Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Chances Are Good

 I used to like baseball.

Back when Ozzie did back flips. And Keith Hernandez was dreamy. And large red "#1" foam hands were fun to slip over my own tiny hands and wave around. And Fredbird was hilarious.

Now, no one does flips. And if they did, I'd be that person twisting the bottom of my t-shirt and scrunching my face in worry, pleading for him to stop "before you really hurt yourself!"

And I google-imaged Keith Hernandez recently. What I crush I had on him! Let's just type this name in and.....WHAT? Oh, no! That can't be right! This guy is sporting a 1970s pornstar mustache. That's him? Really. Um. Ew.

And those foam hands make my own hands sweat. And they're itchy. And there's nowhere to put them when you get home.

And Fredbird pisses me off. Not as much as Matthew McConaughey. But pretty close.

 So, sitting through nine or more innings of a baseball game has become a challenge.

Around the second inning or so, the game loses my attention. I've eaten my hot dog and am now waiting, on cue, to do my little human tricks, like clapping along with the Anheuser-Busch Clydesdale song. For a minute, I'm reanimated, clapping with glee. "Look! Look what I can do! Oh, indeed! You are clapping, too, fellow monkeys!" We are trained well. We are proud of ourselves. Spit glistens from the corners of our mouth, so wide are our smiles.

Once the song is over, however, I'm back to using my binoculars to spot odd hairdos. Then, even that loses its charm after awhile. Here's where I start thinking of the odds.

First, thoughts like, "I wonder how many people have upset stomachs right now. You know. Like, they'll have to leave their seats to rush to the bathroom." Things like this. And it usually starts with something diarrhea-related. Or "I wonder how many people were late to the game because of diarrhea."

From there, it takes off.  With a seating capacity of over 46,000 the odds seem pretty good.

Somebody in this crowd has a venereal disease and doesn't know it yet. 

Someone cut their legs shaving while getting ready for the game.

Someone is keeping a secret from the person they're with.

Somebody once ate dog food from a bag on their neighbor's porch, and liked it. And they ate more of it. And a little more. And then they went home and said to their mom, "Mom? What would happen if someone ate dog food?" And their mom said, "Well, I guess they'd feel a little sick." And then they assessed how they felt, which was not sick at all, but they figured they should feel sick because their mom said so, so they wailed, "I FEEL SIIIIIICK!"

I know that one's true. Because that was me. But probably other people in the stadium ate dog food, too.

It's not that I'm comforted by these thoughts. It's more of a "I know something you don't know" although I don't know who the "you" is, so really it's "I know something one of you, and I don't know who, don't know, so this really does neither of us any good, but man, people are fun to think about."

The larger the crowd, the more satisfying the thoughts are. Lessen the numbers, lessen the odds. On an elevator of 6 people, it's possible someone didn't fart at work that day and hope no one attributed the foul odor to him/her. Take 46,000 people, and the chances are pretty darned good that this did, indeed, happen to at least one of them.

At least one person is missing one of their toenails, and there's a good story to go with it.

Someone is getting close to breaking up with the person they're with, but that person doesn't know it yet.

Someone accidentally killed a family pet sometime in their life.

Someone is waiting to get their period.

Someone hit something with their car this year.

Someone will come home to some very bad news. Someone will come home to some fantastic news.

Someone won't go home.

I don't have to match a face with a thought. In fact, it's better if I scan the crowd until everyone is a tiny blurry dot of a whole image. A close up view of a Chuck Close painting. Here, I keep the anonymity of others intact.

I wouldn't want to intrude.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Unwinding the Strings

Your stuff was already gone: the clothes you wore that were in the closet, including the tan linen suit, crisp white shirt, and dark blue tie that you wore on our wedding day; the computer where you filled out your invoices (but not the desk and the chair- those were still here for me); the leather sofa and chair we had moved from the house we owned, to the apartment we didn’t want to move into, to the house we were now renting; the tools that cluttered up our small garage and made it hard for me to park; the silverware (my grandmother has extra); the plates (my sister has a spare set); all of the glasses except for 4 (I don’t need much); your shaving cream and razor (although there were still a few bits of stubble around the edge of the sink); your shampoo; your soap (I always insisted on having separate soap bars); the television we couldn’t afford when we lived in the house we owned; the artwork I was willing to part with; the dining table and chairs that your mother bought for you as a birthday present before we married; the boxy and modern lamp set; tubs of various knick-knacks and belongings that were packed up moves ago and never unpacked.

