For a couple of years, Kid swam/water polo’ed/dove. She was never completely dry and the back seat of my car was a shade lighter than the front seat thanks to chlorine.
While all three pool sports shared a venue, the participants were easily categorized. The swim-team kids were the ones shaped like inverted triangles, the water-polo players were covered in bruises and the divers had destroyed hair.
“Didn’t they all?”
Swim team wore caps, water-polo wore caps- at least in part so an opponent didn’t tear off their ears- but divers, did not. The pattern of diving/waiting to dive created greater porosity in the hair, leading to greater damage.
If pressed, I think the most baffling thing to explain to anyone younger than 25 is how rarely anyone over 45 took a picture.
Well, that and rotary phones.
I imagine myself pulling down a photo album and then stopping to explain a photo album.
Having broken down the idea of "We printed them and then put them in a book and never looked at them unlike now, where they are in your phone and you never look at them," I'd show them an average page.
Birthday or two.
"That's a year," I would say.
They'd possibly push the pictures a few times, thinking that maybe it would open a file of the rest of the 16,000 images of pets, meals and bomb-light pouting which is now how we measure a year.
"Nope," I'd say cheerfully, "The picture were printed, picked up, put in here."
As anyone who has followed me for a while knows, my volunteering energy goes a bunch of places but I put the bulk of it towards @SanteDOr, a tiny, nearly all-volunteer rescue, based in a single storefront in Atwater Village.
Don't let the size fool you.
In the last twenty years, they have saved and placed thousands of cats, some dogs, a few very confused rabbits and one very alarmed hamster. During the pandemic, they redoubled their TNR efforts because a lot of groups were overwhelmed.
They are good people.
Stuff gets done.
More to the point, animals get second chances. Frequently during a Trap/Neuter/Release program in a feral cat colony a volunteer will realize a "Feral" cat is frantically purring and curling around their hands, desperate for safety and care again.
"I LIKE this dress!" Consort says appreciatively. I nod in agreement; it's very flattering, clever enough to keep me from yelling about who would pay over $700 for this dress. I mean, I wouldn't but I respect that someone with near-infinite resources would.
I swish around so the dress can have a moment and Consort says happily, "I'm glad you're enjoying this experiment."
I stop mid-swish.
"Oh, I wouldn't say that," I say, then add, "I mean, it's fine. It's a good writing prompt."
Even the best couples have unbridgeable chasms.
I think of Consort's temperament as the byproduct of his Mediterranean ancestors, a man capable of great pleasure merely by being surrounded by the things in this world which matter to him. A great red wine being drunk with lifelong friends on a lakeside porch?
For one, they were probably not sex workers. Not that their job matters but it set the narrative of blame, a narrative which continues. Rubenhold tells some harrowing stories in her podcast of Ripperheads rating the victims in terms of their sexual appeal.
(You already know that the people attacking her on social media for telling their actual stories, for not being interested in "solving" the case, for giving the victims their humanity back are, by a wide margin, men)
I don't think you will be surprised to learn I have zero interest or aptitude for the domestic arts. If you've ever heard any of the Biblical passage waxing lyrical about what a real woman does (Proverbs 31:10-31), well, I am Goofus to that Gallant.
This past year, I was (badly) ironing some dress shirt belonging to Consort as we were going to a Zoom funeral. I was watching a pleasantly anodyne baking show while I ironed when I suddenly realized the shirt was done and I still had more show.
I like things to line up.
I looked around and spotted the sheets I was about to (badly) fold and put away. On a whim, I ironed the pillowcases. Owing to them being rectangles, some might even say I didn't do it badly. I started the show again and the baker who won the week mentioned orange-flower water.
My father-in-law was a cameraman who won two Emmys for his work shooting live. Because of his experience, he was brought on for a new live weekend sketch comedy show, where he worked until he retired. He worked for decades in the business, rarely said anything bad about anyone.
There was exactly one person he said was a fucking asshole.
I suspect but cannot prove that part of what got us here was entirely too much "Let the idiots wear themselves out."
Idiots are built for endurance.
While the adults are waiting for these demented child-golems to stop screaming and setting things on fire, they've convinced five more previously borderline-reasonable souls to scream and set things on fire and yes, the first idiots are tired but also, more fires.
Ideally, needling is like tying ankle weights on them, wearing them down faster. Perfect world, the idiot is embarrassed enough to go wandering off for at least a few minutes to shit on their own toothbrush or listen to @hughhewitt.
Mustn't brag but you know you're maybe taking too many Zoom Sculpt classes when the teaches says, "You seemed a little distracted yesterday."
"I was," I answered, nervously eyeing all the accessories we need for class; chair AND resistance band is not good.
I continued, "Small domestic drama was playing out."
I explained that while she was running us through various weight-related tortures, Kid was in lockdown in Doodlehaus because a neighbor had reported a man with a gun in their neighborhood.
"AND YOU STAYED IN CLASS?"
She shouted that but I'm guessing you did as well. I told her what I will now tell you: they were in the inner rooms of Doodlehaus, away from windows; the lights were off; several of her cheerful male roommates were there.
It's educational. I picked this because I thought, "Oh, it just looks odd because she doesn't know how to stand and it's sort of batik and I love batik because I grew up near Laurel Canyon and you can't go wrong with a shirtdress!"
You ever put something on which starts fighting you even before it leaves the hanger?
That was this dress.
It wouldn't release the hanger, then it wouldn't go over my head and then it trapped my arms like a straightjacket for a minute or so; this dress was not having it.
When it finally was approximately where it should be, I walked to the mirror and frowned. When had I developed a hunchback? I pulled at the hem which released the hump but then created an odd fluted effect on the bottom, rendering me a guest bedroom bedside-table lamp.
I clambered the steep side of Runyon canyon. I'd say "I clambered the steep side of Runyon canyon gracelessly," but that's understood. I'm freakishly adept at clambering but there's a moment on the hill which is just momentum and faith.
Having finished that bit, I looked up -what with being on my hands and knees- in the eyes of a mid-size dog, eyeing me from slightly above me. She thumped her tail as if to say, "Yes, four legs are better. Now, let me show you this smell I found."
"I'm good, thanks," I gasped.
She came over and made herself comfy. I looked around for her people, but everyone I saw seemed to be already attached to a dog. After a second, two women hove into view from the same hill which had tried to kill me. I pointed in a "This your dog in my lap?" way. They nodded.
I'm writing this knowing it won't do fuck-all but I occasionally allow myself a scream into the abyss.
"Papa had another heart attack. And he died," my mother told me when I was nine. I will never, ever forget those sentences. Eight words blew up my world.
How much did it affect me? For much of my life if I was mentioning a theoretical child in the context of something else, I would say "A nine year old girl/boy." My entire childhood was literally pinned to that moment.
Hell, my life was pinned to that moment.
(If you are currently thinking of virtually hugging me...don't. I am fine. Your sympathy or pity fills me with nausea)