**a short break from our regular blogging duties to enjoy a piece I submitted to a site a few weeks ago. They didn’t want it but asked to see more of my writing. To celebrate this small victory I am leaving the original submission here. Enjoy and share.**
I made the mistake of having a baby and a garage sale at the same time. To clarify, I didn’t go into labor on a card table in the driveway, although that would have been one way to upstage the lemonade stand across the street. No, I was merely in simultaneous possession of a baby and a garage sale, just not my faculties. If I had been, I would have remembered to put my personal soda supply inside the house before the Well-Meaning Neighbor stopped by. You know that neighbor. I bet you have one, too. She’s not nosy, intrusive, inquisitive, snide and smug. She Aggressively Means Well.
“Hi, Well Meaning Neighbor.”
“Hi there! Wow, look at that baby, he is so big! And wow, you really needed to have a garage sale! What’s in the back? Well wow, you guys sure have a lot of Coke in your garage!”
I’ll be honest: it made me kind of happy when you just said Baby instead of his actual name, because I know from experience this means you don’t remember it. I’ve played the overly casual “so, how do you spell your name?” card twice on this block alone and I’m comfortable with the fact we just don’t care enough to remember each other’s’ names. I have yours narrowed down to a common name that begins with N but not Nancy.
Not-Nancy, I’m also letting the overuse of “wow!” slide because I’m trying to break the “amazing!” habit. I recently watched myself for 45 seconds on a reunion video and realized there is a very real danger I’m going to turn into someone who sounds 13, or, worse, perky. But, Not-Nancy, we’re going to have a frank talk about my Coke habit.
My Coke habit is the direct result of the garage sale condition. That stems from the baby you can’t remember the name of (and good job using context clues to take a stab at identifying gender, by the way). Our garage looks like a disemboweled Walmart for one regrettable reason: we were the last in our group to have a baby. We adopted very suddenly and needed help. When the call went out for baby things, They Came. Like benevolent plagues of Egypt, a thousand friendly mommies ripped open the seams of their basements to disgorge months, years, decades of baby-related detritus they will never want again. The top layers were fabulous items I was thrilled to use for Baby. The underlayers will forever haunt me.
Onesies of uniforms worn by now incarcerated athletes. Bits of plastic toys with tooth marks and bizarre discoloration around the edges. Alarming harnesses with Swedish names and buckles to fit body parts neither gender would possess. Shoes for feet that can’t walk. Mismatched socks and hats with odd fuzz on them. Formula samples expiring years before we began the adoption process. Two doorway jumpers with parts missing and no way to test how critical those parts might have been. Last, but certainly not least, a mountain of clothing that was perfectly cute but for a summer baby. I have enough on my mind without dressing a Christmas baby in a “Surf’s UP!” tank top then facing my social worker.
What does this have to do with the Coke? I’m glad I imagine you asked. Right now, I’m making a house ready for a baby, working, maintaining a semblance of control over my finances and fighting the urge to rapidly defenestrate the next person who chirps “savor each and every moment!” The Coke in my garage is what is keeping me upright because coffee is awful, I can’t afford speed and nobody will tell me what Seal Team 6 uses to stay awake on missions. The calories are a good idea as mealtimes have been reduced to whatever I can eat while I’m making a bottle. The corn syrup is a godsend because the word corn implies I have eaten something plant based. In fact, the more corn syrup I have in my system the better I feel about my choice to drink Coke. I live in Nebraska so supporting local corn growers might provide the karma I need to offset the enormous amount of diapers I’m chucking into Mother Earth. Hell, I’m gonna ride this one all the way to its logical conclusion: high fructose corn syrup isn’t just keeping me alive. It’s keeping America alive. That’s right. I went there. If you don’t support Frosted Flakes, Pop Tarts, Oreos, NyQuil and Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup, then you’re not the kind of American I want on my lawn. You don’t deserve to judge my garage, my mess OR my Coke habit.
Not-Nancy, I am going to sit here and drink this Coke while I figure out how much of my husband’s stuff I can sell before he notices. If you aren’t here to diaper my kid or lay out of season onesies on a card table, then just keep walking. And if you’re walking past the gas station, bring me another Coke.