13.1. Yeah, I Did It.

Four years ago I said, “Y’all, I’m going to run a half marathon.” And then I did.  I totally did, except I only ran 3.1 miles of it which is practically the same thing.  Then last year I told you all a story about drinking like a fish with My Girls and embedded in that story was a second promise to run a half marathon.  And then I did.

Okay, that is a lie.  I can’t even fiddle around with that one and pretend like I did something great.  Instead, what I did was spend all my money fixing my car for the 95th time after it kept crapping out on me and then I could not afford the trip to Cleveland for the race.  (Recently spent another $450 on that vehicle getting some additional mechanical repairs; meanwhile the side piece under the passenger side doors hangs limply down from the frame in the manner of droopy drawers.  Best car ever.  Get a Hyundai Sonata.  Go ahead.  Tell me all about it when you do.)

What I learned from those two experiences is that when I tell you guys I’m going to do something, I don’t do it.  There’s really no explanation for it, but I’m not so dumb as to keep telling you about my goals and whatnot and then have them not come to pass.  If it’s all the same to you, I’m keeping the big stuff to myself.  You can hear about it afterwards, like this:

I COMPLETED MY FIRST HALF MARATHON.

WITH MY GIRLS.

AND I WILL NEVER DO ANOTHER ONE AGAIN.

NEVER.

Months ago, and who even remembers when anymore as my “drinking like a fish” stories with My Girls are beginning to run together, we lounged around in our fuzzy pants and contemplated a second shot at doing a half together. Lo and behold, the next day my checking account was debited $35 for my race fee.  A race in Medina, Ohio which sounds cute but also foreign and far away.  I do recall Squash (the Girl who hails from Ohio) promising us that her weather would be fine and that the course would not be hilly, and I do recall some amount of enthusiasm as we each whipped out our mobile devices and our debit cards and happily signed away the fees.  We clinked together glasses of rum and Coke and then merrily called Luke over for pizza and girl movies.  (This happens often so while I cannot pinpoint the exact trip, they all kind of follow the same itinerary . . . .)

From left to right:  Squash, Nurse Bananahammock, Woney, and your favorite, Jimmie

From left to right: Squash, Nurse Bananahammock, Woney, and your favorite, Jimmie

I realized immediately after that trip that I was really going to complete this half.  And right after that I realized that I needed to train for it.  And then not long after that I realized that Daisy was the perfect person with which to train because she walks like the Energizer bunny and her complaints are very soft-spoken.  We began traipsing up and down the Greenway, three- and four-mile walks here and there and then longer walks on the weekends.  We kept adding mileage every Saturday and eventually walked 11 miles in one go.  It was awful.  It was hot and hilly and our legs were so tired.  We only meant to walk 10 that day, but I misjudged the mile markers (surprise) and when we finished we had walked just over 11 miles.

 

My Greenway

My Greenway

I could tell how the half was going to feel based on that one walk with Daisy.  We were at mile nine and Daisy wearily turned her head towards me.  She gave me a long look and said, “When we get back to the car, I’m going to beat the shit out of you.”

I looked wearily back at her and said, “You can’t catch me.”

And she wearily said, “You can’t run.” Valid.

She probably would have beat the shit out of me except we had promised each other pancakes that day, and our desire for pancakes outweighed her desire to kill me, so we carbed up and eventually forgot about our tired feet.  Carbs are magical.

 

Don't they look delicious?

Don’t they look delicious?

The day arrived for the half marathon.  I was excited enough to be full of hope and naïve enough to not be full of dread.  I had on comfy clothes, a bra that cinched the lady bits into battle ax position, and two pigtails.  There were 13 miles ahead of me and a medal and a chocolate milk at the end.  I was with My Girls and the weather was fine.  The promise of a flat walk was unfounded. We received an email a month before the race that was apologetic in nature – changes were made to the course so that the last eight miles were stuffed full of hills – but I live in Nashville.  We are hills.  I could take it, sure.

From our starting position at the back of the corral, My Girls and I trotted off.  We kept a pretty good clip for quite a few miles (Nurse Bananahammock, the runt of the litter, practically had to jog to keep up with us) and even chatted while we walked.  I greeted every volunteer who steered us in the right direction.

“How you durin?” I’d ask and they would cheerfully wave at us.

