Jewish Journal

No Such Thing as a Free Cake

by Mihal Levy

November 16, 2009 | 2:30 pm

My son and I headed to the parking lot after hours and hours at the mall.  I finally had to make an excuse to get away.

“Mommy ran out of money” was the perfect excuse, and true.  We dropped about fifty dollars with nothing tangible to show for it except for an ice cream cone, a few pairs of socks and a souvenir bouncy ball (yes, souvenir…for me going to the mall is like traveling to some foreign destination; I rarely go and hate going, so we have to mark this occasion with a souvenir, of course).  The balance of the money was left in the form of quarters on a race car arcade game.

You would think that growing up in the San Fernando Valley I would have more tolerance for the mall, but I don’t…go figure.  My tolerance finally wore thin, and being that we had done everything there is to do at the mall (besides shop), I called it quits.

My son is way too smart for excuses like “running out of money,” so he suggested we simply go to the bank and get more.  (It’s just that simple.)  “Unfortunately, the banks are already closed, so without any more money we can’t buy anything else.  We have to go back home,”  I tried again.

Ok, it worked…for a while.  As we got in the car and headed out of the parking lot, he noticed an El Pollo Loco across the street.

“Mommy, let’s go there.”  There?  El Pollo Loco?  He has never been to an El Pollo Loco, by one or even heard of one.  Why on Earth would he want to go there?

What could he possibly want with crazy chicken?  After all, his mother is a vegetarian.

So, I dared ask, “Why do you want to go there?”  He explained that since we ran out of money, we could go there.  He said, “See the sign on the window?  It says ‘free cake.’  We don’t need any money to get it.”

I didn’t even know where to begin.  How do I explain to a three-and-a-half year old that there is no such thing as a free cake?

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Mihal Levy used to collect degrees as a hobby.  After receiving her B.S. and M.S. degrees, she worked as a psychotherapist and research scientist before continuing her hobby of...

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