In all honesty, the Thomas the Train table is pretty disgusting on its own. It's basically a giant Petri dish, ground-zero for kid crud. The playing surface is paper-covered particle board that doesn't hold up well to spilled drinks. The tracks themselves are fashioned from porous, moisture-absorbing wood - and their joints stay wet for hours after a spill. And the worst parts of the table are the trains themselves, the creepily-personified choo-choo train-cars that are pushed through pools of fresh DNA by kids who haven't yet learned to wash their hands after pooping. I swear to God, the world's next influenza pandemic will begin with unsupervised children, rather than African monkeys.
Now, I must take great care in what I'm about to say. I've been with Barnes & Noble for 11 years now, and I'm genuinely grateful for all outside efforts that bring business into the store. The events that take place during bookfairs include choir singing, string quartets, talent shows, art displays, and occasionally adult teachers reading stories. The adults are great of course, and the artwork is nice because it's quiet; many of the teenage musical performances aren't half-bad themselves, so long as the budding pubescents stick to Christmas carols - and avoid angsty folk-grunge.
But it's the little kids that are hardest to handle, especially since they're always so excited to be here. How can I say this tactfully? (Ahem.) There is a noticeable difference between a somewhat-experienced high school quartet and a grade school band that's unfamiliar with its instruments. High school performers - despite their giggles, gossip, and texts - are able to play a recognizable melody (and if they can't, their insecurities make them play softly). But grade school kids have yet to develop puberty-embarrassment, so they merrily saw through "Silent Night" as though they were cutting their instruments in half. And the parents go wild. And the cringe-inducing songs only add to the gaggles of kids, teens, parents, and teachers who are already in the store doing crowd control. Honestly, I finally understand how David Sedaris got his idea for Front Row Center With Thatteus Bristol. He must have worked in a bookstore at some point.
Little did anyone know that I was actually wearing fetish gear :)
So, between the music, costumes, and swarms of unsupervised kids, teens, and adults, it's no wonder that somebody tagged Thomas. Our next themed event is a Downton Abbey party; I'm toying with coming in dressed as Maggie Smith, just so I can be rude to people. Of course, as we've all seen from the show, those who live upstairs often behave the worst of all.
Something tells me that once the Downton party is over, urine won't be the worst thing we find in Thomas's roundhouse...