“I know, we *are* awesome, this is so great,” I’d say, every time we got the you are fabulous, good on you speech.

Woney said to the Girls, “I knew she’d be like this.”

And I was like that for about nine miles.

Mile nine was the marker where my feet started the burn.  I could hear Daisy in the back of my head saying, “I’m going to beat the shit out of you,” and I thought, “Yeah, this is maybe not so fun anymore.”

By mile 10, I was a grouch.  I was overly fond of pointing out, “That house is ugly.  It looks like doo doo.”

Woney said to the Girls, “I knew she’d be like this.  Just wait.  It gets better.”

By mile 11, I was resigned.  My dogs were barking, one of my pigtail holders had popped off, and my body was one giant salt lick from the sweat.  “I’m finishing this bitch. I did not do all this walking to get swept and not get a medal.  C’mon y’all.  Two to go. Dammit.” Fun.

Woney said to the Girls, “Hold on.  She’s coming back.”

Mile 12 was the killer.  Somehow we had picked up a Negative Nelly who whined about her feet the whole last mile.  “My feet really hurt. Do your feet hurt?  Why aren’t you saying anything about your feet?  This was a mistake.  My feet are killing me.”  Yes, our feet hurt.  Our backs hurt.  My butt hurt.  Woney was drained.  Nurse Bananahammock was winded.  Squash was already finished but her feet hurt, I just knew it.  If any of us had had the energy, we would have stabbed old Nelly over there with an ice pick.  But we had a mile to go and there was no getting out of it.  I really wished for Daisy at that point who would have said to Nelly, “When we get to the finish line, I’m going to beat the shit out of you.”  And she would have meant it, carbs or no carbs.

 

Not magical enough to save Nelly.

Not magical enough to save Nelly.

On we trudged. Resignedly I’d respond to the clapping volunteers, “Uh huh, we are great.  Yeah, this is awesome.  Sure, we can do this.”  Most of that came out as a wheeze through parched and lifeless lips but at least it came out.

Woney said, “I told you she’d be like this.”

As we reached mile 12.5, I said to the Girls, “I usually like to cry at the end of these types of events.  I don’t think I can today, I don’t have the reserves, but please know that I will want to.”  When we reached the last hill we eyed a sign that read, “You can bitch about the hill, or you can make the hill your bitch.  Finish line at the top.” We heaved mighty sighs and stoically placed one foot in front of the other all the way up the hill.  I swallowed a bug.  Maybe it was cigarette ash from a passing vehicle.  I’m not sure, but it did not help. We had to shove an old man out of our way. He was blocking the path and we did not have the energy to veer.  Children ran wildly at us and we cared not if they brained themselves on our knees.  We were automatons and we were going to finish, up the hill, on a cobblestone street, across the line.

As we got to the top, I held one hand out to Woney and one hand out to Nurse Bananahammock. We locked fingers, raised our arms in victory and crossed the finish line together.  Turns out I did have the reserves because I cried all the way across the line, sweaty, grimy, down to one scraggly pigtail.

 

Done.

Done.

It. Was. Glorious.

Here is the medal. Get a good look at it because it is the last one you will ever see on this blog.  I worked for it.  I earned it.  I am proud of it.  And I never want to do anything like that again to get another.  Isn’t it pretty?  Tell me it’s pretty.

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One tired Jimmie.

One tired Jimmie.

Also, you know we drank like fish after that race was over.  Keep this in mind for future posts which I will not tell you about in advance because I want the plans we made to happen.  But yeah, happy times are a ‘coming.

Technology + Jimmie = HAHAHA, no.

The other night I used the GPS on my phone to find the restaurant that was hosting a party for me and some friends.  If you know me at all, you can just stop reading because that sentence will tell you the whole story.

After loading the address into my phone, I whizzed down Murfreesboro Pike at high rates of speed, certain that I knew where the location was.  I was looking for the 1000 block and had just passed the 1200 block, so I knew that I would be on time.  The next time my GPS updated, I was in the 600 block and I was instructed to make a U-turn.

I cruised up Murfreesboro Pike at high rates of speed, certain that I knew what had happened.  I had just driven too fast and not paid attention.  On the 1000 block, my GPS instructed me to make a U-turn.  “Narrowing the window,” I thought.  “Still have plenty of time.”

