Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Ghosts of Birthdays Past...

Because today is my birthday, I couldn't help reminiscing about birthdays from the past...and one in particular came to mind...

On my 10th birthday, my mom decided I was old enough to have a nice little chat about menstruation...I know what you're thinking...<i>What's that? What did you just say? Did you mean to say "the mall"?? No... Did you mean to say, "Magic"?? No...
"Muppets?!" Nope....

You heard me right the first time.


For some reason, my mom decided there was no better time than right before junior high to scare the living day lights out of me.

The day started out like any other 10 year old's birthday...I got up, smiled at myself in the mirror, checked to see if my boobs had gotten any bigger, brushed my hair 500 times and then went downstairs to eat Lipton Soup for breakfast.

TOTALLY typical.

It was at that time that my mom sat down across from me at the kitchen table with an ingratiating smile. I pretended not to notice her while I read my Babysitters Club book, occassionally stealing glances at her as I slurped my soup. Finally, I couldn't take it anymore.

"MOM! Why do you keep staring at me with that goofy smile stuck on your face?!"

She got a little teary eyed as she said, "It's just that you are not my baby anymore...you are almost all grown up!! Before we know it, you'll be starting your period, you'll be off to college, married, and having your own babies." (These apparently are the big milestones in a woman's life...)

I had heard the word "period" before but I wasn't exactly sure why my mom was talking about it now. (My teacher always said you had to put it at the end of sentences if it was a declarative, but if you were excited, you used an exclamation point. I prefered to be excited about everything I wrote, therefore, it was the only form of punctuation that existed in my world. I mean...in my world!!!)

She must have sensed that I needed further explanation because she went on to say, "Pretty soon, you will menstruate every month. An egg will drop down from your uterus and one day, that is what will make it possible for you to have babies!"

I stared at her, open mouthed. My spoon had only made it halfway to my mouth, and when I coughed and sputtered in surprise, soup splashed all over the table.

My mom jumped up to get something to clean up the mess I had made. Casually, I asked, "What's a uterus?"

She laughed and said, "That is where a baby grows inside of a woman! Of course, you won't be having a baby for a long time." I let out a big sigh of relief, not realizing I'd been holding my breath. I mean, don't get my wrong...my Cabbage Patch doll was cool, but if there was a rockin game of Pong being played on the Atari, I flung that yarn-haired sack of stuffing under the nearest bed! This was NOT the time in my life when I wanted to be tied down with responsibility...

I thought our discussion was over until my mom went on to say, "But that doesn't mean your body isn't getting ready...pretty soon, it will be making eggs."

She looked like she was going to say something more, but the phone rang and our conversation ended there.

I raced up to my bedroom and stared at my crotch in the mirror. "OH...MY...GOD..."

I had never been so terrified in my life. What would the kids at school say when I started laying eggs??? ...And what was I going to do with all the eggs I would be making? Would someone give me a container to store them in like the eggs at the grocery store?! ...And...Oh GOD...what if...would we...be EATING them?! I pictured my brother demanding a 'dip in' egg and my mom commanding me to lay more.

I was FULL of questions, but my mom had settled in for a nice long talk with my grandma, and there was no way she would be getting off for follow up questions any time soon.

So I went to my sister. I knocked on her door, trying to make myself be heard over the blaring sound of Richard Marx. She cracked her door after 55 knocks and said, "Happy Birthday....what do you want?"

I swallowed, and got myself ready. I could tell she did not have an abundance of patience at this time. "Katie, where do you put the eggs you lay each month?"

I don't think she heard me because she immediately answered, "In the sink!" as she slammed the door in my face.

I ran back downstairs to check out the sink. No eggs. I wonder when she puts them in there? I'll have to keep my eye on her...

I paced back and forth thinking about what I would say when i did finally lay an egg in someone else's presence. "Oh, it's my time of the month...I'm a woman now so my utrass is just shooting out eggs like crazy."

I practiced witty comebacks if anyone teased me. "What? You never saw an egg before? What planet have YOU been living on?!"

I tried out different positions for optimal egg laying. (Squatting seemed to be most appropriate...)

FINALLY...my mom hung up the phone...and I bum rushed her. "Mom! MOM! Listen. I need to talk to you about this egg situation..." I began.

She looked at me, befuddled. "What?"

