Thursday, October 17, 2013


As a young girl, I was part of an organization known as The Campfire Girls. I couldn't have told you then what the Campfire Girls stood for, or what specifically they represented and meant to teach - and I still couldn't tell you now. All I know is that once a week, I would go to the house of my Campfire leader, and I would awkwardly socialize with four or five girls my age for an hour or two. Sometimes we would do arts and crafts, many of which included glitter, macaroni, and pinecones. (We glued glitter onto anything that would stay still. This may or may not have included a lethargic cat.) Other times, we would play games - the most memorable of which was a game in which our troop leader would hide a thimble out in the open in a large room, and we would be responsible for finding it without giving away its location to the other girls. (In order to indicate that you'd located the thimble, you were to shout "Huckle huckle beanstalk!" and sit quickly on the ground. Obviously.) Most excitingly, though, sometimes we would leave the troop leader's house and go on adventures around the city. We once sang Christmas carols at a nursing home. We also went to city hall one time, and we met Mayor Jack Rabbit, which was really his name for some reason that I'll never understand. The time we're here to talk about though - that time we went out for ice cream.

The ice cream parlor that we went to was the most awe-inspiring thing I had yet to encounter in my life. There was a Do It Yourself toppings bar right smack dab in the middle of the place, and to a group of five or six eight year old girls, that translates to absolute mayhem. We were served our dishes of plain ice cream and instructed to go to the bar and top them in a reasonable, responsible fashion. Oh okay, sure. Obviously, what we ended up with instead were single scoops of vanilla covered in mountains of gummy bears, M&Ms, peanuts, Jello, chocolate chips, raspberry jam, caramel sauce - I think one girl somehow ended up with a legit ham sandwich on top of her sundae - and of course everything was topped with whipped cream and seventy-three maraschino cherries. We were in heaven, in absolute bliss. Sugar-fueled, diabetic, coma-inducing bliss. We made repeat trips to reload on more candy, more whipped cream, more rainbow jimmies - we just kept going until we couldn't go anymore. There was just no room left in our tiny eight-year-old tummies to shove anymore garbage down our throat holes. And so the adventure came to a close. 

Our leader asked us each to be sure to use the bathroom before we left, because it was a long ride home. All six of us walked down the hall to the bathroom, which was just one small room. One toilet, one sink, unisex. If you need to go to the bathroom in this restaurant, you are using this one single toilet. So we do what eight-year-old girls are good at, and we get in single-file line against the wall outside the bathroom door, waiting our turns. I fell somewhere in the middle of that line - not first, but far from last. When my time came to use the facilities, I was eternally grateful. The sugar and syrup and ham and ice cream I had ingested were waging war on my insides, and I was on the verge of shitting my OshKosh overalls. I shuffled calmly into the bathroom so as not to let on to my issues, and I shut the door carefully behind me, making sure it was locked. Then I ran to the toilet, and I birthed a small, tiny, eight-year-old girl poop. I was humiliated, because I knew that whichever girl had the next turn would know for sure that I had suffered intestinal distress due to the unpleasant odor of poorly processed dairy in the air, but there was nothing I could do. I flushed the toilet... and nothing happened. The handle did not offer the tautness that I was used to in a toilet flush. Instead, I was met with a limp, loose toilet handle that did nothing but mock me and my horrendous situation. I know now that the chain had likely come loose in the toilet tank, but eight-year-old me was certain that I had broken the toilet, which meant that someone, somewhere in the world, was going to see my poop. This was not acceptable. So I proceeded to do what any normal person would do. I started crying. While I was crying, I somehow convinced myself that my tiny poop would sink to the depths of the unknown, unseen toilet places if I were to break it up into even tinier pieces. I took the toilet plunger and jabbed at my poop until it broke in two - two smaller, but still floating, pieces of my poop, staring at me in the eye, multiplying and ruining my life. At this point, people have begun knocking on the door. 

"Cindy, are you okay? Is everything alright?"
"Yes, once second" I said, but inside I thought "Nothing is alright! There is poop and it is here and I cannot be rid of it!"

