If Rapunzel had a Suzuki…

When I was little, I used to get so frustrated putting on socks, that I’d end up in tears. If anyone tried to help me, I’d throw a tantrum. That hasn’t changed much. Sunday, on the way home from Mass, my power steering went… then my a/c went… and my battery light came on. I called Chad, because he’s a dear and changes my oil.

Me: “Hey, um… my power steering just went and I was wondering if you could look at my car.”
Chad: sounds like he was asleep “Uh… yeah. I guess.”
Me: “Like… now? I’m sorry. I’m just right by your house and I don’t know what’s wrong.”
Chad: “Yeah, sure. That’s fine.”

So, I promptly got lost in his neighborhood, which is pathetic, because he lives in my hometown, like a half a mile away from me. The power steering wasn’t working and it wasn’t any easier to manage while on the phone getting directions. It was at this point that I started to feel far to Damsely for my taste. Finally, I pull into the drive I’ve pulled into a hundred times, expecting grief for getting lost. Instead, I got:

Chad: “Holy shit, did you not see your car was smoking?!?”
Me: “Uh… no.”
Chad: “Do you not see all that smoke?”
Me: “Um… I do now?”

What? I never wash my car, because I don’t care what it looks like. The windows are always that unclear… and I wasn’t looking for smoke. I don’t know shit about cars. As far as I’m concerned they run on equal parts pixie dust and prayer.

So, we popped the hood and smoke poured out. The anti-freeze was boiling. Literally. We could hear it. I’m in church clothes and Chad’s wearing basketball shorts and a t-shirt, clearly expecting this to be a quick fix. After poking around for a little bit, with stern orders for me to stand in the yard in case things explode – Like I want him hurt if things explode? Who would fix my car!?!?! Kidding. I’d feel horrible – Chad pulls out a strip of shredded rubber and tosses it aside, announcing that the serpentine belt was out. I knew that term. I knew the dealership had quoted over $80 to replace it, with labor, on my foreign car. Chad tells me to put the car in neutral and pushes it into the street, grabs his keys and tells me to come on, we’re going to AutoZone to get a new belt. AutoZone tells me the nearest one is a twenty-minute drive and I ask Chad to drop me off at my Gramma’s so I can borrow her car.

Chad: “We can just run up there real quick, if you want.”

So, after a trip two towns over to pick up the belt and some anti-freeze, I bought Chad a pop without asking, because I knew he’d refuse the thank you.

Chad: suspiciously “You’re getting two drinks?”
Me: “Yup.”

I just handed it to him without a word. Then I secretly stashed $7 in gas money in his truck (a page from Gail’s book), when we got back.

Two hours later, I was still sitting in the yard, on a purple Indian blanket from the hatchback, to keep from getting my church pants dirty. Jay, who was supposed to be at work, was threading the serpentine belt through the top of the engine, while Chad was under the car, covered in grease.

dear boys

It was the prettiest day of the year so far and I had my wonderful boys spending their daylight hours screwing with my “jap trap” car, as Chad calls it. I was intensely happy that I’d bought each of them Christmas presents. They never get me anything and they never have to, because I know they’ll pay me back eventually. They didn’t even act annoyed with me, just made jokes about my fear of birds when I’d duck at the sound of wings. They laughed and teased like normal while I sat useless on their lawn.

becca convo 1

It’s not that I’m not grateful. I totally am. I’m grateful I didn’t have to work yesterday or today and that Chad wasn’t busy. I’m mostly grateful to be surrounded by Knights in Shining Armor who, literally, want nothing in return. If I could find a boy like that who wasn’t one of my boys, I’d drop to my knees and blow him in public. Then I’d have his babies. Not because of the public oral.. cuz, you know… that’s not how procreation works. Anyway, they’re wonderful. I just hate being any kind of helpless. I’m cherishing the time I’m spending single, because I love knowing that I can do it on my own. But yesterday, I couldn’t. It’s not like I can ever truly return the favor, either. What am I going to do for them? Help them find a book? Hem their jeans? It’s sure as hell not going to be car related.

After the grueling changing of the belt, my car was making a fun new clanging noise. I took it to the mechanic on prayer yesterday morning and realized I had no way to leave the auto shop. I texted Jay, but he said he was working for Chad (who’d succumbed to a stomach virus) and had only had 3 hours of sleep. Awesome. After Chad spent his day off playing mechanic, he got sick. Gail texted, asking about the car. I told her I was stranded and she said she’d come get me since we had plans later anyway. It felt less Damsely for some reason, likely because she’s just family, like my Gramma. I had her take me by McDonald’s so I could take Jay breakfast as a thank you, since he was having a sucky morning. His face lit up.

