The storm of life recently descended upon us like locusts in a biblical reenactment on the History Channel. Everything we thought was hard suddenly became the easiest part of our everyday survival. In retrospect I may seem fatalistic but I am actually riddled with optimism and glee after surviving this past few weeks. Where do I begin?
First, I agreed to coach Pet Rock’s YMCA basketball team a few months ago. What I thought would be a pain in the ass quickly turned into a barely legal crack addiction. Sure, the practices seemed like a hassle and getting up at the crack of my Saturday ass was no fun at first. But then we won the first basketball game with Pet Rock scoring the only baskets and I almost birthed an NBA ball from joy.
Then a week later we won again and my eyes began to take on the look of a Laura Mars remake. My lovely husband saw the psycho in me and suggested I manage and assistant coach Pet Rock’s t-ball team with him as head coach. I wondered how I could juggle it and he told me that t-ball started after basketball ended. So, I said, “Perfect.”
This would allow me to continue my new illicit coaching habit through the spring without missing a beat. It would be like getting a new doctor to give you a new prescription for the same drug you are hooked on and going to a different pharmacy where no one would be the wiser while wearing dirty sunglasses and a stained, community college sweatshirt from Goodwill just to throw them off your tracks.
So, Gabe signs me up for t-ball, all the while, I am crazy basketball coach mom with practices and games and we keep winning and I scream every time we score and the opposing team parents glare at me like I am a sunbeam in their corneas and it smells like victory and dirty sneakers and I love it!
A week after the t-ball sign-up I am the only woman sitting in a stranger’s house surrounded by a lot of other strangers, in our new tiny town participating in a t-ball draft for five, six and seven year-old kids and reading through a stack of paperwork telling me that practices start the following Saturday, coaches have to ump all games after theirs and nothing is more important that t-ball, the pledge of allegiance and winning.
I panic over the time commitment and the lack of sister soldiers but quickly agree with the t-ball ethos as the practices pile up and I see one kid after the next turn a small corner and have a great play or a stellar moment. Both coaching duties continue as I race to a fro with Saturdays nothing more than a pile of crazy. There are games, umpping, eating cracker crumbs in the bottom of my duffle bag and finally collapsing face first onto the sofa.
All the while I schedule a surgery that I must get taken care of before the seasons get even busier. Why not drive two hours on practice day to have outpatient ass surgery while thinking of nothing but fielding drills, player positions, batting order and fast breaks. Great idea. Yes, it is as unsexy as it gets but last time I checked we all have an ass that we can call our own and mine needed some introspection and a stay-cation.
Now the surgery is scheduled, bases covered, no pun intended and all seems fine and crazy but doable until the call, the fateful, itchy call we received two weeks ago today. As I sit in a meeting with Gabe over his latest masterpiece that must be finished within a week, Pet Rock’s school calls to tell me that Pet Rock and a handful of other kids have lice and I must pick him up immediately.
There are so many reasons why he CANNOT have lice. Nope, this will not happen today or this week or this month. No. It cannot be possible and it will not fit into our already overstuffed calendar. What about my surgery and what about baseball, what about basketball? What about school and who the fuck is going to do all that laundry and change my sheets every day and boil my favorite James Pearse shirt in bleach and hand sanitizer? Doesn’t the universe know that lice and life do not mix? What about the batting helmets and my vintage sofa and our new leather car interior and my Lululemon workout leggings? They will crumble in hot water but I wear them more than I wear a smile.
Fuck. Shit. Crap. Itch. Scratch.
Within an hour of pick-up we drive to a weird back-alley garage hair studio in Glendale and have an oddly chipper style-cripple comb bugs off all of us while my head throbs and I curse the day I ever met my hair. $250 later I feel more angry and exhausted knowing I am now facing a house filled with machine washables and tiny terrorists waiting to continue their Jihad onto my world of Ikea towels and cheap throw pillows.