I sailed back down Murfreesboro Pike and when the GPS instructed me to make another U-turn just one street later, I was confused.  I had just been there and U-turned.  There was nothing in between except an abandoned car lot and since I was looking for a restaurant called “Honduras,” not a car, I felt prickly.  In the abandoned car lot, I thought I should recheck the address to make sure I had it right.  I cleared my search and re-entered my data.  I was again instructed to U-turn and motor eight miles down Murfreesboro Pike to the new destination.  Oh.  Just a glitch.  No problem.

Six times I U-turned.  SIX TIMES!  I drove all the way down Thompson Lane and all the way up Murfreesboro Pike, FOR AN HOUR, and do you know I never found that damn restaurant with that damn GPS.

I called my friends who were already at the party, all the ones who found it with no trouble at all, and said mournfully, “I’m just going home.  I have the present in the car, I’ll give it to you later, but I cannot do this.  I don’t know who thought it was a good idea to invite me to a place I’ve never been before because we all know how handy with a map I am, but forget you people.  I’m done.  This sucks.”  And then I slammed down the phone like a recalcitrant teenager and cried.

Before you judge me too harshly for my lack of navigational skills, let me tell you about my phone.  I got this stupid iPhone a couple of years ago because I kept hearing how great it was, how it would change my life, how I’d never be able to live without one again.  And to be fair, it really has changed my life.  Really.  Just not in any good ways.

When I call Madre, and I do this daily, without fail my phone will do one of several things:

  • Hang up on Madre
  • Put me on mute with no indication at all, leaving me to blather into empty space and Madre to wonder if I suddenly expired
  • Put Madre on hold with no indication at all, leaving Madre to blather into empty space and me to wonder if she suddenly expired
  • Dial Madre in on FaceTime after hanging up on her in our regular phone call
  • Put Madre on hold and dial my step-mother
  • Put Madre on hold and text Airport Parking, twice
  • Put Madre on speakerphone, so that suddenly she is yelling in my ear

I have not had a conversation with my mother in a year and a half where one of those things has not happened.  Not a single conversation.  For a while I thought it was because the phone was touching my face but I’ve since learned that my fluffy hair is enough to set it off as well.  We are at the point now where after I’ve dialed my mother back after hanging up on her for the second time, she answers by saying, “You hate your phone, you want to smash it with a hammer, I know, so back to your party . . .”

And then! Just the other day, when I was off in the bathroom fluffing my hair, one of my cats got too close to the phone and dropped some fur on it and that was enough to turn on the voice-activated system which then informed me it was “Dialing, La Paz Catering.”  What the F is La Paz Catering?

To add insult to injury, when I want my phone to be particularly touchy and capture every nuance, say, when I’m texting during a weekend with My Girls, the phone refuses to do it.

Like for example, when I’m texting Pee-tah, my phone might say: Can I have a pizza number?0

And Pee-tah might respond:  a pizza number?

And my phone might say:  I think we set tryint to order pizzazz

And then Pee-tah might say: Have you been drinking?

And then my phone might say:  Oh yes.  Verizon cards against humanity. Pee-tah my lips are numb.

Honestly, it’s disturbing how my phone just messes up all my communications . . .

Pooh recently asked me if she could have my phone.  She’s twelve now, and the last of all her friends to get a cell phone.  She’s pleaded her case thoughtfully and politely, pointing out all the ways it will be helpful and keep her in touch with her parents.  And I have thoughtfully and honestly considered her request.  Give my old phone to Pooh, the phone I consistently want to smash with a hammer, the one that has yet to keep me in touch with my parents, the one that gives me bad directions more often than it gives me good ones, and get a new non-iPhone that might let me finish a conversation with my mother in a single phone call?

Hell yes!  It will teach Pooh patience and maybe how to use a map when she realizes the GPS is crap, stuff that every 12-year-old needs to learn.  Merry Christmas, Pooh!  You got yourself a new phone!

As an epilogue, I’ll tell you that once I told my friends I was no longer going to attend the party, they called me back with some landmarks for which to look.  “We are right behind the Dollar General Market, in the hidden shopping center.  Want us to send out a search party?”

