October 18, 2013

It's Amazingly Awkward Girl

I literally just got back home from listening to a band play at a bar in Dallas and all I can think is, "Man, it's a good thing I got married young."

I met MC when I was 18 and we were married when I was 20. I had a lot of boyfriends in school but I never really did the dating thing. I never went out and tried to pick up a guy, or try to get picked up by a guy. After tonight I realized that if my getting married had hinged on my ability to do that, I would probably still be single.

I've been going out dancing with the girls for years. We always go out as a group, usually about 3 of us, and it's always a girls' night. I've gotten pretty good about putting out that "I'm married" vibe so I don't have to worry about some random guy trying to hit on me. Occasionally there will be a guy who wants to break into our little dance circle but he gets shut down pretty quickly and moves on to someone with a little more alcohol and a little less common sense. I will be the first to admit that having a guy hit on me after being married for 18 years and at my somewhat young-ish age is appealing. I mean, seriously...who doesn't like an ego boost now and then, right? But the flip side is, do you really want to brag about getting hit on by a guy whose eyes are glazed over and is slurring his words? Yeah, not so much.

So, dancing? It's a girls only affair.

I have a friend who is married to a drummer in a band. I've been telling myself I'm going to go hear the band play but have just never made it. Well, I finally made it tonight. There was no special effort to look nice, just jeans, a t-shirt, and tennis shoes. I did have my hair done (meaning washed) and eye makeup on, but that was more so I wouldn't resemble a zombie than to impress anyone.

After paying the cover, I see Drummer Boy and greet him and I'm bummed to learn that I'll probably be it as far as fans go. His wife stayed home and I knew no one else there. But I had paid the cover and I already made my presence known; it was too late to back out now. The thing about me is I can be embarrassingly outgoing...when I have someone with me. By myself I sort of shrink up and try to find a way to blend into the background so no one will try to do something horrible, like talk to me. Looking around I saw I had 2 choices. I could A) sit at a table by myself, or B) sit at the bar by myself. I chose the bar because it was close to the stage and it just felt less...pathetic.

I planted myself on a stool and decided to order a drink. I'm really not much of an alcohol girl as it seems to only be available in 2 flavors: gym sock sweat and cough syrup. Except for hard cider. I love that. Only they didn't have any. Well, fine. I won't order a drink then. I'll just sit here by myself and look like I'm having the time of my life. Alone.

That actually wouldn't have been too bad except I discovered that sitting by myself at the bar was sort of like hanging out a neon sign that screamed, "She's all alone! She must need company!" While I have no problem turning someone down, I discovered it was made all the more difficult when I couldn't hear what anyone was saying over the music. How do you silently tell someone to go away...without resorting to the use of one particular finger?

If (God forbid) something were to ever happen to MC and I was single again, I'd never make it in the dating world (not that I'd want to). I panic every time someone comes near me. I even stabbed one guy in the eye. It was not pretty.

The first guy who sat at the bar 2 seats away from me introduced himself and asked my name. Then he offered to buy me a drink which I politely declined. Another man kept giving my shoe a high-five when he walked by until I stopped sitting with my legs crossed. In the spirit of the season, there was a giant skull that was lit up from the inside that sat on the bar behind me. One gentleman asked me if I always bring my ex-boyfriend's skull with me. I answered yes. He was just playing around and before he left, he warned me not to make out with it. Thank you for that sound advice, sir. I'll try to contain myself.

At one point, a young man planted himself right in front of me and started speaking. First of all, you're blocking my view. Second, I can't hear a thing you're saying! No, it doesn't do any good to talk right into my ear. I STILL. CAN'T. HEAR. YOU. I honestly have no idea what he was trying to say to me. Until he asked for my phone number. Really??? Is that how the bar pick-up/dating thing works? You know nothing about me, not even my name, but want to call me up sometime? Do you just collect numbers and then call them all the next day hoping you'll get a hit? Like a dating lottery you hope today's collection of numbers pays off?

