Are you still awake?


cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by jenny downing

Last night, as I wobbled like a Weeble Wobble to the kitchen, the phone rang.

Glancing at the clock, I realized it was a little after midnight.

I had barely croaked a hoarse “hello” when screeches at inhuman decibels hit my ears.

“Are you awake? Tell me you’re awake cause nowadays with you, I never know. Bears in hibernation sleep less than you, Bella. Anyway, pull up a chair. This is going to take a while.”

Carefully replacing the moka pot in the cabinet, I reached for the leftover dinner wine. Something told me coffee wasn’t going to cut if for tonight’s tête-à-tête.

“Do you remember Diane, the woman who’s married to Henry, my next door neighbor’s son? You know, the one who was fat as a house? And notice how I say was and not is. I saw her this morning and I didn’t recognize her. The woman is 200 pounds thinner!”

I slowly inhaled what was left of the dinner wine’s bouquet.

“Turns out she had gastric bypass surgery. She tells me she’s been sick as a dog for the past three months but with all the weight she lost, who cares? And if the weight loss wasn’t enough, the bitch went and got a tummy tuck to get rid of the leftover skin. A tummy tuck! Do you know how long you and I have dreamed of getting one of those babies? But have we? No. And why not? Cause all of our money goes into paying for these kids’ education, that’s why!”

I took a long sip and let my head roll back.

“And for what, Bella? For what? Your kid still is still a work in progress and my two have been working toward a Bachelor’s Degree for the past six years. What a waste of money! We could have spent that cash in getting our stomachs stapled. And with what we’ve spent on books and other incidentals, we would have had enough for a tummy tuck, liposuction in our jaw, an eye lift, and four Botox treatments!”

I turned my neck to the side and heard it crack loudly.

“We would be skinny minnies shopping for bikinis at Target. In size 0! No more being on the defensive and saying 0 is not a size, because it would be our size! We’d be a double 00, you and I! No more fat pants, tunics, or those nasty sweatpants you’re so prone to wearing. We’d be sporting skinny jeans, mini skirts, and thigh high boots! We’d be a force to be reckoned with. We’d look younger, taller, and skinny! S-K-I-N-N-Y!”

I took another sip of wine and wobbled back to the kitchen.

“If we had better invested our money, you wouldn’t have knee troubles from being overweight and I wouldn’t have a double chin I have to hide with scarves in the summer and turtlenecks in the winter. We’d teeter on high heels, buy skinny lattes at Starbucks, and count calories using an app. Instead, those universities where our kids say they go to study are sucking what’s left of our meager savings dry. At this point, we’ll be lucky if we avoid living out the rest of our days in one of those nursing homes where they beat the elderly and starve them to death!”

I slowly moved the items in the kitchen cabinet, searching for a box of Carr’s crackers.

“Mom is right, you know. We’re a pair of enablers. Not only have those kids taken all our money, they’ve also done away with our taut stomachs, firm boobs, and perky derrieres. I never recovered from that 13 stitch episiotomy, you know. I go one day without consuming fiber and all hell breaks loose. You can hear my screams in the next county. And you, don’t get me started on how your desire to breastfeed left your girls, Thelma and Louise! One more month of breastfeeding the Son, and you’d be dragging them on the floor!

I rummaged in the refrigerator and searched for the brie.

“I wish I hadn’t seen that woman today. She’s the reason for this rant. Her and her new flat stomach. She used to weigh more than I did, you know. It makes me want to cry. When I think of the money we’ve wasted on useless pursuits, I want to scream! Where did we go wrong? We made bad choices, plain and simple. I should never have gone to the club that night and met you know who and you should have joined the Peace Corps like you wanted to. Who knows, you might now be married to a doctor and I wouldn’t have to wait until they put the granny pants on clearance at Target.”

Not having found the brie, I made do with the remains of what I hoped was Cheez Whiz.

“We were destined for glory, you and I. Remember how I was in the top ten percentile in college? You spoke French like a native. Dear Lord, now look at us. I bet you’re drinking stale wine and spreading something moldy on a cracker, aren’t you?”

I tried to chew the saltine I had just spread with some sort of mystery cheese without making noise.

