Sunday, March 23, 2014

An Argument* Between Body Parts (*contains bad language)

Conversation between my Mouth and my Guts (digestive system, not bravery.)

Scene: Me at an open fridge. The moment of reckoning for the average American.

My MouthSweet! There’s still cream cheese in the fridge.

My GutsWait! Before you start champing at the bit, don’t forget you’ve been throwing dairy at me for 3 days now and quite frankly, I cannot tolerate it any longer.

My MouthYeah I know. You’ve been grumbling, getting all twisted up and then popping off at me from day one.

My GutsBut you won’t listen. You’re not the one who has to try and break lactose down. I don’t even have the proper enzymes. You know that!

My Mouth: Don’t worry about it, babe. You can handle it.

My GutsYou’re being a selfish asshole, Mouth.  Remember when you gave me acid reflux from shoveling down jalapeƱos, day after day, and you told me to “just deal with it?” And it’s one thing when you’re only hurting us, but half of the whole body had to sleep sitting upright! Do you remember that?!

My MouthAs the professional mouth here, I’m going to have to ask you to shut the fuck up, Guts. Did you ever think maybe Dairy isn’t the one being an intolerant dick?

Announcer’s Voice: And it’s MOUTH for the win!

My Guts: (grumbling) Just wait ‘till he hears what the Butt is going to say about this...

The end.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Some Truths are as Plain as the Writing on the T-shirt

A two-act mini-play 

In this episode, Dad visits a veteran’s support group for the first time.
Act 1:
Scene: Small conference room with circle of 7 to 8 plastic chairs, coffee machine, positive affirmation posters. Three men already seated. Dad enters and takes a seat followed by introductions.
( Older man with beard explains why he comes to the group, concluding)
Older man: … after 20 years as a nurse it just got to me. All the dying, and blood, and killing; it got to the point where I had to retire early. I just couldn’t take it anymore.
Dad looks at older man’s face, and then looks at man’s t-shirt. T-shirt reads in large print: I will kill you. Dad looks back at man’s face.
Dad: You know, your mouth is saying one thing but your shirt is saying something else. As a veteran of war, I think your shirt is offensive.

Act 2:
Scene: Home. Dad talking on phone. I’m washing hands in the kitchen.
Dad:  …okay than, I’ll give him a call.
(Dad hangs up phone, clearly looks like he wants to say something.)
Me: Yeah, so what was that?
Dad: I went to a Veteran’s group and the other guys called the therapist to tell him I don’t fit in.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

No Kids Allowed

When I decided I wanted to write a column I made the mistake of asking on Facebook if anyone would read a column about a single, childless woman in her 30’s. It was a mistake only because I offered a lousy, base description of what this blog would be all about.

One concern I received from my semi-public Facebook announcement was that I, as a swinging single, might be inclined to speak negatively on marriage or raising children. Sure, I could proudly state that I am secure being alone; that I don’t need a man rescue me; and bearing children in an overpopulated world is an act of ego and not of love. I’ve come across plenty of commentaries criticizing “breeders,”  “stage moms,” and the single parents who work long hours while others are left to raise their latch-key kids. In reality I don’t know shit about parenting or marriage and hope to avoid both for the immediate future. But the topic of family always creeps up; even in the minds of the most devoutly single.

Recently I was having lunch in downtown Bakersfield with a favored (and rather attractive) friend. His relationship stats are nearly identical to mine: 30-something; divorced; no children. After several years in a relationship he shared his experience of being fresh on the dating market.

“Since word got out that I’m single, I’m being hit on by nothing but baby mommas,” he told me. “Seriously, it’s been all baby mommas.

It’s not that he doesn’t like kids. He loves his nephews and is delighted to have another on the way. There is a great joy for single people which comes with their siblings bearing offspring. We love to spend time with our tiniest relatives and more than that, we love feeling relieved of the pressure to produce grandchildren for our aging parents.

“I don’t think I’m going to have kids,” he said. His slight shrug reflected a figurative weight that had been lifted from his shoulders.

I agreed that I had come to the same conclusion and together we exalted in our freedom to avoid reproduction without guilt. As I took a drink from my glass of beer I felt steeped in confidence that I could continue to enjoy alcoholic drinks for the foreseeable future. And that, dear readers, is when biological instinct dropped a tiny seed of remorse into my psyche. My enthusiasm tempered and I lowered my glass to look across the table at my friend.

“I want to clarify, I do think I would make a great mom,” I told him.

We looked at each other and I could tell that in his head he was now assessing his own potential for parenting. After a thoughtful moment of introspection he concluded:

“I think I’d be a really great dad.”

Monday, March 3, 2014

Eve's Exile

The sheriff’s deputy headed for the front door of the house. He was going to get a statement from them. The arrival of law enforcement had made it more than evident it was my time to exit and so I left opposite, towards the garage at the east end of the lawn. On the way to my car I walked next to the rear of a white mini-van sitting in the driveway and stopped. It looked so out-of-place there. Inside the locked doors and tinted windows it must have smelled like stale McDonald French fries, and sweaty kids’ sneakers, superficially masked by the perfume of an oppressive vanilla air freshener.
A burning sensation began to spread upwards from my fingertips. How could I not think of it as my parking spot? It had been my spot for more than 5 years, even though my sedan was now parked on the street nearby. Another few steps nearer and I was just inches away from this bulky soccer-mom van; the thing that brought her into my life; into my home; and now, sat heavy and stoic in my goddamned driveway.  With car keys grasped firmly in my tingling hand, the silvery tip of a key reflected cleanly against a white glossy finish. I held it there, almost touching; imagining my hand making a graceful circular motion etched deeply in paint.
 “I could leave them a message,” I thought quickly. The mere idea brought an unexpected jolt excitement. “Oh, how about a curse word—fuck!” Maybe “fuck.” It felt really good.
I pictured the word “fuck” sloppily carved above the tail gate. “Bitch,” quickly flashed into my head but was shaken off before my mind had time to entertain the thought. I was angry, insulted, but short of feeling vindictive. My arm felt its own weight and dropped to my side as I turned to walk to my driver door. I knew I was defeated and it was at these times I needed dignity the most.
From the yard across street came a woman’s voice. Like an approaching train, the sound escalated rapidly in range and volume.
“Did you key that car?” she said. Her tone was full yet slightly forced in an attempt at sounding authoritative. 
“No, I didn’t,” I replied. My own voice had to be drawn out of me and it fell flat like a languishing wind.
 “Did you scratch that car?” she repeated, still a little louder. The woman was stout. She had short blonde hair and was wearing causal yet motherly jeans and a dark sweatshirt.
“No, I didn’t do anything,” I stopped short of my car door and waited to indicate my willingness to remain present during her informal inquiry. “Go ahead! Take a look.”  I gestured towards the van. “There’s not a mark on it.”
“I saw you standing by that car and looking around,” she said. She was now standing in my ex’s driveway and gave a small section of the van a good glance-over. “I don’t know who lives here but I didn’t want anybody’s car to be keyed.” Now she approached me, a little more relaxed but cautious.
“I understand. Thank you,” I said earnestly. “I was considering it. I really was. But I changed my mind.”
“Well good,” she said. Her tone now reset to congenial. “You can get into trouble for that. I don’t want to see you to go to jail.”
I thanked her again for her consideration, affirmed that her actions were noble and that she was indeed a model neighbor. 
How many times have I almost done what is unarguably the wrong thing to do? Thousands, I would imagine. Time and time again, a few seconds of fantasy have satisfied the angry itch without any of the guilt or consequence of the real thing. With at least one crisis averted for the day, I got into my car, flipped a “U” and headed south towards Bakersfield.