So, my son was never one to buy into the tooth fairy or Santa or the Easter bunny. While some of it was certainly our doing as painfully open and honest parents(some would say to a fault), much of his skepticism stems from who he is and how his mind works. In many ways it was serendipitous that we didn’t engage in the bizarre practice of telling our child that some strange creature comes into your room at night and takes your tooth from under your pillow.
Being a child with non-verbal learning disorder, his world is exceedingly literal. It is better as he is older now but , as younger boy a simple expression like “I’m on the phone” led him to picture you standing on the phone. Couple this with a fertile mind rich in science and history (biographies are his favorite, yawn!) and the idea of some fat man sliding down our chimney with a huge sack of gifts after having traversed the whole world in a sleigh pulled by reindeer carrying a paper list of all the children who’ve been naughty and nice in one night would only afford us a besmirching “Get real!”. Had we tried to pull this off when he was younger, he would have been in the basement with a flashlight measuring the internal chamber, processing the tiny clean out door, studying the pitch and slip factor of our metal roof, calculating exactly how long of a piece of paper was needed for all the children in the world, googling flying animals, calculating time and distance to visit every house in the world and what about Jewish children? I am ever so thankful that we did not attempt to bring these fictitious characters into our traditions. The barrage of questions alone would have dampened any festivities. Can you imagine the research to explain just how it is that a rabbit carries that many baskets? Rabbits don’t even have thumbs!
So, how it is that we have brought these traditions into our home is largely through humor with a huge dose of social studies. Being the history buff that he is, we shared with him the many folklores, fables and religious beliefs that lead to the evolution of these characters. Armed with an arsenal of answers, he can now integrate the concept of these characters as a form of storytelling in a sense.
This brings me back to the tooth fairy. Firstly, I cannot believe he is still losing teeth at ten. When does that end? So, he lost a molar two nights ago or rather stayed up until 11 wiggling and yanking at that thing until it relinquished it’s hold. He then wrapped it in at least 20 tissues and stuffed under his pillow. Now remember, he knows full well that the tooth fairy will have know idea that there is a tooth is under his pillow. So, he tromps into our room, singing a revelry as always, pokes me and says “The tooth fairy has some work to do. Hint! Hint!” I mumble and fall back to sleep. Disappointed in the morning, he asks “What happened to the tooth fairy?” To which, I smack my forehead and promise she will be on duty the next night. He smiles and gives me an understanding bump in the arm.
Night two: I forgot. We wake up at 2:30 am to doors banging downstairs. What the…? A bit petrified, my partner descends to investigate. I am still in a fog. It’s our son out in the freezing rain rummaging through cars for money. “What are you doing?” I hear. “Getting my own damn five bucks and wrapping a damn ribbon around it and putting it under my own damn pillow! Stupid tooth fairy!”
This is why the tooth fairy (that would be me) is a moron !
To add to my fascination with human anatomy, cemeteries weave in and out of my history. My family always had cemeteries on or beside their property, and as a child I spent many a moonlit night creeping about the dilapidated graveyards creating stories about the people buried there.
Around 5 years old, my best friend Pepper and I ran to the edge of one of these cemeteries to cut through to my house. We were itching for a sleep-over. When we hopped upon the stone wall the fire station alarm blasted. Surprised, we screamed and jumped back down. Our wide eyes met and soon melted into giggles. Just a coincidence, of course. So we plowed forth, but once our feet landed on the wall the siren blasted again! The pounding of my heart nearly choked me. Pepper was ready to run back to her house, but I was ever the rough and fearless tomboy. ”No! We have to go through the cemetery! It’s just the fire alarm. There is no way it’s going off ’cause we stepped on the wall. Come on!” I grabbed her hand and pulled. I was a bit of a pushy bully too. We hit the wall and sure enough the siren went off for the third time. That was enough for me. We ran way around the cemetery to get to my house. Pepper never went near that graveyard again. I, however, could not stay away. I truly believed it was the souls of the dead trying to communicate with me and spent the remainder of my childhood days at that house jumping the wall every chance I could hoping for the sirens’ return.
I spent hours with my grandmother riding bicycles through the huge cemetery by her house. My favorite uncle was buried there. I stopped and talked to him a lot. I now have my grandmother’s gravestone as a step into my studio. It had a misprint of her middle name so my mother had another stone made for her grave. I have studied the history of grave stones, taken courses on stone reparations and walked many a graveyard with my son, mapping out histories and family lineage.
I just found out today that I was elected cemetery commissioner for my small local town. I have already helped the commission to obtain funding for a reparation assessment of the local graveyards. I am thrilled and a bit humored that I can now say I am a gravedigger. It ties perfectly with my slightly morbid interest and artistic endeavors exploring the flesh and bones of the human body.
