When I went away to college, my mom sent me with a few simple rules.
1.Â Don’t take a drink from someone you don’t know.
2.Â Don’t overdraft your checking account.
3.Â Go to class.
4.Â Don’t use anything but cold water when you do your laundry.
My mom knew that I was less than a domestic goddess and, quite frankly, warm water was beyond my capabilities in the laundry room.Â To hit her point home, she spent my last few weeks at home lecturing me on the dangers of doing laundry with even luke warm water.Â My clothes would shrink up to the size of Barbie clothes, and I wouldn’t be able to replace my entire wardrobe (See Rule #2), and I’d be left walking around campus in clothes that didn’t fit.Â In fact, my mom was so adamant about this rule, that I believe her final words to me when she dropped me off in my freshman dorm were, “…And don’t even think about bleach.”
Point taken, Mom.
It has been almost eight years since that life lesson.Â For eight years, I have never once used anything other than cold water in my laundry.Â And bleach?Â Fuhgettaboutit…
But a few weeks ago, all that changed.Â I was doing laundry in my basement and I noticed that the lid to the washing machine had very clear instructions on when to use what temperature of water.Â And it looked pretty easy to me.Â I mean, what harm could a little warm water do?Â And it was time.Â I am older, wise, married, with child.Â I pay bills and file my own taxes.Â Surely I could handle a little warm water.Â So, I did it.Â I washed a load in warm water.Â And guess what happened…
NOTHING.Â Nothing happened.Â In fact, I think my clothes were cleaner.Â So, the next load, I got a little braver and I used hot water.Â That’s right, Mom.Â HOT WATER.Â And guess what happened that time…
NOTHING.Â I could do this.Â I could actually do this.Â I could use different temperatures on my washing machine and my clothes wouldn’t melt.Â So, I got even braver still.Â I bought bleach.Â Oh, yes.Â I bought it.Â And then I stared at the gallon jug for weeks in my laundry room, scared to go near it.Â It taunted me.Â Sitting there.Â Daring me to use it.
So… I did.Â I started with solid white towels.Â Hard to ruin those.Â I started the hot water, added my laundry detergent, and then added my bleach.Â Like a bad ass.Â And guess what happened that time…
NOTHING.Â My towels were so much brighter and they were so clean and fresh.Â So, I decided bleach was the cure for every dirty load of laundry.Â I moved on to clothes, bleaching anything that had white in it.Â And I didn’t ruin any clothes at all.Â Not one load.Â But my no good husband started complaining, like a weenie.
“My clothes smell like bleach!” he whined.
“Suck it up, Sally!”Â I yelled back, pouring bleach into my next load.Â Like a bad ass.
At first I thought that Chris was just overreacting.Â Like he does with sour cream.Â I use sour cream a lot in cooking, but I have to hide the tub because if Chris sees that I’m using it, he’ll complain.Â He’s been eating my Out Of This World Mashed Potatoes for years, which are smothered in sour cream.Â One day he sees the sour cream carton and now he won’t touch the potatoes.
“Ew!Â I can taste the sour cream!” he says.
And I thought that the bleach was the same deal.Â If he hadn’t known I was starting to use it, he probably wouldn’t have even noticed.Â But he knew.Â And so he complained.
But, now I’m starting to smell it, too.Â Like, I’ll be sitting in a meeting and all of a sudden I’ll get a whiff of a swimming pool.Â Only its not a pool.Â Its the bleach on my clothes.Â While I won’t admit to Chris that he was right and I might actually be overdoing it, I may start to cut back on the bleach usage.
But I’m not giving up the hot water.Â No one can make me give up the hot water.
Yesterday and today I have been battling an attack of the swollen extremities. Â My hands have swollen to freak-like proportions. Â My feet and ankles look like hobbit feet. Â And the swelling is continuing up my legs. Â Its reeeeel perty. Â To combat this cruel trick of nature, I have been trying to get out of my office and walk every hour to get the blood flowing. Â Yesterday afternoon, I decided the perfect distance to walk would be to the cafe around the corner from my office where it just so happens my favorite cookies are sold.
When I hobbled up to the counter, I asked the nice woman behind the register for a chocolate chip cookie, please. Â Before she processed my order, she says to me real sweet like, “When are you due, honey?”
“In June,” I said, smiling.
“JUNE?!?!” the woman screeches. Â ”In JUNE? Â You haven’ twins?”
“Um, no,” I stammer, now blushing. Â ”Just one baby in there. Â Can I get my cookie?”
The woman stands there for a second, staring at my belly. Â And then she turns and yells into the back room, “BERTHA! Â You gots to come see this!”
At this point, students are starting to stare (I work on a college campus) and I’m starting to blush even more. Â And my feet are getting bigger by the second. Â And I still don’t have my damn cookie.
Here comes Bertha.
