Me: “You know what I don’t get? TWILIGHT.”
Lauren: “Oh Em Eff Ge I LOVE those books.”
Me: “How can you read them? Stephanie Meyer can’t write herself out of a paper bag?”
Lauren: “I may have also seen every movie opening night.”
Me: …sputters… (eye twitches)
Me: (googles “how to understand Twilight if you haven’t read it,” then thoughtfully erases it from the search box in case someone wandered by and accidentally saw that I’d googled anything about Twilight. Filled search box with “why is orange a color and a flavor?”)
Me: “Okay, I found something that sorta explains it to me.”
Lauren: “Is it helping?”
Me: “Not really – why does Bella love that one dude that has a shirt on?”
Lauren: “Because she’s marked for love with *swoons* Edward.”
Me: (goggles at her) “Wait, so in this land everyone has a “soulmate?”
Lauren: “Well, vampires do.”
Me: “I feel myself getting dumber.”
Me: “So I’ve thought about this whole “Twilight” thing and I realized that I’ve changed my mind.”
Me: “I figure anything that gets those cretins we call “tweens” reading and away from Justin Bieber… well, that’s a good thing. And really, there’s no reason to hate the series – I don’t want to be one of those pretentious asshats who’s all ‘lookit me, I HATE something that’s MAINSTREAM.'”
Lauren: “I’ll bring you in one of the books.”
Me: (googles “Twilight quotes” and comes across a gem about Bella, the angrily constipated protagonist, who is now bleeding from the eyes.)
Me: “So wait – Bella is now bleeding from the eyeballs?”
Lauren: “Yeah, she must be a vampire now.”
Lauren: “Vampires bleed from the eyeballs.”
Me: “You know you’re not making this decision any easier on me.”
“I was so happy to see your Mom at Alex’s concert the other day. Saw she’s using a cane now, so’s mine. She’s been falling a lot – I’ve had to go over and help her off the floor more times than I care to count. She needs a second total knee replacement now; she told me that your mom does, too. Sucks watching our parents get older, doesn’t it? Fuck, it sucks getting older – period.”
“You’ve been on your own Medical Mystery Tour – forgot to tell you: I finally had that MRI. I guess I got tired of people making the whole, “a migraine for a month is called a ‘brain tumor'” joke and figured that if I was actually dying, I should probably be aware – I’d have to plan my own funeral, after all. The test wasn’t too bad, but it was the first time I’d had to sign one of those “emergency contact” forms. I no longer had anyone to list and it felt weird. I’d actually started to fill out your information when it dawned on me – you’re no longer my person. You lose people in small ways for a long time, I guess.”
“Got the results back the other day – “bright spots and structural changes consistent with chronic migraines.” Beats the balls a brain tumor – guess Mimi and I have more in common than erms, well, everything. She’d probably agree that the only time you want to hear the term “bright spot” is when you’re talking about diamonds, not your brain – she’s my daughter, after all. The neuro seems unperturbed by this – the bright spots, not the diamonds; never talked to him about those – so I guess it’s just one of those things that happens. Still kinda scary. I try not to think on it.”
“Hope work is going great for you; I know how you love your job. My job’s going well – just got a promotion. So weird to think that all of those years ago when you told me I should “start a blog,” it would change my life. Not only did I start spewing verbal diarrhea across the Internet on Mommy Wants Vodka, I founded Band Back Together; landed a job as a writer in downtown Chicago. Thanks for the suggestion – never really did think it’d go anywhere. It’s funny – I regularly take the very same train you’d tried to unsuccessfully catch all those years. Reminds me of college: I still bitch about the “lifers” and commuters on the train – they’re still the same pricks I remember. Never did love the bustle of the city like you did, but it fills my days, and that’s what matters.”
“Glad to see you’re still using the “Good Dog” bowls I bought for the cats years ago, remember how I’d laughed at my cleverness? Miss those days. Happens, I s’pose. That reminds me, the wisteria needs a good pruning. Sorry to see that the trellis I’d put up didn’t withstand the harsh winters a bit better. It was a good experiment. Saw that you’ve got an old wasp nest on the porch, right by the nickel address sign I’d proudly picked out – the kids are so scared of bees, you may want to take care of that before it’s a problem. I can do it if you want – wait, that’d be weird. Forget I offered. The flower beds I’d planted in the front are overgrown with weeds – I’ll teach the kids how to take care of them. Bet they love the magnolia I’d planted to replace those overgrown horrifying bushes I ripped out when I realized they made us look like those creepy people who probably made lamps out of the boobs of dead hookers. Always wanted a magnolia bush. Never did get to see it bloom.”
“Feels so weird to be in an apartment after living in a home for so long. Forgotten how transient apartment living makes life feel. Always did like the idea of putting down roots somewhere – I know it wasn’t your style, but it was – still is – mine. I’ll plant another magnolia, more roses, have another orchid collection. Someday.”