Hours later with bunches of Hefty bags filled with our lives in color-coated cotton,
I am scrubbed clean, flakey-skinned and cradling an expired bottle of Xanax. When people say medication is bad they don’t realize that it can be the only thing that stands between you, your sanity and your marriage. Sure, it was so old it crumbles in my chapped paws but it saves my life. Sleep is my weapon and without it I will never make it through this storm of creepy, crawly bullets.
The little pills keep me going through the week ahead and guard my sleep from itching, scratching and weeping. I really seem to hold it together like three clasps on a double-D bra, despite the fact that I find MORE bugs on Pet Rock days later after spending a car payment on lice treatments. I sniffle and I cringe but the drugs and the t-ball keep me on track. We win our first game and then we win our second and the feeling on the field is that of the first beer on a Friday night. Nothing else matters until we pack up and head home. No matter how great our win is walking into a house that I know has been a large city to a family of ferocious parasites takes the wind out of this win.
So, I start the ritual all over gain, vacuuming everything, washing every piece of clothing, scrubbing every surface and frying everyone’s hair with medicated shampoos and hot hair drying. After the end of another day I truly feel that I have gotten through this debacle without a full-fledged breakdown and for that, I deserve a medal and a Maserati.
The next day, cleaning the house yet again, I realize that my brand new winter coat may have been exposed to our new roommates. I have only worn it once since this Greek tragedy began but with a fur hood and a lot of square footage of down comfort, I take no changes and throw my new friend into a hot dryer with a few other winter jackets.
One hour later, feeling on top of the crisis and ready to live again, I remove my new coat from the dryer and discover that my favorite wardrobe item, my new B.F.F. has been destroyed by a pile of bad decisions. With the heat of the dryer and the stupidity of a Xanax brain I chose to not follow the directions on the coat and have now burned all the beautiful fake fur off the hood, causing the trim to look like it has a severe case of mange.
I stare at it as if I am viewing a slow-moving car crash wrapped in a mink stole. I run my chaffed hands across the once soft fur and I crack like Humpy Dumpty during rough sex. I throw the coat down, walk to the bathroom, strip all my clothes off and get into the shower, hoping to wash away my entire existence. When my all-natural, Vanilla body wash doesn’t make me vanish into thin air I burst into howling cries, the kind that hyenas use to announce when they’ve stolen an Australian baby.
I continue to cry for close to two hours, reenacting the shower scene from “The Big Chill,” when Glenn Close finally weeps over Kevin Costner’s suicide. That reference is as old and as lame as the way I felt in that moment just to hammer home the point. It is ugly and loud and immature and guttural like a toddler tantrum at Target. Every time I think I am finished with my fit the fucking coat pops back into my mind and the tears come harder and heavier.
Finally, after punching the shampoo a few more times and screaming at the ceiling I begin to calm down realizing that the only thing I could possibly get out of this is a migraine headache and vocal nodes. At best, I now sound look and sound like Harvey Fierstein with a hangover.
It is two weeks later and I have survived. We spent more than $600 and a forty-hour workweek cleaning and cursing. Pet Rock and Gabe both had a hipster barber shave their heads and now look like badass twins at a Portland artisanal mayonnaise co-op. We won our third baseball game against a coach who is as sexist and unpleasant as King Henry VIII and are now tied for first place. My best friend from high school sent me a fancy box of chocolates to help me eat my problems away and shit, my issues are delicious!
My days are still spent being diligent about shampooing, laundry, and hair picking and yes, I have been wearing the same daily washed outfit for thirteen days straight. But it makes me feel less itchy and oddly in control. My ass has healed, I am no longer in need of momma’s little helpers and I am sleeping like a rock once again. My marriage somehow survived, my husband speaks to me and my writing is slowing and painfully crawling back into the middle of the road.
The icing on this dirty, little cupcake is that after following my neighbor’s advice, I returned the coat with the receipt, told the whole truth about our lice invasion and the store manager, having just gotten lice herself, ordered me a brand new, black, knee-length, down beauty with a furry face frame which should arrive any day now.
Sometimes it pays to cry out loud, speak some truth and play ball.