Then I saw it. Just above the toilet, high above my head, was a small window that was open to the outside world. Instantly the answer was clear. I sprung into action - I crafted myself thick Cottonelle mitts, a mummy has never been wound with mitts as fine as these. I covered every pore of my hands a hundred times over - at quick glance, I may have looked like a burn victim, but actually I was just a girl with a bad poop situation. And then it was time. I reached into the bowl of the toilet and I physically removed my own feces. I plucked one half of that tiny poop straight up out of the toilet bowl. I held it precariously in one hand as I used the other to close the toilet lid. I climbed atop the toilet seat, balancing my digested food in my right while steadying myself with my left - if I could complete this task, I would be home free. Once steady, I stood on my tippest tiptoe. I reached my arm up high, as far as my tiny arms would stretch, grasping my poop firmly but gently. I stuck my Cottonelle out the window and - I let go. I dropped my poop outside. Into the world. I didn't know what was out there. It could have been a parking lot. I could have been dropping my own waste onto an elderly woman's windshield. Hell, I could have been dropping it onto an elderly woman. I didn't care. All I knew was, this was working. My poop was gone.

I climbed carefully down off the toilet, and I removed my mitts. I washed my hands and reached out for the door when I remembered that my job was not complete. I opened the toilet again and was greeted by my remaining tiny poop half, along with the paper I had used when I'd finished my business originally. And so the process began again. Mummy hands, acrobatics, windshields. For some reason, I didn't feel comfortable throwing the used toilet paper out the window though - I did scoop that out, but I threw it directly into the trash. I peeked in the toilet one more time, just to be sure, and the water was finally clean. I composed myself, and I finally gathered the courage to leave the bathroom.

The entire process took probably only five minutes, so no one really questioned me much after all was said and done. I don't remember if the girl after me complained about the toilet not flushing. No one ever mentioned to me the exorbitant amount of sopping wet toilet paper I'd discarded in the trash. I waited patiently while the rest of the girls completed their (assuredly much more standard) business, and when everyone was finished, we gathered together and left the restaurant.

I made sure to check the location of the small bathroom window as we walked to the car. I let out a sigh of relief when I spotted it hidden behind some tall bushes against the building.

No elderly women were pooped upon on that day.

Well. At least not by my hand.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Everyone watches porn with their family, right?

Growing up, I was a relatively well-behaved child. My grades were above average, I didn't talk back to my parents, and I was always where I was supposed to be when I was supposed to be there. I had a lot of friends, in middle school especially, but even that didn't keep me from occasionally finding myself bored and in need of some sort of excitement. Imagine my delight then, when my step-brother Roddy pulled me aside one day to speak in the utmost private secrecy.

"I found something. But you can't tell anyone."

Immediately, regardless of what it was that he had to show me, I knew that my day was going to be better. After checking to be absolutely sure we were alone, Roddy finally looked me in the eye and said,

"I found my dad's porn."

Oh man, excellent, okay. At the age of twelve, the idea of porn was almost completely foreign to me. All I knew was that it was something I wasn't supposed to see, and that somehow it was possibly sexual. However, our interest in it was not sexual in nature at all - instead, it was just a matter of morbid curiosity. Now it was just a matter of figuring out how we might actually get to watch the taboo VHS that had made its way into our possession. There was only one VCR in the house, and it was in the living room - and with my mother almost constantly home, there was no obvious way to make our way in there without being seen. And so, we knew what had to be done. All we could do was wait.

A few days later, my mother started rounding all of us up, prepping us for a trip to the grocery store. Instantly, Roddy and I knew that this was our chance.

"Mom! No, you know what. You go to the store. We're gonna stay here and... do a surprise for you. We can't tell you what it is, it's a surprise. But just go, we'll be fine."

Eventually, after much whining and begging and pleading, she reluctantly agreed to let us stay home, but with one stipulation - we would have to look after our younger sisters. You would think this might have put a snag in our plan, but no. We were determined. At first, we attempted to get the girls to go upstairs and play - in our minds, twelve was a perfectly acceptable age to be watching hardcore porn, but ten and eight year olds must certainly avert their eyes. However, the fact that we had a devious plan in place must have been apparent, because our sisters refused to leave.

"No! We want to stay in here! We want to hang out with you guys! We want to watch TV! Wehh wehh wehhhhh."

Okay fine. At that point, knowing that we did not have all the time in the world, we bit the bullet and decided to just watch the tape. We directed our sisters to look away, thinking somehow that if we were to get caught we could at least say, "Listen, obviously we told them not to watch the porn." And then, with little pomp or circumstance, it began.