I made one last pass down Murfreesboro Pike, creeping along, wind no longer whipping my hair all around, and looked at every store front.  I finally found it, an hour and fifteen minutes after I passed it the first time.  I drove two hours that night for a party that lasted 90 minutes for which I arrived an hour late.  I had a really nice time, though.  I guess that’s all that matters.

Jimmie Brags, Part Deux

Continuing on with my humble and thoughtful posts related the blogging award I recently received, the one for which I was nominated because of my fine writing skills (yo), today I will answer 11 questions that Martie posed to me. Most of these she knows the answer to but since the point is to engage you people, not her, I’ll graciously answer them. Plus I like talking about myself. It’s the entire theme of this blog.

Answers to 11 Questions Posed by Martie
By Jimmie

1. What color is your hair? Tell the truth, now.

My enhanced color is blondie/brownie with three gray strands, right in the front. I am inordinately proud of my fake hair color.

My real color is mouse with three gray strands, right in the front.

2. What kind of car do you drive?

Oh, I know this one! A grandma car!

3. What is your favorite kind of gum?

Ice Breakers Grape Ice Cubes. I don’t like sophisticated gum.

4. Where were you when you had your first kiss?

Can I tell a story here? You knew this was coming.

In high school I had this mad crush on a boy named Shawn. Oh, I liked him desperately and I yearned for the day he’d discover me, make me his girlfriend and let me wear his football jersey every Friday before the game. A year or so passed from the onset of my crush and to my great surprise, Shawn and I became friends. Perhaps I should have struggled over the dilemma of “do I give up my crush for this really great friend, or do I continue to pine for him as he sits across the table eating Mom’s meatloaf?” For those of you who ever lived as a teenaged girl, the answer is obvious. Never give up your crush. Carry it till your death, or at least until he kisses you for the first time.

One afternoon Shawn came over and was eager to tell me that one of my friends had ratted me out. This friend told another friend who told another friend who told Shawn that I had a crush on him and also that I’d never kissed a boy. The clouds of dust behind the wheels of Shawn’s car as he raced over started Dust Bowl, 1988, I’m pretty sure. Shawn knocked on my front door, parked himself on my mother’s sofa and said, “I heard you’ve never kissed a boy before. I’d like to be the first.” Then he grinned at me with his braces-covered teeth.

Isn’t that romantic? Oh, my heart leapt all up into my throat and my stomach seized up in paroxysms of excitement! Shawn leaned over and sweetly, slowly touched his lips to mine. It was glorious. I swooned. And then he partly opened his mouth and I partly opened mine and he shoved his tongue all the way down my throat. I was so surprised that I bit down, hard, on the offending choking mechanism and he, so surprised at the pain, jerked back and said accusingly, “What are you doing?!”

“Choking,” was my reply, and we both scooted apart, nursing our injuries. I reflected on my first kiss as Shawn and I sat separately on the couch. It was nothing like the George Michael make out session I had dreamed about for the last three years. “What a big fat disappointment,” I thought, and with that, my crush simply disappeared.

So all of that tells you that my first kiss happened at my house, on my sofa with a boy named Shawn. The end.

5. Do you wear glasses or contacts?

Boys don’t make passes at girls who wear glasses. I think that neatly explains my single status.

6. How many siblings do you have?

One full, one half, two step and one outlier step that I’ve only met twice. So . . . nine.

7. Where did you go on your last vacation?

I went here:

Marvins

8. Where are you going on your next vacation?

I’ll visit these people:

Daddy-O and JiJi

Daddy-O and JiJi

9. What was your worst job ever?

When I lived in Alabama, I found myself in the unfortunate position of being poor. I didn’t like being poor so I decided that a second job was exactly what I needed. I found one in a factory, cleaning from 5:30 – 9:30 pm, Monday through Friday. I’d leave my professional job, arrive at my factory job and change into ratty cleaning clothes in the bathroom. Then I would don latex gloves, mix up my mop buckets, and cruise around the offices emptying garbage cans. Once that task was completed, I’d make my way into the factory where I’d clean bathrooms, clean the kitchen, and clean the break room. Someone more tenured than I felt that purchasing white, textured tables for the kitchen was a great idea, and lo I spent many hours scrubbing those tables with bleach to the get the factory dust and stains out of them. As the men walked into the break room for their evening meal, their eyes would tear up from the bleach fumes, yet no one complained. My fingernails stayed in a constant state of disrepair. I hated it. I hated cleaning toilets, smelling of bleach and realizing that no one was going to clean up their mess in the microwave. The job only lasted a few months before I tired of it, and someone more tenured than I tired of paying a cleaning crew, so the cleaning positions were eliminated. I’ve never been more relieved in all my life.

