Sophisticated people almost never pee in mayonnaise jars.
It hit me today that in only a few days, my beautiful daughter Kitten is going to turn twenty-years-old. The idea of my baby turning twenty has sort of twisted up my insides and colored me all sentimental on my outside. A tiny tear even formed at the corner of my eye and slid slowly down my cheek, not unlike that Native American guy that used to ride his horse around trash dumps. (If you don't get that, step away from this column.)
I can't believe it's been twenty years. It seems like only yesterday. (This is where you have to picture me staring off into space and slowly disappearing into the fog. We're about to experience a dream sequence together.)
The year was 1983. Prince was singing about crying doves, Tina wanted to know what love had to do with it and I was only nineteen-years-old. It was a simpler time. My hair and my shoulder pads were equally big and I was still on my first husband.
Even though I was very young when she was born, my daughter was not the result of an 'oops'. In fact, from the moment I had uttered those two little words at the altar, I was on a mission. I was going to get pregnant, have a baby girl and play house. It was going to be loads and loads of grown up fun.
My new husband wasn't nearly as fired up about the idea as was I. You see, he was seven years older than me and already had two kids from his first marriage. (This week, on a very special episode of Springer...) He had done the whole baby thing and had no interest in doing it again. Lucky for me, his hormones were on my side. He was a young man with an even younger, big-haired bride, so as you can imagine I didn't have to work too hard to get him to do the deed that makes baby girls.
A month went by, then two months and yet I had no bun in the microwave. By the time I had been married five months and was still barren, I was going to faith healers and witch doctors to find out why my ground was not fertile. My friends advised me to just stop worrying about it because worrying would keep you from getting pregnant. I'm sure there are lots of teenage mothers in this country that wish they had known worrying is the most effective form of birth control.
My husband and I were nearing our six month wedding anniversary... and by the way kids, you only celebrate months during the first year of your first marriage. By the time you've done it as often as I have, you simply celebrate the fact that you aren't divorced yet. So anyway, it's getting close to the six month mark of childlessness and the only thing stopping me from sacrificing myself to the fertility gods by diving head first into an active volcano was the remarkable shortage of active volcanoes in Kentucky.
There I was, sitting around our tiny, roach infested, babyless apartment, dreaming of how cute I would look pregnant when it hit me. A desire so unbelievably intense, so powerful, so all consuming that I have never experienced anything like it before or sense. Two words kept pounding away at my brain, demanding to be heard. Two little words that represented everything good and pure in the world. Two words that made everything else seem unimportant.
I wanted Frosted Flakes more than I had ever wanted anything in my entire life. How had I managed to exist in the universe without having noticed how utterly wonderful they were? How is it I had wasted so much of my life eating foods that were not Frosted Flakes? After all, they're grrrrreat.
When the husband came home that night, I begged with my sweetest "I'm so cute and you'll totally get some if you do this" voice for him to go immediately to the nearest retail food outlet and buy a box of said sugary flakes and some milk. He reluctantly complied.
When he walked in the door with the goods, I grabbed the box from him like some rabid animal, rushed to the kitchen and poured the flakes in the biggest bowl I could find and covered them in milk. When I shoveled in the first bite, I swear I heard the angels singing on high. I could have died happy at that moment.
The next day, I went to visit my Mother across town. During the course of our mother daughter chit chat, I mentioned that if she had any Frosted Flakes just lying around the house that she didn't want, I would take them off her hands.
"Frosted Flakes?" she asked. "What's the deal with Frosted Flakes?"
I explained to her that I had discovered the meaning of life and that it had been right under my nose all these years cleverly disguised in a blue box with a grinning tiger on the front.
"You're pregnant," she said calmly.
"Pregnant???" I asked, not nearly as calmly.
She told me that when she was nineteen and pregnant with me, she too had been hooked on the frosted junk. Mother knew first hand what it was like to have a little tiger on her back. She said my Daddy would come home every day from a long day at work and ask what was for supper. She never understood why he was always less than thrilled to find out it was another big bowl of Frosted Flakes.
At my Mother's urging, I peed in a mayonnaise jar so that I could take it to the doctor's office to find out whether the rabbit had indeed passed away.
Of course, I'm obsessive compulsive, so after I went in the mayonnaise jar, I started to worry that maybe I had gone over board a little in the fluids department. Exactly how much is too much? And not only that, but how does one know what kind of container is appropriate to present urine to someone? Oddly enough, Miss Manners does not address the etiquette of urine specimens.
I didn't want to seem like I was trying too hard, so I poured a little back in the toilet. I could just imagine all the lab techs sitting around my mayonnaise jar, pointing and laughing. "Have you ever seen so much pee in your life?" they would ask each other. "What kind of hillbilly doesn't know the universal appropriate amount of pee to bring to the lab? She is too stupid to be somebody's mother. Mark her mayonnaise jar NEGATIVE."
Oh Lord. What was I going to do? Clearly I could not haul a big old jar of urine to the doctor's office. Mother and I searched through her cabinets for something more suitable. Something that conveyed how ready to be a mom I was. I decided maybe a crystal vinaigrette container would be just the thing, but Mother vetoed the idea. In fact, every pretty thing I found, my selfish Mother refused to let me pee in. Lacking anything better, I settled on a small jelly jar. It wasn't very pretty, but it did look a little more presentable when I tied a festive gingham bow around it.
"Girls, you all have to see this!" the lab tech in charge would say. "Look at how lovely this girl's pee-pee holder is! The world would truly be a better place if everyone took the time to pretty up their urine before they took it to the doctor's. She will make a wonderful mother. Mark her jelly jar POSITIVE... and be sure to dot the i's with little hearts."
So off I went with my Martha Stewart specimen collection to find out whether the Frosted Flakes had gotten me pregnant. When the lady at the desk asked me how many periods I had missed, I lied just like Mother told me to and said I had missed two, even though I hadn't yet missed any. If I was pregnant, I was probably about thirteen minutes along and apparently doctor's didn't want to be bothered with nineteen-year-old girls that had gotten knocked up by breakfast cereals and wanted to take pregnancy tests. Thus the need to lie.
I had to go to work, where I was pursuing my dream career of carrying giant trays of food to rude people for very little money and so Mother agreed to call and get my results for me.
When I showed up at her house that evening, she threw her arms around me and said, "Congratulations! You're pregnant and it's a girl." She gave me a little pink dress with tiny, pink flowers all over and little, pink socks for her new, microscopic granddaughter. It had been awhile since Mother had been pregnant or she would have remembered it was going to be nine months before the baby could wear clothing.
"How do you know it's a girl?" I asked, still in shock.
"The same way I knew you were pregnant," she answered.
The truth was out. My Mother was a witch.
I don't think my feet touched the ground for about two weeks after I found out I was going to be somebody's mother. Every dream I'd ever had was about to come true. It was going to be beautiful and wonderful and I'd be the bestest mom in the whole world. Life was going to be perfect.
Pregnancy was going to be a breeze. And it was. If you consider hurricane force winds to be a breeze.
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Copyright © 2004, Sherri Bailey
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