Orange crush.

As I sat outside last night, watching untitledson and the neighbor kid perform dive bombs into a kiddie pool, I thought to myself that it was never this hot when I was a kid. Heat is my kryptonite. Maybe after years spent in the a/c, I have permanently damaged my molecular structure and I’m now incapable of withstanding even the slightest uptick in temperature. Or maybe I’m just a wuss.

I wonder how anyone survived in heat like this before the days of air conditioning. What if I had been born in, let’s say, Laura Ingalls Wilder days. I would’ve been one grumpy bitch in my bonnet and prairie boots. Why, I bet this is why Mary went blind. Maybe she saw Half Pint soaking her snatch by the banks of Plum Creek. See, there is nothing good that can come from this heat, people.

When I was I kid, I remember going to the pool from 1-5 pm, and then back from 7-9 pm every single day of the summer. My hair was white, my skin was brown, and my swimsuit was in a perpetual state of fade. The pool was a block from my house, but it always felt like those cool blue waters were a million miles away.

It was in that pool that I finally learned how to do a flip off the diving board, after what had to have been hundreds of back flops. Then someone told me to pretend like you’re doing a somersault. I could hardly believe it. All the lifeguards cheered — even the cool one who had corn rows in her hair like Bo Derek. From that moment, I knew the pool made everything possible. At the pool, everyone was allowed to play freeze tag — even the dirt bags, who earned equal standing compliments of the chlorinated water.

I’d see the older girls changing in the dressing rooms and wonder what that stuff was between their legs. How gross, I thought as I tried not to stare. I hoped that I’d never grow up and have to deal with the likes of that. These were the days before SPF, and nothing smelled sweeter than Hawaiian Tropic — save for the strawberry scented Suave shampoo that so many of the girls washed their hair with in the showers before leaving for the day.

Once every couple of weeks, I would find a quarter at home in between the sofa cushions or on my Dad’s night stand. I’d stash it away in my plastic coin purse — the one I got from the bank that looked like a red lemon. Looking back, I’d say it more resembled a vagina, and I wondered what the old men who worked at the bank were thinking as they handed them out to little boys and girls. Any quarters I found I would save for the rare post-swim pop.

With my hair combed back and my skin tight from the chlorine and sun, I’d tie my towel around my waist, slip on my black flip flops, and weave my way through the crowd of hooligans who had gathered around the machines as they always did at this time. The quarter in my hand meant I had business to tend to, and I was invincible to their taunts. I’d drop a coin into the machine and wait for my Orange Crush to make its way through the surly catacombs. It seemed like forever, the time it took for my pop to make its descent.

In the background, boys in jacked-up cars would cruise by with the likes of Loverboy or Tom Petty escaping from their open windows, providing the official soundtrack for summer. They would wait for the lifguards to get off duty, and would squeal away with them into the night. I wondered where the lifeguards went and what they did, and I was always relieved to see them the next afternoon.

Sometimes, I’d bring my pop home, lay out my beach towel on the sofa and sit there next to Mom — close enough where she could reach out from time to time and stroke my hair. We’d sit there together in silence, watching Charlie’s Angels or Hart to Hart as the sun went down. Summer afforded a kid such luxuries. I felt such love for her then, as she did me. Sometimes I wonder where that love has gone, and I ache for those golden moments where I was her little girl and she was the grown-up — without the faults or shortcomings I resent her for now. I guess they are gone forever — along with 25-cent pops and shoes called thongs.

The dance.

I joined Weight Watchers about four months ago, and lost a total of 13 pounds before¬ deciding my points journal made an awesome coaster for my afternoon pop. Those were 13 long hard pounds, and it was pissing in the¬ ocean when you consider that I have 100+ pounds to shed. I think this is one of the reasons it’s so hard for big people like me to lose weight — the mountain is so high, so unclimbable. It’s like cutting the grass on a football field¬ with a nail clippers.

The feeling I get before I binge is what I can only imagine is the same ravenous, consuming¬ desperation that a junkie feels before shooting up. It’s like the whole world melts away, and the only thing¬ I see in my crosshairs is food. Snickers. Ding Dongs. French fries. Before I can finish my timesheet, before I can¬ concept that print ad, I must¬ soothe the beast. It won’t¬ loosen its¬ unrepentant grip until it has been fed.

