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It was a Friday night. It had to be a Friday night.

I know it was a Friday night because there was a big hollow place in the bottom of my stomach where my son was supposed to be. When you get pregnant, you don’t think about what’s going to happen years down the road. You think about the cute rattles and which brand of car seat and do I *really* need baby bottles when I’m going to nurse the wee bay-bee? You don’t think down the road apiece, when custody is split and parenting is a weekday thing, and what does my kid do on the weekend anyway (besides play World of Fucking Warcraft) but you can’t DO anything about it because, well, it’s not your turn to raise him.

You don’t think about that stuff. No. Not at all.

But there we were, two of the gloomiest people on the planet, trying to fill a hollow void that would remain empty until Sunday.

“Let’s grab some dinner,” Daver offered. I nodded, my heart wearing a sad face.

“Thai okay?” He asked, staring at my face intently, knowing that I probably wasn’t really okay.

“Sure,” I replied. “I love Thai food. Remind me not to get anything spicy. That shit BURNS coming back up.”

He nodded, the two of us both playing a role, our hearts not really in the game.

I waddled through the crisp January air and maneuvered myself into the passenger seat of the car, carefully buckling myself in. The moment the seatbelt hit my abdomen, my second son, another boy, began to furiously kick at it for daring to interfere with his space. I smiled a bit, rubbed my son’s head, nestled firmly in my ribcage, and said in my very best (worst) Adam Sandler voice: “He’s gonna be a soccer player.”

We both smiled a bit, each of us lost in our separate galaxy as we tried to not notice that the backseat was missing one occupant, our hands stiff and cold, as we tried to warm them against the sputtering warm air vents of our Pilot. It had been a bitter winter and there was no hint of spring on the horizon. Just dark cold days spent huddled under blankets.

We pulled up to the Thai place and I slithered out of the car, bumping my burgeoning gut on both the door and the car as I tried to maneuver my way onto the sidewalk and into the restaurant. I laughed a bit as I grabbed Daver’s hand, “Wow, it’s busy tonight,” I noted as we wandered through the front doors, “Mmm-hmmm,” Daver replied. “Glad we came when we did.”

The tiny Thai waitress who delighted in my belly every time I saw her (I learned through another waitress that the woman had been trying to get pregnant for many years) greeted us with a, “Hi there! How you doing? Table for two?”

I smiled and said yes, making my way through the maze of tables and trying not to bash someone into their Pad Thai with my belly, which I knew was no easy feat.

We made our way to a tiny cozy table against the wall, a deuce, and we sat, removing our jackets and shaking off the smell of cold. I knew what I wanted to eat, so I didn’t bother opening my menu to peruse the selections I could probably recite from heart if asked. I left the menu closed as Dave opened his, pretending he wasn’t going to order the same thing he always ordered – creatures of habit like to pretend we’re not sometimes – and I began to look around the dining room. People-watching is especially fun while at a restaurant. Maybe it’s the false sense of intimacy, I don’t know, but people tend to behave as they really are while dining out.

My eyes bounced from table to table as my son tap-danced on my bladder, making damn certain that I’d pay attention to that half-an-mL of pee currently sitting in there, until my eyes rested squarely upon another two-top who was…wait. They were both staring at ME!

She was sitting facing me, and he’d swiveled around to face me and they were both staring at me…except they weren’t really STARING so much as murdering me with their eyeballs. Four eyeballs trying to murder me.

I quickly turned my eyes back to my table. That couldn’t have really happened. I mean, I wasn’t DOING anything. It’s not like I’d come in with my pet monkey, Mr. Pinchey, and starting flinging poo around the place.

Shit, maybe I was under-dressed – I was so tired these days, I wouldn’t have put it past me to have gone out wearing a Shut Your Whore Mouth shirt, except this was before I had this blog or a shirt. No, I decided as I looked down, it wasn’t the shirt. And I’d managed to put on pants, which was a plus, so it wasn’t that my wobbly ass was hanging out.

Whew, I breathed a sigh of relief. I was appropriately dressed.

And it’s not like they could’ve known me from my other blog, Mushroom Printing. I’m pretty sure the only picture of me on that blog ever was this, which my co-blogger had put up as a representation of me:

They weren’t Internet People, so what the hell? What gives?

I felt chastised, like I’d done something wrong. The couple were still swiveled around, murdering me with their eyeballs as I tried to figure out WHY.

Finally, I whispered to Daver, “I think those people are staring at me.” Dave’s accustomed to playing the devil’s advocate, so I expected him to say something like, “they’re not staring at you murderously; they’re looking at the statue over your head and trying telekinesis.”

“WOAH,” he said, upon inspection. “What did you DO to them?”

“I have no idea,” I said, pretty shaken. I cross-indexed the Rolodex in my head to see if I could make a connection. Nope.

