Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Slurpee B*tch

I have these cravings, you see. They have nothing to do with pickles, peanut butter or even midnight runs for some obscure ice cream flavor.

My first craving (and yes, I am eating a bowl of Multigrain Cheerios right now) is cereal. It is more of an obsession. Lucky Charms, Post Raisin Bran (yes, it must be Post), Apple Jacks, oh, and sweet, sweet Cap'n Crunch (with Berries--I simply don't get it without the berries. Seriously, why bother?). A cereal aisle is my personal Disney World.

Chocolate MALTS are my other vice. And no, a chocolate milkshake will simply not due. Quite frankly, any form of thick chocolaty goodness without extra malt is a travesty. A sneer and a flip to my taste buds.

And then there is my intensely snooty love for fruit. I have been known to eat an entire watermelon in one sitting. We won't discuss the after effects of said gluttony--it wouldn't be suitable for this family-friendly blog. While I will eat nearly any type of fruit, I will say that I am a total fruit snob. Grapes must be plump and firm. Bananas bruise free and the perfect shade of yellow (with a hint of green). Apples must be near perfect--any flaw at all and I am certain it will be one of those mealy apples that isn't suitable for anything except maybe a second-rate applesauce. And my berries. Oh, sweet berries. If I'm going to spend $567,987 on you, then you'd better be perfect. That's all I can say . . .

Cereal, malts and fruit. That's what I crave. However, I would give them all up to a train full of naked nuns if I were offered a . . .


Cherry, preferably.

I see a 7-11 and I darn near break down into a fit of convulsions. The husband doesn't even bother asking. He simply pulls in and retrieves my said drug of choice. Bless him . . .

This brings me to only a few days ago.

I was at a popular big box store where you can purchase a meal for an entire family (pizza, pretzel, Slurpee-wannabe) for under $10 at the store cafe. Seriously, I've had several "date nights" at the big box store so I would know.

JR and I were on our own, making our way toward the exit, when I spotted the Slurpee-wannabe machine. I knew it was there, I just tried to ignore it. But, I failed. Instead, my heavy feet headed in the direction of the counter, dollar clutched in my palm. Within minutes I had my Slurpee-wannabe in hand. Well, JR had it in hand.

The Slurpee-wannabe is served in a cup that is about the size of JR's upper body. While I was packing away the receipt and organizing the cart, I set the Slurpee-wannabe between his legs. He had the straw in his mouth in less than 2 seconds, happily sucking away.

A nearby cashier commented about how cute it was. I quickly responded in a way that let her know I do not give my toddler a gallon jug of red, icy sugar water every day, but an occasional sip I feel is fine. She didn't care what I said, she just thought it was cute watching him try to drink from a cup that was twice the size of his head.

A few more patrons walked buy and all were amused with the tiny toddler with the huge cup sitting between his legs.

Except for one lady.

Now, be forewarned. There was a good chance I was hormonal, overly sensitive or just plain irritated.

"My, look at that. That cup is bigger than he is!" she exclaimed loudly.

I looked up, preparing to remove the straw from toddler's mouth and move toward the exit. I smiled at her and nodded in agreement.

"What is he drinking?" she asked.

"It is an icy drink--it is actually mine, but he loves to steal a sip or two." So he'd been sucking on it for a few minutes, she didn't need to know that.

"Oh," came her arched-eyebrow response. "You know," she continued, "when my babies were young, I would dilute all of their sweet drinks with water. I refused to give them such sugary drinks." Oh, thank you wise one.

My jaw clenched. I take criticism pretty well. I have fairly tough skin. I am open to accepting advice. But, for some reason, I felt a brewing frustration . I mean, she didn't know me, my son, my situation.

Listen, ma'am. I have been with Mr. No-Naps for the day, ALL day. He is showing his most wonderful toddler side by refusing to do . . . well, everything and anything. My house is a mess, I'm feeling a zillion weeks pregnant, I didn't make dinner and I have no clean underwear. Why, because this 2 and a half foot little human is the center of my existence (at least at this moment). We play chase, Play Doh, paint, color, go to the park, sing songs, dance, work on our alphabet and study pre-calculus. And so you know, I barely give him juice at all. He usually drinks water or milk. When I do give him juice I dilute it. Just because my toddler is sitting in a cart, in a big box store with a Slurpee-wannabe tucked between his legs and a straw as long as his body in his mouth does not make me a bad mother. So, while I appreciate your exemplary parenting skills, I'd appreciate if you just kept your comments to yourself.


