By noon on Saturday (the very beginning of a three day stretch of rain) the monkeys were restless. Warren was restless. I was restless. And hungry. Somehow between showering and folding laundry, I missed the breakfast boat.
“Let’s just get in the car, run some errands, and see where we end up,” I said after once again lamenting the fact that Memphis is sorely lacking in the fun things to do indoors and family-friendly restaurant departments.
We loaded up and started down Summer Avenue. “Let’s go to Guadalupana!” I said enthusiastically.
“Is that all you do? Think about eating?” Warren grouchily replied.
“Uh…yes?” I said, speechless. I had already suggested the Children’s Museum and been shot down. I even called Pump-it-Up to see if they let people come in off of the street or if it was just for parties. (It was the latter.) What else was there to do besides eat?
“I know, let’s go to a playland!” Satchel (age 4) said from the back.
“Playland!” Jiro (age 2) exclaimed.
I looked at Warren.
“Where is the nearest playland?” he asked.
Sadly, we had had this conversation before. The last time we had it the boys ended up playing in the cold at the Burger King on Union’s outdoor playground.
“Well, there is that Taco Bell on Estate that is supposed to have a nice playground,” I said. “Not that it’s close or anything.”
“Oh, I want a taco!” Satchel cried.
“I want a taco too,” Jiro said.
“Fine,” Warren said as he headed a little south and then east.
As we pulled in to Taco Bell, I was glad to see that the playland was completely indoors and quite substantial. In fact it was in its own glass-enclosed area so that the romping of the children would not interfere with the munching of the adult patrons. Satchel and Jiro were both totally excited by the site of the playland and rushed immediately to the door. “Why don’t you watch them while I order?” I said to Warren.
He agreed, but apparently the monkeys were too shy to enter the playland without their mommy. So they joined me in the queue. I ordered them each a kid’s meal. One with two tacos and one with a burrito. I got a grilled stuffed burrito combo that included nachos and a drink. Warren just wanted a burrito supreme. The monkeys, accompanied by their father, ran to the drink machine and immediately went for the red juice. Yay.
As I waited for the food, I realized that Satchel and Jiro would probably both want nachos when they saw mine. I asked the woman behind the counter if I could substitute nachos for the cinnamon crispas in the kids’ meals, but she said there were no substitutions. I decided to sacrifice my nachos to one monkey and order an extra one for the other. Then as I stood staring at the guys making the food, I realized that I forgot to order Satchel’s tacos without lettuce. I told the woman behind the counter and asked if it was too late. She quickly walked over to the guys doing the prep, and then happily reported that it wasn’t too late. “But we would have remade them for you,” she added.
We got our food and headed to the back of the restaurant to see if there were any tables in the play area. “It’s pretty hot in there,” a woman called to us from the other side of the restaurant. We looked over and discovered that the woman was the mom of one of the monkeys’ new schoolmates.
After some introductions and small talk, the monkeys were raring to go. They took a few bites of food then went in to check out the play area with their schoolmate. After a few minutes of playing they would come back for a few bites of food. Lather, rinse, repeat. There were plenty of kids playing and plenty of families eating. I noticed several people without children eating unmolested. I even saw a table of seniors downright thrilled to see so many happy children running in and out of the glass doors.
Warren did some “sit down and eat” reinforcing, but it didn’t do much good. We decided to enjoy our meal and get to know the friendly parents sitting next to us.
“So were you out shopping or do you live near here?” I asked.
“I was going to ask you the same thing!” the mom replied.
Turns out they did actually live nearby, but we did have a few things in common. Namely the fact that our children all had Japanese heritage. Theirs more so than ours. So that was fun.
Once our new friends left, Warren and I entertained ourselves by reading the book that came with the Taco Bell kids’ meals. It’s called Todd and the Talking Pinata Talk Honesty. My first reaction to discovering that the kids’ meals came with a book was, “Cool. That’s so much better than a crappy toy.”
That was before I read the book.
Besides the fact that a talking piñata is one of the main characters of the tale, I found the storyline to be pretty worrisome. Apparently Todd and the Talking Pinata go to the mall to shop. In the Pet Store they debate whether a hamster or a guinea pig is superior until the Talking Pinata gets angry and starts screaming. Ultimately, they are asked to leave the store. Next they debate whether the jeans Todd tries on are too tight at the Jean Store.
I have to type the rest of the text in order for you to get the full effect of the ending:
Todd decided to go with the Talking Pinata’s advice, and so he bought the pants.
The girl at the check-out counter was having a bad day and said something rude the Talking Pinata. Much to his credit, the Talking Pinata didn’t say anything rude back.
“That will be forty-nine dollars for the pants,” said the check-out girl.
Todd gave her fifty dollars. The girl handed Todd his change and he and the Talking Pinata started to leave. Suddenly, Todd stopped.
“Hey, I was only supposed to get a dollar back, but she gave me a twenty-dollar bill back.”
“Serves that nasty girl right. Let’s get out of here,” said the Talking Pinata.
“Talking Pinata,” Todd scolded, “I am surprised at you. You know that’s not right. We should always be honest, not just when we want to be or when someone is nice to us, but always!”
“You’re right, Todd. I am ashamed of myself. I apologize. Let’s go return the money.”
When Todd returned the money, the check-out girl was amazed and thanked him for his honesty. Then, she said she was sorry for the rude comment she had made earlier to the Talking Pinata.
The Talking Pinata accepted her apology and asked her if she liked the hamster or the guinea pig the best. She said she preferred the guinea pig and from that moment the Talking Pinata and the check-out girl became great friends.
What a wonderful day!
Warren and I just looked at each other in amazement.
“WTF!” I said. “It’s like Taco Bell is prepping kids to give extra money back to their cashiers in the event of a mistake!”
“Yeah even if they are rude,” Warren says.
“Like is this a big problem for them?” I wondered.
But what I really wanted to know was, what did the check out girl say to the Talking Pinata in the first place?? It seems that Professor RH Fuller left out the best part of the story.
(A google search of “RH Fuller” turns up squat, leading me to wonder if his real name is “RU Fuller.” Get it? Heh. A search of “Todd and the Talking Pinata” led to nothing but a transcription of Todd and the Talking Pinata Talk Perseverance in someone’s Live Journal.)
Back to the monkeys. We were eventually able to wrangle them out of the playland and into their shoes. At final count, Satchel ate one whole taco and most of his nachos. Jiro shunned his burrito completely and ate almost all of his nachos. And two cups of red punch. The cinnamon crispas and remaining taco were packed up for later, but never requested. In fact, they may still be in the fridge now.
Oh, and Jiro supplemented his meal by licking the glass door leading to the playground.
I have no doubt that on the next rainy Saturday that comes our way, they will no doubt beg to return to the Taco Bell playland.