Friday, May 21, 2010

Of Gyms and Poop and Disappearing Panties

Maybe it's me, but this couple at the gym this morning seemed really squirrely. They carried a big red bag around with them, from which they pulled towels and hand sanitizer (even though the gym provides both). They layered every inch of each machine with towels and carefully sanitized their hands before and after using the machine - like they were even afraid of their own cooties. I'm not sure, but from the size of the bag and the number of the towels, they might have used new towels on each machine.

I didn't pay much attention to them until the end of my workout, where I rotate on three machines. The unspoken etiquette is that if someone is rotating on the same machine, you politely ask if you can work in with them, and they politely say "but of course!" While I'm on the first machine, I notice that Sanitizer Lady has spread her wealth of towels all over two machines, one being the the second in my rotation. Since she wasn't using it, I politely asked her if I could work in with her. She reacted as if I'd ask to borrow the panties she was wearing. Not saying a word, she got up from the machine, yanked the towels off and stalked away. She and Mr. Clean no doubt had words about the filthy swine trying to horn in on their workout. On my second round on said machine, Mr. Clean has spread all his germ-free towels on it but is standing in front of another machine. The same request ensues, except as he snatches the towels away, he hissed at me "we are working a circuit!" I cheerfully told him that I, too, was working a circuit, and he again hissed at me "well, isn't that good for you." He sounded a bit like Arnold Schwarzenegger, and I badly wanted to say "I'll be beck."

If they use the locker rooms, I'm guessing they also carry those disposable things you put on the toilet seat to ensure you don't get crabs or herpes, as well as Lysol, Drano, bleach and lots of rubber gloves. Except I bet they don't use locker rooms, even to pee.

I don't know of any specific rules for locker rooms, but I don't appreciate women who act offended that I comb my hair, apply moisturizer, etc., while in my unmentionables. For one thing, I'm hot after a good workout and shower, and for another I was raised with three sisters and a brother and we shared one bathroom. Enough said. But from some reactions, you would think I'm pooping on the floor or dancing around stark naked using a toilet plunger as a microphone while singing "I Enjoy Being a Girl." I know what you're thinking -- maybe she looks like a troll -- but I don't look like this.

Not that there's anything wrong with working your way up to 1,000 pounds.

Although I admit I look a little scary after bathing, especially when I can't camouflage my extra head, Tiny.

I must digress here because we love poop stories in my family and we love to share them with loved ones. Years ago, John and I were packing for Florida and I could only find a few pair of panties. So when we got there, we stopped in a K-Mart to shop for temporary emergency backup panties. While there, I walked into the bathroom and someone had pooped right in the middle of the floor -- not on the floor of a stall, but the almost exact center of the floor. Aside from what goes through the mind of someone who takes a crap in the middle of the floor -- wouldn't you worry about getting caught? (And my skivvies never showed up at home - it is still a mystery.) My youngest daughter REALLY couldn't believe it when she discovered that someone had pooped in the middle of the shower on a camping trip to Petit Jean. This was many years ago, and it provided conversation for the entire weekend, mostly starting with the girls saying, "Mom, why would someone poop in the shower? That's SO disgusting! How could someone do that?"

One more story about the locker room. On two occasions, I've seen a very sweet but perhaps a bit dotty older woman wash her hands vigorously -- as if she's prepping for surgery. Then she carefully dries them and then steps in to use the toilet. Then she exits without even rinsing her hands. On the other hand, she doesn't bat at eye at me.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Is This What's Called a Tempest?

Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale, A tale of a fateful trip/
That started from this tropic port aboard this tiny ship.

Although the forecast yesterday called for heavy thunderstorms, I rationalized that Dallas, our Captain, had been in the National Guard -- he obviously has inside intelligence about all sorts of things. It might rain all over Arkansas, but Lake Ouachita would be spared. And look what a handsome guy he is.

Note how Susan, sitting behind him, seems a bit skeptical that his training has anything to do with being able to control the weather.

Realizing that things might get rough, our Captain turned over control of the boat; our new skipper was obviously wary but determined to get his passengers home safely.

We left the marina in high spirits, not knowing what was ahead. Or maybe Billie knew but couldn't tell us; like Cassandra, she too often made predictions that were ignored. Can you guess which one is Billie?

We hadn't gotten very far when gentle rainfall began. This did not dampen our spirits.

The weather started getting rough, The tiny ship was tossed/
If not for the courage of the fearless crew,The minnow would be lost, the minnow would be lost.

Okay, so we were wet and cold; that couldn't dampen our spirits. At least until we heard ominous thunder. We had taken shelter on one island and for some reason decided to move to another. Maybe it was because the first island had what looked to be a grave, complete with cross. And a stack of firewood and bricks placed strategically for ceremonies. The kids all swore that what came next happened because some of us had to pee on holy land.

Not all of us had to pee. One provided coverage with a towel, but I'm not saying who. One peed on her feet and had to wash her shoes in the lake. "Washing your shoes" is a euphemism among some tribes for peeing in the water.

This is what we looked like not long after we offended the gods.

