PARENT TRAP

It began when one of my daughters remarked, “I have a brilliant beyond brilliant idea! Let’s go to Universal Studios.” Once again, I had fallen into the parental tourist trappings of another theme park adventure. Participants included two scheming daughters, two precocious granddaughters, and one not-so-happy-to-oblige sluggish woman (moi) who is always trying to avoid exhausting funfairs. The kids called it their fun place. I called it a magical arena full of more toys than I could afford for eight hours while pretending I could still think straight.

The granddaughters were dressed and ready to fly through the fairyland. The daughters and their mother needed to be catapulted to the park, and were then espresso energized by way of Starbucks. I needed enough caffeine and carmelized sweetener to walk that communal event. I was one of those sluggish people who appreciated coffees invigorating significance, which probably explained my electricity while dancing with my ten month old granddaughter, asking nothing in return but frequent pee breaks. Eight cups of water per day and I’m a casual bathroom visitor. Yet one cup of coffee and there are abnormal changes in the urinary system and the need to pee is intensified by a million. I turned into a speed demon, wanting to use the mommy had an accident excuse to forge forward in bathroom lines.

We proceeded to the world of Harry Potter where we entered the main amusement ride that holds a high level of screaming activity. What looked like the cloaked headmaster of Hogwarts approached us and my twelve year old granddaughter became breathlessly besotted. For a minute there, I thought Hallie Parker was my grandchild when she proclaimed, “I’ve dreamt of meeting you my whole life and I just hope that one day you can love me as me, and not as the person my mother thinks I am.” She isn’t the same freckled-faced drama queen as she is a comedic charmer. The caped wonder provided us with information about baby swap whereas we were able to use a password to skip ahead in line and take turns on the ride. We passed people who were fixated on us with such sisterly betrayal as if we were no doubt, the lowest most awful creatures on the planet. Regardless, we still had to wait in line amongst murderous stares and with my urgency to release a stream from the front faucet yet again, if you know what I mean. And I thought a constantly weeing baby was bad. Either way, large amounts of incontinence is hard to ignore.

With my kids right behind me, I told the ride operator, “It’s me, or them. Take your pick.” He took my kids first, probably because he didn’t want to deal with projectile vomiting from a panicked elderly person who ends up freaking out on this drop tower of perpetual terror. Little did he know I needed to get on and off that thing rather quickly before it was necessary for my bladder to lower its water level again. I swear my kids were so happy to go ahead that they turned into a couple of Elvis impersonators when they told the guy, “Thankyou, thankyou ver much.” I’m sure both my daughters would have liked to disclose, “She’s never had one cup of triple espresso her entire life and she shows up today totally stimulated.” I could have added some spice to their non-verbal commentary by adding, “It was a little too robusk for a cup of coffee if you ask me, but then again I’m impartial to being supersonic.”

Once my speedy body was on the rapid rotating track, I felt my organs floating inside me, not to mention my leaky drawers. Any respectful carnival goer would have visited the restroom first so not to lubricate the seats of amusement rides. Flying high above the Hogwart castle, my eyeballs were practically forced into the back of my head. I called out to the person who was handling the contraption at the far end of the wild ride, but he couldn’t hear me above my gasping or the ten million other shrieking occupants. Thankfully no kids could hear my swearing. The young male attendee watched me exit in such a way that he most surely expected me to go weak in the knees and fall into his arms and sob hysterically. Okay, I did cry hard, and tears fell down my legs. My trembling frame staggered off looking pale as school chalk with vessels bulging in my forehead, and with wet panties. Holding it in was just as hard as trying to control the bamboo in my yard. I’m sure the other riders thought I was the bloody incontinent ghost of Christmas past. Nothing would have pleased me more than to say, “Being older and incontinent is not a crime you know.”

I wasn’t prepared for another landing. Once three o’clock rolled around, I was jolted away from the coffees potency and very close to collapsing. I ended up flat on my back in line at the Simpson’s motion simulator ride where it was open season for the frenzied whir of bypassers. It was time to go home to a glass of something that would relax me. When I did I told my girls, “Here’s to you. May your lives be far less complicated than mine.”

Let me sum up this theme park adventure. I had a great time. I now have a new loan to pay. Next time I’ll be wearing something for the weak end, or make my bladder gladder by not going at all. And I’m writing this from my bed because I still haven’t recovered.

EXPOSURE

Beneath this aging exterior beats the heart of once lovely woman who is now marred by body changes and also saddened by the separation of mind and memory. So what if I have a beautiful pancreas. No one is going to see it. They are going to see fleshy folds and my minds meandering. It’s hard having confidence with the skin I’m in when a mirror is calling attention to obvious deficiencies. It’s an image meant to move well beyond the initial gaze and stay embedded in my brain. Quite noticeably, sugary confections have been my drugs of choice. I’d like to personally thank Ben & Jerry for the lasting results from their every lovin’ scoopful.

