Thursday, April 30, 2015

Trouble All Around















"Thank you, ladies." the desk clerk said offhandedly as she stared at the computer monitor.  Alec and I looked at each other, eyes widening, but remained silent.

I finally bought this perfume that I have wanted for forever.  The Spanish teacher that I worked with last year always wore it, and I loved it.  I am not really into perfume, but it smelled like rosemary and tea tree oil, fresh and clean, every morning.  

I walked to the car, laughing my head off, after our waitress referred to us as 'ladies' as well.
"Jesus Christ, twice in one morning!  What the fuck is wrong with these people!?"
"If people are going to mistake me for a WOMAN, I want to look like Sofia Vergara, not Maude." Alec responded.

When the perfume arrived, it smelled nothing like she did.  I was perplexed.  But I realized I had been smelling that smell in the Spanish office long after she had left.  It was the stuff the custodians use to clean the floor.  My one hundred dollar perfume. 

The fourth grader looked at me with piercing eyes.
"The Rebellion in Baltimore" he stated.
"Rebels".
"I can't stop watching it" the little girl next to him stated, staring at me with burning eyes.

"I can't either stop either.  It is a rebellion".


Monday, April 6, 2015

April Fool


I sat in my corner in the early morning darkness watching kids ascend the stairs.  Abe kept me company by chasing a small, annoying insect that flew around us.
“Come here, you little asshole….” Abe instructed, trapping it on the side of my chair and killing it.

“I am TRAUMATIZED!”  Abigail announced with exaggerated zeal.
“Puberty class?”
“YES.  Okay, why is it okay to say ‘vagina’ but not ‘butt’?  She kept calling it ‘your bottom’, but didn’t use some weird word for ‘vagina’!   I’d much rather here ‘butt’ than ‘vagina’.  Oh my God, and then she gave us free pads and COUPONS to buy more.  TRAUMATIZED!!”.

“Cassius, you have to show your video.  We worked on it for two days in class, it is just unacceptable to refuse to show your work after all of that time”.
He tried to snatch his iPad from my hands.  It pissed me off.  Then I noticed that his nose holes were flaring and his eyes were tearing up.  He’s not a crier and I could tell that he was pissed off, too.
“Come over here, let’s talk privately”.
“WHAT is going ON??”.
“I was having trouble recording my voice in Explain Everything.  I said ‘goddamn it’ two times and slapped my iPad.  It recorded THAT”.
“Class, Cassius actually does have a legitimate reason for not playing his recording.  My bad”.

“So, did you learn anything you didn’t already know in Puberty Class?” I asked one of my newer friends while smiling sarcastically.
“Man, I knew I had three holes” the fifth grade girl responded. 
Well, apparently there was some detail to the class.
“By the end of the day, we just didn’t care anymore and someone left those free pads laying around.  Ricky asked us what they were and we told him, you know, that they were pads.  He had no idea what we were talking about and asked if he could smell them.  I almost threw up”.
That makes two of us. 
“I am not feeling getting up at 5:30 for the Tybee trip.  People need to realize that this,” she said, waving her hand around her face, “takes more than two minutes”.
I started laughing.
“The worst part is that it does only take two minutes!” I responded, looking at her pretty, effortless eleven-year-old face.
“I have been getting up at five all week just to practice.” she whispered, smiling. 
“You are going to have a great time”.
The boys in her classroom were sword fighting with their free deodorants. 

I woke up and went to work, feeling a lot more bright eyed than I normally do.  I ate my quickie breakfast of choice, a hard boiled egg, before starting my first class.  A wave of nausea hit me and I vomited in the trashcan.  Woohoo, I thought and figured it would pass.  I went to my first class.  During my second class, I broke out into a cold sweat.   I sat at the table with some kids, helping them with a writing assignment, when waves of nausea hit me.   I ended up getting a sub for the rest of the day, a first for me.  I went back the next day and finished the week without problems.  Yet over the weekend, I had an amazing vomit fest.  Multiple people asked me if I was pregnant.  I am surprised at the zeal people feel for a forty-three year old having an unexpected pregnancy.  Anyone up for a three-headed baby?  I am not pregnant. 

On the eve of April Fool’s Day, I decided to start the festivities early.  I chased Lola through the house and thought it would be funny to pick her up.  All ninety-plus pounds of her threw off my balance and I crashed into a folding door that goes to the laundry room.  Lola ran off and I went to the bathroom mirror.  I was shocked to see broken glasses, big red bruises on my forehead and cheek and bloody scratch marks.  Great. 

As a joke, all of us at work had asked for last minute personal days on April Fool’s Day.  My excuse was that I needed to get a tan on my legs.  What if I really couldn’t go to work the next day? 

Just claiming domestic abuse was an easier explanation than what really happened while at work the following day.  After work, I drove across town to the cheap glasses place to order a new pair.  It went fine, but when I returned to the car, it wouldn’t start.  I called a wrecker. 
“I’m really sorry but there is a four hour wait,” he instructed me, “you are in the middle of the epicenter”.
I got the car started and drove toward my mechanic.  I was on fumes but feared stopping the car because it probably wouldn’t start again.
After an hour in traffic, I made it. 

The following day, I was called into an impromptu meeting because of angry parents.  I was really sick of their shit. As I walked to the meeting that occurred when I was supposed to be having lunch, I implored the administrator not to throw me under the bus.
“I got you, Ms. Wagner.  I will be there.” he responded, staring at the bruises and scratches on my face.  
I haven’t had a meeting like that in years.  Parents so determined to find someone to blame instead of recognizing a problem in their kid and trying to help him with it.  References to me in the third person while I sat two seats down from them.   Refusal to shake my hand or look at me when I introduced myself. 
“I have been contacting you since October because I am concerned and want Lawrence to be successful.”
“I find that hard to believe” the mother responded.
“If SHE cared at all she would have tried harder”.
“So, where are we going with all of this?” I responded.  “The data collection, the meetings, the emails.  What is our plan?”.
“SHE should have told us about this sooner” the mother responded, turning her face away.

I bought a six-pack on the way home from work, though I have been avoiding drinking during the week.  The mechanic called.
“Hey!  It’s really not that bad!”
“Really?!” I responded.
“Yeah, just $475!”.  My heart sank.  Nearly five hundred dollars in addition to the two thousand I have put into that car in the last couple of months.
“Actually, that really sucks.  When can I pick it up?”.

Friday.   And not just any Friday but the one before Spring Break.  Finally.  I went out for drinks with friends from work and headed home.  I kissed and hugged Lola and went inside to talk to Alec.  A few minutes later, I saw the gate to our fence wide open and Lola’s little booty and curled tail exiting our yard.   We ran.  I could hear her but not see her in the vacant lot by our house.  Alec and I ran in opposite directions.  I couldn’t hear her anymore.  I ran to the other side of our house and saw Alec with his hand on Lola’s collar.
“She’s been hit!” he yelled, picking her up and carrying her up the hill. 
I grabbed the keys to his car, locked the house and told him how to get to the emergency vet.
We were there three hours.  Lola didn’t break anything and the ultrasound showed no internal bleeding.  We were presented with a four hundred dollar bill. 

I laid with her on the cold tile floor, questioning what I would do if anything ever happened to her.

That is honestly the one thing that I really can’t take.