Sunday, November 19, 2006

Seriously? No. Seriously.

Partying with my brother and his friends has died off pretty significantly.

A) Because it makes me feel like I'm 123 years old.
B) Because my brother is cutting back secondary to "The Wife"
and
C) Because I can't deal with the idiots that show up to these things anymore.

One idiot in particular.

We'll call him Ian.

Ian is a 36 yr old, single father who works as a nurse at one of the area hospitals.
Why Ian is hanging out with 21-24 year old nursing students is beyond me, but it's not as though I can say too much.
Hey pot, this is kettle, you're black.

Ian thinks he's God's gift to women. Ian is greatly mistaken.
It's not a lack of attractiveness, though - to be honest - I don't find him attractive, in the least.
It's his personality. He's comes on EXTREMELY strong. And by extremely, I mean that where most people would use a simple fly-swatter to kill a mosquito, Ian would locate the nearest arsenal, procure a bazooka and several missles, don camoflauge and go in for the kill.

To add insult to injury, Ian is also my neighbor. A fact that I wish I hadn't learned. I had seen him, infrequently, at the pool, but he had maintained his distance. Possibly because he had his son in tow. Possibly because I was constantly surrounded by younger men. Possibly because I had THAT look on my face. The one that Casper told me I had all summer whenever any guy looked in my direction. Apparently it's a mixture of "Who the hell do you think you are?" and "Do I look remotely interested?"

Well, at my brother's last gathering, Ian decided to bring his "neighbor" status to my attention. "Hey, did you know that I live two houses down from you?" Now, I'd not previously paid a lot of attention to Ian when he was in my presence. But knowing that he was acquianted with my brother and apparently friends with some of the other guys, I assumed he was a good (to be read NORMAL) type of guy. Not knowing any better, I did my best to be polite and friendly.

"You don't say. Which direction?"
"Kinda caddy-corner from you. I can see your front yard from my living room windows." This odd statement was followed with a semi-creepy wink.

"Well, that's cool." (yes, I realize that wasn't the best comeback, but seriously - what do you say?)

Apparently, though, "that's cool" is enough of an encouragement for Ian.
He sat down at the empty spot beside me on the couch and put his hand on my knee.
Again, trying not to offend, I just shifted uncomfortably and muttered something about needing to retrieve my cell phone from the kitchen counter.
He got up and followed me into the kitchen.

"So, do you have a dog?"
"Ummm, yes, but she lives here with my brother because he has a fence and I hate chaining her up."
"Oh, okay, well, do you have a cat?"
"Ummm, no. Why do you ask?"

Brace yourself, because here's where the conversation takes a turn into La-la-land.

"I just wondered if you had any pets or anything that you walked around the neighborhood so I could see more of you."
"Do ya know a lot of people that walk their cats?" I readily admit that I expressed this question with a heavy accent of sarcasm and a raised eyebrow look that conveyed my horror at the thought.

Instead of being offended, which would have been my first inclination, he giggled like a school girl and exclaimed, "That's a good one! Walk their cats!"
This man has people's lives in his hands. (shudder)
I roll my eyes in his general direction and begin to textmail my boyfriend. Anything to make it evident that I'm not interested in continuing this conversation. But Ian's not done wowing us with his prowess.

Mike puts a country CD in and a few of the diehards start singing, loudly, to Hank Williams, Jr.
Ian looks at me and says, "Hey, do you have some boots?" Not looking up from my textmailing endeavors I quip "Steel-toed boots, fuck-me boots, cowgirl boots? You're gonna have to be a touch more specific." He, again, laughs that scoff manly laugh and says "Cowgirl boots." I look up and give my best "Go A-WAY" look and ask "Why?" "Because you look like a city girl. I wanted to know if you had some country in ya." Pardon my confusion here, but what the buddha does that matter? Yet, instead of yelling this at him, I just say "Why?" again. "Cause I like girls that can do a little two-stepping from time to time." He then takes my cell phone from my hand and puts it on the counter before grabbing at my hands to attempt to lead me around the dining area in some epileptic version of a Texas two-step. YIKES!