This was my last night in what was our house.

Standing in the middle of the living room, which would be completely empty except for a stack of framed prints and a single bench, I wondered how we had gotten to this place. It was like moving day in reverse. Everything had an uncomfortable echo to it- the clock ticking in the kitchen (had it always been that loud?), the sound of the air forcing itself through the vents, the rhythmic beating of my heart.

It was late, and I needed to get some sleep. For me, moving day would be in less than 12 hours. For you it had been the day before.

I walked into the bedroom and studied the bare queen-sized mattress (I had agreed to letting you take the bedding) and the small sofa that we had to cut the legs off of to get it to fit through the bedroom doorway. (Where had we put those, anyway?) I dug through one of the three plastic tubs sitting in the middle of the room until I came up with several towels. (That would have to do for now.) I fashioned one into a makeshift pillow and spread the others out for a blanket. (How long had it been since we had both slept in this bed? How long had it been when, so much heat being generated from two bodies, we’d had to pull back the blankets altogether?)

I flipped the overhead light off and flopped down on the bed, reaching for one of the towels as a cover. (This isn’t so bad. It’s kind of like camping, somehow. Only quieter. Much quieter. So quiet that the noise is almost unbearable.)

My mind drifts to you sleeping for the first night in your new apartment. Will you wake up in the middle of the night and, for a moment, think you are back here? Back and back and back before now, the time when we learn to unwind ourselves from ourselves. Undo the knots that years have made. Take turns working on the stubborn parts while the other fills out new address forms at the post office or announces the news to a friend not seen in months or shops for a new spatula.

Here we will begin the process of getting to un-know each other.

Photos in piles: Keep. Keep but look at later. Put in the mail in a padded envelope addressed to an apartment you will call home and I will most likely never see. Throw away.

Photos in frames are switched out.  A tiny you and me on our wedding day for my new dog in the backyard of my new place. Our trip out west for my trip out east.  This frame I'll keep empty.

Back in my bed our bed your old bed, I am watching the blades of the ceiling fan whirl. If I move my eyes quickly to the left and the right, I can- for a brief moment- see each blade clearly. I can even see the lines of dust and the cracks in the paint. I make myself look for longer than I want to.

And my mind goes back and back and back to-freeze- when we were getting to know one another. Banking the memories for the un-knowing. Tying the knots and making patterns of our messiness. To this moment here, when everything I said was funny and everything you did was endearing. And here, when we drank in each other's lives and our bellies felt full and we had visions of being old. At the same time. At the same place.

I unwind slowly at times. Quickly at others. I skip over some of the knots and leave them there. But, here. Here is the thread loose and ready to be wound up with another's. I give it back to you.

With love.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

What the poo?

Some people collect salt and pepper shakers. Some like to listen to talk radio in the morning. Some people like the way it feels to close their eyes and rub on their eyelids really hard and then watch the little yellow floaty things go round and round until they disappear.

I like to talk about poop.

I don't know why. It's not like I'm obsessed with actual poo. (Note: I will interchange the words "poop" and "poo" because they are both equally fun to say.) I don't have t-shirts with little cartoon poos on them or cross-stitch "I heart poo" lids on jam jars in my kitchen. I abhor the smell of poo and would rather look at my grandparents making out than actually look at poop. But, hot damn if I don't find myself bringing up poop-related topics. Often. Even when my higher-self tells me it's not such a good idea.

Here's an example. A few years ago, I was on a run around Forest Park. (Insert "oh no! she's not going to...is she?" comments from those familiar with the Forest Park running story.) Okay. So, I was on a run. And runners, you will no doubt have a similar story. If not, keep running. It will happen to you. Here I am, at about mile 5, just a bouncin' and a hoppin' down Skinker Blvd, when a sudden cramping attack led me to replicate Jamie Lee Curtis's frantic front-door-knocking scene from Halloween, only instead of trying to escape a chainsaw-wielding psychopath, I was desperately trying to get to a bathroom.