I do not remember the specifics of the video. I cannot tell you how many people did what to who and where or for what reason. What I do remember is just so much hysterical laughing from Roddy and our sisters and myself. What could easily have been the most awkward experience of my life had instantly transformed itself into one of the most hilarious. We rolled around on the ground, laughing until we could not breathe, and finally the time came to shut the video off. Roddy stopped the tape, and made a valiant effort to eject it - only to be met with an unfortunate, squealing, crunch of a sound. A moment of panic struck us all, but then suddenly everyone was MacGyver. Screwdrivers, pens, unbent clothes hangers, my littlest sister's tiny fingers - if it would fit inside the VCR door, we tried using it to dislodge the ancient, terrible beast of a video. We worked on freeing that thing for what seemed like days, but nothing we did seemed to work. Eventually, we realized that time was running out, and that we would have to admit defeat. So we put all screwdrivers, pens, and unbent clothes hangers back in place, shut the television off, and made a pact that stated that none of us would ever admit to having watched the porn. A feeling of relief washed over us all, as we realized that we might possibly get away with our afternoon's adventure. But then we remembered...

We're gonna stay here and... do a surprise for you. We can't tell you what it is, it's a surprise.... a surprise.... surpriseeeeee........"

Dear Christ, we'd promised my mother a surprise. Well, what could we do? We'd spent all of our spare time trying to pry the dead, lifeless VHS carcass out of the jaws of the cruel, cruel VCR. My mother was bound to be home at any moment, and we'd not even considered what the bullshit surprise might be. There was no time left to craft some adorable art project, no time to write a sweet story or do the laundry or clean our bedrooms. And then it hit us - the toy closet in the living room was a disaster, one of my mother's biggest pet peeves. Perhaps we could make an effort to tidy that up before she got back. So we all dove in - pulled everything out of the closet and into the living room, and then piled it all back in, in a slightly-neater yet still-not-neat-at-all fashion. And with perfect timing - as we replaced the last of the boxes and slid the closet door closed, my mother walked in the back door. She called out for us, "Guys?" and in the most guilty of all manners, we ran as a group of five from the living room to the kitchen.

"So, let's hear it. What was the surprise?" my mother asked knowingly, certain that we'd had some sort of trick up our sleeve.

We reluctantly led her to the living room closet and said,

"Look. We organized it."

She looked at it, looked us all over, and just said,


She knew that something had gone on in her absence, something that was not the shittiest closet organization known to man. And we all knew that it was only a matter of time before she figured out what it was.

Later, we restated our solidarity and commitment to the cause, swearing to never admit that we'd watched the video. But then, time went by. The tensest hours of the day ended with no confrontation. Days went by, no word or mention of anything. We went from feeling at ease to having completely forgotten that the incident had occurred in the first place.

Until one day, my mother cornered me and went straight into a lecture about how sex in real life is not at all like the sex you see in porn. I'd been blindsided! I'd had no time to prepare, no opportunity even to deny that we'd watched the tape. She'd caught me unawares - on my own, without the camaraderie of my siblings to get me through. All I could do was listen as she explained to me that sex is a beautiful thing and porn is disgusting and please do not form my view of relations on the one tape that I may or may not have seen.

And then she was done. No accusations. No groundings. No chastising.

But she did tell me we weren't fooling anyone with that closet.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Let's Talk About Squiggles and Circles

There are a number of important things in your early life that you likely remember learning. You remember where you were when you found out that there was no Santa Claus. You probably remember learning how to ride a bike. You remember your first crush, your first slow dance, your first kiss, your first heartbreak.

But do you remember where you were when you first learned about "The Birds and The Bees"? Was it in health class when you were in the ninth grade, and everything was completely foreign to you? No, that's not likely - it was probably earlier. Perhaps you were an awkward thirteen-year-old who stumbled upon his father's poorly hidden x-rated DVD stash. No? Even earlier than that? Maybe you were a confused preteen who took bits and pieces of whispered school yard stories and formed them into an almost-coherent idea. What? You were younger than that?! Fine, possibly a nine-year-old who accidentally came across your German shepherd in the back yard taking advantage of the neighbor's purebred, prize-winning poodle.

If you say you were even younger than that, then you're lying. You're lying... or you're me.

Okay, ready?

My mother is an amazing woman. People will always say that their mother is the best mother - but those people are wrong. My mother is caring and funny and giving and sweet and just the most perfect mom that any person could ever hope for. She sent me to private school to be sure that I would have the best education that money could buy. She colored with me and took me to movies and baked cookies with me and answered any question I ever had as fairly and honestly and concisely as she could. She never babied me, but at the same time she treated me with more love than I have ever seen anyone give to their child.

