By the time I had pulled into my garage my kids had been fully briefed on what their responsibilities were. Time was of the essence. People would be arriving in minutes. I was on wine detail which meant taking my Franzi boxed white wine and siphoning it off into a carafe. (Classy, I know.) My daughter was to get into a swimsuit pronto, head to the backyard and start turning on the hoses. My son was instructed to break out the trebuchet. That command got him interested. “My trebuchet”, he said excitedly. “We still have the trebuchet! I wonder if it works? Where is it?”
“I dug it out of the deepest corner of the basement and it looks to be in pretty decent shape. I wheeled it out into the yard. Go make sure it can still catapult,”
A trebuchet, in it’s simplest terms, is a geeky boy’s best friend when his parents just say no to an air gun. It’s loosely related to a catapult and was used in the Middle Ages to fling projectiles over enemy fortifications. My son had built a mini-trebuchet in seventh grade using a radio flyer wagon, scrap wood and my gently used Spanx. His trebuchet had amazing accuracy in flinging water balloons and seemed to me to be just the thing for a successful Water Carnival.
As soon as I got the Frenzi into a carafe party helped arrived. My friends Kelly, Nikki and ABC all walked in with screaming kids that immediately descended into the backyard. (For detailed friend descriptions please read My Friends and really let’s try to keep up on the Snarky.) I told not yet 30 and gorgeous Nikki, “You’re on kid patrol and I think you know why?”
“I’m guessing it’s because I have the youngest kids,” she said.
“No,” it’s because you walked into my kitchen wearing cut offs and a bikini top. You’re being punished for being young and beautiful with no visible sign of cellulite or spider veins.
Nikki laughed and said, “Should I wrap a beach towel around myself to make you feel better?”
“No, I’m afraid the damage is already done. My self-esteem will now require a Franzi I.V.”
“And I know how much you’ll hate that,” she said and still laughing walked outside and started running through the Dora the Explorer sprinkler with her two kids.
Kelly looked at me and said, “I better not get “Annoying Mom” hostess duty again. I always get that.”
I gave Kelly a guilty look and then launched into a pep talk. “It’s because you’re so good at it. You can stand there and converse with those women without saying things like “Shut up, please just shut up?” I can’t do that and we all know ABC sure as hell can’t. Really, you have a talent. It would be rude of me not to let you use it.”
“Let me get this straight. You’re telling me I have a talent for chatting up obnoxious moms?”
“Yes, you’re a diplomat. An ambassador. An envoy bridging the gap between the awesome (I said pointing to the three of us left in the kitchen) and the icky.
“Great,” she said with zero enthusiasm, “It looks like the icky are arriving so it’s off to the backyard for me.”
ABC then quickly volunteered to be the “wine hostess.”
“Just exactly does one do as a wine hostess?” I inquired.
“Easy, I keep the Franzi flowing.”
“How do you know it’s Franzi in the carafe? It could be something fancy?”
“Seriously, I could smell the Franzi from your driveway?”
“My driveway says boxed wine?”
“No, your driveway says boxed wine with a coupon.”
I smiled and said, “You got that right!” and gave her a high-five. ABC grabbed the carafe. I got the plastic wine glasses and the fruit tray and we both headed outside.
It took only about 20 minutes for the Water Carnival to be in full swing. So many things were in my favor for a successful event. It was an unusually hot and humid day and it was way to early for any of the local pools to open so running around in the backyard was still considered not that “uncool” for the over age 9 set. It was also a Monday. The one day of the week my kids didn’t have any after school obligations and from the turn out it looked like a lot of families had similar schedules. But the very best thing about the party was the wind. It was blowing, without any help from me, sprinkler and hose back-splash into Barbara Gray’s yard. Because my neighborhood has a golf course that runs through it fences are not allowed for any home that backs up to a fairway. It you do have a fence it must be no taller than four feet and have spacing between the slates to “ensure a seamless neighborhood vista.” What this means is that while I have a fence, (A white picket one. Yes, the irony.) Barbara does not and my fence offers no protection from keeping water out of her yard. To further ensure that her lawn would be a soaking mess I told all the boys under the age of 10 “under no circumstances” should they let water get in “that” yard. The lady was “very mean and she would get super angry” if her yard got wet. It was like rubbing a bull’s face in a red flag. Those boys made it their mission to flood Barbara’s yard.
