Paging John Ashcroft

White kids on dope!

And so were born all the information tables with the bored-looking staffers cluttering up Jewel Court (that's the wing of South Coast Plaza near Nordstrom) and Carousel Court (you already know where Carousel Court is). Really, the staffers looked near suicide. It's a lonely business, sitting behind a table while people meander by, looking in the windows of Armani instead of at your very nice pamphlets explaining how to tell when you're the victim of spousal abuse.

We missed what actually looked like a whole bunch of cool events; we had been getting a dose of birth controlat the Costa Mesa Chuck E. Cheeseinstead. There was "Experiencing Blindness Through the Eyes of a Child"—that would have been a blast! There was a performance by the Ukulele Club of Ventura County. There was the Ocean Institute Tide Pool Experience. Those are all pretty cool things—for reals!—but we were busy laughing at the toddlers who were shrieking their brains out at the sight of the giant rat in the bowler hat. Frightened children are hilarious.

By the time we got to South Coast Plaza, it was us and the clinically depressed doling out the straight dope on shelters and hunger and cancer and Kidsingers™. That's harmony for a better world!

Plus, there was a little performance by a little someone named Bridget Brigitte!

And Brigitte, who should have been just terrible—she has that name, first of all, and secondly, she had pink pigtails and sat at a keyboard while a fancy boy in purple played flute—was actually kind of lilting-cool adult-alternative packaged as kids' music. Sure, she mighta been a little Enya—her CD's called Where Birds Meet in the Rain—but what can you do? The backside of the stage had cool quotes by Mark Twain, Ben Franklinand Whoopi Goldberg. Meanwhile, toddlers were standing and shaking maracas, which wasn't nearly as funny as watching them cry.

Frankly, I was starting to get impressed. That wouldn't do at all. Maybe somebody rich would start beating their kid right in front of me. Or just, you know, neglecting them and withholding their love. It was getting harder and harder to make fun of this thing.

We started to look for more material among the information tables. Luckily, one reminded us and other South Coast Plaza shoppers that "the average cost of childcare can consume up to 60 percent of a single parent's minimum-wage income" because I'm sure most South Coast Plaza shoppers are very, very concerned indeed about the plight of minimum-wage earners. Wouldn't you say so, Consuela?

Minimum-wage earners are hilarious.

It was time to go home in a funk, and then send the kid out for crack and wait for the hilarity to ensue.

"Mom," said My Buttercup, with his usual wit and hilarity. "Please don't make me go buy crack anymore."

Kids say the darndest things!

If your mother makes you go buy crack for her and her name's not Rebecca Schoenkopf, there's a place where you can be safe. Call the Orange County Child Abuse PREVENTION Center at (714) 543-4333.

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