I did get a boyfriend out of that job, though. He was probably the nicest boy I ever dated.

10. Have you ever had a bad haircut? Explain!

Instead of explaining, I’ll provide photographic evidence.

Example One – my first real haircut and permanent.

Yeesh

The beauty expert rolled my side wings into those Shirley Temple curls and I, knowing no better, styled my hair that way every day for a year.

Example Two – my second real haircut.

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The beauty expert neglected to tell me that my hair was too short for the layered cut I wanted, and that cutting it this way would only emphasize the largeness of my nose, the squinty-ness of my eyes and would do nothing to camouflage my large bosom. Shawn, of the above make out story, said as I walked into school with my new hair cut, “What happened to your hair? Can you glue some of it back on?”

I have excellent taste in men.

11. Where is your favorite place to write?

I prefer writing at Panera, and that is largely due to their Thai Chopped Chicken Salad. But also, the Panera closest to me has a great corner table with two seating options. If I’m feeling cozy I can sit on the booth side of that table, or if I’m feeling rigid, I can sit on the chair side of the table. If my table is taken when I arrive (and I always go early to ensure I get it), I fall into a snit. I park myself nearby and glare at the offending patron until he/she leaves, then I schlep all my stuff over to my table and mark my spot while I get in line for my salad. Love Panera!

Thus endeth my answers, and thus endeth my post for today. Tune back in next week for the third installment of “Jimmie Wins an Award and Crows about It: Finis.” Don’t forget to let me know if you have a blog of your own I can check out. I’d love to feature you if you are amenable to that, and I’d love to read what you have.

Among Other Things, A Series Of Selfies

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I was packing my walking shoes for the trip to Key West I was taking with Madre when I noticed that I’d worn out the bottom of my shoes. There was a large spot in the center of the shoe that only separated my foot from the sidewalk with thin pieces of rubber and stuffing. I suppose that says a lot for the amount I’ve walked since Easter, when I bought the shoes, and a lot for the amount of work my pedicurist had to do when I last visited her. I crammed the shoes down as far as I could and zipped the case closed.

Madre and I had been planning this trip since Poppa died but only 18 months later did we plan it in earnest. I think Madre didn’t want to leave her comforts, her safe places, and I had other trips already planned with My Girls. But plan it we did, and on a Monday night we flew out of Nashville into Miami on a puddle jumper that rattled in uncomfortable ways.

For six days Madre, Auntie Anne, Auntie Susanne and I enjoyed nearly every nice thing the Florida Keys have to offer. Aunties Anne and Susanne have lived there for a while now, so it’s lovely that we can visit whenever the hurricanes are not in season and when the Aunties are not travelling elsewhere. I get my love of travel from Auntie Anne, the person who took me to Chicago at seven, New York at twelve, and Europe at nineteen. I celebrated my twentieth birthday in Chamonix, a chilly little ski village in France and found myself an Italian boyfriend for two days in Sienna thanks to her. Not everyone can say that, I assure you.

The four of us packed up Auntie Susanne’s boat one day and headed out to the Marvins, the one place I was desperate to go. All the pictures in green, the ones that don’t look real, those are the Marvins. Madre and I walked around the island in the middle of the ocean, swishing our feet over the sandbar and swimming in the tide around the parts that were too deep. We nearly proved ourselves inadequate for that task, but we made it around the island feeling tired and virtuous. I could happily spend the rest of my days on that island, but it seems to me that I say that about every body of water I’m parked near. I guess I’m a water baby.

I met Seaborne, the dog you could tell was over me and my selfies. I met Chico, whom I’d have taken a selfie with but I had a suspicion Chico would have eaten my face off had I folded myself Indian style next to his carriage. Auntie Anne is the one with the very short hair, Auntie Susanne is the one fiercely captaining her ship, and Madre is the one with the sponge man, a strange yet delightful Key West oddity. The car door has a car painted around it and can be found on the wall outside of my bedroom at the Aunties’ house. The tarpon you can see underwater probably weighed nearly what I do. The trees are Banyans. They grow in ropes and are massive. The art belongs to the University of Miami, where Madre and I took a walk and got soaked in a torrent of rain about a mile from our destination, rendering me a liar. I’ve now been in public in a wet t-shirt. The snail was simply scootching along, minding her own business, enjoying the heat and the humidity.