Before we continue, allow me to remind you: He's a single father.
This means at least one woman out there had the unfortunate mental INcapability to sleep with him.
A brief moment of prayer for this woman would be greatly appreciated, for it is evident that she has suffered immensely in this life.

But I digress.
After the dancing/seizure activity, Ian continues to woo me.
"So, we should like go out sometime and get something to eat. Or do you cook?"
I'd had enough of being polite (or as polite as I could be) and decided to be blunt.
"Look. I have a boyfriend." Whatever I intended this statement to do, it failed miserably. Ian was not, in the least bit, fazed. He looked to my phone on the counter and said, "Is that a picture phone?" My patience wearing transparently thin, I answered, "Of course. Aren't they all these days?" Unaffected, he comes back with, "Well, then show me his picture."

Needless to say, I did a double take. Do what? Huh?
"I don't have a picture of him on the phone." He broke into this jack-o-lantern grin and said, "Well, then you don't have a boyfriend. If you had a boyfriend, you'd have a picture of him. All girls have pictures of their boyfriend."

Really, now. All girls have pictures of their boyfriends. Go figure.
My disdain has become palpable and I parry with "Umm, maybe hanging up on my locker door when I was in 8th grade, but grown women don't keep pictures of their boyfriends on them. Sorry to disappoint you." And there's the grin again. "It's okay. You can just tell me you don't have a boyfriend."

ARGH!!! I call my brother and "The Wife" over to verify my boyfriend's existence and even threaten to call said boyfriend to let Ian speak with him. Ian shakes his head in mock disbelief and then says, "Well, you can't be that happy with him if you're here instead of with him, so I know I've got a chance."

Seriously? No. Seriously.
That was my cue to exit. Stick a fork in me, I was done.

But the battle is far from over.
Ian periodically drives by my house and honks, attempts to stop and chat if I'm unfortunate enough to be gathering my mail and even tries to pull me over when he finds himself behind me in the neighborhood.
Carolyn, my immediate next door neighbor, tells me that she sees him ring my doorbell occassionally during the day.
I'm convinced the only thing that's saving me is that he works nights. But even so, it doesn't stop me from closing my garage door the second after I drive inside it. Perhaps if he never sees my vehicle there, he will assume I spend every evening at my boyfriend's - instead of just being a 26-yr old trapped within her own home.

Help.

Immediacy



Once, in 26 years, I was beat so badly I couldn’t sit down for a week. I’m not saying I didn’t deserve it . . . but, in my opinion, it was a bit excessive.

My mother later admitted that she had to leave the room. Not because she couldn’t stand to see me hurting so badly. But because she was afraid if she stayed, she would kill me.

The year was 1989. Christmas Day. Morning, to be more exact.
4:40-ish to be extremely exact. Mom and dad had been up and down all night trying to keep my brother and I in bed. Ty had given up the fight and was cuddled under a (Lord, save me) Dallas Cowboys blanket, fast asleep.

I was just biding my time. I knew, eventually, the parentals would abandon their posts.
Sure enough, they did.

By 4:00 AM, mom has retired to bed, but daddy remains vigilant. He checks to make certain that my brother is still snoring loudly and then comes to my door. I close my eyes and burrow deeper in the covers.

"Meg, you awake?"

Why do parents do this? If I’m feigning sleep, do they really think I will be stupid enough to say "Yeah, daddy." Silence. "Meg?" Last ditch effort. Finally, he turns and leaves the room.

I wait an eternity. Which, at age 9, means I wait 6 minutes. I spring from the bed in my very adult, pink "Hug Me" night shirt. Run to the door and look side to side.

The coast is: Clear.

James Bond music is playing in my head as I check the hallway.
No sign of the guard. The living room is alight with the multi-colored tree. The presents are left unattended.

Fools!

But I don’t trust the silence. Not just yet. Daddy snores like a freight train.
If all is silent on the Western front, this does not bode well.

I retreat to my bedroom, planning my attack.
It takes everything in me, but I read 4 chapters of a Dean Koontz book ("Lightning", in case you were wondering) and wait silently.

