Saturday, December 22, 2012

". . . For the Ladies, John" -- Konichiwa

The ark-esque rain and apocalyptic winds may have battered my house yesterday, but they did not batter my soul.  Somewhere deep within, I knew the Seven Horsemen, the Iceman, and the Staypuft Marshmallow Man … would not cometh.

Still, I took no chances.  I braved neither cataclysmic Christmas crowds nor weather, until both had abated.  After 9PM last night. 

It was 10:45 PM when we returned home with a few new groceries and holiday trinkets, and that’s when I experienced the return of these bizarre stomach writhings and strange bloaty spots I’ve been palpating for WEEKS to ensure they were the twenty pound tumors I knew them to be (twenty being the mysterious excess of ‘digits’ my digital scale was newly registering).

And it hit me.  Perhaps my eating habits were somehow responsible. For all of it.  Perhaps I was hungry for … nutritive food.

In fact, I wondered aloud to my husband if my stomach-issue didn’t remind him of the frail grandmother from Stephen King’s The Stand who, prior to a great cross-country trek to defeat the evil Randall Flagg, spontaneously acquired identical symptoms. “You mean when she realized she was HUNGRY?” he posited.

“I know!  Let’s scramble eggs!”

We ate them together at midnight, much as we used to in 1978 in our first apartment in Italy when we had no TV, phone, or kid.  We'd play Monopoly into the wee hours, then cook breakfast before dawn.

But even nostalgia eggs couldn’t address the sadness I suddenly felt for under-nourished women.

“Dammit,” I huffed to my spouse.  “If we are ever going to find our place in the global economy, women my age have got to eat better.”

“Can’t you guys suck Ensure through a straw and move on with life?” (Why has his myeloma-therapy not dampened his humor-affliction?)

“That assumes we have time to pop the top off the can.”

Women my age -- sidling toward some decade On the Other Side Of The Rainbow -- are launching start-up businesses while raising grandchildren; or we are teaching and taking college courses at once; or we are burning calories at both ends by either lecturing super loud or asking professors to Speak Up so the volume drowns out growling stomachs.

And IF we make time to eat between errands and homework and dental procedures and babysitting and rescuing rescue dogs, it’s likely something that ends in the suffix, ‘inkie.’ (Fortunately for us, Hostess tanked.) 

Yesterday, as I was simultaneously wrapping gifts and writing and stamping Christmas cards and researching myeloma and palpating my adipose-tumors, I felt suddenly jazzed from a trans-fat/Starbucks rush.

Instead of balancing spiking / crashing glucose with a nutritive tofu snack, I jitter-wrote a Food Rap and emailed it to strangers to critique.

Yo, French-Roast,

How you thrill me


Each one brings me  so   much   fun.

Then I indulged in a quick, pick-me-up coma.

I don’t have a clue how to fix this. 

I believe women when they say, “I don’t have time to eat right.” But why is this?  We have time to feed fresh oil to our cars every 3-5,000 miles.  We have time to feed prescription de-wormers to our daughter’s rescue dog when she goes on vacation to Spain. We even provide grandkids balanced breakfasts and snacks from The Vegetation Family.

You know, let me retract that.  Actually some of us don’t feed our grandchildren.  My Mom used to take my kids to the mall, sending them off with lunch money and a kiss.

I wonder if my mother didn’t have it right.  She found some sort of balance between spoiling herself, spoiling the grandkids, then doing this in tandem so that every once in a while, without a religious holiday as a crutch, everyone could feel spiritually and physically nurtured, together, at the same time.

Personally I have no grandchildren from which to acquire this kind of zen.  But I did accidentally follow her example once, back when my kids were little.  It was a Sunday afternoon, just after lunch, and I was on my knees on bathroom tile blow-drying my hair into stylish knots, licking faux-bacon off a piece of cold potato that sat on the closed toilet lid.

I was running late.

My three boys, two of their friends and my 15 month-old-daughter were all out in The Van, beeping from the driveway.  We were off to see the 1PM matinee, Mrs. Doubtfire. It featured a separated couple – which I was at the time. (My spouse lived in Vermont with some work project.) Anyway, the nanny Mrs. Doubtfire ensured her young charges ate colorful meals together at  t-a-b-l-e-s.  We all wanted to see what this looked like.

By their eight hundredth beep I got testy. Who did they think they were, rushing ME?  Had I spent too much time screwing toothpaste covers back on after their all-night sleepover, or re-diapering the baby, or feeding everyone greased-cheese sandwiches so they wouldn’t want $50 bags of popcorn I’d pay for by selling over-the-counter bowel elixirs as street drugs in the theatre parking lot?


That’s when my very first stomach writhing / bloaty spot erupted. I vaguely recognized it as hunger. “When was the last time I ‘d eaten something my mother would approve of?”

Well, I’d finished a small piece of penicillin stuck to a cheese wrapper the previous night. Then there was that Tums I sucked at bedtime, full of the calcium women need.

Enough was enough. I tossed my blow-dryer onto the bacon bits and marched to The Van.

“Kids, we won’t be leaving until Mom EATS.”

--pause –

“Do you have to do that now? We’ll miss the coming attractions.”
“Aww, that’s my favorite part!”
“Jake, really? The PREVIEWS!?”
“Seriously, Jake, it’s just the stuff they make you sit through while you wait. Mom calls it ‘The Foreplay.’”
“I’m telling!”
“You think Mom doesn’t know she calls it that?”
“I have to go to the bathroom.”
“Let’s go watch Mom eat.”

When I opened the refrigerator I was nearly blinded by the vacant wasteland yawning at me. It was the Mojave Desert, worse than the Apocalypse-‘Scape in Stephen King’s The Stand.

The vultures had picked the interior clean.

As the door fell shut, I felt the vultures at my back.

“Are you guys lining up to sniff freon?  That refrigerator’s empty.”

Then I had an idea.

“Get back in The Van. I’ll be out in two minutes.”

 I went to the cupboard and got out six Baggies.

“Nick, what’s your Mom doing?”
“She’s pouring pills into plastic bags.”
“How come?”
“Maybe you made her mad."
“Hey, Zach, is she gonna make us take drugs?”
“No. She might swallow some though.”
“You guys don’t know anything.  That stuff’s called Imodium. Looks like we’re gonna get popcorn today!”

“Hey, I told you to get in The Van. I was just getting snacks for the movie.”

“Mrs. Given, the boys said those are pills for diarrhea.”
“Don’t listen to them. They’re chocolate chips.  My kids should watch more TV and stop reading my rough-drafts.”

When they’d piled into The Van, I drove us to the Sakura Tokyo in Worcester for their Japanese buffet, then we went to the 3PM matinee.

I really did have to zen myself toward the familiar adage, “What would my mother do?” to get us to that restaurant.  We had great food, splurged a bit, and it wasn’t even one of my kids’ birthdays.  It was just a Sunday.

From then on, every day … was Sunday … for years. 

Somehow, throughout this past busy autumn I had forgotten about nutritive self-nurturing.  And power naps.  And exercise. And prayer.  And selling OTC bowel elixirs as street drugs to fund those Japanese buffets. 

Hey! Patty Smith! HeeeLLLLOOOO!!!  Fellow-Fifth-Decade Friend!





My treat  ;)