“I’ve never seen them before in my life,” I whispered in the crowded restaurant, now so acutely uncomfortable that I realized I was on the verge of vomiting. Everything (including air, sleep and pants) made me want to vomit, so this was an unsurprising reaction.

I dashed off to the bathroom to heave as Daver ordered for us.

I stood in front of the mirror as I washed my face, making sure my nose wasn’t bleeding and that I hadn’t gone out accidentally wearing a Swastika or something. I sturdied my legs which were quivering beneath me, ready to face this couple. I was going to find out why the hell they wanted to ruin my dinner. Maybe it was a case of mistaken identity that could be cleared up over some spring rolls or something.

Taking a deep breath, I marched back out into the dining room, veering sharply to the right to confront them.

They were gone.

And they took with them the answers to a puzzle I’ve been replaying in my head for years. I cannot, for the life of me, understand what had happened that night.

Six years later, I’m still confused. I still wonder what had happened to that couple; what made them so full of hate.

I’ll probably never know.

—————–

Has anything like this happened to you, Pranksters?

Depending upon who you talk to, I’m either the most organized or the least organized person this side of the Mississippi. If I’ve got the time, space, and energy, you’ll happily find me (on my days off) organizing shit, making it more efficient and reducing clutter. If I don’t? Well, I’m sure The Guy on My Couch or The Daver will cheerfully explain all the ways in which I am *not* organized.

It’s a good damn thing I know how to lock them out of the back end (snort) of my blog.

Anyway, by comparison, I look like (insert name of professional organizer here) compared to Daver. Looking for something on his desk is like going on an archeology expedition. Oh! Wow! There’s that stapler that’s needed staples for 4 years. And holy shit! I think this coffee cup holds a cure for the flu! And that thing I’d asked him to return – guess that’s not going back!

If you think I’m ragging on The Daver, let me tell you a little story. Gather ’round, Pranksters, because this is a good’n.

I was packing up our condo in order to move Dave for the third time in two years. He’s magically gotten a “headache” every time anyone has to put shit in boxes, leaving me and whomever else I can con into helping lug my crap around.

I’d gotten to his “office” which was really just a room with a computer that the cats peed in. The room, not the computer. The floor was, as usual, covered in paper. Daver has this thing about paper – he never knows what to recycle or get rid of so he just…keeps it. It’s not like he’s a hoarder. Not once did I see him yell, “BUT THEMS BE MAH PRECIOUS THAAAAANNNNGS,” as I removed his precious box of VHS tapes (we had no VCR) or his books of bad poetry, when I’d get down and dirty with the cleaning.

While I’d prefer to give you the mental picture of me strong-arming Daver away from a box of miscellaneous cords, yelling, “THIS IS AN INTERVENTION. LOOK AT WHAT YOU’VE BECOME – TAKE A LOOK IN THE MIRROR.”

Dave happened to be out at work when I made this particularly awesome discovery in the cat pee room/office floor, which was probably for the best, considering I spent the next twenty (two hundred) minutes sitting on our couch, staring at it, while a much younger Ben sat on the couch watching the same Sesame Street DVD over and over again (thanks to autism, I can’t even SEE an Elmo without breaking out into a cold sweat).

It was….mesmerizing – like one of those weird picture within a picture things I can never see because I’m colorblind and possibly brain-damaged.

Pranksters, I wish I had a snap to show you, but I did end up throwing it away well before I began blogging here at Mommy Wants Vodka.

What had been so sacred, so important, so revered, was a simple slip of paper. A simple slip of paper from Target. A simple slip of paper from Target detailing items Dave had, himself, purchased before we began dating, some three years prior. What, I can almost hear you ask, the hell was on this slip of paper that Dave deemed it so important as to not only keep, but MOVE three times?

In November of (counts on Fingers) 2001, Dave had bought himself a bin of kitty litter.

Now, I know what you’re thinking – why bother with kitty litter when the cats just piss all over the place anyway? The answer is, I don’t know Perhaps, Dave used it himself. Maybe he had an oil spill or really liked to hunker down and squat over a kitty shitter to evacuate his bowels. I don’t know. I didn’t ask.

And I’m damn sorry I didn’t keep the thing. I’d have framed it, like I framed the check I got from BlogHer for .01.

Sometimes, we must celebrate how ludicrous life can be.

Anyway, biology be damned, Little Ben seems to take after The Daver in more than just personality. My father, to give you an idea of the genetic soup I rose from, is the most organized person on the planet. His books are arranged on the bookshelves using the Dewey Decimal System (is that still around? I CAN’T BE SURE).

So I assumed some of this would rub off on my kid. I mean, if you tell me, “Hey, AB, go rearrange your blogroll to meet these arbitrary criteria,” I’d be halfway done before I asked myself WHY I was doing such a task. I may not be the most organized person on the planet, but I can follow directions like BOOM.