So what was it, you ask, that led my mother into my room for an impromptu health class on that one night when I was seven? I do not have an answer to that question - all I know is this:

If I was not asleep, I was nearly so. Perhaps my mother had been out that evening, or perhaps she had been home and was on her way to bed - I do not particularly recall. Either way, she came into my bedroom and softly jostled me awake. I remember a small amount of commonplace mother-daughter chatting at the beginning - how had my day been, how was school going, things of that nature. And then, suddenly, we were talking about when a man and a woman love each other. Wait, what? Where did this come from? What did this have to do with penmanship and art class and carrying the one in math? And so, as my mother continued to explain that love was a beautiful thing and that it was meant to be cherished and respected, I tried to figure out why the hell I was up at one in the morning when I had a spelling test the next day. Slowly but surely, as I started to wonder what this was all about, words I did not understand began to come into play. Penis? Vagina? I know what love is, but I don't think I'm familiar with the concept of "making" it. Yet still she went on, and suddenly my incredibly active imagination started to form all sorts of horrifying visuals. My mother soon realized that I was forming my own opinion of what this act would look like and immediately took it upon herself to remedy the situation. Two minutes and a blue crayon later, I was looking at the most anatomically-correct stick figures the world has ever seen. "This" point point point "is the man's penis. And when a man and woman are in love, the penis goes inside here," arrow arrow arrow, "the woman's vagina. Then, the sperm comes out" squiggle squiggle squiggle "and goes into the eggs," circle circle circle, "and then a baby is made!"

Of course! The point follows the arrow until the squiggles go into the circle and then there is a baby!

See, even as an adult that sounds absurd. Imagine being seven years old and trying to figure it out. What is this witchcraft! What is this sorcery! Squiggles and circles do not a baby make! But I accepted this information for what it was, wished my mother a goodnight, and went back to sleep.

I understand that she was doing nothing other than trying to keep me informed and educated in all aspects of life. Perhaps she had seen a jarring episode of Oprah that stated that more and more third graders were having unprotected sex. Maybe she read an article in Good Housekeeping that suggested that girls between the ages of six and eight were 300 times more likely to get pregnant than they were ten years ago. Whatever the reason, she approached the situation with grace and class and taught me an important life lesson, and for that I am grateful.

Plus, you'd better believe this is how I'm teaching my kids someday.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A.D.I.D.A.B.U. (or All Day I Dream About Breaking Up.)

There will come a time in most girls' lives when a boy will break up with her for the first time. It will never be fun, and it will never be pretty. It will often leave her heartbroken with residual feelings of inadequacy and insecurity. Obviously, at one time in my life, this happened to me.

And, obviously, here's the story.

When I was fifteen years old, I had a free period in my day which I spent as an office aide. I filed paperwork and answered phones and wrote passes - and, most importantly, I delivered memos and messages to different classrooms throughout the school. Oftentimes I would find myself making deliveries in the cafeteria, or having to walk through it to reach classrooms on the other side. Early in the semester, I realized that my good friend Denny ate lunch at that time, so I would sometimes stop by and chat for a minute or two before carrying on with my business. Denny ate lunch with a group of people I did not know, but I started to become friendly with them as time went on. A cute boy at the table caught my eye from day one, but I was shy and had a hard time showing my interest. Thankfully, he was outspoken enough for the both of us, and we were good friends
in no time. His name, for the sake of this story, will be Jean-Claude. Because that is an awesome name.

Jean-Claude was the dreamiest thing I'd ever set my eyes on in New Hampshire. Sure, I'd had my share of love affairs in middle school, but those were just boys. It was clear to me that Jean-Claude was a man. From the way his backpack was covered in cool patches to the way he made jokes about sex a lot, I knew he was the man of my dreams. Eventually, I was making excuses to find my way to the cafeteria during my free period, and I was staying longer than I should have just to flirt and laugh with this charming gentleman. As the semester went on, I started to be more forward with my feelings - small hints at first, eventually making way for blatant admissions of interest. More often than not he would just laugh me off; lightly though, and without malice. But the flirting continued, and eventually I worked up the courage to ask him to come with me to my best friend's formal sweet sixteen. I explained fervidly that it would not be a date, and he agreed to join me without hesitation.