“Bertha, look at this. Â She’s not havin’ this baby till June and she’s not havin’ twins neither! Â That’s just one baby!”
Now, Bertha seems to have something resembling a soul and so she says, “June’s not that far away. Â She’s ’bout right.”
“Nuh uh,” insists the Evil Cookie Withholder. Â ”That’s TWO MORE MONTHS. Â She’s already huge! Â Two more months and she won’t be able to move!”
“Uh…can I just get my cookie?” I ask, as politely as my twin-size belly will allow me.
Both women seem to come to their senses for a minute and they give me the most sympathetic smiles they can muster.
“Here you go, Sugar,” says Bertha, handling me a cookie. Â ”You need this cookie. Â You take it on the house.”
A pity cookie. Â I was given a pity cookie because I’m so enormous that people think I’m having twins. Â Under normal circumstances, I would have told those women just where to stick their pity cookie. Â But the fact is, they’re right. Â I’m huge and I’ve got two whole months left. Â I have people calling friends over to point and discuss my size. Â I’m swelling more than a fat lady at a buffet. Â These are not normal circumstances.
And so, I took their pity cookie. Â And I hobbled my way back to my office, thoroughly enjoying ever last crumb.
Chris and I had brunch this past weekend with some new friends of ours. Â We’ve known them for a while, but we only just recently started spending more time with them, and I really like it. Â I love this part of new friendships. Â Its like dating, really. Â You are still showing up to brunches and dinners with flowers or a bottle of wine. Â You are still trying as hard as possible to make a good impression. Â You are still dressing your husband so that he doesn’t show up wearing socks with Birkenstocks. Â Its the courtship phase.
This was our first rendezvous at our new friends’ house. Â Big step. Â Big. Â They were bringing us home. Â Its a huge event in any relationship, especially a new friendship. Â I had the cutest outfit to wear, too. Â I bought a new necklace last week that is brightly colored blown glass, and it was just made for jeans and a crisp white shirt. Â So, I put on my new extra-large, extra-stretchy, ultra-cool dark maternity jeans and paired it with a lovely clean, white linen blouse. Â The new necklace popped. Â It was quite a sight to behold, if I say so myself.
Ten minutes into the car ride to their house, Chris peels out at a stop light, sending bright red Gatorade flying all over my white blouse. Â And because the outfit was so simple, the hot pink stain was front and center. Â You couldn’t miss it. Â I COULDN’T DATE A NEW COUPLE IN THIS OUTFIT! Â But we were already running late, so I scratched at it with a Tide pen and cussed Chris the entire drive. Â Which made me feel a little better.
Unfortunately, this was only the beginning of our rocky first date. Â When we got there, they had a beautiful brunch prepared. Â Their apartment was so charming that I considered asking if I could take a picture to post for you all to see, but I decided that was more of a second date kind of thing.
And then I opened my mouth and started to tell stories that no person should ever tell on a first couple date. Â Ever.
Somehow, every story I told made Chris and I sound like complete rednecks. Â Complete. Â Rednecks. Â Like barefoot in the front yard with beer cans scattered about rednecks. Â I should clarify for the record that we are NOT, in fact, rednecks. Â We come from families who live on the beach and play golf as family outings. Â We drink mojitos and wear argyle. Â True, we grew up in the panhandle of Florida which has been called the Redneck Riviera, but that’s just locale. Â We are not rednecks. Â Contrary to every story that I told that morning, WE. ARE. Â NOT. REDNECKS.
Still, I somehow summoned up every near-redneck experience I could recall and spilled my guts to our new friends. Â The following stories were told in about a two-hour time period:
1. Â When Chris was little, his family used to burn trash in their backyard.
2. Â My mom’s lifelong fantasy is to own a double-wide mobile home in the mountains, and when we were little we used to drive through mobile home parks in the mountains of Tennessee hunting for Mom’s perfect abode on the road.
3. Â I once had a rabbit that I won at a fair named Ping Pong (because I won him with a ping pong ball). Â When we gave the rabbit away, the man that took him told us as he was driving away that he was going to eat the rabbit.
4. Â Chris and I once had a opossum in our backyard in New Haven that the city refused to remove because it they said it would be “traumatic” to the animal. Â So Chris beat him with a mop until he ran away.
5. Â Chris spent a summer working in Utah and in his free time he and his friends took guns out to the desert and shot rocks.
6. Â When I was little, my sister and I used to shoot frogs in the swimming pool at each other through our snorkels.
7. Â My parents bought an RV this year. Â You know, the kind that rock stars use on tour. Â On our first visit to see them after they owned the RV, they dropped Chris and I off in the woods and made us spend the night in the RV to test it out. Â Much to my Dad’s disappointment, we came home the next day and begged to please be allowed to stay in the house with central air and plumbing.
8. Â Chris and I went camping with my family one summer down in the Florida Keys and in the middle of the night, wild pigs wrestled and fought through our camp site.