And so I eat. And eat. And eat some more, until the food expands, stretches and strains my gut.¬ I feel guilty, powerless, low. Yet I am calm. I’ll be damned if I don’t¬ feel¬ at peace.¬ I am fulfilled and complete. I lie in¬ the wake,¬ a bit dazed by the frenzy that has come to pass.¬

This is the torment that washes over my brain once, sometimes twice, a day. But¬ I must function,¬ I must put up the front. I must¬ bury¬ these thoughts in a hastily dug trench, along with¬ my awkwardness and my shame. For when you are fat, or obese as they say, you must be smarter, funnier and more pulled together than¬ everyone else in the room. You cannot risk appearing slovenly or gluttonous, because that is what they expect of you.¬

If I starch a crisp line into my khakis and maintain a perfect french manicure, will¬ you not notice how my thighs billow out from the steely borders of the conference room chairs?¬ How could you not. I see the¬ disgust in your eyes as they sweep up and down me. And so I dance, hoping my jazz hands will divert your attention from the dark storyline unfolding behind the curtain. The show must go on.¬



Rascal Fatts.

Talking to untitledmother this morning, I find out that she has signed up for Meals on Wheels (elderly nutrition program designed to feed anyone over 60 of limited financial needs or physical/mental capacity). She pays them $2.50 per meal, and they deliver lunch to her work every day.¬ “So what are the qualifications for a program like this?” I ask, a bit puzzled by this revelation. When I think of Meals on Wheels, I imagine a malnourished 80 year-old woman opening her home’s front door. She balances her lunch tray on the top of her scooter as she makes her way back to her kitchen table. She says grace, thanking god for the food. She’s happy she won’t have to eat cat food for the second time today, for it gives her the wicked shits and hemorrhoids that drape like jungle vines.¬

“You just need to be a senior citizen,” untitledmother replies, chomping on her kill, chicken ala king, in between sentences. She’s 64 years old, so you’d better believe that she’s card-carrying and ready for her discounts. “This way, I get one good meal each day during the week.”

One good meal each day? I’m trying to recall here‚Ķ when has untitledmother EVER been a stranger to a good meal? She eats breakfast, lunch and dinner out every single day. She keeps a can of Spanish peanuts in the drawer of her living room end table and a Snickers bar in her purse, you know, just in case. She’s not even five feet tall, and she’s about 130 pounds overweight. Take a moment and visualize that, people.

She hires someone to mow her lawn and scoop her snow. She hires someone to clean her house. The only thing she has to do is her own laundry (which isn’t often, due to the sheer volume of her wardrobe) and bathe herself (which again, isn’t often). When your hair is so greasy that it stands up like a row of soldiers at the nape of your neck, it’s time to wash. She is clueless as to what’s going on in the back 40, because that would require using a hand mirror. Again, extra effort.

I said to her, “Mom, if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it.” But I don’t think she cares. My perception of Meals on Wheels was food for homebound people who would otherwise starve. I had no idea it was intended to be a crutch for those too lazy to lift a butter knife or nuke a bag of popcorn.

I think the true motivation for untitledmother is 1) Meals on Wheels is cheap, so it frees up money for her shopping and fake nails addictions, and 2) it’s easier to sit on your ass and wait for your food to magically appear than it is to walk a half a block and a flight of stairs to the nearest greasy spoon.

I am just beside myself with shame over this woman. Her selfishness. Her laziness. Her greed. Her gluttony. untitledhusband tells me that I need to work on seeing the good points in people, and quit dwelling on the things I cannot change. I suppose he’s right. But every time I reach a more zen-like state, someone in the family has to go and do something stupid. I suppose eventually, untitledmother will install a pneumatic tube in her house, so she can poop without leaving couch.

Space invaders.

Having potential homebuyers walk through your home is such a surreal experience. You pretend not to care, eating boneless buffalo wings at Chili’s, trying to keep your son from inserting the complimentary crayons up his nose. As I reflect on his “terrible two’s” and his “yes, it gets worse three’s,” I realize it must’ve been a parent who wrote those now infamous words “I want my babyback babyback babyback…”

To break up the monotony, we sometimes forego Chili’s and hop into the earthfucker for a little suburban recon. We park a few blocks away, so as to witness the intruders and size up their worthiness. As we sit there, surveilling our potential buyers, untitledhusband brings his laptop and tries to hook into a rogue wireless Internet patch. God forbid he’s without digital dialysis for more than 30 minutes. As I try to make sense of the man’s Hawaiian shirt (Parrothead, maybe?) and the woman’s sandals (Borns, or Payless knock-offs?), questions start bubbling to the surface.

Did the filthy motherfuckers take off their shoes?