We fell in lust twenty years ago this past full moon. I was a teacher for the kindergarteners and she was a teacher for the three and four-year olds. We met on the stairs of the old Vermont school. I was coming down from my classroom and she was going up to the office. She said “Hi”. I grunted and faked a smile. She was married and I was socially moronic lesbian doing as all young lesbians do, riding out a relationship until a better one distracted me. Well, I gave her no thought. That is until she persisted in getting to know me. That to me, is code in lesbian speak for I want to move in with you. I was officially distracted. I left my prior relationship, moved into a pink trailer with a mini washing machine and boomerang formica table and proceeded to seduce her away from her husband. It was far less of a challenge that I expected(her husband ran off to New York and proclaimed his desire for men and lots of them). So, after her dog bit the child of her new roommate and she recovered from coxsackey, she loaded up her old yellow Volvo station wagon and drove to the trailer park. Of course it was pouring rain and dark(what heart wrenching love story doesn’t have the metaphorical storm?). All I could see as she pulled in were vicous yellow eyes, fangs and grey fur matted all over her windshield. Thus began the foibles of our romantic story: one old dog euthanized due to dangerous dementia, one feral cat, one Einstein cat (taught himself to pee in the toilet),one tiny pink trailer, a little red motorcycle, a big old Volvo, a sleepy Vermont town embroiled in a scandal, her insatiable need for pints of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, my menstrual messes(the couch littered with crumpled blankets, empty pain-killer bottles, mounds of tissues and a leaky hot water bottle, plus a few candy wrappers) and us.
I think back through the years and wonder what the glue was that held us together? Sure, sure, there is all the lovey-dovey stuff. You know: beautiful eyes, hot sex, deep admiration, respect, understanding, compassion, all that stuff is there. But truly, no matter what situation we found ourselves in, from awkward arguments to the saddest of funerals, a well placed fart, be it loud,deadly silent, mine, hers, our someone else’s, would always draw us back to one another with a twinkle of inquisitive eyes, a firm hand squeeze, or hearty tear-jerking laugh.
It all started with those tender young moments of unfamiliar love, sleepily holding onto one another in my double bed. The jalousey window was open. We could hear the peepers calling, the mocking-bird talking himself to sleep, and the old man in the trailer not much more than an arm’s length away arguing with himself. It was peaceful, comforting and yet, oh so tenuous. About a month had passed and we were still suave. The Pandora’s box of unmentionable human conditions hadn’t cracked open. We had yet to admit that we pooped, burped, bled through our tampons, picked our noses, barfed, smelled or even had bad breath. It is amazing how we are able to hide all this when courting. Inevitably, living together due to desperate circumstances and in a teeny trailer made it far more difficult to conceal. Getting out of bed every time one had to fart became frightfully suspicious and one evening when we were spooning I did my usual slow and controlled fart, praying that it didn’t stink. I hardly moved a muscle! “You just farted, didn’t you?” she whispered to me. “What? I didn’t fart. Why? Do you smell something?’ I asked as I put my head under the covers. She started laughing. I protested. She laughed harder. “What? What? What’s so funny?” Her laughter had crossed the threshold to hysteria. Tears were streaming from her eyes and the laughter had escalated to silent seizures with escaping squeals of delight. “Alright! Alright! I admit it. I was farting. How did you know?” At the pace of one word per gasp between giggles she revealed what I already knew of her but didn’t let on. “You….tightened…your…stomach!” And she burst into laughter again.
The box was now wide open! Burping was audible and passionate. Pooping, if interesting, was described and even displayed before flushing. We’ve had donuts, soft serve ice cream, large ones that rise up out of the water, even white ones! Tampons are no longer neatly wrapped in toilet paper and hidden under layers of trash. Nose picking is undeniable. And the farts? Oh the farts! No need to describe the silent but deadly kind with one exception. The tercel fart. We owned a little Toyota Tercel and had just parked it in the lot of the grocery store. I lingered to let out an evil fart. I didn’t want to fart in the store for I was sure it was going to stink. Disgusted, we both bolted from the car. Which is unusual because I generally like the smell of my own farts, as we all do. Anyway, many moments later(almost an hour!) we returned to the car. It stilled smelled! Days later it still smelled. We had to clean the interior with nearly a whole bottle of Armour All to make it go away. I wish I knew what I ate that day. I may be the master of stink but my partner? She is the master conductor of orchestral farting. The variety of sound are endless: fog horns, squealing balloons, whoopie cushion, pneumatic brakes; and they speak too: disappointed child(aaww) What? Hmmm? Uh-oh. They are the musical symphony that compositionally ties all the threads of our delightfully fun lives together! So yes, we have love and lots of it, but nothing beats a good laugh with your loved one in the middle of the night as she farts her way down the stairs in perfect crescendo to pee.
