Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Curse

As gal’s go, I’m not what you call Regular. Never have been.

Yes, my friends, that is a metaphor. But no, I’m not talking about poop.

I didn’t even become an official Gal till I was almost 16 years old, and for five years or so after that it was hit or miss. Mostly miss, unless I planned a camping trip or something. Or made the mistake of stepping on an airplane. In which case It would hit me like a ton of bricks. Fortunately I didn’t start doing the sorts of things that make a gal keep track of calendars until I was almost 21, so at least I didn’t have to do Lunatic Math.

After that, It would hit me every couple months. Or I’d skip two, then go two in a row (which always pissed me off), then skip two more. I didn't mind it, but it was hard to plan for. And during what I like to think of as my wild-oats phase (for which read: most the ‘90s), I pretty much got in the habit of buying pregnancy tests whenever I bought condoms. Just, you know, so I could get to sleep at night while waiting for It to hit.

Then I got married.

I stopped buying condoms and got one of those plug-things in my arm. It made me fat, no fun at all, and (after a year or so) a marginally-Regular Gal at last. All of which pissed me off enough, you can imagine. But when it killed my sex drive, too, I ripped it out.

After another year or so I was back to my Irregular old tricks, but by then – well, let’s just say it was like living those first five years of officialdom over again: no pregnancy tests or Lunatic Math necessary. Just to be extra-double-sure, though, I went and got myself an IUD. Poor little device. Sat there for years like a kid wearing a catcher’s mitt in the cheap seats, hoping against hope for a chance to field a ball.

Then the seventh-inning stretch came, and I ran.

Single again (for all intents and purposes), I entered Wild Oats Phase Two and fell back into lockstep. Condoms, pregnancy test, sleep at night, etc. Because honestly, in the whole time that wee device was suited up on my behalf, it’d only had one quick cup of coffee in the majors, and I wasn’t about to let the World Series ride on its ability to play.

But Phase Two only lasted for a month. Because while I was in the throes of it, I met Some People. And before long, Some People and I weren’t Meeting any other people. We never Agreed Upon such a Momentous Thing because that would be too much like having a Real Conversation, which Some People and I have always refused to dobut I wasn't, and he wasn't. We weren't.

So I trusted the catcher’s mitt in the cheap seats to field the flies.

By this time, of course since about 2009 or so I'm about as Irregular as a gal can be and still call herself a Gal. It misses more than It hits me, as a rule. And even when It does connect, It's more like a drop-bunt than a grand-slam. I chalk it up to the fact that I work out a lot. But because I do, I know my body well enough to know that the catcher’s mitt is doing its job. There came a point this summer I got so used to It missing that I sort of forgot It was even supposed to hit. Until I had a doctor’s appointment recently. And they asked me when it last had. And I did Lunatic Math… 

And figured out It hadn't hit since early May.

Well, you know, sure. I mean, yeah, big fat gulp and everything. But like I say: I’ve had this body for a while now; I really think I’d be able to tell if it started sprouting a spare. Besides, I have enough to worry about these days – the divorce and the house and my impending layoff and Dad in the hospital and writer's block and everything. So I did a quick scan of the stands, reassured myself that the catcher’s mitt hadn’t budged from its position, and chalked the whole thing up to I’m-Forty-Fucking-Two-For-God’s-Sake-And-I’ve-Avoided-Slipping-On-This-Particular-Banana-Peel-For-Twenty-Six-Years-So-It’s-Just-Not-Something-That’s-Going-To-Happen-To-Me-Now

It never even occurred to me to mention it to Some People.

Not then. And not over the past few weeks. Not when I spontaneously quit smoking because the idea just started to seem gross. Or when I gained a little weight (because that’s just the smoking, right?). Or when I started craving salsa suddenly, on everything (because it’s okay for a girl to eat something besides apples and chicken breasts once in a while, dammit!). Or when just smelling the salt in the salsa made my calves swell up to seven times their size (I figure that’s a normal physical reaction for a gal who hasn’t eaten processed food since April 2010). Or when the swelling made my knees ache (hey man, I walk seven miles a day when I can, and I work out a lot). Or when I managed to put away three pounds of chocolate in two hours on that Sunday afternoon (no people – let alone Some People – need to bear witness to that). Or even when I finally started going a little nuts (although, to be fair, Some People couldn’t help but notice that).

But then one night I slipped and mentioned the no-hitter. By mistake, you understand. I didn’t Mean To. I just sort of, kind of, offhandedly, in passing, did. All I said was “not since May” and changed the subject. La la la... Then two days later I told Some People to fuck off until they were ready to Talk.

Christ. That poor Kid. I swear to god. Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, this hot mess had to clomp her boots into his.

Well, to make a long story short, it seems that little mention broke the curse. First, though, I got even nutsier without ever consciously acknowledging the elephant in the cheap seats. And while I wouldn’t say Some People came around looking for crazy, they were certainly there to field it when it fell. For a week or two or whatever it was. Until, out of the blue, It finally hit me. 

Which, you know, explains the swelling and the craving and the knee-pain and the nuts. I’m just so out of practice with It, I forgot.




I hadn’t told anyone about the not-since-May stuff, but everybody heard about October. People I work with. People I’m friends with. People I barely know. Even – and especially – Some People. I told Some People It finally hit me just as offhandedly as I'd mentioned the five-month miss. With half-assed apologies for the pop flies I lobbed in his direction, unexpressed gratitude for the expert (if awkward) fielding, and a very clearly spelled-out, keep-it-if-it-kills-me vow to bench the hot mess for a little while. 

After all, considering the wild card I've turned out to be in that particular major-league game…

It seems the only Regular thing to do.