“It’s too late to do anything about it now. Our lives suck. This is our reality and we have to deal with it. You and I. We’re in this crap hole together. No one’s digging us out. We’re going to be stuck in here till we die. Or till they send a pair of burly orderlies from the nursing home where our kids are sticking us. Because that’s what awaits us down the line, sister. Me, a woman who should have been dressed in Prada, wearing a straight jacket and you, a woman who was going to write a best seller, singing ‘Old McDonald had a farm’. Dear God, why do you hate us so?”

I took a final sip of wine and placed the wine goblet on the kitchen counter.

“The sound of an empty wine goblet scratching the surface of your old kitchen counter. My cue to put the soap box back in the corner.”

Smiling, I answered, “Yep. Do you feel better?”

“Maybe a tad. Same time next week?”

“Absolutely.”

Click.

Who do you call when you need to vent?

Can someone pass the bruschetta?


cc licensed ( BY NC ND ) flickr photo shared by Felipe Neves

Last night, as I carried out the preparations that would ensure an eve of much deserved rest and relaxation, I heard the worst sound a woman hell-bent on unplugging can possibly hear–the phone ringing.

Carefully placing my wine glass on the table, I hurried to pick up, all the while praying it was a telemarketer asking if I wanted to buy a time share in the Cayman Islands.

But alas, such was not my luck.

I had barely said hello when I heard my sister screech, “Do you know that So and So just got back from skiing in Austria? Skiing! In Austria! And the bitch came back with a tan! I tell you Bella, life is passing us by, sister. Passing us by!”

I braced myself and made a grab for the wine glass, certain it was going to be one of those conversations.

Taking a sip of my wine and a bite of my bruschetta, I settled comfortably on the couch.

“We’re in our forties! In our forties, I tell you! And what have we done with our lives besides ruining our shapes and acquiring stretch marks from giving birth? Nada, I tell you! Nada!”

For some reason, she was repeating the last phrase and/or word of everything she said.

I poked a breadstick into the humus and tried to chew quietly.

“And these kids! If we could at least say, my son the doctor or my daughter the rocket scientist, but hell no! We’re lucky we can say, my son the student! Really, how long is it going to take them to get their Bachelor’s degree? I’m already fifty thousand dollars in the hole! But even so, I’ll consider myself lucky if my firstborn gets a job as a manager at Best Buy.”

I inhaled the heavenly scent of olive oil as I dipped a piece of crusty bread in it.

“And you! All that slumming you do, dressing like a homeless person, and for what? Yes, Bella, mark my words. The angel of death will soon greet us and all of this sacrifice will be for nothing!”

I grabbed the tiny spreading knife and spread brie on a cracker.

“I had dreams, you know. You had dreams! You were going to win a Pulitzer! And me? I was going to discover the cure for Alzheimer’s. But the way this is going, we’ll be lucky if we get Alzheimer’s so we can forget how we pissed our lives away. Pissed our lives away!”

I slowly inched for the wine bottle and poured myself a second glass.

“I was going to live in a fancy house, drive a fancy car, dress in fancy clothes, and walk a fancy dog. Instead, I’m stuck in this money pit with a leaky roof, drive a second-hand passenger van, wear whatever’s on clearance at Target, and my idea of walking the dog is putting him out on the doorstep and telling him to pee and scratch the door when he’s done.”

I bit into another bruschetta and repositioned the cushion behind my lower back.

“And you! Your idea of action is walking Roxy in the forest wearing those hideous sweatpants and that old polar fleece jacket that’s full of dog hair! I cannot believe you’re not upset by all that is happening to us. Or I should say, NOT happening to us. We should be on the arm of men like Gerard Butler or Jim Caviezel, dining and wining on the Amalfi Coast. Instead, we’re lucky if Laurel and Hardy take us to the drive-thru at Mickey D’s!”

I slowly unfolded my cloth napkin and delicately wiped the corners of my mouth.

“Where did we go wrong, Bella? Where? We’re educated women. We speak three languages. We graduated Magna Cum Laude, for the love of God! We dated good looking men. We were good to mom, dad, and nana. Why does the Universe hate us? Why aren’t we the ones returning with our dentist husband from a skiing holiday, sporting a freakin’ tan? Why, Bella, why?”

I reached for the wine bottle and poured myself a third glass.

“Bella? Are you listening to me? Have you heard a word I’ve said?”

“Woman, I have heard every word you’ve said. Are you done?”

“Yes, yes I am.”

“Are you feeling better?”

“Much better.”

“Good.”

“Next week, same time?”

“You betcha.”

Does venting help you feel better?