I was getting aggrivated. I needed MORE information! I went on in a stressed out slur, "When I menslate, will I know that the egg is coming? Will I feel it beforehand or will it just pop out? ...and what if it breaks in my pants? Will the yolk stain? How big will my eggs get? Is it much bigger than the eggs we use to make cookies? It's not like that dinosaur egg we saw at the Field Museum...right?!"

It took her several minutes before she understood what I was referring to....and when she had stoppped laughing hysterically, she explained that, No...I would NOT be laying an egg like a chicken. I would just be bleeding for 5-7 days straight...which was much, much less traumatizing.

As an adult, I just have one question...

How am I not living in a mental hospital right now?!?!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Running, Booze and Hobos

MANY years ago, my friends Lulu and Sheila talked me into running a 10K, which for the layman means 6 miles of pure hell. I protested at first...claiming that I was not a runner and that I wouldn't be able to keep up, but they were not taking 'no' for an answer...and well, if I'm being honest, I have to admit...I'm easily persuaded by friends...and others. You know that saying, "If your friends were jumping off a bridge, would you jump, too!?" My answer is...It depends...on just how badly they really wanted me to join them...jumping is fun sometimes!

So, anyway... I prepare for this race by doing my regular workout routine and I run a little bit, too. A week before the race, I'm up to about 3 miles without stopping...and I'm starting to feel a little nervous. How was I possibly going to run SIX miles?!

I expressed my concern during lunch one day, "You guys won't leave me behind...right??" Sheila and Lulu both shake their heads with exuberance. "OF COURSE NOT!!!" I breathe a sigh of relief and relax somewhat. Lulu goes on to say, "This is going to be fun...Guess what?? I heard that everyone dresses in crazy costumes for this thing so I was thinking we could all get something together!" Sheila starts nodding, obviously excited. "Ooh! I just saw this BRIGHT pink t-shirt at Target that says in huge letters: 'RELAX! DON'T DO IT!!!' What if we all got those and wore them??" Lulu and I are liking the sounds of it, and I add, "Ooh! And how about skirts with knee socks!?!" More nodding. Then Lulu says, "And...how about if we all wear our hair in 2 ponytails with cowboy hats???" That was it...we had our crazy outfit for race day, and we were psyched.

A week later, we all pile in the car and head up to the mountain town of Prescott for the big event. It's a Friday night and the race is on Saturday. We eat dinner, have a low key night and head to bed early. As we pull up to our hotel...well, actually it was a motel, we survey the scene.

I look at the building warily and say, "Hmm...this place looks a little sketchy, Lu." She shrugs and says, "It was the only place with vacancy! I guess we waited too long to book a room. Oh well...I bet it's not as bad as it looks." We all nod, and head in. It wasn't as bad as it looked...it was worse.

The lobby is minimally decorated and as we look around for the front desk so we can check in, we notice that the cashier is behind THICK bullet-proof glass next to a sign that says, "ABSOLUTELY NO PETS!!! NO DOGS! NO CATS! NO BIRDS! NO GUINEA PIGS! NO LIZARDS!!" I was tempted to ask if I could have my pet monkey stay, but I refrained once I saw the unfriendly expression on the motel clerk's face.

The next morning we wake up early. We all get dressed in our matching outfits and head to the starting line. As I'm stretching, I take stock of the crowd around us....and I notice that no one...i mean NO ONE has said "crazy" outfits on. It was standard running gear as far aa the eye could see, Sheila, always the optimist said, "Hey, on the bright side, we will probably make the paper!" (She was right...we DID make the paper and the website...Lulu and Sheila are smiling like beauty queens and I look like a 300 pound heffer that just got poked with a hot iron...)

So the race begins, and I'm feeling pretty good, and I think to myself, "Wow...this isn't so bad! I can run! I'm a runner!"....and then we turn a corner and the next 5 miles are up a STEEP hill. I feel myself hyperventilating as I'm desperately trying to keep up with my friends.

After 10 minutes (ok, it was 30 seconds), I slow down to a walk, and grab them, signaling for them to remove their headphones. They look at me with befuddled expressions. "I (gasp) need (cough) to (sigh) walk (huff) for (puff) a (wheeze) minute." They look annoyed, but they agree. A minute passes. I've caught my breath, and Lulu says, "Ok, ready to run??" I nod, begrudgingly.

We run for a few more minutes and I feel like I'm suffocating. I slow down again, and Sheila also slows down, tapping Lulu. At this point, I'm doubled over. I shake my head, and barely manage to get out, "You...guys...are...freaks. Just...go without me." They shrug and start to put their headphones back in.

