PATTY MELT

For years I envisioned the prospect of empty nesting with popping corks and practically packing my girls bags for them. As it turned out, cutting the cords was slightly more difficult than planned. I find myself wanting to walk the neighbor’s Yorkie in the old baby buggy. Sometimes I will even turn on Barney just for old time’s sake or become a burgeoning storyteller for squirrels. I sway back and forth while surveying greeting cards in store aisles as if I’m holding a newborn, being mistaken for a person with quite the conspicuous need to pee. A lady approached me recently pointing out the restroom then shook her head wondering why I still stood there pendulating.

Unless I got their meanings wrong, songsters everywhere have revealed their feelings from their own parental points of view. The Fifth Dimension was fairly accurate. I now have one less phone call to answer, one less egg to fry, one less child to pick up after. But Bonnie Tyler said it more appropriately. It’s nothing but a heartache, hits you when it’s too late. I’d say Bonnie’s words relate better to both the empty nest, and bulging bladders.

I am free to be me and eat Bonbons for breakfast. And my chances of being stricken with germophobic illnesses have declined immensely, not to mention medical costs have dwindled. None of that matters though when you miss your offspring once they’re gone. Up until now, I had never heard blackbirds singing in the dead of night. I find myself crushing up bags of Corn Curls and spreading them into the couch cushions then eating the crumbs as a reminder of messes my kids made. And I don’t even like Corn Curls. I would give anything these days to have the unceasing whirlwind of activity, or a cold contracted by bacterial ridden tykes. At least we’d be in bed together snuggling in the luxurious folds of my new magnificent linens, fighting over the remote control. I remember when their rapping radios almost did me in. But I would love a chance to say put another dime in that jukebox baby. I was ready to kill anyone who gave my girls a Mr. Microphone, or any other insufferable deafening device for that matter. There was a passionate place inside of me that used to vocalize, “QUUIIIEEETTT!!!” At one point I recall thinking to myself, slow down, you move too fast. Got to make the mornings last. I wasn’t feelin’ too groovy then, and I’m not feelin’ all that groovy now. I would be glad all over having bedlam again, especially now that my hearing is going.

My first granddaughter just came for a visit and I hadn’t had that much excitement since the D’Arcy’s blew up the Bundy household with a rocket launcher on Married with Children. During my grandsweeties stay, I was generously awarded with another new grandbaby. Bound by her irresistibility, I feel very much the same way as the Kinks do when they sing, Girl I want to be with you, all of the time, all day, and all of the night. It doesn’t seem that long ago when I was telling each of my offspring ooh-oo child, things are gonna get easier. Now they should be singing that to me. I really wouldn’t want to parent again any more than I would want to wrestle a steer in a rodeo. But as the crooning Bryan Adams belts out, those were the best days of my life. Aside from the coupla stints as a lounge singer when I was soused on margaritas.

Quoting Reba McIntyre, you need three things in life. A wishbone, a backbone, and a funny bone. Hopefully my daughters will have all three if I ever decide to take turns living with each of them. After all, grandmothers are a little bit parent, a little bit teacher, and a little bit rockin and rollin from all the parenting and teaching. But I have garnered a veritable vault of maternal wisdom and my girls should know that we are people who watch the kids instead of watching the television. I do promise not to retain the unfailing eagerness to intercede, or hunt them down like a bloodhound when they aren’t home on time. It’s like I told each and every one of them throughout their residency at my maison…”We’ll be swell roommates as long as you don’t leave anything out of place and you let me sleep at night.” It’s good to have those binding covenants. They may still need to know how to cut a pineapple, or learn that the sum of the square roots of any two sides of an isosceles triangle is equal to the square root of the remaining side. I doubt they paid that much attention to mathematics while watching The Wizard of Oz. Besides, it’ll be all shits and giggles until one of us actually giggles and shits.

After my first born, I remember needing my mother and called her frantically for Help. “Hi Mom. It’s Patty, your oldest daughter. I’m making Beef Stroganoff and Snickerdoodles for guests and haven’t the time to run to the store. Is there a substitution for molasses? She answered, “Tupelo, honey!” Then I asked if there was a substitution for beef. She said, “Yes. Eight vegetables.” Jesting most certainly inhabited the genes. But she reassured me many times, “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.” You’d think I had been reared by Viola Davis.

One element of torture is encapsulating this journey with not much say in matters of visitation. Hopefully my girls won’t live as far as Abu Dhabi, or bolt their doors when I show up. Which would literally put me somewhere between rocks and a hard place (grave). I’d hate to be standing in the shadows of love with dewy eyes. I realize their lives are busy. But I must have confidence that my girls will still need me and feed me when I’m eighty-four with something a bit more satisfying than pureed spinach.

It’s an echoing sentiment I know, but my aorta melts when I see my kids and grandkids. Mothers are programmed to maintain blood flow to their hearts by staying actively stimulated chasing children. So it feels like I have unfinished business to attend to. Yet I suppose a prime measure of maturity would be to suck up this empty nest affliction and salubriously move on.