Back to the front lines.

Checking doorways. Stealthily creeping to the living room. Thunderous heartbeats are momentarily eclipsed by the snores of my father.

YES!!!!

I frantically sort through the oceans of presents. Any one labeled Meg is thrown to the side.
I’m not going to open them. Of course not. I just want to count my loot. I need to make sure that I have more presents than my brother. Sibling rivalry and all. But . . . .

This one sounds funny when I shake it. What in the world can that be????
It’s not a book, it’s not a purse, it’s not clothes . . . Oh please, oh please, oh please, I have to know.

I pull it back to my bedroom. Lest the tearing sounds of paper rouse my father. Shrinky dinks??? Has my mother forgotten I’m not 5 (even if I still look it)? Though, they are Transformer shrinky dinks. Which makes a vast difference. Alright.

(Note: I’m 26, but if I got some Arkansas Razorback Shrinky Dinks, I would be ECSTATIC!)

Curiosity satisfied. Back to the pillaging and counting of the loot.
Something catches my eye. What is that enormous shiny thing BEHIND the fireplace? The box is twice as big as I am. Oh holy buddha! Does that tag say "Meghan"???? Goody, goody, goody!!!
Wait. What in the world could it be??? It’s the size of a small city state!
I move it side to side as best I can. Semi-shaking it. It is silent.
A silent, large present?? I can’t bear it! I must know!
I get behind it and push with all my might. Navigating it through the living room, curving into the hallway, pushing with all the strength in my 9 year old body. Finally, the bedroom.

I remember the paper just falling off. No ripping, no tearing. The angels of Christmas just pulled the paper from the box in one smooth, easy motion. Fully intact. I'm sure that this isn't how it really happened, but in my nine-year old mind, this moment was magic.

Sony?? But I already have a TV. Oh, no, wait. A real live stereo.
Dual cassette deck, record player, AM/FM radio, speakers.
The whole shebang! Who could want for anything more??
I yelp before I can contain myself.

Oh no no no. Look around. Listen intently. Nothing.
Maybe it was an internal yelp, after all.

Well, there’s no way I can hide this massive unwrapped present.
And since I’m already going to be in trouble. . . in for a penny, in for a pound.
So, my young mind begins to rationalize:
I may as well open ALL my presents.
I mean, there could be some tapes or records that need to be played on the stereo.
There could be some super cool dancing duds that need to be tried on.
I have to open them all now.
I HAVE TO.

I get my Radio Flyer wagon and load it as quietly as possible. I drag it, in my barefeet, to my bedroom and open every present.
I fall asleep in the middle of my floor. Wrapping paper as a blanket. New clothes as my pillow. Dire Straits and Tiffany albums under my feet.

I am happy.
I am sated.
I am at peace.
Until . . .

I am rudely awakened by my father jerking me up by my arm. The force should have rent my shoulder from it’s socket. It’s only the flexibility of youth that saved me from bodily harm . . . at that moment.

My mother is shrieking "You’ve ruined CHRISTMAS!!!"
My father is purple. Literally, purple. The purple of Barney and Grimace and new Crayola markers.

I can’t even begin to compose myself enough to TRY and place my hands in the way of the spanking I KNOW is coming. My father bends me over my little blue writing desk and beats me senseless. I can’t even cry it hurts so badly. EVERY fiber of my being is concentrating on the pain.

My mother has left the room, as I said, not to avoid watching my pain - but to circumvent the desire to kill me where I lay.

I am locked in my room for the remainder of the day. My presents have been placed on the highest shelf in my closet. To taunt me.

"Here we are, your lovely books and clothes and music. You can not have us. When you finally get us back, you will have outgrown us or we will be out of style. Ha ha! We will teach you! You will get your Swatch watch in 1999!"

The stereo system is placed on top of my bookshelf. My father refuses to hook it up.
I cry everyday for the loss of the music that should have been.

It is New Year’s Day before I can sit down without wincing.
It is Valentine’s Day before I can listen to the Dire Straits - Brothers in Arms album that was wrapped in ThunderCats wrapping paper.
"Money for Nothing" still pains me.
Do not play "Sultans of Swing" in my presence.
"Romeo and Juliet" will never be a love song for me.