Poor girls are cold! They are not big fans of the snow, this bunch. Normally, I open the coop door and a loud commotion ensues, all wanting to be the first to run off into the green grasses. But with these first few snow falls(which came very late this year) one, maybe two heads poke out to check the status of that nasty white stuff. Then it’s a very dainty promenade from their coop to my doorstep. If they had hands they would be hiking up their skirts, and bonnets or parasols would be a must. The last one out is our very own little Napoleon. He’s a little bantam boy. The only bantam amongst a dozen big girls. We ordered six bantams this year and all were roosters! That is far too much attitude and the girls were exhausted from all the harassment. So our kind friends who had a couple hundred hens and but one very busy bloke agreed to take the remaining five. Plenty of fish in that sea! Turns out that one of the adopted roosters fancied himself an ass and spends his days on the shoulders their donkey. But back to Napoleon. He is certainly a little cock with a big attitude. However, it is all attitude. As I said before, he is the last one out of the coop in any foul weather and only after all the girls are well on their way, to which he finds himself alone. This he does not like. He tip-toes down the ramp and when he reached the snowy edge he squawks and ruffles his feather as if mustering up some courage. Then he leaps and flaps, half flying, half running, like a puddle jumper, trying his best to avoid touching that nasty wet stuff until he catches up to the girls. Once back with his harem, he fluffs himself up big, belts out a song and side steps his way to the girls attempting a covert mount. I have yet to see him succeed. They are much bigger and as a group seem to have made a pact with one another to keep the little guy in his place. I am convinced the girls devise many a conspiratorial ruse just to ruffle his tenuous role as master of the coop. I have observed the group running to a freshly scattered patch of scratch, little Napoleon of course the last to know and the last to arrive. As they cluck and buck contentedly the girls have been witnessed slowly migrating away from the scratch, around the corner and out os sight of poor Napoleon. When he comes up from his eager pecking and finds himself alone, panic ensues. He paces in circles, bobbing his head this way and that as he calls out to the girls a sad whimper. “Cock-a-doodle-doo?” I can only imagine them around the corner of the barn giggling!
I did not think when we started chickens five years ago that they would be so entertaining nor become such a part of our family. Their personalities are undeniable. They have been the inspiration for much creativity from holiday cards, painting, home movies(we had one rooster named marble who crowed on command), and even my son has begun writing a cartoon series about them in the style of Spy vs. Spy. He calls it Chicken Vs. Chicken in which two enemy chickens are continually planting bombs in one another’s nests, eggs, etc. Not to mention that free range, organically raised fresh eggs from the back yard are not to be beat!
Okay, so, long story short, I’ve been sick for about nine months now, wrestling with an unknown. I have seen many doctors, pumped copious amounts of blood into little vials, been strapped into loud machines, shown more of my body to strangers than my partner has even seen, but this last visit takes the prize! It started as the most pleasant doctors visit to date. I’m sitting on the crinkly paper with a New Yorker from 2010 and waiting. Fully expecting to wait another ten minutes in the exam room on top of the half hour previously spent in the waiting room, I was anxious to get back to the article on bug eating as a sustainable earth friendly thing to do. To my surprise, I could not find where I Ieft off before the doctor came into the room. Dressed all in black with thick black glasses, his fluffy snow white hair dolloped his liver spotted face like a pile of whipped cream on a scoop of raspberry chocolate chip ice cream. He spoke like the Grinch when addressing the children of Whoville, all syrupy and thick, drawing looooong and throaty on key points whilst peering over his glasses at me. He was plump and jovial with a charming sense of humor. If he had carried a little black doctors bag, instead of that cell on his hip, I might have Thought he arrived from quite earlier in the century. He listened. He made eye contact. He poured over sixty pages of my charts. He even knew I was a fiber artist. “A little birdy told meeeee.” he gurgled as he peered over his glasses at me. I found myself craving a cup of tea and some cookies. More cared for I have not felt in any other office. As he narrowed down to the beginnings of the first diagnosis I have heard in seven months of illness, his cell phone beeps. He looked at it and said humorously, “Go away, I’m busy.” Amused with himself he lets out a little nasal chortle. You know, just short of laughing, you exhale abruptly through your nose with a hmmph sound. Well, this abrupt exhalation produced a round yellow boogie the size of a large pea on his upper lip. My eyes were tranfixed on that boogie as he quickly wiped it from his lip. It disappeared into his right hand which then went directly to the computer mouse. I nodded absent mindedly at all he had to say, but was hearing none of it. I needed to know where that boogie went. When he finished on the computer I searched frantically around the mouse. No boogie. Where is it? He stood, so I stood taking the cue that the appointment was over, although I missed most of his conclusions. To my horror he reached out that hand to shake mine. I hesitated, but could not be rude. I returned the gesture. Not only did he shake my hand, but he clasped on tightly with his other hand. He held my hand firmly in both of his for at least a very long minute as he wished me well. Smiling and nodding I could feel a transference of moistness upon my wrist. I continued to smile, surpressing my gag reflex, said thank you and hurried to a box of tissues in the waitng room. Not only was the boogie stuck on my wrist but it was trapped under a friendship bracelet which my son had made for me. Wretching and frantic, that little yellow boogie was reluctant to leave my skin. I washed my hands many,many times that day and still I felt the sensation of a cold and slimy thing slithering about my wrist. Ugh.