I'm incredulous.

"YOU'RE LEAVING ME?!? I KNEW this would happen..." They laugh, and walk with me again...aaand this goes on for the rest of the race. I'm fairly certain we finished DEAD last, but I have to say..I was just thrilled that I FINISHED!

So, we cross the finish line, and immediately head to the pub across the street to toast our victory. One toast turns into a few.

We finally decide to tear ourselves away from the local watering holes so we can shower, get ready and head out to more bars for the night. As we are walking back to our motel, we see a homeless guy sleeping in the park, and I point him out. "Hey, look! A hobo! Reminds me of Chicago. Speaking of bums, how come no one ever says 'hobo' anymore??" Somehow, this discussion escalates into me wanting to become ONE with the hobo so I announce as I'm running toward him, "I will spoon you!!!" I cozy up behind him, resting on the soft, green grass, laughing hysterically... when suddenly, he wakes up...none too pleased to be canoodling with the likes of me. He sits up and starts flailing his arms as he yells, "WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!!?!" Instead of answering him, I scream and run away.

This is what extreme exercise does to me. I run uphill for 6 miles, and suddenly I'm assaulting innocent homeless men... defenseless hobos just trying to take a nap...

*Names have been changed.

Footnote: When I told my mom (who happens to have a touch of the OCD and is an extreme germ-a-phobe) about this incident, she reacted with complete and utter disgust. "ERIN ELIZABETH!!! You could have gotten fleas!!!" NOT you could have been knifed by a homeless dude's homemade shiv....FLEAS. I said, "Um...Mom, I don't think he had fleas." She wasn't convinced. "Yes, yes they do. Everyone knows that." I laughed. "PEOPLE have fleas?!? Since when??" She realized her mistake. "Well, body lice..." Leave it to my mom to use any situation possible to teach me the merits of good personal hygiene...

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Have you ever wet the bed...and you weren't alone??

There is a tradition at Purdue University called "Breakfast Club". All the bars open at 7 am on Saturdays during football season so everyone can get rip roaring drunk before heading to the stadium to cheer on their beloved Boilermakers...OR...if you were like us, you would drink all morning, pass out BEFORE you made it to the stadium and then stumble out of the bushes and head home.

We were not your average day-time drinkers though...we didn't want to just do the status quo. We thought bigger, brighter, DRUNKER. We were overachievers in that way. Hell, if you're going to get up at 7 am on a Saturday to drink...why not take the edge off by drinking to the wee hours of Friday night, too??

I lived with my best friend, Sarah, in a basement apartment (Laverne and Shirley style...seriously...our view was feet, bushes and bumpers). Lucky for us, we had many neighbors and friends who also shared our affinity for consuming mass amounts of booze....and somehow, our fanciful cellar home became the drunk tank for friends, acquintances and an occasional stranger or two. We never locked our door, and it wasn't uncommon to walk out of your bedroom in the morning to see 3 strange men canoodling on the couches and floor. I never batted an eye...until Sarah took it the next level.

Apparently all available sleeping spots had been spoken for so Sarah suggested to our friend Mike that he go pass out next to me... in my bed. I wasn't there for this suggestion (obviously I was sawing logs in a room nearby), but according to witnesses, she said something like, "Oh just go crash next to Erin. She's been asleep for an hour already. She won't even know you're there."...and she was right. I didn't. (Don't worry, this isn't the beginning of an after-school special-esque report of date rape...)

I, being the most responsible train wreck of the group, always remembered to set my alarm for important events like class and scheduled all day drinking outings. It was 6 am and Tina Turner was asking what love had to do with it LOUDLY...I groaned, opening one eye and trying to remember what class I was late for. It was then that I realized I was not alone....mostly because my back was all wet. I assumed it was my boyfriend, and was shocked to see a boy that looked vaguely familiar drooling on my pillow. What the...did I? Did we?

I squinted, trying to get a better look at my sleeping companion, and I realized it was Mike.


He popped up looking startled.

"What the fuck are you doing in here and why the hell are you so sweaty?!" Before he could answer, I jumped out of bed and yelled over my shoulder, "If you're coming with us to Breakfast Club, you better get up. I gotta shower. You sweat like a beast! Sick!" I pounded on Sarah's door, yelled at the sleeping people in the living room and headed to the bathroom.

When I came out, almost everyone was ready...
except for Mike.

Dressing in bizarre costumes is part of the tradition of Breakfast Club. You can't just go in regular clothes...

and thus was the dilema.