But a lesson went unlearned.
I still have the most horrid sense of immediacy.
The past has taught me nothing.
And isn’t that just sad?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Wander - Porcelain - Constantly - Prescription - Spin

He sat on the hard plastic, gripping the wheel in his short fingers, he slowly began to turn.
The momentum picked up and soon the periodic circles began to constantly spin.

His knuckles white with effort, he held on for dear life, giggles and squeals hiccuping forth.
Finally, he could hold on no longer and his diapered bottom slipped with a solid thump onto the hardwood floor, the brightly colored spinning wheel still producing rainbowed arcs in front of his eyes.
He giggled again before jabbering excitedly in the direction of his smiling mother.

He grabbed the coffee table's edge and pulled himself upright.
His stubby pink legs churned quickly towards his mother, but the dizzying effect of the spin caused him to wander off course.

He screamed in surprise and joy as his mother's hands grasped him tightly and held him in midair, kissing and blowing raspberries on his bare stomach.
She pulled him to her, holding him close with one arm as the other extended wriggling fingers to the ticklish spots only toddlers seem to have.
Her incessant tickling as they walked towards the bathroom distracted him and he failed to notice their destination.

The white plastic padding covered with Blue's Clues and Blocks provided insulation from the cool porcelain of the sink that was suddenly his chair.
He watched his mother convincingly pretend to drink a bright red liquid and begged for a taste with grasping fingers and a series of grunts.
She hid her grimace as she moved the tiny cup to his mouth and tipped it forward.
A small pucker of his lips, a tiny squint of his eyes and the prescription was gone.

She tickled him and thanked God once again that it was just a simple cough.
He touched his tummy with his fingers and she blew another raspberry as they left the bathroom.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Better Late Than Never . . . I Guess

In the (newly expired) spirit of the season, you get to read my one and only ghostly experience:

In the corner of my first therapy office, I kept a milk crate full of electronic books. The ones that you read to children and when they see Simba’s face or Nylah’s body they reach over and hit the button on the side of the book that produces a Simba "ROAR!" or Nylah singing.

After I had been there about a month, I noticed that the books would start playing on their own. I just assumed that the batteries were getting low in them or they were shifting in the crate. Just normal things that would make the books play themselves. To prevent this from happening, I removed all the batteries from the books. I kept them in a small box on my desk with the teeny-tiny screwdriver that was needed to replace them. That way, I didn’t have random occurrences of sound effects, but I could always put the batteries back in if some of the therapy kids wanted to play with the books.

One day, I was giving therapy to a little boy named Chris. We were sitting at the table finger-painting when he looked up and said "I want to play with the girl."

I thought he was talking about a paintable doll that we sometimes worked with. She was just durable fabric and you could paint clothes on her, a face, attach different kinds of hair to her head (which my kids called Weave, if you can imagine), etc. I got her down from the shelf and began to hand it to him when he said:

"No! I want to play with the GIRL."

Befuddled, I asked him "What girl?" thinking maybe he wanted me to get another child from his class or possibly go into the nursery and get his little sister, which I had done from time to time.

"THAT girl." he said, pointing to the empty chair on the other side of me. "That girl beside you."

I took his hand and said that there wasn’t any girl beside me.


"Yah huh, she’s sittin’ right there."

He was so emphatic that it convinced me he must be seeing something. I felt the hairs raise on the back of my neck and went to the door to yell down the hall to another therapist. My friend Sally came to the doorway and I was telling her about what Chris had said when one of the books started playing music.

The books without any batteries.

Chris looked over to where the books were and said, "We’re not playin’ with the books right now, we’re paintin’, come back over here."

It completely freaked me out and poor Sally looked like she was about to cry. She spent the rest of the day randomly spouting, "You know they say that little kids can see that stuff. We can’t because we’re old and jaded, but kids can see spirits." I just kept telling her to shut up and then moved my stuff into an empty office up the hall the next day.

I didn’t take the books with me.