|I so know best. CLICK HERE for video segment.|
I was going for a certain Mad Men meets Leave it to Beaver look. I thought it would be a nice juxtaposition against my somewhat risque piece, entitled The Gift of the Peni (a spin on The Gift of the Maji).
Because the videos will not be available until this Summer, I've decided to post the text of my reading below. Outside of my years in insurance, it is the first thing I've written that was intended to be read solely aloud, so I'm hoping it works as a written essay as well.
I also wrote it at like 3 o'clock in the morning and the under the influence of Rum Chata because I was secretly trying to sabotage myself. What kind of producers would actually select an essay about penises?
Melisa Wells and Tracey Becker apparently share my love for the irreverent.
So without further ado, here is:
The Gift of the Peni
The penis.Penis penis.
I do have a point here.Once upon a time, before I had kids, I went to a psychic. She was one of those coffee grind gypsies who could look into your cup and predict all of life’s great accomplishments and failings. I watched as the other women finished their readings and walked out. They talked about prophecies involving career, love, travel. Me?
I got penises.Madame Musaude was very careful with my cup and stared into it for a good long time. She tipped and turned it. Rattled and tapped it. My prophecy was unshakable.
Finally, after what felt like hours, she offered one, solitary forecast:
(with accent, think Count Chocula): You are going to be su-RRROUNDED by many, many penises.At the time, I thought she was calling me a floozy.
Penises are my life.
With three little boys who can’t hit the broadside of a barn, let alone the inside of a toilet, I know penises. I know how to tuck them facing down while installing a fresh diaper. I can treat a newly circumcised one better than any doctor or rabbi out there.
I am practically a penis whisperer.
Not that I’m complaining, mind you. I was somewhat relieved with the birth of each son. I was that rare 6 foot tall girl who was always directed to the back of the crowd for every class picture and grammar school performance.
I knew my heart would break watching a daughter of mine get ushered behind the smaller kids, the cuter kids, the preferred kids. I worried that I would not know how to instill confidence in a girl as I continued to struggle with confidence myself.
So God, the universe, and my husband saw to it that Team Y Chromosome won every foot race imaginable.I welcomed each son with enthusiasm. I had the clothes. I had the toys. I had this.
And then, something changed.I knew after our last son was born that I should not pursue more children. My uterus was paper thin. It was scarred and stretched. Another pregnancy would undoubtedly just free up my husband to pursue that trophy wife.
Still. I couldn’t help but think about a daughter.
Who would take care of me when I got old? Who would watch Lifetime movies with me or help dye my grey hair? I started lobbying for an infant girl from China immediately.After all, she’d never be 6 feet tall. Or tossed to the back row. Or get asked to carry the heavy box for her 3rd grade teacher.
My husband’s response?
“No. We’re good.”
Joe is a man of few words. I tried desperately to decipher what “we’re good” meant. Should we simply be happy with the three healthy sons we had? Was it greedy to want a little girl? Would we be defying our very destiny by seeking out more children than already allotted to us?I tossed and turned for weeks trying to make sense out of my husband’s nebulous decree on the matter.
Finally, Joe picked up on my angst.“Oh Lord. What now. What What. What.”
“What did you mean when you said ‘we’re good’? Are you truly happy with three? You came from a family of seven. SEVEN. I thought you told me back when we were dating that you wanted at least one of each?”Joe replied:
“Oh cripes, Marianne. I also told you that I loved the theatre back then. I was full of crap. Never believe anything a guy tells you when you’re dating.”“So when you said ‘we were good’?” I questioned one more time for assurance.
“I meant we’re old. We’re done. I want to retire before I’m 80.”For someone like me who has problems with self-image, my husband helped provide an interesting take on our happy house of many penises:
“You need to see the positive in this, Marianne,” he counseled.“What’s that?”
“Have you even looked at the boys’ growth charts from the pediatrician? You’re gonna be like the shortest person in our family.”Whatwasthat? Did Joe just call me ‘dainty?’ I was going to be dainty? Dainty dainty me?
“Hey, you guys know Marianne? Yeah, she’s totally dainty.”I let the implications wash over me like a warm ocean tide.
The front row could finally be mine, but now?I didn’t really want it.
I wanted to be in the back. With my boys. With the kids with the big brown eyes, endless freckles and humongous feet.Motherhood had somehow tilted my world on its axis.
For this time out, the cool kids, the preferred kids, were all standing in the back row.
And they were saving a spot for me.
And they were saving a spot for me.