But, I didn't say any of that.

Instead, I looked at JR, happily sucking down my 100 ounce Slurpee-wannabe and then focused my gaze on her.

"Well," I began, a smile pasted on my serene face, "good for you."

And that's all I said. With that, I turned away and headed for the door.

You know, had I just gone to 7-11 then maybe none of this would have happened. That's what I get for going all generic.

I got home, still a bit twisted from my experience. More twisted that it bothered me at all than by what she said.

In rather dramatic fashion, I reenacted the story for my husband. "You can just call me the Slurpee Bitch," I gleefully bragged (even though the bulk of the conversation never happened.)

"Um, actually," he said, clearing his throat, "wouldn't it be more accurate to say the Slurpee-wannabe Bitch?"

Oh yeah, he did.

And with that, I poured myself an extra serving of Lucky Charms and marched into the living room to watch some mind-numbing reality TV.

Damn, Slurpee . . .


Saturday, April 18, 2009

Red Paint, Patsy and a Dream

Sometimes I wonder why my mind goes where it goes--why it chooses to linger on thoughts I had believed were long since abandoned, memories long since forgotten.

I see a splash of red paint and I am instantly transported back to the darkened corridor of ramshackle housing, the smell of paint, the chattering of well-intentioned teenagers believing anything, anyone could change. Naively believing that a coat of paint could fill stomachs, erase pain, cure long-battled addictions, raise the dead. There would never be enough coats.

A week later the mission group returned to Cabrini Green only to find the newly painted walls streaked with angry red expletives. What did we expect? A crew of angels welcoming us with pastries and fresh fruit? Doors slammed and heads shook. Stupid kids.

We painted again. And again. Until we finally figured out that we would never be able to cover the red. Or raise the dead.

"Worry, why do I let myself worry, wondrin, what in the world did I do," Pasty croons on the radio. In a rare moment, I am alone. It is just this past weekend that I am driving to meet my sisters for lunch as the song plays from a crackling oldies AM station. But as Patsy sings, I am back in my mother's kitchen. Her back turned, she faces the sink as my eyes focus on the back of her legs, the gentle shift from one foot to the other as Patsy Cline fills the room in my mother's voice. I sit, towel in hand. Waiting.

Old songs always pull me back into the kitchen, my feet firmly planted on peeling linoleum, my hands holding a chipped A & P "collectible" (free with purchase) plate, rubbing a damp towel on its surface. I'm always there. Waiting.

"And I'm crazy for lovin' you."

Last night, I was in bed. I was desperate to find a soft place for my expanding belly to rest. Left side. Right side. Propped up. Hugging a pillow between my legs. Being spooned. Spooning.

Nothing worked. She must have had something on her mind. She didn't want to sleep last night.

Before the sun drifted atop the trees and seeped through my thin shades, I drifted off into a desperate sleep.

"You're beautiful," came his muffled words as his steamy breath curled around my ear and his hands pulled back loose strands of my hair.

He spoke words I craved. His words shaped me that night. Made me think that maybe I was, even for a moment. After all, he would know. He was a man. A real flesh and blood man, with stubble covering his face, a pack of cigarettes in his pocket and a driver's license in a wallet. What more did you need?

His lips barely touched mine. His fingers gently tapping the bottom of my chin and then tracing the curve of my neck. He knew what to do. He knew where to go. He pulled me closer to him, lifting me over the armrest and into his lap. I closed my eyes and pretended to know what I was doing.

I was afraid if I breathed that he might disappear.

I shouldn't be here. He shouldn't be here.

But he was. I was. Nothing else mattered. Except that my foot was wedged between the seat and the gear shift. My foot throbbed. But at that moment it could have come off, ran away with my other foot and I wouldn't have cared.

My A-cups, my pimply skin, my unruly hair--this body was so hungry. For what, it didn't know. Yet.

However, he knew. He had fed before. Many, many times. I was one of many special girls. I was about to become really special . . .

"I can give you . . . " his voice trailed off as his hands began to move. Slowly. Knowing. Expecting.

Invading. I opened my eyes. My imagination darkened. Reality became the old sentry.

My eyes narrowed. My throat, dry. My voice, caught.

"Let go, little girl." Did he speak it? Did I? I didn't know.

My shoulders lifted, my back arched. Blood. My lip. I was biting it.

I'm afraid.

"I don't think I should . . . " the words came in a small voice, weak, confused and pleading.