As I stood watching the “moist” mayhem I was forced to play gracious hostess and converse with the three annoying moms I had invited Organica, Zillow and TBTT. They were here because I had been blowing them off for almost year with one of those, “Yeah, we do really need to get our kids together soon” and they had children who were holy terrors that I knew they would deliver a huge water mess. I had just broken out the Otter pops and was beginning to circulate them to the kids when “Organica” just couldn’t help herself and had to ask me if the Otter Pops were homemade. I said, “Um no.” She then questioned if they were naturally free of additives and part of the Rainforest Alliance Pact?” It took all the etiquette training my mother had forced upon me and that includes two years participating in Cotillion to not holler, “Are you shitting me?”
Instead I sweetly smiled at her and said, “Oh yes, these Otter Pops are made with amniotic fluid from free range wood nymphs that live in the fair trade enchanted forest and are sweetened with localvore pixie dust.”
You could see Organica trying to process what I had just said. All the buzz phrases she longed to hear were there – free range, localvoire, fair trade. It took a couple of seconds before she said a bewildered, “Huh?”
“I’m just teasing you,” I said. “No worries, this brand of Otter Pops are from Whole Foods.”
She smiled and I smiled because the water, high fructose corn syrup and red dye #2 ice pops were from Costco. But, I’ve learned when a mom questions me about food the simplest way to shut them up is to just say, “Whole Foods.”
Sidebar time – Sorry I know it slows the story down, but I feel I must take a moment to add in this rant. Curse you Williams Sonoma for taking a simple thing of summer beauty like a box of popsicles that cost me all of $2.00 and ruining it with your $50 Zoku Quick Pop Maker. It started last summer when every mom was talking about making her own gourmet, organic popsicles for her kids with her Zoku. As in, “OMG, I just made the best beet juice and carrot Zoku pops ever.” Gag. Now it’s white trash to grab a 150 count bag of Otter Pops out of your fridge. Frozen ice has gone fancy. Suburban popsicles are now homemade veggie juices sweetened with stevia. Way to go, Williams Sonoma. Thanks for killing another part of the innocence of summer. Okay, I got that out of my system and I feel way better. Now, back my story.
The next mom to irritate me was Zillow. Zillow is a former realtor (brought down by the economic collapse and currently a co-founder of a Cupcakery) who goes around telling everyone what their home is currently worth. She’s a soothsayer of doom because right now most people’s houses aren’t worth what they should be and really is it ever a good time to tell someone that they’re “this close” to being upside down on their mortgage? Zillow greeted me with a, “You’ll never sell this house until you get some granite in that kitchen.”
“Good to know,” I said in a curt attempt to shut her up.
It didn’t work. She continued on with, “I don’t even know how you can cook in a kitchen without granite. It’s so 1980’s.”
“Gee Zillow, I’ve probably made thousands of meals in that kitchen without granite countertops. I guess I’m kicking it old school.”
“I’m just saying it’s a shame you can’t go more upscale.”
I thanked her for her concern and immediately walked back into my non-granite kitchen texted my son who was in the backyard and instructed him to trebuchet the woman in the yellow top on the deck with at least two water balloons ASAP. I then took a great big sip of Franzia and counted to 10. By the time I had gotten to nine I heard screams from Zillow. The trebuchet had made a direct hit.
I laid low after that happened and busied myself with filling up more water balloons. Unfortunately TBTT found me. The TBTT stands for “Too Busy Too Tinkle.” This woman’s goal is to be the busiest mom in the 48 contiguous United States. She validates her self-worth by being so incredibly, extraordinarily busy (in her own mind) that she has zero time to empty her bladder. Every conversation I’ve ever had with her starts with some version, “Oh my God. I’m about to wet my pants. I’ve been so busy I haven’t gone to the bathroom since 6:15 this morning.” I’ve called her out on this a few times. I mentioned how it’s not really a good thing not to answer nature’s call and even that it’s a tad awkward to start every conversation with an over share of your bodily functions. She’s yet to take a hint. This afternoon she greeted me with, “Girl, where’s your bathroom I’ve got to pee like a racehorse. I’ve had four coffees, three meetings and no time to go potty.”
I directed her to my half bath and when she came out I began my version of “Word Problems They Didn’t Teach You in School.” TBTT, I said, I just timed how longed you peed. It was exactly 46 seconds. The entire time you were in the bathroom comprised 1 minute and 36 seconds – that includes pants down and up, toilet flush and hand washing. You mean to tell me that in the, I’m guessing 10 hours you’ve been up, you didn’t have 1 minute and 36 seconds to void your bladder?”
