November 29, 2009

Where Art Thou Next Husband?

Mike and I took Max to the Renaissance Festival on Friday. Max is the kind of kid who wears and cape and carries a wand wherever he goes, so it seemed the right thing to do. Although, I will tell you, the Renaissance Festival creeps me out a bit. It's not so much the turkey legs and the jousting as it is the personalities of the people who attend and work there. They are, I have figured out, a highly sexualized people who are overly friendly and, for the most part, ugly.

This is why I decided, while chomping on a BBQ turkey sandwich that no doubt was loaded with ptomaine, and avoiding eye contact with a jester giving out "free" hugs, that if Mike and I ever split, I am going to find my next husband at the Renaissance Festival. Let me tell you why.

First, in the bizarro world of Medieval Wannabes, I am Miss America. I not only have a full set of white teeth, I also weigh less than 375 pounds. By comparison, I am Heidi Klum and while I am not frightening, let's face it, searching for a husband in South Beach would likely yield me Versace's killer at best.

Second, these people are obnoxiously flirty in a creepy and dirty way. I am not sure how this will help me rope a husband, except that it would take an overly aggressive man to get me to marry again. For some reason, the men who work the festival circuit have this wacko level of sexual assertiveness. I kid you not, I got hit on twice by the men working the rides...while my husband was in ear shot. Weird, creepy and strangely flattering.

Finally, I already have a kid. Most men balk at that. Who wants to raise another man's kid? These people are so freakishly friendly and accepting of unusual situations, that I think having a kid actually raises my stakes in Ye Olde World of Creepy Carnies.

Of course, this is all in jest. I could never marry again as no one could ever live up to my current husband's level of patience and tolerance, not even a knight or a king or a freak with bad teeth.

All in all, our day trip to the Medieval State Fair was expensive (including the speeding ticket, this trip will top $175) and enlightening. If I ever decide to drop out of society and wander aimlessly with a troop of misfits and big busted women, I know where to find my people.

November 18, 2009

The Long Road Home - Part 1

I told you of the time I moved to New York with a guy I met in a bar, but did I tell you how I got home? No? Well, it was a wild ride. You see, the move to New York with That Boy I met in a bar, not surprisingly, did not end well. I was in the throes of alcoholism and he was, well, I think maybe just scared and regretful. Whatever the motivation, I got pissed at him one night because, even though I had moved out, I thought it rude to invite a girl over, have some fun, then tell her you have to go to work, but really go to a bar to meet another girl. How do I know he did this? Because like any crazed ex-girlfriend in the throes of active alcoholism, I followed him.

And when I walked into the bar and saw him standing there casually drinking his beer talking to some girl after spending the first part of the evening with me, I freaking lost it. For God’s sake, I could still taste him on me and here he was chatting up some Long Island skank who couldn’t pronounce an “-er” if her life depended on it. So I slapped his beer cup on the bottom so that the beer splashed into his face, I called him a dick and I left. I walked right to his car and slashed the two tires against the curb. Classy, huh?

What do you expect? I was 21. And did I mention I was in the throes of alcoholism? Yeah, that combination kind of makes you a little irrational. I then got into my Toyota Tercel and decided to head home that very night. I made it to somewhere in PA before it hit me that all my stuff was back in my apartment in Long Island and I didn’t have enough money to make it all the way home. This was the early 90’s before cell phones, so I stopped at a pay phone and called my Dad collect. I told him the awful and terrible things That Boy had done and that I wanted to come home. He told me to go back to Long Island and that he and Mom would come get me. They would bring their van and drive up so we could bring my stuff home. Even at 4am with 2 Mountain Dews in me, this seemed like a better and more rational plan.

My sister also decided to fly up early before my parents came. She would commiserate with me and help me pack my stuff. I was late picking her up at the airport because I was telling That Boy goodbye on the beach. Again, do I need to tell you my state of mind? None of my decisions at that time in my life was rooted in anything other than the desire to physically be with That Boy. I must remember this when my own child is a teen or young adult…it all made perfect sense to me then…and in some strange ways, to me now as well.