The day of the party came, and I went out of my way to look gorgeous. I wore a long, slinky dress, I did my makeup, I wore my hair down. I did absolutely everything I could think of to make myself look like a beautiful woman, and not like the goofy, jeans-wearing, lunchbox carrying tomboy that Jean-Claude was used to seeing every day in the cafeteria. Once we arrived, I started to make the rounds with him, introducing him to everyone he did not know. Some sort of courage had come over me, like nothing I had ever experience before, so in no time I was saying, "So-and-so, this is my date Jean-Claude. He is not my boyfriend, but don't you think he should be?" I laughed, he laughed, everyone laughed at how cute I was - until, with one introduction, he interjected and said, "Well... would you like me to be?" Oh, I thought my heart would explode! Yes, yes Jean-Claude! Not one thing in the wide, wide world would make me happier than for you to be my boyfriend!

And so it was. We spent the rest of the night dancing, and during the last song, he held me close and kissed me. It was everything I could ever have hoped for, and it was happening to me right then and there on the dance floor. I knew at that moment that I had found the love of my life, the man I would marry, the father of my children, the piece of my soul that I hadn't known was missing until suddenly I'd found it. Eventually, the party ended, and a few of us relocated to the house of an aunt so the night would not have to end. Jean-Claude and I sat outside in the dark in each others' arms, talking and kissing and being young and in love.

Over the course of the next few weeks, we became somewhat inseparable. I spent every moment with him that was possibly allowed. He often came to my house after school where we talked and napped and kissed and behaved in other inappropriate teenage ways. I continued to visit him in the cafeteria during school, eventually being asked to step down from my aide position for spending too much time out of the office. But it was worth it. He made me happier than I'd ever known I could be, and it was one of the best times of my life.

After we'd been dating for a month or two, my parents informed me that we'd be spending April school vacation in South Carolina with my grandparents. That meant I'd be away from Jean-Claude for a whole week, and I was devastated. He told me that he would miss me and he gave me his favorite cardigan sweater to bring with me on the trip. We said our goodbyes and I reluctantly left with my family.

I thought of him endlessly while I was away. I wore the sweater twenty-four hours a day in sticky, humid South Carolina heat. I wrote him a post card. I called him from a payphone in the middle of an amusement park, since it was the only place I'd been allowed any privacy - but it was so loud there that I could not hear him. I counted the hours, minutes, seconds until I would be back at home, and suddenly, the day was here. We pulled off the highway back into town sometime in the evening. We stopped at the supermarket before finally heading home to pick up a cake for my sister, because it was her birthday - but I could not wait any longer. I got out of the van and ran to a payphone and called him immediately.

He answered the phone, but he did not sound excited. In fact, he sounded sad. Sort of distant? I could sense that something was wrong, but I was terrifed to ask what it might be. I thought that maybe, if I just ignored the fact that he wasn't himself, whatever it was would go away and I would see him the next day and everything would be fine. I tried to say goodbye and that I would see him soon, but he cut me off and said the worst thing a girl in love can ever hear:

"I think we should stop seeing each other."

I was crushed. I physically felt my heart brake inside of my chest. I was certain at that moment that I would never love again. I don't even know if I tried to fight it, or if I just knew that it was done. All I remember is hanging up the phone and standing in front of the supermarket, all alone, crying. I sobbed as though someone close to me had died, or maybe even harder than that. Eventually, I realized that I was standing in the middle of a busy shopping center having a breakdown and that I would need to get back to the car. And eventually I must have, although the rest of that day is a blur. I remember being teased by my big brother, being consoled by my mother, and not much of anything else.

That was May 2nd, 1998. And that's the end.

One day last year though, I received a text message from Jean-Claude. When I opened it, there was a photograph of a contract, which I'd handwritten. It said:

I, Cynthia Elizabeth Walker, hereby declare that you, [Jean-Claude Etc] are THE funniest person I know as of now, 8:00pm, August 17th, 1998. SIGNED: Cynthia Elizabeth Walker. WITNESS: Jean-Claude. PS - Oh yeah, and you're my best friend!

So maybe we weren't meant to be soulmates. Did I die when he broke up with me? No. Did I move on? Of course. I was fifteen. To have felt so strongly about such thing at such a young age is obviously silly now, but that doesn't mean it hurt less at the time. But I picked up the pieces and I kept moving. And I've been lucky enough to keep Jean-Claude as a friend. To this day, I still love him with all of my heart, because he is one of the best people I've ever known.