I walked into Sarah's room, catching the tail-end of a heated debate. Sarah was shaking her head as she said, "Look, all I've got is this hot pink genie costume. Take it or leave it."

Mike begrudgingly accepted the costume, asking if he could change in Sarah's room. A few minutes later, we were on our way. It was sunny and 70....a perfect day for drinking heavily. We only lived a few blocks from the bars so we made our way on foot.

We had just ordered our first screwdriver when Sarah stopped mid-drink, staring at Mike's crotch. The genie costume was made of thin nylon and was basically see-through. "Hey! I have those boxers. Weird." Mike shrugged and tried to change the subject, but Sarah's wheels were turning. "They're pretty old...like from 8th grade. That's crazy that you have the same pair." Mike shrugged again and started talking about shots. "Wait...are those MY boxers??"

Just then, Sarah was tackled by someone we knew that was hugging her like she HADN'T just seen her earlier that day at 3 am. For now, the subject was closed.

Fast forward several hours...I'm in the kitchen cooking us a healthy dinner of Ramen and nachos when I hear a blood-curdling scream. I run to Sarah's room...and there she is...her arm outstretched, high in the air, holding the evidence on the end of a pencil. "Look! Just LOOK!!! I KNEW those were my boxers..."

There...dangling from the end of the pencil was a wet, crumpled up pair of men's underwear...more specifically...tightie whities. I leaned forward, taking a closer look. "What... the.. fuck is that?" Sarah held her hand over her nose and said, "What do you think?!" I scratched my head, befuddled.

Then... I got a whiff. "JESUS! Those smell like an old folks home! Where did they come from?!" She gagged, shook her head, and whispered, "Under. my. bed. Those boxers Mike was wearing WERE mine!!!! These must be his!!! He peed on his and needed new ones!!!!"

I was confused. "Wait...when did he pee?? Wait. No. Please tell me it isn't true." I made a mad dash for my bedroom.

For the first time since that morning I took stock of the disaster that was my bedroom...and there, under the covers...was a GIANT, disgusting pee stain!!!

More gagging...more yelling...basically, complete and utter bedlam ensued. Mike hadn't been sweaty...he'd been pissy....and I was too God DAMN drunk to notice.

Just thinking about it makes me need a beverage or two right now...while I ponder how I shall repay my dear old friend. What's that they say about revenge being a dish...or in this case, a bodily function...best served cold?? (Like old, cold pee...)


Exercise. Blah. That about sums it up for me.

Growing up with no coordination, rhythm or hand-eye coordination may or may not be to blame for my lack of enthusiasm on the subject. (Let's just say anything involving movement then or now is a wee bit of a challenge.)

Amazingly enough, as a child and in middle school, I was incredibly well rounded considering my lack of skill. Somehow, I managed to be on the basketball team, the softball team, the cheerleading squad, the dance team, and the tennis team...AND I only got hit in the face twice. (Disclaimer: all of the above NOT actual teams)

I know what you're thinking...WHAT ABOUT HIGH SCHOOL?? (You get that question a lot when you're in your 30s...)

So, as I'm cruising through high school, checkin' out the scene, I decide that I am pretty badass. I see flyers posted, announcing tryouts, and I'm Marcia Brady-ing it. I'm snapping off tabs, taking notes, scribbling dates...you name it. I am ON it!

Tryout number 1: Cheerleading...

The flyer said that tryouts started at 3:30. I got there at 3:25....in jeans, a vest, and penny loafers. I sat biting my nails as I waited for the show to start (that's right..I said "show"...because that is what I thought was happening. I thought a demonstration or pep rally of some sort was about to occur. I didn't know people sat in a row and expected you to do stuff that they would then judge. No clue. (quick background: I went to a small religious school prior to high school) I had no knowledge of "tryouts"...I came from a place where EVERYONE made the team! I figured "tryouts" meant "try out" like "try this sport out and see if you like it." (and of course...I KNEW I liked it...I'd been doing it for like the last 3 years...duh.)

This place was packed. Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a familiar face. I rushed over to her to say "hello", grateful to have someone to talk to (these were the stone ages people...no cell phones= no texting, no web surfing, no Facebook, no app shopping...just paper...that's it. Paper for writing. Paper in books. Paper texts (we called them "notes"), paper games of tabletop football (which I never played so I'm not sure why I'm mentioning it...). Paper, paper, paper!)
Footnote: actually, paragraph note: All of the above sentences in parentheses should have been read in an uppity, judgmental, highly irritated British accent. Go back if you need to...I've got time.

