Friday, September 30, 2011

Language of Friendship

     I have attempted to write this one piece for the last hour.  I write one, single, solitary word and Buttercup comes in the room.  “Mama, need help.”  So far, she’s asked for permission to eat the snack I personally made and handed to her, a refill on her drink, praise for her art, and help with putting her box of modeling clay back on the shelf, edges parallel.  I’ve retied a shoe, stitched a button back on a shirt, and cleaned a doll’s face to remove an offending smudge that will resign her to a garbage dump fate if not immediately and completely removed right this very second.  I wonder how on earth I’ll ever get anything written.  I wonder how well Twain, Fitzgerald, and Dickens would have fared in their masterful writing careers had they been mothers.  I wonder if Pocahontas is home. 

      Pocahontas is my best friend, but she lives a thousand miles away.  We’ve designated Alexander Graham Bell as our patron saint since our friendship has been cultivated through countless telephone conversations and commiserations.  We understand each other and have developed a sort of “language” over the years.  If I try to explain, I will probably lose your interest, so I present to you a short transcription of a typical conversation:

      (phone rings)

      Bertha: “Grizzly Residence.’

      Pocahontas: “Girl, if my kid keeps this up …”

      B: “I hear ya!  Mine’s the same today.  Buttercup!  Stop that! Are you trying to die young?”

      P: “I’m so glad somebody else is having the same … Blondie!  I don’t care if he is cute.  We do not bring reptiles in the house!  Are you getting this, Bertha?  I need a vacation in the worst kind of way.”

      B: “What part of ‘sharp knife’ is confusing?  Put it down!  I know what you mean … Maui is calling and I’ve never even been there.  I think it’s time for you to take a nap, little miss.”

      P: “I’ve never been to Maui either and if you don’t put that disgusting animal back out side, the consequences may have something to do with boarding school but I’m sure it’s a nice place with adult beverages and ocean sounds.”

      B: “Maui or boarding school?  Haha, just kidding, I know what you meant.  Do you think insurance will cover a trip for mental health?  Because I think I’m starting to repeat myself are you trying to die young?”

      P: “Boarding school.  That’s all I’m going to say is boarding school it’s a stretch but they might be willing to cover it if we explain the situation.”

      B: “Or if we just drop Blondie and Buttercup off for a few days, they’ll be paying us to come back home and take that sharp knife in your eye if you start running and trip don’t you know that?!  Put it down!”

      P: “I said take it outside, not feed it to the cat!  Boarding school, Blondie-boo, I really think we should check on the price of tickets to someplace exotic.  I don’t know, maybe Hoboken?  That’s exotic to me at this point don’t let that cat in this house!  Do they have nice hotels in Hoboken?  Or maybe a sleeping bag in a church basement.  That’s fine with me at this point shut the door Blondie!”

      B: “I don’t know how exotic the church basements are in Hoboken, but I’m willing to try Buttercup NO!”

      P: “Blondie!  Shut the door!  Hoboken it is.”

      At this point, you are either suffering a headache or laughing because you understand.  It is impossible to do anything with children.  Again, I think of Twain, Fitzgerald, and Dickens … and I start to get irritated.  How dare they wave their successes in my face!  How dare they make their mark on society while I’m still trying to find the time to scrub marks off my wallpaper.  They know nothing of the struggle to finish a conversation with a friend while saving children from destruction, let alone trying to write anything.  Show me a mother publishing a coherent sentence, and I’ll show you a multi-tasking marvel in desperate need of a vacation.

      Later that night, I called Pocahontas for a short, adult conversation before exhaustion took over.  We decided that we did, indeed, need a vacation but that a church basement in Hoboken probably wasn’t the best idea.  She agreed that Twain, Fitzgerald, and Dickens were definitely not mothers, but their contributions to the literary world were pavers for frazzled types like me.  I thanked her for her gentle chastisement and for bringing me back to reality.  We laughed, we talked about our love for our daughters, and we agreed to face tomorrow with the same determination we faced today.  We watched a little TV over the phone together (our trademark) and said goodnight.  In my exhaustion, I said something about using a protractor with the modeling clay on the shelf, and she just laughed.  What I said made no sense whatsoever, but it didn’t have to.

      We speak the same language.

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