All the kids want the corn dogs and nobody wants the turkey loaf. Davey gazes down the line.
“I tried something new,” he says. “Put a little zing into it. Thought they might appreciate it.”
They appreciate nothing. Betty slides in a new tray of corn dogs, glistening from grease. Children huddle before the glass partition, grubby, stubby fingers, slobbering, dirty, dirty children.
“We want corn dogs, we want corn dog.”
“Anyone up for some turkey loaf?” asks Davey. He wears new glasses. Large frames, smudged lenses. He lost his contacts and his wife in the same week.
“It looks like doody,” say the children. “Doody, doody, doody, doody.”
Davey ambles up the line, stops at the desert section, palms a peanut butter cookie, breaking his diet. His ex-wife begged him to exercise, try a little harder.
We scrub dishes, prepare toast, broil burgers, fry almost everything. The children grow large and oily. We sneak in vegetables to help them stay alive. Tofu and zucchini. Chicken surprise flecked with spinach.
But: no. They want pie, burgers, pizza, chocolate milk. The children grow feral and they never go home.
“We want ponies,” they say. “Ponies for all of us.”
Our manager makes a call, arrangements are made, ponies arrive by mid-afternoon. The children mount the ponies. They wear old-fashioned hats with bands and wide brims. White shirts, pants, and loafers. They ride in circles around our school and mock our food-stained bibs, our failing hair, our bellies, our accents, our broccoli casseroles. Davey drinks a little more these days. He drinks white wine from the bottle. He sits in a fold-out chair and hoists a jousting lance–a prop from the drama department. We crowd around him. He says, “We can do this. We can conquer these terrible children.” We go, huzzah, huzzah, and lift plates of china filled with Davey’s turkey loaf. We gorge. Delicious, we tell him, Best thing you’ve ever made.
Davey’s joust catches the glare of sunlight, and we shied our eyes. The children trot by on ponies. Ponies bare their teeth. Children wave their pudgy arms.
We finish the turkey loaf and embrace furtively. We are sated, we tell Davey. We are gathered, we are kindred.
We are sated.