My firstborn, on the other hand, would be asked to go and clean his room, figuring that this was enough direction for a child who had my father’s genetics somewhere in his body.

I’d go and check on him a half an hour later and find that he’d carefully, painstakingly pulled out each of his Lego kits and had rearranged them to match whatever the instructional booklet showed.

 

Sorta like that, but less Star Wars-y.

His floor would be covered in miniature stacks of carefully laid out Legos while the rest of his bedroom appeared to have been subject to a very tiny tornado.

It was then that I realized my son would need some help with organizational skills. But how? When the kid is such a perfectionist that he has to fold and refold a shirt 26 times OR shove all of his clothes into one drawer, what do you do? I mean, he’s too young for a professional organizer…right?

Anyway.

Organization in school has been an issue with him for oh, I don’t know (counts on fingers) six years? I’ve tried differing systems with him – he gets too bogged down with making sure things like, “wipe ass” are on there. I’ve tried buying him a calendar-type planner so he can see what’s coming up in the future. I’ve bought him dozens of watches in the hope that if he had them, he’d be able to tell time and get his ass home in time for dinner.

The watches were gone within a few days. The planner was gone too.

Which is why, when he was invited into a program in Middle School called “AVID,” I was thrilled. It was a whole college-prep class about organization, note taking skills, and shit, I half-way wanted to sign up for it. Happily, Ben signed up for it, knowing as well as I that organization will always be a struggle for him. It made me feel a HELL of a lot better about sending the kid to middle school.

And then. And how. And why.

*sighs*

I got a letter from the vice-principal of the middle school. Due to lack of interest, the program won’t be offered this year.

When I stop weeping, I’ll let you know.

P.S. I know my site looks janked up – I updated to the newest WordPress and it took a shit on me. THIS IS WHY WE CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS, WORDPRESS.

P.P.S. While at the time, I wept and shook my fists at the sky, I think I’m going to see this as an omen that I need a new site design.

P.P.P.S. Randomly, what’s an Amazon Affiliate? I’ve heard that phrase no less than three times in the past 24 hours but have NO idea what that means.

Go Ask Aunt Becky is a purely useless advice column I’ve been running for years (although I’ve been on a recent hiatus). You ask me a question – I try to find you a better answer than “pants are bullshit.” You may always submit your questions through the link at the top. Be warned, I am not a professional – I don’t even play one on TV. (insert more disclaimers)

Driver does not carry cash.

—————-

Dear Aunt Becky,

I so need your help and advice.

I was being sexually harassed at work.. This man stopped once other people were aware of the situation.

But my company? Made me work with him him. I walked into work yesterday, saw him, had a massive panic attack. 911 was called, and I ended up in the ER.

I LOVE my boss but the company is not looking for me. I’m so worried about losing my job. I am so lost.

At this point, I actuality want to kill myself.

Help, Aunt Becky!

———

Dear Prankster,

This is bullshit! I wanna punch this fucker in the gonads (assuming, of course, that he has any, which I’m beginning to doubt.

Please, don’t ever consider suicide as an option – what suicide leaves behind…well, let’s not go there.

If you are truly feeling suicidal, please call, 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to talk to a counselor at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

Also, please visit Band Back Together’s Suicide Resources - we have a lot of help over there.

That said, I know people. People who know people. And I spoke to my anonymous friend (not to be confused with Anonymous) about your situation. This is what my anonymous friend suggested:

It sounds as though you’ve reported it to the company and so the harassment has stopped. According to most states, that’s all that is required by law. As long as the behavior does not continue, the company may not be required to move one of you to another position. However, if it is considered to be a hostile work environment (and it certainly sounds like it is) then the company is required to take action. 
 
Go straight back to HR and file another report. It is federal law that retaliation harassment or termination is illegal. They cannot legally fire you for reporting a hostile work environment even though the initial harassment has ceased. 
 
At this point it will be viewed as your comfort based on his past actions. By law he cannot continue to be punished by the company for past actions that have been dealt with and have ceased. It may mean they will move YOU to another position because he has ceased what is deemed inappropriate actions. Depending on where you work, this could mean a job description change if they can’t simply relocate your desk. But if it means keeping a job and gaining a level of comfort back, a job description change is a small compromise.
 
If I misunderstood and you haven’t filed a formal complaint with HR, do so now. There is typically no set timeframe for reporting harassment in the workplace. Even if the actions have ceased, it still occurred and has residual hostility that you feel when working with him. They will launch a formal investigation and may interview coworkers who are knowledgeable on the situation.
 
Best of luck! And know that the law is on your side. If you have to, get a lawyer who specializes in employment law. You can also ask HR if they use an Employment Assistance Program (EAP) which can help you find a therapist to deal with these emotions, and help you find a lawyer as well. EAPs are free programs to employees. 

Prankster, I sincerely hope this helps. And remember, we are none of us alone.

————-

Other Pranksters, do you have any suggestions for this writer?

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