OZ-SERVATIONS

My boyfriend and I were in the car one day making all sorts of observations. We couldn’t for the life of us figure out why the road commission decided to refresh the dividing lines with paint during rush hour traffic. I began chiming, “If I were queen of the forest, I would command each worker to do their duties during our sleep time.” My beau replied, “But how do you talk to authority figures who don’t have brains?” I said, “It’s simple. I would takeover whatever Wiz that was, whereupon I’d woof and woof with a royal growl woof, then click my heels and have them do what I say or else I would order a flying monkey attack.”

Not every pusillanimous creature that crawls the earth has a cerebral cortex made of straw. Mine is composed of mush. Probably due to all the malignity I see on the highways. Like motorcyclists who come up silently from behind and scare the lunch burrito out of me. Then there are those whose backfiring exhausts sound like gun shots. Lions and tigers and bears peruse these pathways as well flashing their middle fingers to other drivers, which might be the international hand sign for you idiot. You don’t know how many times I’ve wanted to gesture back my own fist action and shout, “Put ‘em up, put ‘em up!” I’m sure these folks are practicing followers of Germanic neopaganism. On this particular day, we were practicing followers of gawkism. We passed one unpopular roadside attraction where two people in their parked pick-up were totally exerting themselves by sitting in a kama sutra position. Now that takes guts. Or third degree lust. Such an odd place to produce offspring. They probably read a sign half a mile behind them that said, Hump Ahead. Since we had slowed down for the precarious event, another aging driver passed us screaming, “Use Ya Dam Blinka!” I think my boyfriend wanted to kiss old yeller with the grill of his Audi.

Speaking of rebel rousing, my man proceeded to drive me through his old stomping grounds, showing me where he skipped school and loitered around the streets. I got a very vivid idea of his former life when he mentioned more of the pranks he and his friends pulled. He was far more likely to have an accident when he was taking down mailboxes with his moving vehicle. He did save a lot of money on his car insurance though, by switching to eighty miles per hour and leaving the scene. I’m not so sure he is going to make it somewhere way over the rainbow when he croaks. Because because because because because, because of the wonderful things he does. After witnessing some of his fiendish shenanigans myself, I’m surprised he doesn’t have a witch soaring high above him writing Surrender in the sky.

I don’t remember Dorothy running across litter on her journey to Oz. What makes a muskrat guard his musk? Courage. And what makes driver’s dump trash from dawn through dusk? Audacity. We weren’t in Kansas. We were in a highly traveled metropolis full of littermeisters. Not transporting ourselves in an untainted surreal landscape of yellow brick roads en route to Emerald City. I felt like the cowardly lion sauntering through slums with barred windows, where I’m sure The Lord’s prayer is spoken frequently. My beau said jokingly, “Don’t let the barbed wire and graffiti fool you. This is a nice area.” After driving around awhile, I realized there was more of an urgency to skedaddle. I wished my boyfriend’s car had a piddle-ometer that would point us to the nearest public restroom since peeing is prohibited on street corners. If happy canines can urinate on fire hydrants, why oh why can’t I? The way I see it, there are two types of women in the world. Those who hold it, and those squatters who bare their buttocks to open fields and risk getting bit by bugs or wiping with leaves of poison sumac. It was then that I decided to start carrying around those added necessities in my purse. An empty coffee can, a roll of toilet paper, and a small tent for privacy.

Continuing on into a construction zone, road crews really should alert us about one mile beforehand of their re-routing advisories. They could schedule it on a simple billboard in very large fluorescent print surrounded with blinking lights. Which brings me to signs. Some road commissioned crew member mistakenly spelled out SOTP on the pavement at one street corner. We honestly didn’t know whether we should OG or not. And being so close to Mexico, how are we supposed to read signs when they are written in Spanish? I no comprendo immigrant wordage and have to constantly be paying close intencion to any mojados who even mildly resemble Poncho Villa. They are obviously using paths of least resistance. Since my mate thinks I too am a species not necessarily native to our environment, he calls me his legal alien. Well, this erstwhile Michiganian emigre wants to know if all the border guardsmen are napping. They should be prudently patrolling while chanting, Oh-we-oh…yo ho.

Sometimes I think I should be a part of the department of transportation planting poppies along the highways to get speed demons to slow down. One wicked witch of the west sped right in front of us, who was very likely driving a stick. Attached to a broom. There was no car space to merge into, yet the stretch behind us could easily fit two Apollo moon modules, a five hundred passenger train, plus a blue whale. What’s the hurry? Sometimes the first step to forgiveness is understanding that the other person is a frequent flying disaster waiting to happen. My talented and dedicated driver used some rather creative cursing then decided to curb his car. Quite often he claims, “there’s just no place like home.”