Cleveland, OH — The neighborhood Dairy Queen, traditionally reputed as a cool place to hang, was recently the site of a bizarre hostage standoff between a mother and a self-proclaimed “baby whisperer.” The victim was 35-year-old Kathy McDonald, who herself has felt like a hostage since her three-month-old son, Linus, was born. “I was already on the verge of a breakdown this week, said Kathy while struggling to light a cigarette. “Linus has been inconsolable for weeks — I’ve tried every trick in the book.” After a particularly stressful night, Kathy suddenly found herself craving a Blizzard. As soon as she entered the DQ, Linus passed out. “I knew it wouldn’t last long — I was just hoping to savor my Blizzard in peace. Of course, as soon as I sat down the little shit woke up crying bloody murder.”
Even in her beleaguered state, Kathy worried about annoying the other customers. Yet, she was disappointed when she scanned the room to discover they seemed oblivious to her plight. A few seconds later, Kevin Pringle seemingly appeared out of thin air. “Initially, I had no idea what he was saying,” said Kathy — “Linus was so loud. I eventually caught the words baby whisperer.” Kathy politely turned down Kevin’s offer, but he persisted. “Trust me. I’m not one of those self-proclaimed baby whisperers — I’m the real deal!” “Oh, well why didn’t you say so,” quipped Kathy. “Do you have any references?” Seemingly immune to sarcasm, Kevin replied, “Everyone! Everyone knows I’m the baby whisperer!” At her wit’s end, and realizing Kevin wouldn’t take no for an answer, Kathy reluctantly delivered her baby into the arms of this clearly unbalanced, but seemingly well-intentioned, gentleman. Over the next few minutes, Kathy sat back, quietly amused, as Linus went from crying to screaming like a pterodactyl. Despite Kevin’s obvious lack of success, he continued touting his baby-soothing prowess. “I can’t explain it. It’s just a natural gift.”
Kathy allowed another five minutes to pass before offering to reclaim her baby — which is when the encounter took a dark turn. In response to Kathy’s merciful gesture, Kevin forcibly pushed her hand away. At this point, the manager discretely dialed 911, while the other customers remained wholly indifferent. “We just assumed it was a domestic dispute,” said Gertrude Dressel, speaking on behalf of her weekly bridge group. A few minutes later, Kevin heard the familiar sounds of police sirens and realized they were coming for him. Rather than fleeing, Kevin ordered the staff to the front of the store and took Linus hostage behind the counter. “I just need some space to work my magic,” said Kevin, as the other customers started screaming. “Everyone, please calm down,” Kevin loudly whispered. “You’re scaring the baby.” Everyone promptly shut up — except for the ladies in the bridge group — who were debating baby-soothing techniques amongst themselves. “That baby’s teething,” said Judith as she pulled a flask from her purse. A little whiskey on the gums and he’ll go right down.” “Oh, Judith, you old bag of rags,” replied Rita. “The poor thing is desperate for the womb.” “Nonsense,” said Gertrude. “You just gotta let the baby cry it out.”
By the time Cleveland Police arrived on the scene, all the customers were talking over each other — blurting out a century’s worth of soothing techniques. Officer Tuttle immediately recognized Mr. Pringle from previous encounters. Kevin’s eyes lit up when he saw Officer Tuttle, whom he also recognized. “Officer Tuttle, please tell them about my gift,” Kevin pleaded. “They don’t believe me.” “Kevin, we’ve been down this road before,” replied Officer Tuttle. “I just need a few more minutes,” Kevin countered, while taking a step back — right into a river of melted ice cream. When Kevin had ordered the staff up front, one of the employees had accidentally activated the soft serve dispenser, and a stream of vanilla had slowly been advancing across the floor towards Kevin’s back. “Kevin, watch out,” screamed Officer Tuttle, a moment too late. As Kevin’s body took flight, a collective gasp filled the room. When the dust settled, you could’ve heard a pin drop. Kevin broke the silence a moment later — “I did it!” Miraculously, Linus had stopped crying and appeared unscathed.
In the aftermath, Linus was safely returned to his mother’s arms, and Kevin was charged with assault, abduction, trespassing, disorderly conduct, and disturbing the peace. As Officer Tuttle proceeded to read Kevin his rights, he burst into tears of joy, quietly muttering to himself “I did it! I really did it!” over and over again. Following his arrest, Kevin spent the night in jail and was arraigned the following morning before the honorable Judge Pat Gifford. The prosecutor argued that Kevin should be held in jail until trial. “Mr. Pringle was already banned from area playgrounds and swimming pools — and he’s clearly becoming more aggressive.” As Judge Gifford pondered his decision, Kevin’s ex-wife, Lisa, burst into the courtroom in dramatic fashion. To Kevin’s surprise, Lisa passionately argued for his release. “Look, Kevin was a lousy husband, and a mediocre father, but he’s not a pervert or anything like that — his heart’s in the right place.”
Although Judge Gifford had a mountain of cases on his docket, his curiosity got the best of him. “Are you familiar with your husband’s reputation as a baby whisperer?” asked Judge Gifford. Lisa couldn’t help but chuckle. “I have no idea what he’s talking about, Your Honor. Kevin wasn’t even involved with our kids until they were in grade school.” “To your knowledge, has he ever soothed a baby?,” asked Judge Gifford. Lisa paused for a long moment. “Well, there was this one time — our 6-month-old boy awoke in the middle of the night. I’d been sick all day, so I begged Kevin to help. When he returned to bed, you would’ve thought he’d cured cancer. I think I may have called him a baby whisperer. I didn’t realize he was immune to sarcasm or that it’d become his sole identity.” Judge Gifford delicately turned to Kevin, “Every baby is different, Mr. Pringle. You may be the Michael Jordan of getting your baby to sleep — but when it comes to other babies — it’s like Jordan switching to baseball.” As if on cue, a baby in the gallery erupted into full-on pterodactyl scream — Linus. Kathy immediately shot up in a feeble attempt to flee the courtroom unnoticed. “Mrs. McDonald, wait!,” yelled Judge Gifford. “I’m sorry you had to suffer through that ordeal at Dairy Queen.” “Thank you, Your Honor,” replied Kathy. Judge Gifford then smiled broadly, “Let me see that little rascal.” Kathy’s face went flush, “You want me to approach the bench?” “Oh, don’t fret, Mrs.McDonald,” the Judge replied. “I’m not one of those self-proclaimed baby whispers — I’m the real deal.”