The Key

My choo-choo train has been known to jump the track from time to time. Sometimes I get so irritated that I fly right past miffed, hang a hard left at pissed off, and head deep into hissy fit territory.   I believe that it is perfectly fine, better than fine even, for a woman to let it be known when she is right livid with the world.

Lord knows, I’m not one of those darling, demure little dears who politely hold it all in. Stuffing your conflict down inside often results in a very messy and public explosion in your late 40s and early 50s, most likely involving the cabana boy from the Mirage hotel in Vegas. What is it about the scent of coconut oil and margaritas? The embarrassing part of my occasional derailments is that I am often mad about the wrong thing.

Let me tell you a story about one very mistaken hard-core huff I had going right after I met my Gruff. I realized quickly that I could spend a whole lot of time with this guy. We were in synch immediately, comforting in the way a pair of fuzzy bedroom slippers are. That might be a reference that is understood only by women, but you get my drift. Everything felt cozy. It felt right.

I liked right. I’d done wrong, horribly wrong. Right felt well, right. This could work. This was much better. I decided to go out on a limb. I had a key made for my house and wrapped it in a pretty red box, complete with satin bow. This was the key to my very own house. My house, the one I’d bought with my money, and decorated just for me. It was my private happy spot and I was giving someone else, a boy even, full access to come and go as he pleased. To me this was huge. I wanted to do it, yet the emotional enormity of it caused severe shortness of breath.

I hemmed and hawed, hid the pretty red box in my lingerie drawer, and thought about it incessantly. What’s the problem? I mean, Gruff was a great guy. I really, really liked him. Surely he deserved a key. The saintly Salvadoran cleaning woman whose only English was “More Windex, missus” had a key. Why not Gruff? If I gave Gruff a key to my house, he could pick up some Windex on his way over. It was a win-win situation.

I decided to do it. Worse, I decided to infuse it with all the romantic overtones of that Hallmark, Inc. fabrication, Valentine’s Day. Yep, I gave Gruff the key to my house over dinner on St. Valentine’s Day. He appeared to be um, underwhelmed. He said, “Oh hey, thanks.”

Now I made it worse. I explained, perhaps too enthusiastically, that this was the key to my house. It was my refuge, my safe harbor, my freaking Fortress of Solitude and he should recognize that he was receiving the highest honor I could bestow. I believe he responded with, “That’s great, Sweetie.”

Fine. Men just don’t fully appreciate the emotional sensitivities of such things. I was expecting too much. I had just given him my key, not a kidney. Fine. I had agonized over the event for weeks, but never mind. It turned out to be not so much of a big deal. Fine.

Of course you realize there is a second part to this transaction. I had given Gruff my house key. It followed that Gruff would now give me his house key. Here’s where the wheels on my train started to lift off the track. I waited, and I waited, and there was no key. Gruff came and went, but there was no presentation of a key for me.

After a month, I had worked myself up into a right proper snit. I assumed that I wasn’t getting his key because he was dating lots of different women and couldn’t risk any one of them popping over unannounced. Maybe he was running a meth lab in his house. Maybe he was a secretive hoarder and his whole upstairs was filled with old newspapers and desiccated rat carcasses. I didn’t know. Anything was possible. Gruff lived two hours from me, it’s not like I would be dropping in every twenty minutes to check up on him.

After six weeks of imagining the worst possible scenarios, my locomotive derailed at high speed. I greeted my new love at my front door with the tender phrase, “Where’s my fucking key?”

“What?”

“I gave you a key to my house, which you are using to unlock my damn door anytime you please and I just want to know, where’s my key? Why haven’t you given me the key to your house? Huh? What up with that, Playa?”

“I don’t have a key to my house.”

“You’re lying.”

“No Molly, my house was built in 1905 in a very rural area. When I settled on my house there were no keys transferred. There are no keys.”