No luck, and moments later I found myself squatting in broad daylight behind the Missouri History Museum Library and Research Center. A failed attempt at turning nearby crunchy leaves into toilet paper led me to a painful walk of shame for the 1 mile back to my car, swearing I would NEVER tell anyone about this as long as I live.

By the time I pulled into my driveway, I had called two different people. They listened in awkward silence, and then encouraged me not to share it anymore. Once was enough. Twice was two times too many.

But, I keep bringing it up. To my mother. At social gatherings. To a friend's wife. To someone who is a runner or used to be a runner or knew a runner once. I can't stop. "This one time, I was running around Forest Park..." Those nearby who know the story get wide-eyed. "Noooooo!" I can almost hear them saying in slow-motion. But by the time the last "oooo" of "noooo!" is out of their mouth, the room is already pin-drop silent and I'm continuing to dip my ridged Ruffle chips into some sour cream n' onion dip and commenting on how good and salty it is.

In college, I developed a nice case of IBS. Irritable bowel syndrome, or "Gee, we're sorry you keep nearly shitting yourself in public and after ruling out Crohns disease, we're not really sure what's going on there, so we'll just tell you that your bowel is irritable." Yeah. That's helpful.

So, about 3 years of always having an exit strategy, always knowing where the bathrooms are, nodding my head during dinner conversation on a nice date but really thinking, "Get to the end of the story, fella. Little lady's about to blow! *(And not in the way you want.), running red lights to fly into a gas station and pray to the good Lord above that no one was in the nasty-ass bathroom stall,- the end result is I became, understandably, a bit poo-preoccupied.

Today if my bowel were cast on the Muppet Show, it would be less Statler and Waldorf, as crabby old balcony dwellers, and more Dr. Bunsen Honeydew, as precise and in charge. But still, my reoccurring question when travelling somewhere new or thinking about nearly any activity is, "What if I have to poop?" Getting onto a bus with 80 middle schoolers? "What if I have to poop?" Doing a back flip off of a boat attached to scuba gear? "What if I have to poop down there?" Getting buckled into a death-defying ride at an amusement park? "What if I'm at the top of the ride and I have to poop?" Lacing my shoes for a long run with a friend? "What if we're 5 miles in and I have to poop?"

It's one thing if I thought these questions to myself. Seems normal. Even appropriate. But I tend to vocalize them to my company. "Well..." they usually say, "then you just...poop." Really? Seriously?

This also happens when I'm watching others. Say I'm at a baseball game. I may, while watching the pitcher, lean over and say, "What if he has to poop when he's out there?" Or while watching a talented Russian pair ice skating on tv, "What if one of them has to poop in the middle of their routine?" Or while watching the president address the union. "What if he has to poop right now? Like, an emergency-poop? What is he going to do?"

"Um. I've never given that much thought," is another response I tend to get. I think this is polite-talk for "Will you PLEASE stop talking about poop?"

And then I try to stop. Really, I do. But the trying seems to bring about even more poop scenarios, and I find these, too, must be said out loud.

It's amazing I still have friends. And I have a lot of them. Really, I do. Real ones who seem to like me a lot, despite my poo talk. Then there are the little related poo things.

I giggle each and every time I hear the name "Pujols."

I like when someone says "do" followed by the word "do," as in, "These seemingly useless contraptions shouldn't be thrown away. They do do something."

I like the way the automated voice on dictionary.com says "poop" with a little exhale of air after the last "p"- "poo-puh."

I think a dog pooping is funny, with its back all hunched over and its eyes darting around in doggy shame, like, "Oh, for pete's sake. Do I really have to do this in front of everyone again?"

The dung beetle fascinates me.

The idea of dingleberries, especially on rodents, is entertaining.

I don't think I'm alone in being entertained by most-things-poo, but, quite honestly, as Groucho Marx and Woody Allen both said, "I wouldn't want to belong to any club that would have me as a member." Poo-talking clubs, that is. Although, I come by it naturally, I guess. Among other things clipped to a wire crossing the length of my grandfather's bathroom was a daily log about, well, his daily logs.

And that's really gross.

I mean, a girl has to have some standards, right?