VERNON COUNTY - Once I spent a whole day spitting out cat kibble. I got most of it out with the first few spits, I then swished my tongue around my teeth and gums, searching and cleaning as I went. Still, my mouth felt dirty for what seemed like days. No amount of water or even chocolate milk seemed to help.
Nowadays, I keep the cat kibble in a large tin can on the floor. I keep the pretzel bag tightly closed and in the cupboard. I have learned not to set both bags open on the kitchen counter.
I spent the first night of my former married life in a swanky hotel with a whirlpool and pool. In the middle of the night, I woke up itching from my waist down. I couldn’t hold still, I couldn’t stop scratching. It felt like a million red ants were making a late-night snack of me. I crept out of bed and into the bathroom. Inside my new husband’s toiletry bag, I found a tube of itching cream, rubbed it in, and snuck back into bed.
My new husband rolled over and growled, “What are you doing? You smell like a giant hemorrhoid.”
I now consider this incident a red light—except that red lights are supposed to happen before you sign a marriage certificate. I’m sure other people have mistaken Preparation H for cortisone cream.
These nightmare flashbacks are flickering around me today because of a recent conversation with a friend who gave my book to her mom as a gift. Her mom must have read some of the book because she called her daughter and asked if the stories were real. I’m guessing she also questioned whether I was real, but my friend is too polite to report that to me.
“Yes, it’s all nonfiction,” I assured my friend, “except for the stories where the animals are talking.” Was there a need for me to add that? I wondered. I suggested when her mom comes to town again they stop over for a visit.
Days later, my friend informed me her mom had called again and asked, “So does she work out with you?” My friend, who has participated in my 6:30 a.m. twice-weekly classes for almost three years, told me what she’d replied: “No, she just stands there and tells us what to do.”
For the record, I do move in some of my classes. I have witnesses.
Regular readers may recall that on the last rainy day we had here, I declared it a mental health day. I drove to LaCrosse after work and treated myself to a pedicure.
After the pedicure, Terry, my main pedi-man that I follow from foot joint to foot joint, accompanied me to the foot dryer. He carried my shoes, socks, keys, my jacket, and my wallet. I only had myself, my wet toes, and those flimsy flip-flops to worry about.
Terry, ever the kind man, pulled out the tiny brown stool for me to sit on. He set my possessions down and explained how to turn on the foot dryer. He told me to wait till it stopped, reach down, and reset it for one more session of blow-drying. He looked me right in the eyes when he told me this. Terry knows I get antsy and rush to leave. Then, I whine that my newly painted toenails are smudged. I always tell him about the accidental smudging like I don’t have a clue how it could have happened. Terry is a smart man though, so he repeated the instructions and left me to dry.
I was daydreaming about lunch, when the dryer stopped. I was looking forward to treating myself to my favorite salad at my favorite LaCrosse restaurant. Practicing patience, I reached down to turn the dryer back on. My butt pushed the stool out from under me, and down I went. My legs flew up in the air, flinging the cheap flip-flops across the room. It was the worst landing a woman could have asked for—nothing graceful about it. Like a turtle that’s been flipped over onto its shell, I lay there with my legs up, looking into the faces of at least ten concerned customers, along with Terry and the other worker bees. I assured everyone, “I’m fine. Fine. No, really I’m fine,” as I laughed pathetically, knowing that on the way down I’d wet my pants.
People held out their arms to help me to my feet. I managed to reach my jacket and was desperately trying to wrap it around my waist before accepting any help. I ended up walking out of the store backward saying, “Thank you. I’m perfectly fine. Have a great day.”
When I got to the door I realized Terry’s location in the mall means anyone could have been watching the whole ordeal through the glass wall, including the part where I crabbed my way to the door.
Later that evening, Dane called and asked me about my pedicure and lunch in LaCrosse. “I didn’t go to lunch. And you don’t want to know about the pedicure.” When he asked why, I solemnly repeated, “You don’t want to know.”
That’s when it finally dawned on me: maybe you don’t want to know. I could easily write all my experiences as fiction. At least then they would be believable!