So you can see that no matter how much I might insist that we are NOT in fact rednecks, every little anticdote that I told that morning seemed to contradict this. Â Not exactly the impression I wanted to make on our new friends on our first date at their house.
I’m hoping they will overlook my Gatorade stained ensemble and our penchant for firearms and cinder-block supported homes. Â But I’m not sure. Â Its kind of hard to come back from that.
Last night Chris and I went to our first childbirth class. Â And then I announced that I would not be giving birth. Â Ever. Â It was pretty horrible. Â Actually, really horrible. Â So horrible that last night I dreamed of placentas attacking me.
We got to the class on time, signed in, took our little Helpful Hints Folder, and took our seats. Â Front row. Â Front and center. Â Where we couldn’t miss any of the action. Â See how eager I was? Â How hopeful? Â How willing to learn? Â Anyway, we are sitting front and center when our instructor began her little talk. Â Our instructor was a self-proclaimed feminist who was all of five feet tall and had silverish gray hair that was longer than a Baptist sermon. Â I’m convinced if you shook her down, you would find no less than three handrolled joints on her person. Â Immediately, Chris’ red flag went up and he gave me this look like, “I can’t believe I’m here…” Â That look stayed plastered on his face for the next two hours. Â Except when he was practicing Keigel exercises. Â He had a different look then. Â But I digress…
Dr. Hippie took the first hour of the class to go over the basic food groups, asking questions like “What is a vegetable?” Â She followed up this hour by giving us a sheet of paper with five colors on it: Â red, green, orange, yellow, purple. Â We had to list all the vegetables and fruit we knew that were those colors.
In case you are wondering, no, this was not a health-ed class for middle school students. Â This was a classroom full of working professionals, mostly couples, who were expecting their first child. Â And apparently this makes us a room full of idiots who can’t distinguish a root vegetable from Swiss Cake Roll. Â Hence the handout.
We took a break after the hour-long vegetable seminar. Â A much needed break. Â But no amount of resting could have prepared me for the second half of the class.
We come back in from our break to find Dr. Hippie standing in the front of the room with more diagrams of the female anatomy than anyone should ever see in a lifetime. Â And front and center was a pelvic skeleton. Â If you’ll recall, also front and center were me and Chris. Â It was just the two of us against a giant pelvic skeleton. Â If Chris hadn’t been in a Benedryl induced haze, I think he would have walked out. Â And then divorced me. Â But through his haze, he could only laugh. Â Hard. Â Which got me laughing. Â Here we were – front and center with a pelvic skeleton trying so hard to keep it together.
And that’s when the poop hit the fan.
Dr. Hippie holds up the pelvic skeleton and says loudly, “Your pelvic floor is your friend, ladies! Â Embrace your pelvic floor!” Â Well, that did it. Â I couldn’t have kept it together if my own mother had been sitting next to me, pinching my arm like in church. Â I was laughing so hard I couldn’t even look up. Â Unaware (due to her “herbal rememdies” no doubt), Dr. Hippie continues.
She holds the pelvic skeleton out in front of her at arms length, as if the skeleton was standing in front of her. Â And then she takes her car keys in the other hand and holds them above the pelvic bones. Â ”Use gravity during your pregnancy ladies. Â Use the gravity,” and with that she drops her enormous key ring through the pelvis. Â The keys come flying through the pelvic floor and splatter on the ground. Â All I could picture was the Bean shooting out of me like those keys. Â Just dropping to the floor, and suddenly my pelvic floor didn’t feel so friendly.
What happened next I can only describe in bits and pieces because I’m pretty sure I was in and out of consciousness in self-defense. Â Dr. Hippie then flips the pelvic skeleton upside down and holds it over her head. Â There was a lot of commotion and the next thing I knew, she was poking her head through the pelvis where she smiled this God-awful smile from inside and then either said, “I’m your baby!” or “I hate Katie!” Â I can’t be sure which. Â I couldn’t be bothered with understanding speech because a grown woman – a doctor, no less – was shoving her head through a pelvis.
And that’s when the room went dark and when I came to I was mumbling something about preferring to stay pregnant for the rest of my life.
All in all, it was probably the most traumatic experience of my life. Â And Chris, God love him, was such a trooper. Â Other than a few raised eyebrows, he sat through the entire class like a champ. Â And when we got home last night and I was insisting that I would get our money back and we wouldn’t go to the next class, he just kind of sighed and said, “I think its something we just gotta do.”
CURSE THE RESPONSIBLE RATIONAL!
I guess we’ll be going back. Â We only have one other class to take and its an all-day session one Saturday. Â I think I can live through that. Â As long as there is no more mention of my pelvic floor. Â And there is no pelvic skeleton to be found. Â And as long as Dr. Hippie stays on her side of the room.
I think I’ll be fine…