Oh, but wait. It got better. Screaming back to him I held up my left hand (which is actually naked thanks to a loose prong on my wedding ring) and replied that I was married. So sad, now go away. His response? "Me too." What?! Then what are you doing?!?! And then he proceeded to pull his dog tags out from his shirt so I could see that he's in the military. Because knowing he's enlisted will forgive the fact that he's a married man asking for a strange woman's phone number. Ew.

Eventually, by avoiding eye contact and showing off a studious interest in the band, I managed to get across my extreme disinterest and he went away. Then Super Fan showed up. This was a guy that I assumed was friends with the band as he kept hopping up on stage and getting right in their faces to take pictures of all of them. It was only when he planted himself on the stool next to me and asked me what the band's name was that I realized his enthusiasm may have been fueled a bit by alcohol. He asked if I knew the band and I told him I knew the drummer. He then proceeded to scroll through all the pictures on his phone and asked me if I wanted him to send them to my FB page. Um, no, I'm good, thanks. Unfortunately I have a habit of talking with my hands (especially in noisy bars) and as I was gesturing to his phone, I managed to poke him in the eye--under his glasses. Oh yeah, I am THAT good.

Oh, and did I mention that I was only there for 1 hour?

While I guess I wasn't actually hit on a lot, I realized that I don't even know how to have a conversation with a strange man in public without a safety net. Is that weird? Or is that just part of being married so long? I can sit and have conversations with men I don't know at church, at the kids' schools, at...okay, that's the extent of my social life but you get the idea; a bar just feels different.

And that's why I'm glad I don't ever have to try to navigate the dating scene. Not that it would have to take place in a bar, but at some point I would have to figure out how to make conversation...without causing bodily harm.

MC, don't ever leave me.

October 11, 2013

The Fair and the Not So Fair

Dilemma: Your children have a day off of school for Fair Day and are given free admission tickets. And while you are looking forward to a family outing, they would rather stay at home and aren't all that revved up about going to a Fair when they know rides aren't on the agenda. What do you do?

Solution: You drag them along and tell them they will like it or else. But as a concession to them, you do let them bring along a book.

Yes, this is exactly how our Fair Day went down. MC and I did debate whether or not to leave the kids at home. What was the point of taking them if they weren't going to enjoy it anyway? Sassy was the only one who was at all interested in going (At least, until she was reminded about the no rides policy. That's what we have Six Flags season passes for.). As it's supposed to be a family event, the choice was either the whole family goes or we let the kids stay home while us parents went. The kids would've been fine on their own but they are always at home. We decided to make them go if for no other reason then they could be bored away from home.

Upon arriving at the Fair, the first 15 minutes sounded like this (thank you, Bubba):
"I don't think I like this parking space. We're going to fall! I'm afraid to climb out!" (We were parked on an incline.)
"Hey, Bubba, you're standing in an ant hill." (followed by wailing and running)
"I hate this day! I hate bugs! Why does this have to happen to me?! Get them off!" (which MC proceeded to do since Bubba refused to swipe at the ants biting him lest he actually touch one)
"How long do we have to stay? Can you see everything you want in 2 hours?"
"Is it too late to turn around and take us back home?"
Howdy never said a peep as he had his nose buried in his phone.

I finally had to tell Bubba he wasn't allowed to walk next to me anymore because I couldn't handle another word of complaint. (Oh yeah, I've got Mom of the Year in the bag.) Gritting my teeth and silently repeating the refrain, "I will have fun. I will have fun.", we finally made it past the gate and began the debate of what to do first. Since most of us didn't want to be there to begin with, it was really a futile exercise but I feigned enthusiasm and we set forth on our journey of FUN.

We started off at the pig races where we cheered on speedy swine with clever monikers such as Piggy Monster, Jean Claude Van Ham, and Squealy Nelson. And we couldn't help but wonder, what happened to the loser? Was he served up as dinner? And is eating a sausage on a stick while watching a pig race morbid?