Um, never saw that coming. I mean, who doesn’t have house keys? Who goes to sleep at night with every window and door unlocked?   I come from a law enforcement family. We were taught from toddlers to know your surroundings, protect yourself, and lock the damn doors. Hell, we weren’t allowed to learn how to drive until we could load, unload, and properly fire a weapon because there was going to be a pistol under the driver’s seat of any family car you drove. My daddy’s head would have popped off its stem had I suggested that we not lock the doors to the house, day or night. Good Lord, who does such a thing?

Gruff did such a thing. No biggie as far as he was concerned. Totally new concept to me however, and after I wrapped my head around it, I had to humbly apologize for so convincingly playing the role of psycho-bitch-girlfriend.

I was mortified. I had not asked simple questions while I was still chugging along sensibly, but instead waited until Ozzy Osbourne was screaming “Crazy Train” in my cortex and pounced on Gruff like a paranoid she-devil. I made amends with barbecued ribs and pie, but still felt odd about the whole thing.

Thankfully, Gruff is not one to hold on to my weirdness. He let it go and so did I. Eventually I sold my perfect little home and moved in with the love of my life. You can bet your ass there are now locks on all the doors and plenty of keys.

 

Nine Times

 

Perennial plant

I would rather go to the dentist than attend a wedding. That is the stand-on-my-mama’s-grave, honest truth. I know what you’re thinking. You’ve surmised that I’m single and therefore uncomfortable with everyone’s Aunt Stella coming up to me at the reception asking when it’s going to be my turn. Yeah, that would suck but that’s not it.

I’m married, for the second time even, so I’ve gotten my fair share of ceremony. Well, ceremony as I define it, which is kind of casual. I got married at home in front of the fireplace the first time and in the backseat of a pink Cadillac convertible the second. By the way, getting married in a drop-top pink Cadillac is the best thing ever. I highly recommend it. No stress, no procession, no family fights, no sloppy cousin kisses, and no sticky canapés. Of course, it is a lot more fun if you’ve chosen the right person to sit in the back seat with you. Botched it the first time, nailed it the second.

I’m just not a hoopla kind of girl. Weddings seem a silly waste of money to me when the cost could be such a nice down payment on a house. Having a comfortable home is very important to me. Having a photo of me in yards of tulle and taffeta is not. No, the reason that I hate weddings is that I was a bridesmaid nine times. Being a bridesmaid nine times is more than enough trauma to induce wedding PTSD for life.

Nine times I’ve slow-walked down the aisle in a ridiculously expensive dress whose sole purpose is to make the bride look better by comparison. This leaves deep emotional scars, particularly since there is embarrassing photographic evidence still floating around my social circle. Every so often, the very worst of the bunch will bob to the surface.

Someone will find a box of pictures while they’re moving and email me a photo of myself, a 200+ pound woman, in a Pepto-Bismol pink taffeta ball gown with puffed sleeves. There is a video tape somewhere of me in this horrific ensemble (shoes dyed to match, naturally) dancing the Bunny Hop. In case you’re wondering, this is how night terrors are born. If anyone ever puts that up on YouTube, I’ll have to kill them and I guarantee you, no jury with even just one female member will convict me.

Nine times I have helped brides tie thousands of pastel colored Jordan almonds into little net baskets as reception favors. I have a question. Does anyone buy Jordan almonds except for a wedding? Are any widows going to ask me to tie black almonds into little net baskets for a funeral? Note to self: start marketing funeral favors. The business potential is huge.

Nine times I’ve been videotaped dancing like a meth addict in a dress that could have been a costume for any Tim Burton film. Nine times I’ve had my ass grabbed by somebody’s drunk uncle at the reception. Nine times I’ve helped the bride back into the handicapped stall holding her ball gown up over her head so she could pee. Nine times I’ve pretended to be deaf when I heard the plaintive wail, “Hey, I can’t get around my skirt to wipe.”

Nine times I’ve thought that maybe the salute to newlyweds should be Molotov instead of Mazel tov. Nine times I wanted to rename the processional to “Here Comes the Snide.” Only once did I hear my most favorite wedding toast, delivered by the best man to honor his childhood buddy and what turned out to be a genuine, Junior League Bridezilla.

“May you always be as happy as your bride is charming and gracious today.”