Sunday, April 30, 2006

In This World, The World To Come

I've only attended one baby shower in my entire life. I was twenty years old, and my friend Angela Dawn had her first child, Galena. The shower happened a couple months after the birth. I hadn't intended to stay at the baby shower, of course, having shown up in brown short shorts and a sweater with stripes on it, trying to look like Twiggy or Edie Sedgwick, but instead I looked like an emaciated version of Charlie Brown. My friend Tim was along for the ride, and I had a baby gift (a Snoopy blanket -- the kind of impractical present that women without children give at these events). When we arrived, all the girls were in their summer dresses eating snacks and playing games that involved diaper pins. Angela looked beautiful -- thin and tall with even larger breasts than usual (a benefit to having kids) and insisted we stay. I had nowhere to be (my summer lifeguarding job didn't start for a couple of days) so we did.

Angela let me hold Galena saying, "Here's someone who hates babies even more than Mommy." Then she pulled me aside and said, "Never have one. It's more horrible than anyone tells you." She said many more things, including a detailed description of her episiotomy. I scooted away from her and tried to engage in small talk. But that's not something that happens to me. An old aquaintance of mine named April looked dazed and rightly so -- her brother had held their mother and her third grade class hostage with a shotgun for a few hours the year before (it was one of those "perfect" family deals -- everyone always seemed so together and clean and well-behaved) and she told me about being on Prozac and getting married soon. To a man with the last name of, I kid you not, Loony. "I'm going to be a Loony, Michelle," April said. "Of course, I'll have to get off the Prozac to have a baby. That's going to be hard. I'm totally out of it," she finished. I hadn't asked anything to anybody at the shower save for "How are you today?". It was to be my one baby shower (although I didn't know it then) and for once, I was trying to be normal, the kind of person who enjoys a good finger sandwich, despite my horrible get-up. I guess I'm the kind of person destined never to hear the words fine, I'm doing just fine as an answer to any question.

Michelle's Spell of the Day

"I have lots of ideas -- none of them good." Jack Nicholson in The Shining

Off the Prozac

2 ozs. golden rum
iced Dr. Pepper
1/2 lime

Serve with ice. Put Dr. Pepper into the glass with ice after the rum and lime.

Benedictions and Maledictions

First published in California Quarterly:

In This World, The World To Come

We didn’t notice the reliefs until we
were leaving, each station of the cross
in gold, a gold like love, that fever dream,
or grief, stretched out, fluid, big loss
seeping in slow strokes. If we were
to follow this until the end, Jesus
would be laid in the arms of his mother,
and we could ask for anything we wanted,
the wish at the thirteenth station never
denied. Would we want for anything?
Or would this be enough, that after
a great pain there is rest, consolation
in the arms of someone who, having seen
everything, cannot help but love you.


cindy said...


wiser words were never written!


Paul said...

hey, Q of the C2,

You're my kind of lady, for sure. Just catching up here, Dr. Pepper is a whole lot finer than that messes bummer dog Pepper last time. R2!

John said...

Dear Michelle,

You can't get much more blessed and Catholic than that. Bravo,
for sure.

-- From the land that once outlawed our religion over mere divorce proceedings, cheers.

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday Michelle from the folks in Saxapahaw. Enjoy the day. barb