Did they notice my bathroom ceiling paint job in which one little area is a shade whiter than the rest? Or how about the dent in the bathroom door, which I tried to mask with a Formby’s wood stain pen and a subtle trompe l’oeil effect?

Did they take one look in untitledson’s closet and wonder why, nestled in between his wind-up lullaby lamb and Duplo blocks was, of all things, an Afro wig?

Upon testing the garage door opener, did they sense the ghost of untitledfather, who bought and installed it for us as a housewarming gift? It was to be the last thing he ever gave to me.

After touring our bathroom, did they realize that yes, they were witnessing the masterworks of the Queen of Caulk (a title which untitledhusband says I shouldn’t say too loudly).

What did they think of the Box of Bastard Gifts stowed away in the guest bedroom closet? What merciless bastards we must be to not display the prairie-style pillow with our wedding photo ironed onto it, or the framed leather artwork featuring an embossed rose and words that say “Sometimes I reach out to touch the thought of you.”

When walking the hallway between the master bedroom and untitledson’s bedroom, did they feel their emotions shift from exhaustion to resentment to sweet contentment, just as mine did whenever untitledson would wake me at 2 a.m. for his feedings?

Did they open my nightside table drawer and find my precious Fukuoku? Were they disgusted? Confused? Jealous?

Did they feel that blurred, numbing rush as they stood in the same place where untitledhusband and I decided to separate and two months later, work things out?

Did they step on the one stealth pile of petrified dog poop in the backyard — the one that always evades untitledhusband’s merciless pooper scooper?

In my heart, I am a private soul (aside from this whole blog and all). I don’t like it when people get all up in my business, examining my home, deeming it worthy of purchase or passing. I curse them and welcome them, all at the same time. Yes, I want my new house. But I want whomever takes possession of this house, our home, to treat it well. Respect it. Don’t forget to water the grass – it’s very persnickety and wouldn’t think twice about turning on you during a two-day dry spell. Don’t wear your shoes on the white carpet. Spot Shot can only do so much. Don’t paint over the firetruck mural in untitledson’s bedroom. We painted it at a time when we thought we’d be able to use his crib for our second child, too. But most importantly, do the decent thing and offer us our asking price, bitches.

Natural selection.

Where I work, the women’s bathroom has three stalls. As I enter the bathroom, the question always arises — which stall shall I choose? I could take the oversized handicapped stall,¬ which gets marks¬ for its thoughtful leg room and comfy arm rests. Or, shall I be¬ considerate and¬ opt for the smaller stall on the right? I can’t help but think that the middle stall (also smallish) is the way to go, for its seat sees only a modicum of assage. I say this, because I have spent an embarassing amount of time logicizing it. I deduce that the middle stall would be the cleanest, for no one would¬ use it, unless the others were full. Taking it would mean that at any given time, you could sitting mere inches away from someone else with their pants at their ankles. It would be akin to entering an elevator and standing right next to one other person in there.

I wonder if everyone else goes through this littany of questions as they enter the bathroom. I have issues with public bathrooms — I have had them since childhood. Whenever the opportunity presents itself, untitledmother takes great pleasure in recounting the time when I held my poop for five days when I was a kid,¬ because I¬ didn’t want to¬ unload in someone else’s toilet while we were on vacation.

As I’ve grown older, I have become accustomed to pooping in public restrooms. But you can be damn well sure that I have the common decency to hold it until no one else is in the room. I don’t care if my brow is sweating and my o-ring is quivering like a whore in church. I simply do not poop in the company of others. I mean, what if I happen to unleash holy hell from my nether regions, and¬ the sound¬ of “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” comes chortling out of my blowhole? You just know that¬ my stallmates would look under the dividers, compelled by that same shameful curiousity that keeps¬ one watching the horseplay addicts on HBO’s “Real Sex” series, and see my shoes there. Oh, the horror.

Thank god not everyone¬ is like this. Take untitledbrother-in-law, for example. He would gladly drive 20 miles¬ out of his¬ way just to¬ poop in our toilet. And if he’s able to clog it or god forbid, leave behind some racing stripes, well then, all the better. I’m not sure if this is an exercise in¬ demarkation, or if¬ there is some strange magnetic force surrounding our home that¬ pushes the poop out of him like a sausage press. I just find it odd that whenever he is here, it happens. He probably has no idea that I’m taking mental notes. But given my history with toilets, I notice these things. Does this make me strange? Probably no stranger than untitledhusband, who gets hard from the mere smell of electronics and the sensation of the Tivo remote in his hand.