Thank You, Lady I’ve Never Met Before

Thank you, lady I’ve never met, for saying my baby is cute. I think so, too. Yes m’am, I agree, babies are really wonderful. Oh. We’re going to be chatting for a bit, aren’t we?

Sure, you can touch her toes and then say “Tell Mommy she needs to put some socks on you- your toesies is cold! Yes they are! Say, My toesies is cold Mama!”. It’s seventy degrees outside, though, so I’m going to act like I didn’t hear you, new friend.

You’re right, she is chubby, isn’t she? It’s okay to say it. You don’t have to whisper. You won’t hurt her feelings because she doesn’t understand your words. She’s, like, a baby.

Why yes, I AM breastfeeding. You’re inquiring if my breasts contain milk. That is not weird at all. I’m tempted to ask you if you still menstruate but I understand boundaries.

No, she’s not our first child but our seventh, in fact. I can tell by the way your eyes widened to approximately the size of manhole covers that you find this shocking. You even take a step back and then steady yourself on your shopping cart. If I hadn’t spoken the words myself, I would almost think that I just informed you that I am married to a man-goat and that we are raising our children on a hearty diet of devil worship and meth.

I mean, since you asked, yes, we did know what we were getting ourselves into. Hahahahaha! How about you, though? When you chose that dingy-ass seasonal sweatshirt emblazoned with a cornucopia outlined in orange puffy glitter glue and spilling its bounty of grapes,clementines, leaves and whatever the fuck else all across your bosom. Did YOU realize what you were getting yourself into? I’m asking because that shit is fugly. Maybe you have progressive glaucoma and can’t really tell what you’re pulling out of your closet. Maybe one of your kids made it for you and you can’t bear to not wear it, at least once, during every Thanksgiving season since ’82. I don’t know. I’m grasping at straws here, lady. I want to suggest that you cut it up and re-purpose it as dust cloths or perhaps a cozy cushion for your cat’s window perch (I’d bet money that you have 15 cats) but I don’t because I have remarkable restraint- except for procreation, amIright?

Okay, well, looks like your groceries are all bagged up and ready to go. I do appreciate your offer of the Charmin coupon you didn’t end up using (Haha! You are SO right! We DO use a lot of toilet paper!), but I’m all set. We love trees and the Earth and mostly use or hands or the shower curtain for all our wiping needs.

But, hell, give me that applique sweatshirt and we’ll have us some recycled, washable butt wipes.That’s a win for both of us.

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Just When I Needed You Most

****Originally published 11/22/2014 (Edited and updated 11/10/2015)****

We start getting all sentimental this time of year, don’t we? Taking stock, counting blessings, giving thanks. Slowing down to recognize and appreciate friends, family, employment, good health, and society finally accepting that leggings are pants (because they are, dammit). I’m adding an unexpected but undeniably valuable item to my ‘thankful list’ this year.

Recently, I was presented with the unlikely opportunity to recognize a bodily reaction that many of us take for granted. It is readily available in times of fear, surprise, excitement, spicy foods, and yet we rarely speak of it.

I drove over to my best friend’s house to drop off something on her porch. They have this grey cat, Lola, who likes to hang out just behind the bushes in front of their porch. Oftentimes, as I walk down the pathway leading to Nikki’s home, Lola will saunter out of the shrubbery and escort me to the door.

On this occasion I heard the familiar rustling of leaves to the left of the walkway. I expected to see chill, slow moving Lola emerge from her hiding place and join me for the next 20 steps. I was not at all alarmed, but already leaning forward, preparing to squat down to pet the cat.

Instead, an ordinary grey squirrel shot out of the bushes like a furry bullet. He was traveling at approximately 2,500 mph and his trajectory was across the top of my my foot. Did you hear me? ACROSS my foot. Like, his clawed-ass feet met with the top of my boot. There was a quick scratching noise against the leather and then he was gone.

I reacted, in what I assume looked to the neighbor standing in her yard, like I was preforming my own version of River Dance with spastic wild abandon and while hopped up on meth. My knees met my chest over and over again as my feet stomped against the concrete in what sounded almost like a deliberate pattern. I pulled my arms in, bent and with fists clenched, close to my rib cage. A blood curdling “Motherfuckerrrrrr!” flew from my lips. Birds that had been resting in the trees above fled from the scene as if I’d just fired a shotgun into the air in a quiet meadow.