"No, you should. It will feel . . . " said the man to the little girl.



Not. Yet.

I open my eyes. I push the pillow aside and kick down the covers as my hazy gaze follows the shadows moving on the ceiling. It is morning. I'm in my bed. Not in an battered Chevy.

I am calm, though my breath comes quick and heavy. It is a dream that won't go away. It will stay, waiting, whispering like the memory that it is.

My hands move over my belly.

No. Baby girl. No.

Not yet.

For now, she is safe.

For now.

Sometimes I wonder why my mind goes where it goes . . . and then, I hear the squeal of my baby boy as he calls for his mama and I feel the gentle swell of my belly.

And I know exactly why.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Cake in Excess

Yesterday I lingered in front of the mirror a little longer than usual. I stared at the wide open pores, the deepening lines that trail down from my nose to the outer edges of my thinning lips, the worry lines forming in between my brows. There are flyaway grays that I can no longer count and will not bother to pull. I am only a step or two away from a twisted bun, rolled stockings and bifocals.

I stepped back. Slowly. Away from the mirror. Why do we do this to ourselves?

My hands are looking more and more like my mother's. I used to look at my hands and think they didn't look any different than when I was a teenager. They were soft, creamy and begging to be held. Now, I see gray-blue veins and dry patches. My nails are short, uneven. But, thankfully, the coat of hair that has covered my arms since I was young is still there. Furry is a sign of youth, right? So lucky . . .

I remember when I was barely out of toddler-hood and my mom took me to a neighbor girl's birthday party. I had finally stopped stripping down to my underwear and streaking the neighborhood, so my mom felt that just maybe I might be ready to socialize in a more formal setting.

I loved being naked, nearly naked. I was fearless when I was naked.

We didn't have any money for presents, at least not really good presents (Silly Putty and those plastic rings with decals from the drugstore weren't even within our budget). Construction paper, scissors and a slew of broken crayons were all I needed for a real gift. "Homemade is so much better," my mother lied. Sometimes, I would even use glue and a few of nature's cast offs I found in the yard. I saved the pine cones and lilac sprigs for really special friends.

I didn't get parties (I still don't get parties--something about forced socialization makes my spine want to roll up and hide in my nether regions). But, I did get games. Games and cake.

Games were for winning. Cake was for scarfing.

Apple bobbing. I win. I might have to drink half the tub, but I would win.

Pin the tail on the donkey. One confident stick.

Tag. Please. Don't insult me. Keep in mind that I ran around the neighborhood naked. I called it training.

Pinata. Nice try.

Blowing out birthday candles. I knew I could always do it better. One breath. And it didn't even have to be a big breath. I was that good.

Cake. Biggest piece. "She's so tiny, where does she put it?" the adults would whisper. I would puff up with pride and an infusion of glucose.

The kids were in awe of me--the scrawny kid with scabbed knees, a faded t-shirt and lace-less shoes.

Nothing phased me.

JR carefully, methodically picked at the sprinkles on the cake, careful not to come in contact with the blue butter cream frosting.

"It's sweet! You'll like it," I spooned the frosting and lifted it to his mouth. He turned his head away and sneered as if to say, "You can't make me."

This evening JR and I shared a small white and butter cream cake snagged from the bakery of an infamous super mart. I missed my cake. Yesterday.

When I turned another year older (DO NOT wish me a happy your-getting-older-and-there-is-nothing-you-can-do-about-it day, AKA BIRTHday. I've moved on.)

What I miss most. Not creaseless skin. Not my gray-less long dark hair. Not the halcyon days of my blissful youth (insert sarcastic sigh here). Nope.

I miss that donkey. I miss running nearly naked (Wonder Woman Underoos--so fitting). I miss stuffing fistfuls of cake in my mouth, puffing out my cheeks and running to make sure I didn't miss taking the first swing at that pinata.

But then, I look at him, smearing the blue frosting around on his plate. Licking his fingers while simultaneously arching his back, demanding to be released from the confines of his booster.

And then he runs. I chase with a damp towel. He's faster than me (his sister-in-utero slows me down).

He's faster than me.

And then I see it . . . tag, pinatas, donkeys, cake in excess. He's going to be fearless . . . he IS fearless. Watching him while twirling my graying hair and pushing my glasses up on my nose . . . This is going to be very, very cool.

But this time, I'm totally springing for the Silly Putty (and a gallon of Oil of Olay).

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