At the petting zoo, we joined in the long line of people thrusting seed- and grain-filled hands in the faces of uninterested animals in the hopes of getting them to slobber all over us while eating said seed and grain. We threw out the appropriate animal puns ("Alpaca suitcase for our trip", "Hey, Marty! Guess what day it is!"), oohed and aahed over how cute baby animals are, and then slathered ourselves in hand sanitizer before moving on.

My favorite thing about Fairs nowadays is that everything you can possibly imagine is offered up FRIED. I have to admit I'm a big fan of deep fried food. And deep fried dessert? Does it get any better? There is no limit to what can be deep fried anymore. We made a trip to the Texas State Fair and on various menus we found meatloaf, beer, brownies, pumpkin pie, s'mores, moon pies, lemonade (!), PBJ&Banana, cookie dough, butter (comes with a coupon for 10% off your next angioplasty), jambalaya, Snicker's, Reese's peanut butter cup (I may have to try making this at home), latte, cheesecake, and Nutella (hello, heaven!)--all preceded by the words "deep fried". Some people go to the Fair to drool over the hottest new sports cars on display or get fired up at that adrenaline-pumping ride. Me? I like to salivate over artery-clogging sweets.

Once we were refreshed with cold drinks, we moved on to the Craft Pavilion. It was in this building that we saw 2 contest entries of space ships made out of differing materials. It was in the middle of debating whether the ships were from Battlestar Galactica or from Firefly that I realized I was having a great time with my family, despite our previous efforts to the contrary.

After the requisite funnel cake (see previous deep fried comments), we parked the kids with their games and books and MC and I checked out the new car display. Others may dream of Hemis or sporty looks or great sound systems; I dream of stow-and-go seating and an excess of cupholders. (One day I shall have that new minivan. Oh yes, I shall.) And what I discovered while there is that while giant Man Trucks have the option of a step up running board, it's not an option for me. I couldn't get myself up into a truck without help from the steering wheel, the door and my husband--much to the delight of a passing couple.

In spite of Bubba's fervent wish, it did take us more than 2 hours to see everything we wanted to. In fact, it was only after spending 6 hours out there that we finally headed home...with happy children. I'm sure they would never admit it, but I think their day at the Fair with mom and dad was...not horrible. And that's all I can ask for. 

October 9, 2013

The Ride of a Lifetime

As my kids have gotten older and I have finally found a stable job that I enjoy, I have found that my life has settled into a happy sort of chaos. We have our lazy, no expectation days followed by double-booked days and events that spread us out away from each other, and then back to those moments of welcome boredom. It's in those quiet moments that I take a look around at my kids and think, "Life is grand."

I navigated the roller coaster ride of child rearing with nary a scratch and have children who are funny, kind, smart, caring, and a joy to be around. I survived raising 3 children who are all close in age--and I've kept them all alive! I endured the around-the-clock feedings while dealing with depression. I stayed sane when my newborn daughter would wake up at 3am hungry and her cries would stir my Autistic 2 year old, who would then stay awake the rest of the night. I managed the twists and turns of teaching little human beings to eat with utensils, talk, use good manners, read, tie shoes, get themselves dressed, and how to use the potty. Through heart-wrenching drops and climbs, I've learned to navigate the world of special needs and how to guide my son and his siblings through it. My kids are great students, are active in church, have friends, care about the world around them, and are just good people.

And with their ages at 10, 13, and 14, I do realize that my ride on the parenting track is far from over, but I can't help but think, "Parenting? Dude, I've got it down."

Wouldn't you know, just as I'm about to strain my arm from patting myself on the back, the teenage years rear up and come at me, and they are armed with a wicked set of brass knuckles. My confidence is shaken, my methods are questioned, and my joy becomes the silver lining on an otherwise cloudy day.

I'm not prepared to handle serious teen issues. Isn't it enough that we've pulled through the world of Autism in tact? Then again, maybe surviving that particular Fun House was just preparation for what's ahead.

So I return to the ride, have my ticket punched, get strapped into the car and hold on tight as the ride begins.