Squirrel was long up a tree by the time I realized I was still doing an awkward defense tap dance. After what seemed like a solid five minutes of involuntary jogging in place, I was calm enough to continue my walk to the porch.

The furtive attack left me shaking and unnerved but then, ultimately, relieved and aware of something I’ve always taken for granted: I am ever grateful for a fully functioning and swiftly reactive anal muscle clench. The ass sphincter deserves recognition and praise. No longer should it be spoken of in hushed tones. Let us discuss it freely around the family dinner table and in staff meetings. When we greet one another we should ask “How are you?” and then “All well with your clench?”. Weird Al should maybe write a song about it. “In the Still of the Tight” would be a fun title.

Had that muscle failed me, I’d have absolutely shit my pants. Actual dookie traveling down one or both pant legs. What then? The neighbor would’ve have seen me go from random public tap dance to walking all stiff-legged like Frankenstein’s monster toward the front door. I’d have had to ask Nikki if I could take a shower and borrow clothes and to please ignore the odor. I’d have been late to pick up the little kids from preschool. I’d have had to explain: “I’m so sorry I’m late- an asshole squirrel launched a blitzkrieg across the top of my foot. See, I thought it was my friend’s cat, Lola, but it wasn’t so then I shit myself. Obviously, I had to shower and change clothes and all. I would like to say that it won’t happen again but how the hell do I know? Who knew squirrels were such shifty-ass mofos? Not me. Not until today.”

It’s simple, really. As this holiday season approaches, while we’re all considering our lives; where we’ve been, where we’re going, what we value, maybe give a little thought to your anal muscle. Its rapid response to an unexpected adrenaline dump could save you from taking a different type of dump right in the middle of the mall food court. That muscle- quiet, unseen and modest- doesn’t ask for much (muscles can’t talk) yet, aside from the heart, could possibly be the most important bit of soft tissue in our bodies.

It is here that I’d like to publicly thank my own anal muscle:

Thank you, sphincter. Your clench is unwavering. You were there just when I needed you most. I vow to never, ever take you for granted again. You are important. You matter. You saved my pants.

Love in the Time of Neck Hair

My husband, Garrett, is a strong man- physically, mentally, and emotionally solid. He’s stoic and steadfast. He’s not overly animated when telling a story or explaining whatever the hell.

Let our two-year-old find a rogue hair growing out of the back of his neck, twirl it around her bony little finger then yank it, though, and he drops to his knees like he’s just been bitten on the left nut by a rabid meth squirrel.

Me: “What happened?”

Garrett: “Your daughter just did some kind of Vulcan nerve pinch or some shit. What the hell? Is there a hair back there or something?”

Me: “There is! It’s a renegade old man hair… want me to pull it out?”

Garrett: “Yeah but get it out on the first try- it seems to be attached to my soul and every pain receptor in my body.”

And although the sadist in me toyed with the idea of not plucking it as aggressively as I would need to in order to free him of his follicular nemesis, I was efficient and relentless in my attack.

And that restraint I, friends, is how you know you truly love someone.

(Also, I made a mental note of the coordinates of the hair’s location. I mean, hair grows back, he’s bound to piss me off at some point, and I need a reliable, surprise weapon. I love the guy but shit happens and I’m a realist.)

Call of Doody

Have you ever walked into a public restroom and discovered something so vile and offensive that you just cannot even so you turn to briskly walk/run out the door, being mindful not to touch anything and to maybe hold your breath until you’ve safely exited the room of odiousness and in your haste you glance over at the mirror and you see the look of utter horror on your face and you think to yourself “So THAT’s what I look like when I walk into a Target bathroom, open a stall door and see that someone defecated and then seemingly attempted to wipe their ass- not with the ample toilet paper provided, the end of which is hanging in plain view from the bottom of the dispenser, but with the actual toilet seat, front of the toilet bowl and a little bit of the stall wall.”

Then your mind starts manufacturing possible scenarios: I wonder wtf happened in here. Did someone just have an accident? Did they try to clean up their shit but then the mess got worse and worse until they said “F*ck it, I tried. Not my job to clean my own defecation when it happened in a public restroom. Is this someone’s, like, “thing” you know, to shit on every conceivable surface in the Target bathroom stall? Is there a shit bandit on the loose? I’d expect something like this in WalMart, wouldn’t think twice about it, in fact, but my beloved Target? No. I HAVE to tell someone.

