Friday, May 30, 2014

Shattered: A Tragicomedy in Two Large Parts and Many Small Shards

Because I'm still on vacation, I had intended embrace sloth and to skip my second post for this week -- yes, even though I spent much of Wednesday's post flogging myself for only posting once the week before. (I'm a self-generating guilt machine!) But then I went and did something too humiliating to keep to myself, because blogs, as we all know, are about trading one's dignity for new followers.

If you'll recall, reader(s), I bragged in my last post -- the aristocratically titled Type A-ness -- that I had yet to humiliate myself while a guest in my in-laws' home. Dumb. Dumb dumb dumb.

A word of advice: Never boast online about how you haven't clogged a toilet, because, number one, that's not really brag-worthy, and number two, Murphy's Law. (And number three -- I just used "number one" and "number two" while describing a toilet. That's my Master of Fine Arts degree at work right there!)

Before you jump to conclusions, let me assure you that I have yet to clog a toilet. A clogged toilet is boring. A clogged toilet can't maim you and your loved ones, unless it's harboring a poltergeist or a sewer gator or something. No, I'm a die-hard overachiever, so I upped the ante on humiliation.

What follows is a TOTALLY accurate rendering of how it went down. And by "it" I mean my last shred of self-respect:

Shattered: A Tragicomedy in Two Large Parts and Many Small Shards 

Fog curled its thick fingers around the pine saplings and honeysuckle. Summer mornings in the mountains of North Caroline were usually a slow and quiet affair. But on this summer morning, the woods, the birds, even the stone path, all seemed to be holding their breath. All seemed to be waiting.

Yet, inside the house, warm family banter filled the kitchen, coffee percolated, and V-Tech toys sang and sang and wouldn't stop singing. Why wouldn't they stop singing? Where was the off switch? Why couldn't anyone find a damn off switch? Seriously, someone needed to find an off switch because the warm family banter was beginning to take on a slight edge of tension, a whiff of insanity.

The dogs paced. "Are you done frying that bacon? Because we would like to eat all of that bacon," their wise faces seemed to say.

Jessica, ever the elegant young mother, stuffed another dirty tissue into the pocket of her gray hoodie and plucked at the seat of her pink pajama bottoms. She loved the morning and she loved her family, thanks only in small part to medication. It warmed the one remaining cockle of her heart to watch as her in-laws doted on their only grandson. 

And the grandson, Jessica's doe-eyed toddler, Pork Chop, soaked up the attention. Surrounded by an almost impenetrable wall of V-Tech noise, he eschewed the blinking lights and spinning whirligigs and instead studied a tuft of dog hair on the carpet before reverently placing the tuft on his tongue like a communion wafer. Oh how he enjoyed nature, the sweet little prince.

True, Jessica had some misgivings about spending an entire week as a guest at the home of her husband's parents. But being a guest always made her uncomfortable. For weeks before the trip, she was prone to grinding her teeth or plucking at the hair near her temples. Perhaps she never felt worthy of hospitality. Or perhaps she was just that nervous about clogging her mother-in-law's toilet. 

But by day 5 of their week-long stay, Jess began to relax, began to un-clench. She sipped her piping hot coffee and flashed her husband a grin that conveyed both the depth of her love and her desire that he not eat the last piece of danish. She felt at last like her old self -- hungry but also friendly and kind of sexy. 

She paid no attention to the silence growing deeper in the woods around the home. The silence that was, in fact, creeping under doors and slithering down the chimney. 

As breakfast dishes were cleared from the table, Jessica, coffee in hand, joined Pork Chop in the living room. Her son had fished a set of kiddy keys from atop Great Toy Mountain. He delighted in pressing the car alarm button over and over and over and over and over and over. What kind of asshole puts a car alarm button on kiddy keys? The saintly yet foxy mom didn't care to answer such questions. Instead, she perched herself on the coffee table, from whence she could view her son and his kingdom of blinking, singing, whirling, honking, godforsaken toys. 

She sipped her coffee and mused, "This child is a gift and a joy. How can I ever live up to such a blessing? How did I come to deserve such a child? Is he grunting or humming? Do I smell poop?"

She leaned forward, snatching her wiggling toddler with one hand while she held aloft her mug of coffee -- the exact temperature of the core of the Earth -- with the other. Then she hoisted her son's bum toward her motherly nose, intent on sniffing out a bomb.

Did she feel the quiet, the cold and deadly quiet, as is slunk up the leg of the coffee table? As it spread like cold, tingly BenGay across the tabletop? 

No. No, she did not.

She did, however, hear the silence give way with a sickening pop. Because her GIANT ASS HAD SMASHED THE GLASS TABLE.

Very thick glass. But no match for my much thicker ass.

Her coffee spilled all over her mother-in-law's beautiful Persian rug. Her precious child would have had the shit scared out of him had he not already shit. And Jessica lay on the floor in a useless, humiliated heap, rubbing her duplicitous butt. No one was injured except for Jessica's dashing husband, who pulled his back while hauling the shattered remains of the table top to the county dump.

Jessica's mother-in-law was utterly gracious about the whole debacle. 

Jessica now feels like an ass, a big, fat, glass-crushing ass. Also, she's afraid to use the toilet.



  1. I am optioning the movie rights for this now. Olivia Wilde should play you. Brilliant.

    1. Oh, Holly. Olivia Wilde is very generous of you. I think, however, that I'm maybe a solid Judi Dench or Danny DeVito.