I got lost on the way to the airport. By the time I got there, she was waiting alone by baggage claim. She had the airport page me several times. I would have been furious, but she was genuinely concerned, which made me sad. I almost wished she would have hated me. It would have validated what I felt about myself.
She didn’t hate me. She went with me to the bar and made it seem charming instead of pathetic that I drank every night with a dispatcher from my job, who was 20 years older than me, 40 pounds overweight and obviously in love with me. She genuinely liked my married friend whose house I hung out at every night because I had nowhere else to go. I would sometimes watch her kid while her and her husband went out to see a movie. I think I ate dinner at their house every night for 4 months.

I started writing this thinking it was going to be funny, but so far it really isn’t, is it?

Anyway, after a series of crazy mis-steps including my parents’ van breaking down, my lame attempt to kill myself by taking a handful of Actifed (my sinuses were VERY clear the next day) and my parents’ eventual departure in my Tercel, Emily and I packed up the van and headed home to New Orleans. My few precious belongings were packed into the newly repaired van, we had a couple packs of cigarettes and a map. We were set.

All we had to do was get out of New York, which is not as easy as it seems. Yes, Long Island is jutting out into the Ocean so it seems logical to head West, but then you have to eventually cut through Manhattan…or at least we did, and that is where things got hairy for a bit, but them we were on the open road, headed away from That Boy, that city and my heart.

To get out of the city, if I recall correctly, we had to get on the Jersey turnpike. As we approached the turnpike, I told my sister, who was in the passenger seat navigating, that when That Boy and I had gone to Florida to visit his father, that the toll was something like $12. We had that thought in our minds when we approached the turnpike toll booth and that guy said “50.” I went nuts first, “Fifty? Fifty? Are you fucking nuts? What the fuck is wrong with this god-damned state?” Meanwhile, in the passenger seat, my sister is fumbling for her purse, asking the man if he would take a check because we don’t have that much cash.
Finally, after no doubt considering calling the cops or the nut house, the toll booth guys calmly says, “50 cents.”

“Oh,” I say sheepishly and handed him 2 quarters.

I am thankful the van had Louisiana plates and that perhaps he attributed our stupidity to all the dirt we eat down here below the Mason Dixon line.

November 15, 2009

Stop the Ride, I Want to Get Off

My father is in the ICU recovering from lung cancer surgery and my husband has pneumonia. Oh, and work is insane. Last night, all I wanted was to lie in bed and read a magazine by myself for 15 minutes. I wanted 15 minutes to myself to lose myself in pictures of anorexic women wearing impossibly high heels with impossibly perfect bodies and lives. For some reason, mindless fashion magazines make me feel better about myself. But the stars weren't aligned, and instead, after spending all day with my napless son and the evening visiting my father in ICU, my son peed in his bed and could not get back to sleep.

Normally. I am gentle and loving and snuggly, but I wanted him to sleep in his bed. I wanted to be alone in my bed to do the aforementioned mind-numbing check out with a $3.00 magazine. But I was needed by a bunch of people I love, so instead I lay in bed next to my son, thinking of the storm, and my mother and how nothing is easy anymore. I squandered my youth and the free time I had before I grew up and became a parent. I let resentments and fear dictate my relationships with people about whom I care deeply, and now they are gone or dying.

Life is short and it is moving ever faster each day. I am an old fart...I honestly believe youth is wasted on the young, I sing out loud to the music played at the grocery store and this morning I told my son to stop what he was doing because he was going to put an eye out.

Round and round it goes, where it stops, nobody knows.

November 4, 2009

Trick or Treat

My son has an active imagination. He talks to the characters from his TV shows, even when the TV is off. He has introduced himself to strangers as "Caillou" more than once and at 4, he can spell his name and Dora's name. So, when he said he wanted to be Snow White for Halloween, I came close to saying yes and getting him the costume from Target, but, children are cruel and pictures last forever, especially when I post them on Facebook, which I would, so I decided to suggest a different costume. He decided to be a witch. I got him a cape, a witch hat, a broom and a wand. He made me open the want in Target before we checked out. It was silver with a pink bow and silver star. By the time we got home, he was wearing the cape and the hat and riding the broom. He wore this outfit for 2 weeks leading up to Halloween. He would "fly" around the house telling us and his imaginary audience that we would never break his spells. By the time Halloween Day arrived, I had to tape the star to the end of the wand and the broom was missing all of its bristles.

