Oral Hygiene Queen

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Location: Midwest, United States

I floss daily, brush after every meal, and trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries.

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Monday, October 26, 2009

My Lousy Sunday

Normally I love it when my Old Man runs his fingers through my hair. Yesterday morning, as he sifted through my hair with gentle, searching fingers, I held my breath in tense anticipation. When he untangled his hands from my hair and said "there's nothing there," I breathed a mighty sigh of relief. For the rest of the day, I felt a bit elated every time I reminded myself of the fact: "I do not have head lice."

My kids, however, did have head lice. This was already an established fact. With O. we had to search and search to find a critter that confirmed what we'd feared ever since we got the news that one of his little buddies had cooties. When we finally found something, we all had to hold still to ascertain that, yes, the little white fleck was actually moving. It must have been a young one, because when we went to check Roo, her hair was positively alive with unmistakable bugs, gray and crawling, little legs clearly visible.

Am I grossing you out yet?

So we spent the morning giving our kids insecticide shampoos, engaging in some literal nitpicking, and washing load after load of laundry with hot water. It was not pleasant. O. was heroic in his acceptance of the stinging shampoo, the fact that we had to leave it in for ten minutes during which he couldn't move much or touch his head, and the fact that we had to rinse the thick, goopy shit out for what seemed like another ten minutes to finally get rid of it. Two-year-old Roo was less understanding. Finally I just had to resign myself to the fact that she was going to cry in a most heart-rending manner the whole time. During the nitpicking part we got her to stop for awhile by allowing her to eat an unlimited quantity of Elmo cookies. It was a trial.

Even though I've been cleared by my resident nit-checker (after three separate checks), my head still itches like hell. And I have a whole new appreciation for the gravity of the word lousy.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Bless You, Dear

Friday night I went to an art auction benefitting my school. An alumna who owned an art gallery in Manhattan left the school twenty-five framed pieces, and so a gala event was arranged to convert those art works to spendable currency. It was a rare chance for me to dress up and stand around eating chi chi hors d'oeuvres and drinking wine with my colleagues.

At one point a young woman approached me with a look on her face that said I am seeking information. I assumed she was an alumna from before my time, since she looked on the young side to be a parent of a high schooler or a rich donor-type. I expected her to say "Does the English department still teach [insert name of favorite or most hated novel]?" or "When did [hugely popular teacher who taught at the school for thirty-plus years] retire?" Instead she made my brain do a one-eighty flip in its pan by asking, without any preamble, "Where did Beezus play its first show?"

Beezus was the band I was in back in grad school. I lived then in the same town where I live now, but in many ways it seems like a totally different place. I was childless, I was scruffy, I was a carefree gradual student. My days tended to begin around ten AM and end some time in the wee hours of the morning. I was in a rock band (and at one point two rock bands). I spent a lot of time in the university's research library and a fair bit of time in bars, and I didn't know very many people who weren't associated with the university. Now I'm a full-time teacher and mother of two, what little rocking I do is all done for the pleasure of my immediate family in my basement, and I know a ton of people in the community and relatively few at the university. My days begin at 6:00 or 7:00 AM and I try to hit the sack at 11:00 PM. I don't spend much time on campus, but I know my town's parks, public libraries, and other kid-friendly spots intimately.

Which is to say, this woman was harkening back to a time and place that seemed very far away, even though Beezus had once played in the very building where we were standing.

I stood there for a minute trying to wrap my brain around the shift in context and finally answered. "Um, Mabel's. Though we hadn’t come up with the name Beezus yet at that show, and we had a different drummer. Let's see ... our first show as Beezus was at the Library." While my mouth was saying all this, my brain was thinking Who are you? How do you know Beezus? Why do you care where we first played? What's this combination of extreme befuddlement and warm excitment I'm feeling?

"Oh, I guess I was wrong," the woman turned to her companion (her husband, as I later learned) and he gave her an "I told you so" look. They proceeded to inform me they were both big Beezus fans as undergrads back in the day, and that she'd been sure she was at our first show. "I still play your record sometimes," she said, and I enlightened her to the fact that we'd recorded two more after that, news that seemed to genuinely excite her.

"Thank you so much for making me feel like a rock star," I said to her as I excused myself to get more chutney-encrusted brie. And she had made me feel like a rock star, momentarily yanking me out of my current life as teacher, mom, and responsible member of the community and back to that giddy role of a fledgling musician insanely excited to hear that someone likes the band. And that made me feel really young and really old, all at the same time.