Speaking of the humidity, I’ve never in my life had such unruly hair. In the normal state of things, humidity and heat cause my hair to go limp and sit lifelessly on my head. In the Keys, however, my hair took on a whole new persona, one that was fluffy and large and often unmanageable. If you think that upset me, you are sorely mistaken. I reveled in the bigness of it and gleefully tried to comb it out every night, admiring how the sides of it barely fit into the image I saw in the mirror. My skin was hydrated, dewy (sweaty) and covered in mosquito bites by the end of the trip. My body was relaxed after days of lounging in the pool or lounging in the hammock or lounging in a chilly bedroom with a good book. I read five.

Madre and I packed our belongings to come home. I stuffed in my walking shoes, even thinner on the bottom now as Madre and I walked every day and zipped my case closed. It was fatter than when I arrived (shopping) and at the airport, they made me unpack it so that it would fit in the carryon bin of our puddle jumper airplane. I tried rearranging everything but finally resigned myself to the fact that the shoes were not coming home with me. I threw them in the trash, re-zipped my case and passed through security with flying colors. Madre and I discussed how I would get a new pair of shoes when I got home and how she now knows that she can leave the comforts of home for other comforts and not worry. She can let go and relax and not hold everything on her shoulders that she and Poppa used to shoulder together. She has others who will shoulder it with her and for her when she wants to visit her sister and take some time to laze in a hammock.

Thank you, Auntie Anne and Auntie Susanne, for allowing us to be your houseguests. I’ll be back soon, Woney in tow, and let her see for herself why your house is such a wonderful place.

Mississippi Woney

Woney used to live in California. Remember that? Remember that she used to work with her hottie hot hot trainer, Tony, who incidentally is no longer enlisted in the Navy? That means he no longer wears that hottie hot hot uniform and I no longer wish to speak about him. What a disappointment.

Anyway, Woney used to live in California and I used to visit her with some regularity. This is what a visit to California Woney looked like.

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Now Woney lives in Mississippi and I still visit her with some regularity. Mississippi is a far cry from California and now our visits look like this.

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The only non-blurry picture of Boo

The only non-blurry picture of Boo

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Accessorizing your home with a vehicle of matching paint is important.

Visits to Mississippi Woney also look like this – a much better representation of her new city.

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This is the Vicksburg Military Park. The Battle of Vicksburg was fought here, and that combined with the siege for the city served as a turning point for the Civil War. It was here that the Union Army gained control of the Mississippi River and the Confederate Army lost all communication with their Confederate forces. You can read all about that in any American history book but what you cannot experience is how it feels to walk on that land. Woney and I did that twice this visit, and I spent a lot of time afterwards feeling somber and heavy. A lot of lives were lost there. It wasn’t just sadness I was feeling – it was reverence, too. Those men – oh, it just makes my heart ache.

If you can take the oppressive heat and humidity, try going to visit Vicksburg on July 4th. It’s impressive what that city does to honor those lost lives. It will break your heart.

Because we forgot to take a Mississippi selfie on the battlefield or at the pool, here’s an old California selfie of Woney and me. We are the cutest.

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Checking That Off The List

As a single adult who is spoiled and often gets her own way, I’ve always maintained that the best way to spend a Saturday is by going to Rock Island or to the State Fair with friends. Lounging on the beach or in my marshmallow bed with a book and a movie while a storm rages outside also rank high on my list of amusing things to do. Never once have I ever claimed that spending a Saturday morning getting your hoots smashed between two glass plates sounded like fun. That never sounds like fun for any day, actually. However, two years ago I made an appointment for the breast smash and last Saturday I finally showed up for that appointment.

I had made a few plans for Saturday and had the faint notion in the back of my head that if those plans stayed intact, I’d just reschedule that mammogram. (See above: spoiled, gets her own way.) I’ve done that for two years, what is one more week, right? Well. My calendar had other thoughts and all the fun plans I’d made disappeared, leaving me with the lone option of finally, finally visiting an imaging center to fulfill my “I-turned-40” medical obligations. Sigh.