“Did I tell you? I’m Marching for Babies again this year! Still looking for more people to join our team – so far it’s a couple of my work buddies. Remember the last time we did it? Mimi was barely walking, Alex was too young to go, and Ben, well, it was a long hike for him. Just a few of us walked right along the river. I remember happily pointing out my (old) apartment complex to you. Sure never thought I’d move back there. Man, that feels a lifetime ago. This year, I’m walking along the Lakefront downtown – both Alex and Mimi want to walk, but I’m torn. One hand says, Mimi is one of the reasons I walk for babies, the other reminds me that, 3 miles is particularly long for a five-year old, even if she is a miracle. Hm. Yeah. Maybe I’ll get a stroller.”
“Saw the new car in the driveway, glad you got that CR-V off your hands. I know it was a good idea to get it at the time, but it turned out to be an albatross of a thing. Alex told me that your parents got it for you – that’s really nice of them. I’m sure the new car is more gas efficient – total plus. You must be so happy about that.”
But I don’t say any of these things.
My mouth’ll form the words, but the words won’t come out.
What tumbles out is, “See you later,” as I bundle the kids out the door I once tripped through spilling my diet Coke down the hallway as laughter rang freely. I hear you say, “Yeah, whatever. She’s here. She’s just taking them for a couple hours.” Tears I can’t explain sting my eyes as I walk out the door of the house I once called home.
Because I am not only stupid, but dumb too, I can’t back down from a fight.
I tried once, but it broke my arm.
So when I started getting the hairy eyeball for daring to sit on an unoccupied chair adorned with an unused beach towel, my fake-rock bruised ass was absofuckinglutly ready for the Thunderdome. Wearily, I hummed Eye of the Tiger and was all “I know EXACTLY what roadkill feels like” as the entire row of vultures, er, people in the chairs in front of me got up, one by one, and began to form a semi-circle around one man who appeared, from my vantage point, to be as tall as he was wide. By their goat-eyed stares, I assumed they were either talking about me, or the kid in the glasses in the corded-off area behind me devouring an ice cream sundae using absolutely no silverware at all.
Honestly, I couldn’t blame the group if the kid were the target – that’s pretty impressive.
The staring contest persisted far past my comfort level, and when bordering on “abject annoyance,” my opponent made himself known. Hoisting up jean shorts purchased (assuming) deliberately in size “comically large,” he waddled over to me. Not because he was overweight; not a bit, but because his pants were so enormous they needed their own area code and walking as a normal human being would have been damn near impossible. Nevertheless, he deliberately made every attempt to appear as though he was swaggering all macho toward me, which made him seem about as hardcore as Grimace or Big Bird. It was clear he was posturing in front of his crew and all 63,027,182 children in the pool, so I let him have his moment. Clearly, waddling is hardcore work, so it took him a good few minutes to travel the twenty feet to me; the one I’d “stolen” after I’d finished my days work of mercilessly butchering baskets of fluffy kittens, insulting a wee baby piglet in rain boots, and knocking over teacups filled with incy-wincy hedgehogs.
By the time he actually reached me, he was sweating so profusely that it looked for a small moment that the tattoo across his neck said, “Booby,” instead of “Baby.” Maybe that “art” was intentional – I’m not a fucking tattoo artist. Because I am also physically incapable of making a good decision, I stood up tall and proud as he tried to squash me with his eyeballs … this time from a closer distance. What he had misjudged as he postured before his crew was something very simple: I was easily half a foot taller than him. While this may seem a moot point, I’m sad to report that I’m only 5’5″ which does not a hulking Amazonian princess make. His eyes widened as I stood – I was even taller in the heels I was wearing.
It was clear he’d not thought this through. But could he back down in front of his crew? Could he? Could he be beaten into submission by a female? I wasn’t sure and, I like to think, neither was he. He got into my face to see if the whole “personal bubble” thing would, I don’t know, knock down and cause me to whimper for sweet mercy at his flippity-flops. I’d have said, “Ha, I have kids, motherfucker. I can’t even take a poo without someone trying to clamor up onto my lap,” but it was too fucking loud to communicate.
As we sized each other up and down and back up again, his eyes began tearing, which I’d initially attributed to fear, but in hindsight, was probably due to the heavily chlorinated air, he made his decision: he could. He COULD back down. There was no place, it appeared, for a street fighting (wo)man in this waterpark. Which was just as well – I didn’t want to brawl in front of my kids.
With that sad, sad realization, shame mingled with the sweat now traveling down his pants, making him appear to have pissed himself, he did a Waddle of Shame back to his friends, but not before he grabbed the free beach towel off the back of the chair, his eyes daring me brawl over the free towel. I simply stared, undeterred.
Once he was safely back into his pack of still-glaring friends, I settled back into the tacky beach chair, eyes squarely on my kids – well, two of them – no one’s returned my call about cosmetic surgery to add a third eye. Eyes daring between the three kids, I waved at Mimi who was happily splashing in the wave pool that was, no doubt, full of the pee of a thousand diapered asses, and smiled, no idea that evil was about to hit so very close to home.Dun-dun-dunnnnnnn.
Part IV of this omfg-stop-talking-about-your-stupid-vacation-already-Becky will conclude this series. EVENTUALLY.