by Jack Swenson

My mother is holding my hand, towing me along, as we go into the dime store.  She spots something she's interested in and stops by a counter near the front of the store.  A fat lady is examining the goods on a counter on the other side of the aisle.  I give her bottom a smack with the flat of my hand.  "Ouch!" she says and turns around.  I look up at her, and she looks down at me.  She walks off without a word.


I spot another fat lady in another part of the store, and I slap her butt, too.  She tells me I'm a bad boy.  My mother turns around, and my mother and the lady have words.  The lady leaves in a huff.  My mother eyes me suspiciously.


The next time she catches me at it.  A matron with an extremely large backside is standing by the candy counter.  As we walk by, I give her a friendly greeting.  She yelps and whirls around.  "Well, I never...!" she says.  My mother puts her nose in the air and leaves the store in rather a hurry with me in tow.  We are halfway down the block when my mother stops, leans over, and pinches me on the arm.  Hard.  "Ow," I say.


"Don't do that again," she says.  She says each word separately and with great emphasis.  I start to cry.


That night I hear her on the phone talking to my aunt.  She is telling her what I did.  I'm in the other room, and she doesn't know I can hear what she is saying.  She is chuckling.  She seems to think the story is very funny.