Armed with my paperwork and some vague directions, I arrived early for my appointment. Accompanying my sweaty, nervous self was my other personality, the raging snatch I carry with me for every cookie doctor appointment and for any scheduled time which involves me removing my clothing and donning a paper gown, open in the back, please. She was sitting on “go”, just waiting to make her appearance the precise moment my wait in the lobby clicked over from five minutes to six.

The receptionist who did not ensure that the building was marked well enough so that I could see from the street that it was the location I needed would be the first to encounter that heifer. The billing specialist who’d give me the total and the arm band for the procedure would be next because he was leisurely drinking his coffee and filing his nails. And the imaging specialist? Oh, she was in for a treat. I’d been gunning for her since the day I made the appointment, two years ago. She was to receive every tear, every curse, every single insult I could hurl at her without getting arrested, simply because she was the reason for my humiliation, for the fact that I have breasts at all, and because the screening process was surely designed by a man who had never had his testicles smashed between two plates in an attempt to screen him for cancer.

I was prepared.

So was the receptionist.

Turns out, the building was marked just fine and the receptionist was pleasantly chirpy in the face of my snarkiness when she indicated that I was in the right spot. Huh.

Also, the billing specialist said to me as I sat down, “I’m so sorry you had to wait. I was to be here at 7:30 this morning and I got here at 7:35 so that wait you had is on me. Let’s get you squared away so that we can get you back there and out on time, okay?” What the . . . I hadn’t even gotten my lecture about his insouciance fully prepared in my head and here he was preempting me. I was stunned into silence. This was not the normal state of things.

I still had my shot at the imaging specialist but I was feeling a little off about that. I hadn’t had a chance to work myself up into a proper lather what with the receptionist and the billing guy being fantastic, so when that poor, sweet woman called me to the back, I could only muster up the tears from my arsenal. My other ammunition had disappeared and I was adrift.

Still, tears. I blubbered, “Look, I’m not the best patient when it comes to this stuff. I’m the nicest person in the world when I get to keep my clothes on in front of strangers, but here, today, I’m awful. I’m sorry in advance. It’s just that you are going to give me a gown that is too small and is made of paper and I’m going to desperately try to cover both sides of my chest with it but that won’t work, and then you’ll have me traipse up and down the halls in a paper towel and then you’ll make me wait and I’m not good at that. This is humiliating and you get to keep all your clothes and I don’t and I hate this!” And then I said, “See?! I’m trying really hard to be nice and I just can’t!”

And bless her heart, she handed me a real gown, a fabric one, and said, “It’s not too small. I promise.” And it wasn’t. In fact, it swallowed me whole, like a muu muu, and it was the best thing I ever wore in my whole life. Plus, it was purple.

We were halfway through the procedure (and let me say here as an aside that I’ve never been manhandled in such a fashion before – I believe she is more familiar with my funbags than I am) before I stopped crying. I’m surprised it took me that long because while I’m a dreadful patient when naked, I’m also quite curious.

“Can I see what you are looking at over there,” I asked as she took another picture.

“Sure,” she said, “come on back.”

I wrapped my purple muu muu around me after every shot and trotted over to her screen to have a gander at myself. I knew she couldn’t/wouldn’t tell me anything so I didn’t ask but I was just a regular chatty Cathy over there. “Would you lookit that! I had no idea it would show up all white. Lookit how round they are! Is that normal? Is it easier to take pictures of big boobs or small boobs? Do you think if we could smash testicles in those plates we’d get a new screening method? I bet we would. I bet it would only take two weeks.”

Y’all, the procedure was totally painless. I mean, it wasn’t pleasant but it also wasn’t awful. There was a tinkly waterfall in the background, the lighting was set on “mood” and also “dim” and the muu muu smelled faintly of laundry detergent. I exited the building exactly one minute after my scheduled departure time and was never more shocked in all my life, both that I was done and that we all had survived the apocalypse that is “Jimmie, Naked at the Doctor’s Office.”

