Saturday, November 9, 2013

Mud Running and Other Fashion Disasters

"Time is the longest distance
between two places."
~~Tennessee Williams, The Glass Menagerie

My phone vibrates, skittering around on my bedside table, playing the opening riff to Ain't Goin' Down 'Til The Sun Comes Up, thus giving me my first opportunity of the day to choose. I dismiss the alarm, roll over and go back to sleep.

An hour later, I awake and realize I'm about to miss my dental cleaning. (Now wouldn't that be a tragedy?) But I am too parsimonious to pay for an appointment I do not keep, besides, it could be six months before I can get scheduled again, so I leap out of bed, stub my toe on one of Simon Winchester's fabulous books, race into the bathroom without my glasses where I step on something that obviously should have stayed in the litterbox in the corner, but did not.

With a sudden and probably terminal case of the Shivering Disgusteds, I jump into the shower and wash my foot, inadvertently wetting my hair in the process, so I shampoo it, too. The blow dryer is for sure going to cut into the window of minutes I have to get to Dr. Allegretti's office on time.

I am out of the shower. I yell to Bill that we're going to need a clean rug in the bathroom, because even without my glasses I can now see the very large smear my misstep created. The cat sits in the window, grinning in the sunshine. I am compelled to poke him, but I don't.

I rush back into the bedroom and pull a clean bra out of the basket of clothes Bill brought up from the laundry room the night before. Grabbing a single beige strap, I come up with a gigantic, mutant wad of brassieres. "Looks like these got pretty tangled," I remember him saying. "You'll have to figure them out." I drop the wad to wrench open my lingerie drawer, latching onto the only thing that pops out: a sheer red number that has the support attributes of overcooked pasta—which would be why it's still lurking in my drawer instead of tangled in the wad in the basket. At my age and vastness, I need a hoist, not a hanky. I struggle into it. It's going in the rag bag as soon as I get home, I tell myself, trying to ignore the generous amount of 'me' jiggling in the dresser mirror.

I rummage through the closet and pick a blouse and slacks. Black, of course. I could wear one of my other colors: gray or navy blue, but it's turning into a black kind of day, so black.

Back in the bathroom, I brush and floss, doing my best to erase three months of slothful neglect. I toss on an assortment of skin products, all guaranteed to make me look younger, brighter, less mottled. Wrinkle free. In the unforgiving glare from the professional makeup lights I had installed years before (now that was brilliant, wasn't it), I just look greasy. I dust on some mineral face powder which immediately settles into the hills and valleys of my face. No blush, no eyes. Anyway, I figure, by the time the dentist and his henchmen finish with me, even the powder will be gone, so why bother?

I dry my hair, applying the goop my hairdresser entices me to buy every four weeks when she cuts it. Once it's dry, I mush it around into a spiky, swirly arrangement. I call it Wyoming Hair  because whichever way the wind blows it, it's fixed.

I am out the door, on the phone. "Tell Dr. A I'm on my way," I beg his receptionist, knowing I have a twenty-minute drive and ten minutes to get there. I glance down at myself only to see a long, foamy glob of toothpaste gracing the right front of my black moleskin tunic. In the truck, I grab a tissue and wipe it up. Barreling down our dirt drive, one-handed, with the front of my shirt in my mouth, I try to wet it enough to get the spot completely off. (Oh, c'mon - you've done it, too!)

I pull out onto the unpaved and pothole infested road to the highway, only then recalling that the county maintenance crew turned and plowed the roadbed two days before, and it's been raining off and on ever since. I put the truck in four-wheel drive, gear down, and work on my shirt, which now has a huge, wrinkled wet patch on it—as though I've been assaulted by a moose—but the toothpaste is gone. I turn the heater up to high and twist the vent toward my chest.

There are two sets of foot-deep ruts in the roadway—one set going north, the other south. Between them are glistening slicks of mud. The bottomless kind that steals shoes, steals car keys, steals balance. It's two miles to the highway and I see the dollar signs involved in a tow if I...Make...One...False...Move. Besides, if I get stuck, I know I'm going to end up on my face in the road.

By the time I reach asphalt, my blouse is dry, but I've been sweating like a pig in the heater air, wrestling the steering wheel, nervous about the road, and I realize I forgot to put on deodorant. So, for the rest of the trip, I alternately smooth the wrinkles out of my shirt front and sniff myself to see if I stink. Do I smell? Do I not smell? Is my blouse dry? Will Dr. A notice? Oh, God! I stink; I know I stink. I'll just keep my arms down. How are my teeth? Are my teeth OK?

I wheel into the parking lot and leap out of my old truck, failing to take preventative action against the stalactites of mud hanging from the vehicle's undercarriage and rocker panels. Thick, oozing glop plasters the back on my left pant leg. I knock off the biggest lumps and hurry into Dr. A's office.

Sitting in the waiting room, because, as the receptionist said with a sniff, "You're really late. They will have to work you in," I try not to get mud on the chair as I consider how my morning, how my day, might have been better had I not turned off that alarm. "Choices," I sigh.

"What voices?" the old lady across from me asks.

“The ones in my head.”

She moves to another seat.

Finally, my teeth gleaming, my dental hygiene habits firmly chastised, lies about flossing, water-picking, and brushing hopping out of my mouth like wiener dogs at their first race, I have my new toothbrush in hand and drive home, the ruts in our country road not nearly as intimidating. Once arrived, I stand in the pasture and scrape off as much of the dried mud on my trouser-leg as I can before I go inside.

I drop my purse in the living room, and go down the hall to the bedroom where I begin changing my clothes, disgruntled at my harried morning. I am standing there, my tunic hanging open, my slacks in the clothes hamper, when Bill walks in. "Wow," he says. "You haven't worn that in a long time." He smiles that crooked smile of his, gesturing toward my chest and the sheer red nylon and lace, which (still failing to perform its primary function), peeks brazenly out of my shirt. He saunters in, closing the bedroom door and then the distance between us.

I still have that bra.