So you go to customer service and you’re all “Hi, yeah, ummmm…I just wanted to let you know that something really, very bad happened in the first stall in the ladies restroom. Not, like, a murder or an abandoned baby or anything, but whichever of your unfortunate employees is charged with bathroom duty (ha! duty) today will probably want to suit up in a something akin to what hospital workers wear when dealing with an Ebola patient or that flesh eating bacteria- what’s it called? Necrotizing something or other?- Anyway, I just thought you should know beacuse it’s not a good situation in there. It’s appalling, actually. Hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend and, as always, God bless Target!” And then you maybe salute a little bit, just a general salute to or at nothing in particular, before you drink and bathe in hand sanitizer (the UP and UP brand, naturally).

Hmmm? Has that ever happened to you guys?

The Stitch

In the grocery store this week:

Older Lady (acknowledging my pregnancy): “When are you due, dear?”

Me: “Sometime in July.”

Older Lady: “Oh you don’t want to tell me an exact date? I understand- you can never be too careful.”

Me: “Oh, no M’am, it’s not that- I’m just not exactly sure. It’ll be a c-section and will be scheduled, I’m just not sure of when in July, really.”

Older Lady: “A c-section- will this be your first one of those?”

Me: “No, it’ll be the seventh.”

Older Lady: “Oh so you never got the benefit of the ‘extra stitch?'”

Me: “I guess not…what’s that?”

Older lady: “Well, after I delivered my son, and this was 40-odd years ago, the doctor turned to my husband and asked “Do you want me to tighten ‘er up for ya?” My husband wasn’t sure what he was asking so he said “What do you mean, doc?” And the doctor says “I can put an extra stitch in here- she’ll be just like a virgin again.” So my husband says “Stitch away, doc!” And I’ll tell ya- I never once regretted getting my cooch tightened up. It really spiced things up for us. Yours should still be nice and tight, though.”

Me (slow blinking): “Yes M’am…uh….I’ve had no complaints, I guess.”

Older Lady: “I hope everything goes well for you, dear.”

Me: “Thank you! This conversation was the highlight of my day!”

Older Lady: “Me too, dear.(Smiles and winks) Brought back some good memories.”

Two things: I pray that old people never stop sharing their stories with me AND I’ll be reminding Garrett what a gift all of these c-sections have been to him. You’re welcome, Garrett.

It Was Not My Favorite Way to Start the Day

Being six months pregnant now, sometimes I pee a little bit when I sneeze. It’s just one of the attractive and uncontrollable side effects of growing a human being all up in your uterus. Piss happens.

There is the occasion, though, when out of the clear blue, while your hands are full carrying a robot lunchbox, a sippy cup (actively dripping chocolate almond milk down your knuckles), a threadbare kitten stuffed animal and a toddler on your hip, that a lizard might fall from a great height and land in your hair.

You’ll likely find yourself rapidly dropping everything that you were just holding- including your toddler who doesn’t want to be put down so she holds on tightly to the collar of your shirt, exposing your boob to the world all around you, but you can’t really do anything about that right now because that lizard is stuck in your hair and is struggling mightily to find a way out but as it kicks and wiggles, it winds itself into a cocoon-like structure made out of human hair-YOUR human hair!

And then, holy shit, you can FEEL its wee legs against your neck and your boob is still hanging out of the neck of your shirt and your toddler has no idea that there’s a lizard in a desperate fight for its life in a tangle of YOUR hair and so continues to wail and flail and you don’t want her get a concussion because you’ve got shit to do today oh, and you’d be sad if she got hurt, of course, so you hold onto her all sideways-like so she doesn’t crank her head on the driveway which leaves one hand free to try to get the asshole lizard out of YOUR hair and then suddenly he’s released from his hair prison and off he goes, into the jungle of your front yard and just like that, the entire, traumatic 15 second event is over and you stand up, situate your boob back into your shirt, trek back inside to change your undies, drop off your kids at preschool and then run your damn errands- shaken and running late, but no lizard attack will keep you from Target.

Anyway, something like that might make you pee a little bit too. Just a heads up.