Still, I figured he would really get into this dressing up for candy deal. He even insisted on using a basket to collect his candy instead of a bag. By the time we left the front gate, I was holding his cape and two blocks later, I was carrying the hat and the basket, too. I know, shocking, right? This is a child who routinely acts out Snow White and the Seven Dwarves when it is on. It is his own private toddler-appropriate Rocky Horror Picture Show, replete with props collected from around the house – a plastic goblet, an apple, a plastic dagger. It made me wonder if he was self-conscious about being dressed up or if, because everyone else was also dressed up, it lost its appeal. And with that thought, I was transported back to 4th grade. If this was a movie, you'd hear a whooshing sound.

As a child, as I believe I have established in earlier posts, I was not exactly popular. I was pudgy, wore glasses, corrective shoes and had braces. Oh, and did I mention I was pathologically shy and self-conscious? School was torturous. I spent most of my time trying to get out of going to school and once I was there, I spent all my time trying to figure out how to get back home. In fourth grade, I made a friend named Lorna. Lorna was beautiful – long hair, slender, tiny little features and she was nice. While the other kids ignored me (thankfully, because the attention they gave was much worse) Lorna would sit and talk with me. In fact, it was with Lorna that I had my first non-mom ESP experience. Not to divert too much here, but my mother always said I had ESP because I knew what she was going to say before she said it and we often dreamed the same dream. Lorna was the first person who was not my mother that this happened with. She told me her brother had to have surgery and before she said why, I knew already. It happened often to me as a child, but not so much anymore.

Anyway, Lorna invited me to her house for a Halloween party. It may be that it was a Halloween/Birthday party, but the details are fuzzy. You see, when someone invites you to a Halloween party, wouldn't you think it was a costume party? I mean, that's a natural assumption, especially when you are 9. So when Mom dropped me off at the party, I was wearing a black leotard, black tights, red shorts, suspenders, a tail, mouse ears and I had whiskers drawn on my face. I think I also had on white gloves. Clever, huh? If you're wondering, yes this was the same year as the Wonder Woman bathing suit incident. What can I say, I was socially retarded.

Apparently, none of the other 9 year old girls from our class got the memo about costumes. And thus, I was the only child not in regular play clothes. I was the only child wearing black ballet slippers. I was the only child masquerading as a mouse. I shrugged it off, pretended it was totally normal for me to be wearing this and that it was just my Saturday attire. I went into the bathroom and removed the tail and the suspenders and the ears. Mom was already gone so I could not feign an illness. I guess I could have, but it didn't seem right to leave the one party I was invited to. Once all the other girls were there, we went up to Lorna's room to hang out. She opened her presents. I gave her a placemat that you could decorate with your name and stuff. And then we all sat around talking acting naturally, ignoring the fact that one us us had mouse whiskers painted on her face.

After a few hundred days of that torture, we went downstairs where we bobbed for apples. I prayed that I would drown in the bucket and end my misery. Instead, my mouse nose smeared all over my face making me look more like a roughed up mime that Mickey Mouse. I don't remember how the party ended. I do remember that Lorna and I were not friends after that. In my memory, she moved away. But I am not sure that is accurate.

I want to find the right balance with Max. I want him to be himself and talk to Dopey and Sneezy as if they were in the room. I want him to feel free to walk to the beat of his own drummer, but there is the part of me that wants to shield him from the pain of growing up, too. I know that in reality, I can't so that and, if I am totally honest, I don't want to do that. I am who I am today because of the events in my past. I love who I am today. I can say that honestly. Sure, it took 12 years of therapy and about 70,000 12-step meetings, but I can say it. Dammit.

My mother loved me. I know that to the very core of my being. She knew I was different. She knew I didn't fit in. But she sent me out into the world and loved me anyway. I wish I could call her and tell her about Max. But I know what she would tell me, "just love him…that is your job." And I do.