Spousal Unit and I quit going out on New Year’s Eve a couple of decades ago. We joke that NYE is for amateurs and the professionals stay home, but to be honest, it just isn’t fun to play bumper cars with people whose alcohol levels are higher than their IQs. Since most of our friends must think the same way, we were invited to New Year’s DAY parties instead.
The first was a mother-daughter brunch of alumnae from Girl Child’s middle school. Nice women. Nice kids. It would be nice to catch up. And it was nice. Well, except. Me.
I’ve kept in touch with most of these women through facebook. I knew who had gone where for summer vacay and whose older kid was in what college. The problem is that sometimes my brain doesn’t connect the facebook person with the real person. The lady with whom I had joked about sending me a Christmas card on facebook wasn’t the lady with whom I joked about it in person. I was about halfway through, “I got your card and even though I love you, too, I haven’t sent you one of ours yet,” when I got the connection. Or lack thereof.
Barb looked at me, confused as I muttered the rest of my sentence. “Oh. Okay?” she said. I smiled goofily after scanning to my left, realizing that I had meant to say that to Julie. I’m at that age when embarrassment and hot flashes go hand in hand. It grew uncomfortably hot in that room.
After that, I couldn’t say anything right. I found myself regaling the crowd with the story of Spousal Unit’s allergic reaction to an antibiotic the night before. I don’t know what compelled me. That I was alone bringing in the New Year and wanted sympathy? That I had an audience? An unrealized need to be kicked out of a lovely Belle Meade home? I couldn’t stop. Perfect complexions turned green. Polite smiles dimmed. And yet I continued to give sound effects of his rather violent reaction to the antibiotic, candidly advising these ladies that one should watch a loud action movie when one’s spouse is heaving out his innards and not a quiet love story. “If I stay…” she whispers in her ghostly form as the cello plays softly and I hear the F-22 engine sounds of a man blasting out the past month’s meals.
It got worse. Girl Child and I went to party number two. He teaches at Vanderbilt. She teaches Chinese dance. They are brilliant. Their daughter is brilliant. Their daughter is my daughter’s friend. My daughter is brilliant. This was going to be a brilliant time. We arrived at their awesome bungalow and I was excited. Excellent food. Wonderful conversation. One of my favorite politicians was there. These are my people. I could let my liberal hair down.
But first I had to remove my shoes. Custom demanded it and dozens of pairs of shoes piled on one another in the foyer. My stomach lurched. I didn’t have on socks and my unsightly fungal toenail curled in embarrassment, begging me to leave on my shoes. I looked around. Not a single person had on shoes. This toenail has scared small children and made women scream. Men have fainted. I took a deep breath and acquiesced to custom. Then, I stood with one foot on top of another.
The politician was cornered in the dining room. He would remember me if I dropped a couple of names, but I couldn’t wobble to the corner with one foot on top of the other. Damn this toenail. I swooped in on the older daughter of the brilliant hosts and engaged her in conversation. “You’re friends with somebody… ummmm….” I tried to balance with one foot hiding the other, trying to remember who told me about the sister of my daughter’s friend. I knew I had just had a conversation about her, but the memory evaporated as soon as I opened my mouth. She was polite, smiling to the crazy lady. I blabbered and once again, found myself unable to stop. I talked about their pets. There is a dog. And a cat. And wasn’t there a middle sized pet?
She looked at me. “We had a rabbit a long time ago, but it died.” That got me started on how the phrase “the rabbit died” became a saying for when a woman found out she is pregnant. She wanted to escape; I could tell. I didn’t blame her, but I couldn’t quit telling her that after the rabbit was injected with the woman’s….
After her friends rescued her, I wobbled to Girl Child and her friend. “I can’t seem to find a conversation to enter,” I told my daughter.
“Please stay out of ours,” she replied. That’s fair. I grabbed a can of La Croix water and thought about checking on Spousal Unit. It would suck if he were dead. Instead, I waddled to the living room and sat on the sofa. Started to engage in another conversation, but it was going on long before I arrived. These people are brilliant.
The dog ambled toward me, sniffed and walked past, knocking my can of water off the table. Et tu Brute? I schlepped to the kitchen, looking for a paper towel, a rag, anything and just ended up standing in the middle of the hallway, feeling like I was in a jelly jar with a party surrounding me. Feeling like the girl in “If I Stay.” I looked over to the sofa where I had been sitting and the hostess and a friend were frantically soaking up the water. “Uhhhhh…that was me…” I said. “It’s just water. I was looking for something to mop it up with.” But I was the girl in “If I Stay” and nobody could hear my ghostly voice.
I pretended that I got a phone call from a sick Spousal Unit needing my attention. I put on my cute shoes and I left. I texted Girl Child, telling her I would be back to pick her up in an hour. She was confused. She wasn’t the only one.
This is when I know I need to get Daisy up and running, pretty, comfy and warm. She will serve as my refuge. I will crawl into a fetal position on her bunk and rock, thumb in my mouth, golden retriever farting at my feet, telling me in his own special golden retriever way that I am perfectly fine with my limited social skills. I don’t need to get out more. I just need to stay in and rub his belly. Daisy will hold me, reminding me that it’s o.k. to be a bit out of place. She knows the feels. We will be awkward together and when Spousal Unit reacts to antibiotics, I will go to Daisy. I will watch a really loud action movie because, just in case I didn’t get the chance to tell you on New Year’s Day, the sounds of a puking Spousal Unit are just gross.