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Swifty had a simple choice. He could...

Swifty had a simple choice. He could settle for two books being read at bedtime, or he could go to sleep . . . right this instant. Which did he want?

“Want this many,” he said, holding up first four fingers, then three, then a quick sequence of six to five back to four.

We chuckled. Swifty, after all, had never met the likes of us before.

Sticking to his guns, though. We had to admire that. But we certainly didn’t intend to have our evening dominated by bedtime stories. Not when the ballgame was about to begin on TV.

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No.

So it was time to get down to business.

It was time to destroy Swifty’s will.

“Two-- and only two-- books,” we repeated. “Which ones?”

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He picked out “The Cake That Mack Ate” and “Big Bird Goes to the Doctor’s Office.”

“Once upon a time,” we began, “and that’s the end of the story.”

Swifty started to cry.

“Just wanted to see if you were paying attention,” we said.

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We started with “The Cake That Mack Ate.” It was about 12 pages.

Swifty had a lot of questions.

“The Cake That Mack Ate” took an hour and a half.

“Big Bird” would take some cunning. Some deft sleight-of-hand. Why turn one page at a time when you can turn two? Or five?

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We looked at the kid. Not a peep.

All done, we told him. Nighty-night.

“Now tell me a whole story or I’ll make your life a living nightmare,” Swifty said.

We stood there, swaying slightly.

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“Umm,” we said. “Once upon a time, in a land called Santa Monica, the 13th annual Bed Race was planned for Saturday to benefit the Santa Monica Red Cross and Kiwanis Youth Charities. The race, which kicks off at 11 a.m., will begin at Arizona Avenue off the Third Street Promenade. Admission is free.”

“Keep going, pinhead,” Swifty said. “Anything about puppets?”

“Puppets? Why, yes. The Venice Branch Library will celebrate Latino Heritage month with dances by Macias Mexico Folklorico and a puppet show at 1 p.m. Saturday. Admission is also free. For information, call (213) 821-1769.”

Swifty said, “I feel a tantrum coming on.”

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We broke out into a cold sweat.

“Did we tell you the one about the workshop titled ‘The Art of Embracing Your Inner Child,’ which will be led by Judy Leventhal at a location in Santa Monica? It’ll run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday. Reservations required. The fee is $150. For information, call (213) 392-2975.”

Finally, it was lights out.

Swifty went downstairs to watch the game.

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