I drove to my next event which was my four mile Greenway walk with Daisy. I had partly planned that walk to calm myself down from the state of hysteria I was certain to be in, yet my non-hysteria flummoxed both of us a bit. Daisy wasn’t sure what to do with her offer of all the ice cream and all the chocolate she was sure I would need to ease my bruised feelings, and I wasn’t sure what to do with all the Kleenex I had stuffed in my car. I’m not going to say it was my favorite day, it’s not Rock Island after all, but I lived. And until next year when we do this all over again, I’ll maintain this: “Mammograms – Not That Bad.”

Meet The Flintstones

Once upon a time, a long time ago, I had a husband. That husband met my parents and liked Daddy-O enough to plan a trip down to Florida so that he and Daddy-O could go fishing. Husband showed up at Daddy-O’s house at the appointed time and found Daddy-O cutting back trees in the yard. Daddy-O asked Husband for assistance with those trees before they left to go fishing and eight hours later, Husband said, “I don’t know about you, but I’ve never done any fishing like this” as he carried the final bunch of limbs out to the curb. They never did go fishing together and both learned a valuable lesson – sometimes plans fall apart.

Once upon a time, very recently, I made plans to hang with Woney and her parents in Georgia for Memorial Day weekend. We were going to attend parties, have some cocktails with my friends, Miguel and Will, and lounge by the pool. I wasn’t worried at all about liking Woney’s parents because, hello, Woney. And I wasn’t worried about them liking me because, hello, Jimmie. I showed up at Pa Fred and Ma Wilma’s house ready to party but instead I moved furniture. Someone in the family sold a house and someone else felt like it was a marvelous idea to schedule a surprise clean-out on the only three-day weekend this family was gonna get. I wasn’t dressed at all for moving as I like girlie dresses and floppy shoes, and after a long time of me uselessly flapping around saying “What should I pack next? Whose truck does this go in? I can lift this end if you can get the other end,” we finally got to sit down and eat pizza in our dirty, sweaty clothes. I said to the Flintstone family, “I don’t know about you, but I never attended any parties like this before – usually there is a pool and a barbeque,” as I wiped the sweat and mascara from my cheek. We never did get to meet my friends for drinks, either. I learned a valuable lesson – sometimes plans fall apart.

Lest you think I have my panties all in a twist over the surprise moving party, I’m going to tell you that my Memorial Day weekend was fabulous. It really was. Woney’s parents, Pa Fred and Ma Wilma, were just the nicest parents ever. When I arrived, Woney was showing me all around the room, introducing me to her family, and mentioned that I was the friend she took to Ireland. She was telling the story about how I would not kiss the Blarney Stone (y’all, it has been urinated upon) to receive the Gift of Gab (that’s what it promises), and Pa Fred said, “She already has the gift of gab – she doesn’t need it!” I hadn’t even said hello to him yet but I could tell we were gonna see eye to eye, Pa Fred and I.

Oh, I loved those people! Ma Wilma made a salad for the family but because I don’t eat maraschino cherries, she left them out. Aunt Collette offered me some of Aunt Sue’s belongings even though I never met Aunt Sue and won’t because her house was the one that was sold after her passing. Niece McKenzie, the most beautiful 16-year-old girl I know, is making plans to travel with Woney and me in the near future. All Woney’s brothers treated me like they treat Woney except maybe nicer because while I’m sister-like, I’m not really their sister and don’t deserve to be picked on just yet.

I also met Woney’s new cat, Boo. Isn’t she cute?

cat1

Well, she’s cute in real life where she is exactly this blurry as she tears all around the house and finally stops when she claws her way lickety split up your leg and you knock her off. We came home from moving to find Pa Fred kicked back in his recliner, a bandage fashioned from a paper towel and secured on with a ring of electrical tape around his leg to staunch the bleeding inflicted by Boo’s claws. He reminds me of Poppa. “I hate that damn cat,” he’d say but then five minutes later you’d catch him stroking her furry, blurry head.

I got more hugs that I deserved from these people. The Flintstone family gives great hugs, just like my family. They share their inside jokes and make fun of each other and have dinner together at a table that is ever so slightly too small but it doesn’t matter because they all like each other and want to sit close. I got more apologies than I deserved, too. Each person apologized to me, their guest, for being forced into a move no one planned on the weekend meant for parties and barbeques, which I really did not mind. I hate to tell them but when they meet my family, they will have to move tree limbs in order to earn pizza and fishing. It’s all going to come out in the wash!

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