And I know now that a broken heart doesn't mean the end of the world. And I know now that I'm stronger than anything life can throw at me. And I know that I am amazing and I have nothing to worrry about. And for all of that, I thank him a lot.

Thanks, Jean-Claude. ;)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Boy Who Almost Didn't Live

Sometimes I would just rather sleep than go to work.

That doesn't mean I don't like my job. It doesn't mean that I have a bad work ethic - it just means that I really, really like to sleep.

Once when I was about twenty-two, I was feeling especially adamant about this particular sentiment. I called work and requested to take the day off - and I was denied. "No no, we'll have none of that, please come get here at your earliest convenience." Oh, alright. So instead, I stated that I would be late, and I curled up and planned to take another few moments of sleep before finally heading in.

I had just started dozing off again when the phone started to ring. I wanted to so badly to ignore it, but instead I did the first responsible thing of the day, and I answered.

"Yes hello, Cindy, it's person from work. People are calling for you and they say it is important. Here is a number you need to call. Thank you goodbye."

Oh, yes, okay, let's do that. So I called the number I had been given without any sort of knowledge as to who I was calling or why.

"Nurse's office."
"Uh. What. Hello?"
"Can I help you?"
"I have.. uh. No idea. What? Someone from work just called and told me to call you?"
"Is this Cindy Walker?"
"Uh. Yes?"
"Hello we have your brother here, bleeding from the head. Please come retrieve him."

Oh alright, let's do that too. Ben was in school at the time and had apparently injured himself somehow. Since my mother was in California visiting relatives and my father lived forty minutes away, my brother had suggested to the nurse that she call me. He also had assumed I'd be at work (since technically I certainly should have been) and had recommended that she call me there.

So I got up and got dressed and called my boss to let him know that I would be going to pick up my brother at school and that he was broken and I would be needing to see to it that he was repaired. It did not go over well, as I had already tried to take the day off without success, but I said "too bad so sad" and went to save Ben's life.

I arrived at the school and went into the front office where I recognized the receptionist. We made quick small talk, but I knew that time was likely a factor, so I cut right to the chase and asked if I might be able to head to the nurse's office to find my brother. The woman looked at me sideways and sad,

"Cindy, your brother has not gone to this school in many years. This is the elementary school, and he must surely be in high school now."

Oh right, that. I am an idiot. I mumbled some sort of feckless, illogical excuse and went on my way to pick up my brother at the appropriate school. Like I should have done the first time.

When I finally arrived at the nurse's office, I was received with scorn and diappointment - from the nurse. She explained to me that it was imperative that Ben get medical attention immediately, and that the numbers that we had as his emergency contact were clearly out of date, and what if this had been life-threatening, and don't I know the importance of updated records, and wait a second lady I thought time was a factor. Shut up. Give me my brother.

When we were finally alone and on our way to the car, I asked my brother to show me his wound. Apparently he had been shoved into the corner of a bleacher while playing matball, the world's safest gym class game in which large groups of people round bases in unison, and have a tendency to careen into one another while trying not to overshoot third, which in this case was the bleachers, which in this case had very sharp corners.

He slowly removed the damp, maroon-tinged cloth from his forehead and revealed a thick flap of skin hanging precariously above his eyebrow, bleeding violently everywhere for forever. I immediately had him cover it again and tried to stop thinking about it long enough to drive to the hospital.

When we arrived at the emergency room, there was a short line. We waited patiently for our turn, and eventually were able to make our way to speak to someone. The woman asked me what the issue was. I made Ben show her his head. She asked if I was his mother. I said no, I am 22, I am not the mother of a fourteen year old. She asked if I was his guardian. I said no, and I explained that my mother was out of town. She asked if there was a guardian who was not in California. I said that I would contact my father. She said good, and made us go back to the waiting room. They would not clean him up. They would not fix him. They would not even look at him until there was a guardian in the building. (They did, however, give us a paper towel. Oh hey thanks!)

My father eventually showed up after nearly an hour (since he needed to get out of work and drive forty minutes to where we were) and they finally let us into a room. We sat waiting in the room for another long, drawn out period of time, but eventually a doctor came to see what all the commotion was about. He cleaned the wound and stated that it would indeed need stitches, and asked me if I wanted to see it now that it was not swimming in a pool of grossness. I said yes and then OH HEY BEN'S SKULL. I mean, oh, right, Ben's skull. That's normal.

