trip, and I still catch flack about it from time to time, as recent as last week actually.  “I know it will be hard to resist, but don’t smack that baby!”  “Don’t roll a stroller in Julie’s direction!”  I waited to share this story until I was pretty sure the statute of limitations on assault had passed, in case the parents of that damaged child had somehow been tracking me the past year, just waiting for a confession…


  1. I always pegged you for a slapper. Not much the spanking type.