I've always been different. Ask anyone that's known me for any length of time and they'll be happy to tell you how different I am... only they may not say it in a nice way.
I admit it. Different is my middle name. Ask my mother. She filled out my birth certificate. "Sherri Different Crazy-On-Her-Face". It was hell in kindergarten.
Although it has taken me years of learning, growing and hundreds of group hugs in America's finest mental health facilities with people who think God sends them messages in boxes of Macaroni and Cheese, I am finally getting close to the point of actually being able to look at myself in the mirror and not stick my tongue out.
That's just good mental health is what that is.
Mentally stable though I am, on occasion I find myself right smack dab in the middle of Bizzaro World. Up is down, wrong is right and the clear black and white lines in my life blur considerably. Last night, I wasn't just a citizen of Bizarro World. I was the freaking mayor.
My stunningly beautiful daughter Kitten was singing in a club in the big city about two hours away. Now that I've written that, it occurs to me that you may have an image in your head of a bleach-blonde, white trash girl wearing blue eye shadow and teeny shorts belting out Tammy Wynette songs for a bunch of truckers. Nothing could be further from the truth. She never sang one Tammy Wynette song.
Actually, my Kitten has been singing for weeks now in a local American Idol-like competition. Each week she makes it past the cut and last night she was down to having only three weeks left to go. As the drive to hear her is two hours long and she sings in the middle of the week, last night was the first time I could attend.
I have known my daughter for a long time now. She and I go way back. As you might imagine, I have heard her sing a time or two. I've heard her sing in the car, sing with the radio and sing in the shower. I've stood beside her in church as she sings to God, laughed at her as she's danced around the house blaring loud, long notes like a castrated opera star and I've even heard her sing her cat a night-night lullaby. I wasn't expecting too much of a surprise.
Hang onto your hats kids. We're about to enter Bizarro World.
Last week my first husband's third ex-wife who we'll call Donna, because that's what her parents call her, sent me an email after hearing Kitten sing. "Goosebumps" was all it said.
Wait a minute. You're still stuck on that first husband's third ex-wife thing, aren't you? That's ok. I understand. I'll explain it to you, but grab a pen because I'm only going to do this once.
My first husband was married once before me. I was his second wife. After we divorced I became his second ex-wife rather than his second wife and he married Donna who as you may have correctly assumed became wife number three. She lived with him longer than his first ex-wife and I could possibly stick it out and therefore became the award-winning third ex-wife. I think she got a trophy or something.
When she was the third wife and I was the second ex-wife, we were not friends. In fact, I'm pretty sure she had a big-haired, blonde-from-a-box voodoo doll that she poked frequently with a fork... which would explain the shooting pain I felt in my behind every time I saw the two of them together.
The joke was on all his wives, however. Turns out none of us were ever legally married anyway as Mr. Ex was only a snake masquerading as a man and as any lawyer will tell you, snakes in man masks cannot enter into legally binding agreements.
Hang on a minute while I wipe the bitterness off my face.
Anywho, Donna emailed me last week and generously invited me to be a guest in her home if I could get away to hear Kitten sing. I accepted.
See the sign on the side of the road? It reads, "Bizarro World: Next Exit".
Donna and I met up in Kansas City and for the first time in all the years I've known her, I went inside her home. As I walked in the front door, I felt oddly peaceful. Everything was beautiful and girlie and warm and I wondered what I'd expected anyway. Perhaps a threadbare voodoo doll leg? A bear trap just inside the door with chocolate frosting as bait?
Not only were there no trap and no black magic paraphernalia I could see, she had gone to extra trouble to make me feel welcome and even wanted. The most important universal truth in life was proven yet again. Women are wonderful, loving creatures capable of unimaginable generosity of spirit... so long as we don't let a man create our reality. (And we always remember to tug on a guy's face to look for scales underneath.)
Together we went to the establishment where our little girl was singing. It was a nice place with nice people and scads of fresh-faced twenty-somethings. Now, it's been years and years since I recall being in a "bar" of any sort, so I'm certain things have changed a little. That's why when Donna pointed out a guy at the bar, I wasn't too sure what to say.
There he was, sitting all alone, nursing his drink. He had a five o'clock shadow, short brown hair and was wearing a lovely sparkly shirt and skirt and Barbara Bush pearls. Other than his choice of jewelry and his ensemble, he had made no attempt to look feminine whatsoever. Kitten said he rides his bike there every Wednesday night and thankfully always uses the men's restroom. Her male friends hardly no what to do though when they find him at the urinal with his panty hose around his ankles. He is just your average every day guy that enjoys high heels and talent contests. No harm in that I guess and a perfectly normal site in Bizarro World.
So I'm sitting in a bar in the city with my first ex-husband's third ex-wife, watching a guy with stubble twirl his pearls and thinking nothing else could possibly happen that could make the night any more of a twilight zone episode, when the most bizarre event of all took place.
Spotlights hit the stage floor and I heard my daughter's name announced over the booming speakers. The music started to play and I felt my heart in my throat. I was terrified for her. What if her voice cracked? What if the crowd didn't appreciate the soothing sounds of a castrated opera star as much as her mom? I thought I might throw up.
Kitten strode confidently up to the mircrophone, grabbed it like she had been born on stage and opened her mouth to sing. Out of this tiny, little 5' 2" Barbie doll came a voice as big as the world. Although you may think I am partial to her because she's my daughter... and you'd be right... you have to know that never in my entire life have I ever once heard a more beautiful, soulful, powerful voice as I heard come out of my little girl at that moment. I could barely catch my breath. Donna and I sat huddled together as the crowd went wild, tears in our eyes, unable to find the words for what we were hearing.
There she was. This breathtaking woman that used to be our little girl. We had both raised her, both loved her and at this moment, we both understood for the first time that she wasn't our little girl any more. Her destiny had found her.
It was the single best and worst moment of my life and one so monumental, I couldn't have bared to experience it alone. Thankfully, I didn't have to. I had Kitten's other mother at my side to share it with me.
So it was in Bizarro World, where men drop their panty hose to pee and two wives of the same man cry and drink a Bud Light together, that I walked in the mother of a little brown-haired girl and walked out the mother of a woman.
I'm going back next week. You should visit yourself some time. Tell 'em the mayor sent you.
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Copyright © 2004, Sherri Bailey
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