I watched the doctor inject my brother's forehead with novocaine out of the hugest needle I've ever seen in my life, and then I listened to them talk about baseball while he sewed medical thread into Ben's face. I did not watch that part. Eventually, it was done. The doctor bandaged the wound and it was time to leave.

We said goodbye to my father in the parking lot and I drove Ben home. We laughed about how he would have his very own lightning-shaped scar on his forehead when all was said and done.

And then I went to work.

Monday, March 14, 2011

A blog about pee.

If you are a woman, then you will know what I am talking about, probably from the get-go. If you are a man, then sit back and relax while you learn some things about women you may or may not have known.


When you are a small child, there will come a time when you are forced to use a public restroom. Parents are required to teach their children the rules and regulations of these often rancid places. For fathers, this lesson is simple enough - stand. pee. flush. Mothers, on the other hand, face a more difficult choice. Which method will you use when it comes time to teach your daughter to use a public toilet?

There are three methods that are most common in these circumstances, and they are as follows:

1.) I like to refer to the first method as "regular." The regular method consists of sitting on the toilet and peeing. No prep, no worry. Oftentimes, people fear that this method is unsanitary and dangerous. With an average of less than 1,000 bacteria per square inch however, nothing could be further than the truth. Less than 1,000 b/si is the guideline that most doctors use to qualify a surface as "sanitary" - which means that you're better off eating off of the toilet seat than you would be eating by the sink faucet (which holds, on average, 50,000 b/si.)

2.) The second method is the "toilet seat cover" method. I feel like this method is overrated, really. First of all, fewer and fewer public restrooms are stocking disposable toilet seat covers, which makes the whole process sort of a nusance - the only alternative is to line the seat with squares or strips of toilet paper before sitting down. As Americans, we already use over 7 million trees' worth of toilet paper annually - it seems as though maybe we could take a break and cut back on any excess restroom paper consumption. Now, assuming that you are absolutely sold on the idea of covering the seat before you sit, consider this. If there is any moisture on the seat before you start, it is going to seep through the liner once the pressure of your bottom has been applied. Perhaps you've thought of this, and you're doubling or tripling up on your layers. Is that to say that you don't even remotely shift during the whole of your stay on that public toilet? Because if you budge, even a little, the odds of your bare bottom touching the bare toilet seat are pretty high. And once bottom touches seat, do you know what happens? That's right, nothing. We've talked about this.

3.) The third method is the one that bothers me most of all. It's called the "hover." Apparently, there is a school of thought that assumes that hovering, or squatting, over the toilet seat is the best of both worlds. No need to line the toilet seat with paper, but still no need for your ass to touch the seat itself. However, hovering is in no way an exact science. Messes are easily made in these instances, which can prove to be largely uninviting to the person who next uses that stall. Unfortunately, there is also a subclass of hoverers that I like to refer to as "fucking disgusting." These are the women who perform some sort of spraying maneuver during their trip to the ladies' room, causing urine to cover the seat, the floor, and any other nearby surfaces - and then leave without cleaning up. Although urine is a sterile substance, and dealing with it is luckily not an unsanitary activity, it is still relatively rancid to have to wipe someone else's pee away before being able to comfortably use the facilities. Please be considerate hoverers - you are not the only person using this restroom today. Oh, and PS. Since hovering over the seat doesn't allow your bladder to relax fully, it may not empty completely. Residual urine in your bladder can breed bacteria, which can lead to urinary tract infections and, over time, incontinence. So cut it out. Really.

This has been my note about pee. If you know either a toilet seat cover user or a hoverer, please share it with them. Not only will it save them time, and possibly protect their health, but it will keep me from ever having to sit in hover pee by accident ever again.

Thank you.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

War and Pizza

Here is the attendance policy for my high school:

During any given quarter, a student may accrue up to five absences from any class before he/she will earn an administrative failure for that quarter.
a. Three tardies will be counted as equal to one absence.
b. Being more than 20 minutes late to class will be counted as equal to one absence.

Here is a fun fact about this policy:

It didn't go into effect until the year after I graduated.

Thanks to this fact, I didn't go to school much my senior year. I didn't like math or science, I had a ton of study periods throughout the day, and my first period French class was way too early for me to care about. What I did love though was my last class of the day. Senior Humanities Seminar was new for my senior year, and it was a two-period class that encompassed history and English, was taught by two teachers, and was fantastic. I nearly dropped it after the first day, because I hadn't done the summer reading, but the teachers gave me a chance:

"If we promise that not doing the summer reading will not cause you to fail, will you stay?"