Rapunzel spent her whole life in that tower, growing out her hair, waiting to be saved, but why? If her hair was that long, she could’ve just used it to climb down. It probably wouldn’t have hurt as much either.

When I met my boys, I was going through a divorce and was utterly shattered as a person. One night, Jay and Chad went to Buffalo Wild Wings with me, even though Ken and Ward wouldn’t go. Then Jay drove around aimlessly for an hour, just because he knew I didn’t want to go home. Another night Chad stayed out until 2:30 in the morning, talking in his truck with me, because he knew I couldn’t go home to my ex-husband. And in return, they got $7 cash and a pop and some breakfast burritos. Somehow, the scales seem uneven.

Ultimately, the car ended up needing a new pulley of some sort and only cost $165 and was ready today. This meant I didn’t have to ask anyone for money or a ride, which would have been the pink and purple icing on the helpless little lady cake: another reason to be thankful. I suppose it’s just part of the human condition to have to need people sometimes, but I still want to throw my socks across the room and scream about how I can do it myself… even if I can’t. I hate that I can’t. But I absolutely love my boys and I absolutely love Gail for being there with a smile and a “no problem” when I do need it. Hopefully I get the chance to be a good friend in the future and return the favor.

Rapunzel was so fucking lazy.


Elephants and a Crossbow

I had a rough week. I didn’t pass the graduate portfolio, convinced myself that I’d have to join the military when I didn’t pass next time (eye roll), and was being constantly attacked by one particularly rabid and hostile family member. By the time I got to Thanksgiving dinner, I was weepy-eyed and barely able to speak without bursting into tears. I’m not particularly emotional around People Not Gail or Gramma, so it really said something about my mental state that I couldn’t function enough to keep actual tears at bay.

Every year, my family has what they call The Water Buffalo, which is a party where only the women who’ve finished high school get together and swim. The title refers to size, as many of the women are heavier and I’m not the only self-deprecating woman in the family. This year, however, I have decided they’re not buffalo. They’re elephants.

“There’s this YouTube video where a pack of elephants circles around their young and injured, attacking any threats. After the last few years, this reminds me of the women in my family. This would be a lot more flattering were the comparison not to elephants.” – A Thanksgiving Facebook post

I don’t know that my family has actually seen me cry since I was a child. So when I teared up because someone told me I wasn’t invited to Christmas dinner anymore, every single loud and blunt woman I love went full-on Mama Bear on me. They passed my phone around, reading the text messages in horror, and my Grandma (not Gramma) loudly announced that she was “sick of hearing about her* twat all the time” referring to the tendency of this person to discuss feminine issues far too openly. I made my white-haired Grandma, who once spent a half hour lecturing me on how to hold a fork, say the word “twat”, she was so enraged by my mistreatment.

*Possibly unnecessary clarification – not my Grandma’s (nor my Gramma’s) twat

Simultaneously, I was hugged and my pain was eased about my portfolio. My Grandma (not Gramma) told me she imagined I was shocked because everything comes easily to me. My aunt (dad’s cousin) who also has an MLIS told me she understood, because the directions are always so vague. My favorite actual aunt breathed a sigh of relief, because she was really busy on graduation day anyway.

The rest of the night was spent eating myself sick, discussing sales, and watching children chase each other through the house with a crossbow. I asked my cousin if being a musicisan meant he was “rolling in the pussy”. His mom (favorite aunt) was appalled and accused me of being the drunk one running her mouth this year. Neither of us took my apology seriously. I was repeatedly told that I am always welcome with this side of the family at Christmas time and promised they’d never uninvite me. The evening came to a close giggling over the bad CGI of the daddy-funded viewing of Breaking Dawn Part II with my little sister. She was horrified at my exclamation that if I ever had sex with an old man, it would be Woody Harrelson and I’d let him stick it in my ear if he wanted.

No joke. A fucking crossbow.

I realize, I truly did get something for which to be thankful yesterday. Two years ago, I was heartbroken and miserable, married to a soulless monster, watching my life crumble around me, feeling all alone. This year, I was weepy and insecure and surrounded by my loving pack of elephants, eager to protect me from the outside threat in my moment of weakness. If only I’d realized I had that support system all along, things might have gone differently. Perhaps I shouldn’t wish for that, though. Maybe I am 25, still in school, and divorced. Maybe I’m terrible at dating and still a little broken from my marriage and the South says this means I’ll die alone. Maybe no one but my family and dear friends know Belle, while everyone else knows Winifred, the persona I hide behind when I’m feeling raw. But it feels right. I’m meant to be here. I’m on the right path… and that’s more than okay.