So anyway, I see this girl that I don't actually know, but I recognize her from some class we have in common (or she rode my bus...or she sat near me in the cafeteria...) and I run up to her, calling her by name. "Betsy! Hi! Hi Betsy!" (this is the best I could come up with...) Betsy starts digging in her bag, adjusting her laces, tightening her hair tie, fixing her mascara...doing anything she can to avoid eye contact with me. Hmmm. She quite obviously does not have as clear a remembrance of me as I her...but I'm persistent. She must not have heard me. I reach out and touch her to get her attention, and she looks up from folding her sleeves, stunned. "Hi?" She greets me with an embarrassed, rushed question, worried someone might notice us mingling...right before the show. I smile back at her, racking my brain for something relevant to say when she looks me up and down in full elevator style before saying, "Aren't you going to change? I mean...you can't try out like that."

For the first time, I noticed her clothing.

Umbros...(I think they are soccer shorts...? They appear to be for working out...). T-shirt. Sneakers. Sweatbands...sweatbands?! Uh oh. What kind of a show was this?!

I could feel myself starting to sweat. Ok I'm not gonna lie. I. WAS. FULL OUT. PANICKING!

It was 3:28 and I had NOTHING to wear. Suddenly I noticed EVERYONE had Umbros on...and no one...I mean NO ONE had jeans and fucking penny loafers on. My elitist acquaintance saw her opportunity to be rid of me. "I mean...well, I guess you could just put your gym uniform on or whatever."

I took her suggestion as an order and booked it to my gym locker. I changed as fast as I could and was horrified to discover that my favorite pair of Keds was NOT there. Drats! Oh! I do remember now...I took them home to wash! (Yes...this is true....and yes, these are the kind of thoughts that went through my head at age 14...it's almost like someone plucked me right out of that old timey tv show Little House on the Prairie...which coincidentally was on my parents "approved" list..)

What could I do?! TIME...she was a-wastin! I pulled up my gym shorts, tucked in my gym shirt, caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror, untucked my shirt and then put my penny loafers back on. I was a stylish vixen...a sight to behold...ready to KILL this "try" "out".

I stepped back into the designated area, and heard my name being called out by an elfish girl with a clipboard. After the announcement was made that I would be next, I let out a loud "Whew!" A couple girls looked over at me so I waved.

I was RELIEVED to have made it back in time! I watched the girl before me jump and flip and punch the air and yell...and I thought, "Hmm. I wonder if she really wants to try this out or not."

The judges called me forward and I flashed them a blinging, reflective silver smile, grateful my lips didn't get stuck on my braces.

As they looked me over, they were so impressed...they were speechless.

An older lady with a blonde bob and a sour expression cleared her throat and said, "Toe touch?"

I happily and proudly obliged, barely jumping off the ground and stretching my fingers just beyond my thighs before feeling my feet slide out from under me. Damn penny loafers...so fucking slippery! and then...I'm not perfect, but I am enthusiastic! (I even cheered myself on in my head! I was made for this gig...)

More throat clearing. (As an adult, I now realize they were most likely doing their best not to bust out in belly slapping guffaws, but back then, I said, 'Those three...they all must be smokers..habitual smokers...that stuff will kill you, you know...'

The person sitting in the middle was a girl in a sports bra and Umbros that didn't appear to be much older than me. She stared at me, starting with my head and working her way down to my penny loafered feet, then said, "School Fight Song."

School Fight Song?!? Who knew the words to that?!

I bowed my head, thinking frantically. I cleared my throat, stalling for time. Then I started clapping and side-stepping (Sweatin to the Oldies style):

Munster Mustangs!
We love you!
You're a horse...and that's pretty cool!
Munster Mustangs!
We love you!
You'll win of course, of course, of course!

(Disclaimer: not the actual lyrics to said fight song.)

It was the third lady's turn to tell me what to do. She looked like an older, tanner version of the middle girl...in the same outfit. "Can you do a back hand spring?" My face must have said it all because she hurriedly went on to say, "How about a flip? Any flips? How about a cartwheel, honey?"

I couldn't do any of these. I thought about offering a somersault....

Fast forward...make sure you are sitting down...because this...THIS...is will be a shock for you, I'm afraid...

I didn't make the cheerleading squad that year.

I know...I'm still confused and writing letters to the school board also.