When drying off after a shower, I am forced to view the magnitude of transitions in my reflection. I do this only in the dark because once those lights are on, my image appears much more distinctly and flabby furrows mysteriously form making my very own coffee cup holders. During modes of presentation, I also find that my frontal mounds can no longer serve as a sturdy place where birds can come to build their nests. They have clearly fallen and cannot get up. Heartbreak and onions aren’t the only things that make me cry. I usually turn away and run like I’m wearing red and just saw a bull. Cemented in my heart is a cavernous, alarm-initiating inconfidence that God would never let me look like this. Every day I perform the rousing rendition, Oh where oh where can my body be? The Lord took it away from me! I hate to pass any kind of acumen onto our almighty creator. After all, He made me. He just didn’t need to supersize my thighs and diminish my memory the minute I turned sixty.

As soon as I have my steaming cup of morning plasma I attempt to dress, forcing my legs into pants by squatting five times and feeling the seizure in my back as I struggle to pull them up. Sometimes I can’t trust the wood flooring when I slip in my socks, only to fall and ask myself two days later, “What caused these bruises?” I’ve been known to put my bra on inside out and have gotten very good at opening child proof caps with a crowbar. Sometimes I ponder on thoughts that might make me cheerful, like calling Pakistani officials to talk about suicide. They would probably tell me to start brandishing some sort of annihilating weapon. If any weapon can wipe out wrinkles, it just might deserve deep consideration.

In public, I don’t think much about all this physique stuff unless of I run into someone who is ridiculously good looking. It happens a lot at the beach when I’m seeing naked bodies, those younger sites of imagined sin. My bod is no longer a vessel of sexual pleasure, turned instead into a port of judgment and suffering. Every woman wants to be babelicious. Not have jiggling jello and assorted visages of flesh pouring out of our Maidenforms. There are a zillion pygmy bikinis out there that make me go into self-loathing. Exposure to thongy swimwear causes sudden outbursts of angst and spontaneous hiding of flabbiness with a beach towel. Not to mention what damages the optic nerves. The only way to get my boobs that high again would be to tie helium balloons to my nipples, or have permanent shelving attached underneath to hoist them up. Home Depot should stock something for such womanly needs. I mean how much wood can a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck bosomwood? Then I wouldn’t be ignored wandering through the vast cluster of cheeky sandlubbers. There was a time when I sat in the sand wrinkle free. I didn’t have to spend ten minutes contouring my cheeks with blush to look young like a sun baked beauty. And I surely didn’t need a pound of concealer. Now I’m considering a closed casket so people don’t stand and stare at my eyebrows thinking I had a lighter fluid accident.

As my boobs stand now, subjection can lead to immediate evacuation to my wine decanter, that serviceable substitute for whatever ails me. I do this right before and after such unpleasant stimulus. Of course there’s always that impression that I might have a drinking problem as well. I cannot promise what my hands will do after I’ve had a few and I drive my car into a building full of skin care specialists who promise to stop the aging process with all their overpriced products. I worry about the future, wondering if I will use the common utterance of crassness in conversations or wander off during a full moon. Let me point out that moon phases affect human behavior and the body holds roughly sixty percent water. My bladder started rumbling the minute I began writing this. I suppose I should manage those few pints of vino I consume each night. Although it’s something that has way more credence than tap water, for hydration and sanity. If the moon can affect ocean tides and causes bulges in the earth’s crust, surely it affects people. You’ll know it’s affect on me when I walk the streets carrying my precious cargo of cabernet, or run off with a mariachi band.

Since just about everyone except my baby granddaughter has a tattoo, I could rationalize staying young by having something branded on my backside. I have already endured other pains in the ass so why not beautiful flowers and colorfully etched words? Or have Shamu spread considerably across the surface of my hiney since behemoths are bloating entities as well. I might pay the guy a little extra for a lovely bum massage. But if he says, “Nah, I’m good,” it could lead to another psychotic mood swing.

I know I can’t go around moping for the rest of my life. Meanwhile, my value is determined by how much terror I can endure. I can either go into a state of stony withdrawal, or go to the beach and make myself useful. I’m sure there are those prettyful babes who will need someone to scare away starers and hold drinks for them. I’ve got just the flesh carved out for such practicality. And just so you know, I can go from being depressed to livening up a crowd in about three minutes. It’s been a rough couple of years admitting the truth about my torso. But at least I’m not taking my teeth out and leaving them on the nightstand quite yet.