Well, when put that way in front of my entire class, I couldn't very well leave. They might as well have said "If we promise you that we will kill this baby if you leave, will you stay?" So I stayed, and it was one of the best academic decisions I ever made. The class was very small, and it had a very intimate feel to it. The structure was very open, and heated discussion was not only allowed but encouraged. We had a lot of serious debate, but we also laughed a lot. We read and we read and we read, and we wrote and we wrote and we wrote. It was the class where I first read Hesse, and Kafka, and Tolstoy. Oh, sweet Tolstoy.

We read War and Peace as a class over the period of a month or two. I loved every sentence, but even still, I found it to be a bit much when added to the rest of my workload. (You know, the pile of uncompleted assignments that I wasn't working on because I preferred playing Final Fantasy IX.) The teachers were not oblivious to the fact that we were busy seniors - they knew that we all had our plates full, and so they decided to reward us for our efforts. It was announced that, at the end of our harrowing Russian literature experience, we would be granted a pizza party. A War and Pizza party.

It was simple. Basically, once the book was done, the teachers would somehow find a way to order pizza into the building. (We should have had it delivered. The class was just inside the back door of the school, that's what we should have done.) Each of us was responsible for bringing an extra dish, and we would spend the last two periods of the day eating and talking about battles and love and catty Russian women. What could be better?

The day crept ever closer, and all we could think about was how fun War and Pizza would be. I signed up to bring something simple - maybe cookies? - because I knew I couldn't be trusted to bring anything more substantial. Finally, the day arrived, and miraculously I was in school in the morning. A friend from Seminar saw me in the hall after first period and asked me if I was ready for the party. I smiled and said that I couldn't wait, but I think you know that of course I wasn't ready. I hadn't brought cookies to school, I'm never prepared for anything. So I did what I was good at. I forged a note with my mother's name that said I had a dentist appointment, and I brought it to the principal's office after second period. Protocol stated that I should have given the note to my homeroom teacher, and at that point I would have been given an early dismissal pass. However, high school students are forgetful, so the secretary gave me a pass to leave at the beginning of fourth period, and I was on my way.

I went to my third period class and instead of paying attention to my lazy-eyed chemistry teacher, I thought about how I didn't want to leave school alone. That would have been boring. Then I remembered that my sister had fourth period lunch, and I decided that I was going to make her come out with me. Jenny was not the type to skip classes, so when I walked into the cafeteria and presented her with her counterfeit note, I could suddenly smell fear on her. I explained that I would go to get the car while she took the note I had given her to the principal's office. She disagreed and insisted that if she was going to do it, I was going to have to go with her. So we walked back to the office where I had already told the secretary my "oops I forgot to give you this" story, and I told it again, but this time for my sister. For some reason, I thought it would be entirely believable that we would both have forgotten to hand over our notes on the very same day. The secretary eyed us up and down and said, "You girls aren't trying to skip class, are you?" I could hear Jenny behind me, fighting an audible whimper, so I loudly replied "What! No we're just forgetful it is hilarious!" No, that is not hilarious, I am terrible at lying. Miraculously though, she wrote Jenny's pass and sent us away with a bit of an evil eye, but I didn't care. We were free!

We walked to my car and Jenny didn't say a word. I tried to get her to admit that she was having a good time, but I think she was fighting off the urge to cry or vomit or physically abuse me. I tried to explain to her that she was only skipping lunch, but still that didn't seem to make her feel better. By the time we got to the supermarket, she was ready to have American-Gladiator-style pugil stick fights with me, throwing me to my metaphorical death (or slight discomfort) on the metaphorical padded mats metaphorically below. (This is a metaphor. There were no pugil sticks or mats or deaths.)

I went into the store, and while I felt bad that Jenny was upset, I felt great about the fact that I was not in math class. Math was bullshit, cookies were delicious, and sometimes you had to make your sister leave school without permission. In my eyes, it was the way of the world. So I paid for my tasty treats, I went back to the car, and I took my sister back to school. I had her back before her lunch even ended, and I sent her on her way. She walked down the hall to her next class, head down, defeated. I had destroyed her sense of moral fiber, her personal sense of righteousness. I had ruined her in the course of forty minutes.

Thankfully the cookies were delicious.