Our Captain said "Just five more minutes of this, and then the sun will come out!" We heard a variation of that several times, and some of us began to doubt. We pulled up to the second island, whose trees seemed to designed specifically as lightning rods. The Lightning God obliged with a very cool show. The dilemna: struck by lightning under a tree or on the boat - it had lots of metal, which I hear is very atractive to lightning. We stuck with the boat. I felt compelled to capture our last moments. Note to self: bring disposable, waterproof camera next time so I can capture the boat flooding, lightning and hail.

I cowered in terror under my soaking towel, contemplating the saying about how there are no athiests in foxholes. I hadn't had the pleasure of sucking my thumb in many years!!!! However, being from Liverpool, Sherry is used to rain. How could we be worried when our hostess was obviously having such a great time? When we first met, she told me that her favorite memory was eating fish and chips while wearing her rubbers and macintosh, dodging lightning as she sprinted through the streets singing obscure Beatles songs like "Rain."

I think she might have been zapped by a wee bit of lightning sometime in her youth.

Our Captain, meanwhile, grew weary of the whining.

I think his exact words were "Don't make me come back there and take you out."

I was deep into making up various scenarios in which, if I made it home alive, I explained the crispness of our children to my husband. Then one of the teenagers began yelling "Ouch! It's hailing! Ouch! Ouch!" I thought it was a joke until I heard the clatter on the boat and felt the hail on my head. They were the size and weight of bowling balls. By this point, I was hysterical with laughter. Or maybe I had a concussion from the hail. I had stashed one extra additional bonus emergency backup towel in our waterproof bag that I was saving for (myself) when the rain stopped. When my youngest daughter's lips turned blue and she begged me for it, I couldn't refuse. I would appear a much better mother if I handed it over instead of fighting her for it. One has to keep up appearances. Note to self: bring at least two towels apiece on future outings.

I even gave her the lion's share of the towel. Because that's the kind of mother I am.

This is how we ended the trip, knowing that a nice sunny day would have been nice, but we had memories to last a lifetime.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Happy Mother's Day and MYOB

Sandra Bullock recently adopted a baby -- and he's black!! Is she doing it for good PR? And that Angelina Jolie, with all her tattoos and drinking Billy Bob's blood straight from big buckets and French kissing her brother -- what's up with her adopting all those kids? Let's all take sides, praising or belittling their choices. Because we can. And thanks to the beauty of the Internet, our comments are out there for all to see.

Dad with girls who have inexplicably morphed into teens.

The number of rude, intrusive questions I've gotten about our adoptions are truly mind-boggling, including why we adopted from China when there are so many kids needing home in the US and what we'd do if it didn't work out (FedEx). A woman who worked in a grocery store asked me that last question when my youngest was six months old, cooing happily in my arms as I showed her off. When she was was in day care at nine months old, her caregiver seemed to adore her but also seemed anxious when I dropped her off. I hesitated saying anything, but one morning I gently broke it to her that that my kid was just like all the other babies, and she blurted out "But I don't speak no Chinese!" I assured her that aside from knowing how to ask for more beer and where the bathroom was in Spanish, I spoke only English and that my baby didn't either; all she did was drool and make raspberries. She wasn't even good at math yet. One parent of an internationally adopted child got so tired of a certain question that she wrote a book about it called Are Those Kids Yours?

On the other side of the aisle were people who declared me a saint for doing such a selfless thing. I am too well bred to reply what I wanted to: "Yeah, your husband is obviously a saint for marrying you." As I am also too well bred to ask women whether they had vaginal births or C-sections, and if the sex was good on that magical night, and whether they are living beyond their means and whether their boobs are real. I wonder about those things, but I don't ask because it's none of my business.

In the mid 1990's, I was on a listserv for those wanting to adopt from China. Among the rants: people who condemned those of us who wanted to adopt a healthy infant because we should do the honorable thing and adopt a special needs baby -- we were selfish swine - and a truly delicious and hilarious fight that broke out when rumor surfaced that Kathy Lee was going to adopt a baby. I wish I'd saved them -- they ran along the lines of "She's a pathetic loser!!!! She shouldn't be allowed to adopt! Have you HEARD her sing?" followed by "YOU'RE the loser - I pity any pets you might have! I pity the mosquito who bites you because your blood is so putrid! Kathy Lee is a wonderful entertainer and a great human being." Others weighed in about how foreigners shouldn't be adopting children at all because we were stealing their cultures and ruining their lives. Some proclaimed that only a scumbag narcissist might want to adopt a child who physically resembled her, and endless discussions ensued about what to do if said mother wanted to horn in on groups of moms who adopted internationally. "How dare she! She just doesn't belong in our group!!!"

I read an article some years ago ago - I think it was when Meg Ryan adopted her daughter from China - about how both celebrities and the unwashed masses were adopting Chinese babies as accessories -- like it was the cool thing to do. I had no doubts about how cool we were - HELLO - but this was icing on the cake, as as we happened to have two such accessories at home. Who will read this and be really pissed that I call them accessories, although how does the mother of a teenager tell whether said teen is angry or happy?

It's Mother's Day. Be kind to mothers of all flavors. Our kids might not look like us and you might not approve of our choices, but please give us the benefit of the doubt that we brought our children into our lives for one simple reason: we wanted kids to raise. I would add that my family is as normal as yours, but my fans (and kids) wouldn't believe that for a minute.