7:04 p.m. Arrive at community center. Tentatively open door of multipurpose room just enough to squeeze inside. As everyone turns to look, press self against wall. Stick fingers of one hand in mouth. Resist urge to stick other hand down pants.

7:06 p.m. Survey room: metal folding chairs, about a dozen people, snacks. Edge toward snacks. Get intercepted by woman with piercings, who coos, “Awww. Look at you! What’s your name?” Reply, “I’m 4.”

7:10 p.m. Man with goatee and glasses asks everyone to take a seat. Climb onto folding chair. Sit sideways with one leg sticking through the back. Discover that chair is unbalanced. Wiggle. Get good rhythm going. Meet glare of largish man in neighboring seat. Look away. Under breath, just loud enough for him to hear, say, “I smell you.”

7:12 p.m. Eye snacks.

7:14 p.m. Goatee-man announces he wants to hear some stories. Clap hands and shout, “Yay! Stories!” Receive quizzical looks from peers. Ask to go pee.

7:16 p.m. Sing “Baby Beluga” loudly from washroom adjacent to multipurpose room. Do not wash hands.

7:21 p.m. Return in midst of story by sullen man in ball cap about how nothing was ever good enough for his father. Pipe up, “My daddy’s big, like this!” and flex biceps. Receive admonishment from goatee-man about waiting turn and respecting others. Wiggle chair.

7:28 p.m. Woman with piercings gets weepy talking about how she hates herself when she hits her kid. Notice her thong sticking out. Giggle.

7:30 p.m. Goatee-man points and says, “Fine. You. Welcome to the group. Why don’t you tell us your story.” Stand on chair. Begin: “My next birthday, I’m going to be 5. I want a Power Ranger. I like green. When it was Christmas, I went to bed and Santa came and gave me toys. I like Christmas and birthdays—and Halloween! I want it to be Halloween again. Mom was a pirate and she went ARRRRRRR!!! I wasn’t scared. We had candy. I like gum. I’m hungry. Can I have a snack?” Goatee-man replies that snacks are for later. “Can I tell another story?” Goatee-man politely says no. Sense tension from largish man. Discover hand has ended up in pants.

7:42 p.m. Goatee-man suggests breaking for refreshments. Race over to snack table and announce, “I win!”

7:43 p.m. Conversation ensues with largish man:

“Hey, little dude, I think you should wash your hands before you grab a cookie.”

“I did wash my hands.”

“I don’t think you did. You came out of that bathroom pretty fast.”

“No, I washed. I did.”

“Go back and wash your hands, OK?”

“I don’t want to.”

“Go wash your hands!”

“No, no, I don’t want to. I want a cookie!”

“Do it!”

“No-o-o! You can’t make me!”

“You’re not touching a cookie until you wash your hands, you little puke!”


7:44 p.m. Kick largish man in shin and run out the door.

7:46 p.m. Leave community center. Decide to drop anger management and sign up for T-ball.