“Oh my God, you timed my pee? That’s so gross.”
“No grosser then you telling me you have to pee like a racehorse. I’m just trying to help, to illustrate that you do, indeed, have time to use the bathroom.”
“I don’t expect someone like you to get it. I mean you’d have to be a really busy person to understand what it’s like to be just constantly doing stuff all the time. It’s not just that I don’t time to pee, It’s that I’m so busy I forget that I have to pee.”
I didn’t see myself winning this to pee or not to pee argument so I agreed with TBTT and said, “Yes, you’re right. I could never grasp being so devoid of time management skills that I couldn’t take a couple of minutes to go to the bathroom. “
She smiled at me and said, “I know, I know, I need to slow down, but it’s who I am. I’ll sleep when I’m dead.”
“Well,” I said, here’s hoping a bladder infection doesn’t kill you” and off I went to deliver the water balloons to the boys lined up at the trebuchet.
As you would expect of boys as soon as they saw me they attacked me with a water balloons. I was soaking wet. So I took off my t-shirt and was styling in an outfit of jog bra, capri track pants and flip-flops. My son yelled, “George Washington, over here. I’ve got something for you” and he handed me a tri-corner hat that he must have snagged from the basement costume stash. The hat was from his first grade Halloween outfit when he went as Paul Revere. I, being a good sport, perched the hat, sized for a six-year-old, on my head and continued on with my hostess duties.
I walked over to where Nikki, ABC and Kelly (who had escaped the trio of annoyance) were standing and surveyed my yard. I felt like Francis Scott Key observing the battle of Fort McHenry. Over the ramparts I watched sprinklers gallantly streaming. There was the rockets wet glare as kids shot each other in the eye with super soakers and the mini trebuchet, courtesy of XL spanx was brilliantly delivering water balloons bursting in not just in the air, but Barbara Gray’s yard. It was a H2o dream come true. Kids were slip n sliding, bathing in wheel barrows and plastic wading pools, blowing bubbles, and screaming – a lot. The only thing missing was Barbara Gray, but just as a flock of clouds obscured the sun she emerged out on her back deck, took inventory of the chaos and give me a look, I fear, would have killed a weaker woman. I looked right back at her, balled my hands into fists, raised them to my eyes and did the whole boo hoo thing. She just stood there and glared. I was loving it! Until my husband pulled into the driveway. Crap, he was home way early.
My house has the garages on the side so when you pull into the driveway you can see right into a portion of the backyard. I looked up and there he was sitting in his car staring at me and my what a pretty picture I make. I’m wet, wearing a child size tri corner hat, in a jog bra with my dimpled stomach, that hasn’t seen the sun since 1995, curling over the waistband of my Target capris. My handsome husband gets out of his car, briefcase in one hand, keys in the other and continues to stare and then starts shaking his head. What choice did I have, but to blow him a kiss. He looks at me, kind of smiles and reaches up with his hand that’s holding the car keys and catches it.
This was a definitive moment in my 20 plus year marriage. I don’t have one of those grand romantic marriages that Nicholas Sparks writes about. The closest I’ve had to a “Notebook” moment of making mad, passionate love in the rain was when my husband and I snuggled under a large Hefty trash bag during an angry thunderstorm at a University of Texas Football game. But, the one thing I knew at that moment, on this day, was that I was loved. Not even belly fat and a tri-corner hat scared this man and for a second that made me the luckiest woman in the world.
Too bad that moment lasted just a millisecond because Barbara had left her deck and was walking towards my house with an umbrella. She demanded the sprinklers be repositioned and all these “shenanigans” stopped. I said, “No problem, the party is almost over. I told the boys over and over again to not get your yard wet. Please accept my sincere apologies,” and then I offered her an Otter Pop.
She waved her hand at the Otter Pop like it was turd on a stick and squished her way through my very wet grass to her almost as wet backyard. Then right as she’s plopping herself in a chair on her deck the trebuchet launches three balloons. They hit her, not in the face, but right at her feet. I see the balloons explode, the water splashing up and soaking her linen dress and then to make it even more perfect she curses. I answer back with an, “Oops, sorry!”
It was a good to be me right up until 10 o’clock the next morning when the shit hit the fan – literally.
More to come.