Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Cigarettes And Beer...And Kevin Bacon

Looks like I picked the wrong week to wear Spandex. As if there's ever a right week.

I was going to a workout class, see. One of those that incorporates your baby in the workout, as if your baby will tolerate being lifted and bench-pressed like a drooling, five-pound bag of flour instead of a squirming, wriggling, 17-pound, just learned to crawl and now wants to maintain the same freedom to roam as an endangered species on an animal preserve. Baby.

And so in my enthusiasm to train my butt to defy gravity--or at least mildly disagree with it--I donned a pair of "workout pants" (as in, a camel called...he wants his toe back), a t-shirt, some new sneakers that had yet to meet any pavement, and ushered the kids into the car. I was planning for a quick, painless drop off at school, followed by a nice hour of lifting Finn over my head and trying to avoid getting any of his bodily fluids in my mouth.

Everything was fine until we sat idling in the carpool lane. And that's when Elsa's theatrics began.

Elsa: I don't wanna go to schoooool.
Me: Elsa, of course you do. You love school. (She really does. On days when she doesn't go, she flounces around the house with her backpack and lunchbox, and makes me address her as Miss Elsa in a sing-song Southern accent.)
Elsa: No I don't.
Me: Don't you want to show Miss Deborah your nail polish?
Elsa (examining the chipped, crappy job I did on her nails yesterday): No.
Me (as we creep forward in the carpool lane): Come on, Els. Rollie will walk you to your class.
Elsa (beginning to fake cry and bury her head in her chest): No.
Me: Elsa, please unbuckle yourself--it's almost our turn.
Elsa (slouching in her seat, her bottom lip out so far it almost reaches her dimpled chin): I don't wanna goooooo.

We get to the front of the line, and the teacher opens Elsa's door, ready to assist and usher. But she recoils at Elsa's tears and looks at me.

Me: Sorry...she's having a...I'll go...park. (The walk of shame for a parent in the carpool lane. Yes, my child is having an inexplicable nervous breakdown, and instead of trying to convince her that she's going to have an awesome day at school, I'll have to pull over and walk her in myself.)

Me: Elsa, I will walk you in to your class, okay?
Elsa (drawing a shuddering breath): Okay, Mommy.

And then I remembered my outfit. Spandex. (Sound of Psycho-esque high-pitched violins shrieking).

I sat there, wondering how to gracefully exit the car and emerge in public in my workout garb. At least I was wearing a bra, so most of the jiggling was happening south of the border. Maybe no one would even notice. Maybe I didn't look as bad in the nine o'clock sunshine as I did in the soft, gentle lighting of my bathroom mirror. Maybe everyone will blink their eyes at the same instant--long enough for me to make it from the car to the school and back again.

And just when I thought I would have to walk sideways like an embarrassed crab into the school so no one would have to see my ass in these pants, I discovered a sweatshirt of Jeff's balled up on the floor of the passenger seat. Score!

I shook out the sweatshirt and put it on, feeling all clever and smug that I'd dodged a jiggly, out-of-shape bullet.... Until I realized that this sweatshirt, like pretty much every other article of clothing Jeff owns, was proudly emblazoned with an Anheuser-Busch product. This one paying homage to Bud Light. Here we go.

Ordinarily I would only be somewhat wary of donning a beer sweatshirt into a baptist preschool. My mind goes back to my own youth, when things like backpacks and winter coats were items my mother usually procured from the most interesting of places. For a short time, my sister Carrie and I had matching red duffle bags with the word Malboro printed in white. We used them as book bags. And while my mother insisted that these duffle bags were most certainly not purchased from the back pages of some automotive and/or smutty magazine, my sister and I were often asked by our classmates if we were smokers. Which would have made us the only ones at our elementary school to do so.

"It's a college," our mother would yip in that voice reserved for situations where she was desperately trying to convince someone of a little known fact. "Kevin Bacon got his start on The Guiding Light!" "They used to pan for gold in the stream that borders our property!" "The remains of a pirate ship have been found in our back yard!"

But considering that the sermon at this very church two days before this was about not being a stumbling block (with alcohol used as the illustration), I have to admit I was a little self-conscious about parading my children through school while doubling as a beer billboard. I had to quickly weigh which issue would attract more mental tsks from any onlookers: My wobbly butt in tight black pants or my dark blue sweatshirt advertising alcohol. Hmmm.

Opting for door two, I bustled the kids from the car and scurried across the parking lot, avoiding any and all eye-contact. I discovered that if I cocked my head just so, my hair was almost long enough to cover some of the lettering. To the untrained eye, it almost looked like I was wearing a Light sweatshirt. The Light could have stood for anything. It could even have a religious connotation if taken in the right context. If only a bible verse reference had been printed beneath it, instead of the catch-phrase Here We Go, I could have gotten away with it.

As it were, Elsa's teacher was the only one who seemed to notice my sweatshirt. While I explained Elsa's tear-streaked face, I saw her eyes flicker briefly to the lettering. But oddly enough, I didn't feel judged. No brow furrowed in disapproval. No pursed lips or eyes narrowed. Maybe she sort of expected it from me, the mom who forgot class picture day--paying for the pictures but failing to send Elsa in to school that day. The mom who brought in valentines on February 16th. Whose daughter comes to school with her lunchbox stuffed with fake, plastic fruits because she insists on packing her own snack.

I slunk back to the safety of my car and shed the sweatshirt, feeling sheepish, and then silly. Was I vain and self-important for assuming all eyes would be on me and my Spandex? Probably. Was God going to smite me for wearing a Bud Light sweatshirt in church? Probably not. Was I going to be properly dressed every morning from now on, just in case someone has a carpool meltdown again? You betcha.

And did my father finally notice our book bags and offer his approval? Let's just say that the holes that one day appeared in the bottom of the bags looked suspiciously like they were made with a trumpet...

PS--In my mother's defense, there is in fact a Marlboro college. I don't think, however, that their school emblem was a pack of cigarettes. Marlboro College: We Smoke Them Ivy Leaguer's Butts!

1 comment:

  1. Ahhhh... Another batch of smiles and giggles courtesy of one of my favorite writers of all time! Thanks for the lift!!!