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The Accidental Cootchie Mama

Okay. So. I think I can safely be called the Accidental Cootchie Mama.

We were invited to go out to dinner with Kristin Walker and her husband Randy. Because Kristin is very involved in the biking community in Charleston, we decided that we would all ride our bicycles for our outing. She and Randy proposed that we meet before dinner at a new place called The Gin Joint, the old Robert’s of Charleston on East Bay Street. Being adventurous, we’re always happy to discover another destination and obliged with a 6:15 meeting time.

MTM selected what I wore, a Patagonia dress that he recently bought for me as a surprise. It is a knee-length halter dress, but I thought it would be okay on the bike. When we started out, it was a little warm, and MTM thoughtfully suggested that if we rode on Concord Street we’d likely catch a breeze off the water that would keep us from arriving drenched with dew.

To digress for a few seconds, Charleston is a rather prudish place. Head on down to Savannah, and people walk around brazenly with open containers. Here, a guy tries to walk a block with his brown paper bag and gets arrested. In the Holy City, it is a weeks-long front page drama when college co-eds want to sun themselves in Marion Square, with numerous folks rising up to call their behavior “indecent” because they’re wearing bathing suits. Revealing oneself to unsuspecting strangers is certainly frowned upon here.

So, we’re riding along Concord Street. Only the slight cooling breeze that MTM hoped for was actually a gale that was blowing off the water and into our faces. I leaned over my handlebars and peddled as hard as I could in my kitten heeled thong sandals. Surely, we would make The Gin Joint on time.

Then it happened. The wind caught my dress and blew it up. I swerved precariously but stayed upright as I yanked my skirt back down with one hand. I wrangled my bike back into a straight path and pressed on. Only, my skirt kept blowing up. I’m weaving all over the road trying to keep my skirt down; MTM is laughing at me; occupants of oncoming vehicles are either howling with laughter, covering their eyes or staring at me reprovingly like I’m some sort of sick, twisted flasher person.

I kept waiting for the Charleston Chief of Police to personally arrest me for indecent exposure, as he would surely be wont to do given his hard line views. Mercifully, we made it to The Gin Joint without my landing in the clink, though I think it is safe to say that my face had not blushed that much in a very, very, very long time. The breeze did have a cooling effect in other places, though.

The Day I Made an Ocean

That's me in the back in hideous circa 1977 clothing.

Everyone has a “most embarrassing moment.” Few people are stupid enough to put them out there in cyberspace for anyone to read.

I guess I’m stupid.

My mother, the good Southern woman that she is, always wanted me to be girly. She dressed me in frilly dresses, bedecked me in loads of bling and ribbon and lace, and diligently wrangled my rat’s nest hair into the requisite girly-girl do’s of the 1970’s.

I compliantly went along with this mistreatment until second grade. I wanted to wear Levi’s, specifically the dumpy corduroy variety. Knee socks were so much cooler to me than itchy lace tights. I started being much more opinionated about my coiffure (which meant I walked around looking like a frightening freak show much of the time, because I was the anti-coiffure girl.)

Well, my mother was having none of it. She took me shopping and refused to buy me anything other than HER version of the perfect seven-year-old outfit – culottes, graphic t-shirt, panty hose in hideous dark, totally-not-matching-my-skin-tone-tan, and blinding white sandals. That she put this vomitous outfit on me and sent me to school in it should be classified as child abuse. I still think so.

My second grade teacher believed that reading out loud to the class effectively taught reading and built poise at the same time. To this day, I don’t disagree with her. That I would be called on to read in front of class on the day that I was dressed in my own split skirt version of Hell became a drama of outstanding proportions in my tiny second grade mind.

Dutifully, I acted out a version of being fine as I went to the front and assumed the reading position. For the life of me, I cannot remember what the book was, because it is all still blotted out by my burning desire to go to the bathroom. I had NEVER felt the compulsion to relieve myself so urgently in my entire brief life.

So, I rocked back and forth as I read. I paced as I read. It became a theatrical, all-characters-acted-out version of the story as I desperately tried to hold my water in. I wiggled. I gesticulated wildly. I strained. I crossed my legs. I did everything my pea brain could conceive to keep from creating my own mini version of Niagara Falls.

Not once did I think asking the teacher to go to the bathroom would be the best course. Oh no. Instead, my private melodrama played out with me deciding to just go. If I went a little in my hideous split skirt, maybe I would ruin it but no one would know the difference.

So, I let myself go – only, it was a flood that can only be akin to the breaking of the world’s biggest dam. I couldn’t stop it once it started. As it ran down my legs, pooled on the floor, soaked my vile split skirt and wretched panty hose, I screamed out, “I have to go to the bathroom!”

Ken Smith, wherever you are, I can still see you and your blue, long sleeved, 1970’s era boy shirt on the front row. Ken stood up in his chair and shouted, “She’s doing it RIGHT THERE!!!!” as he pointed to my self-created ocean with little boy glee. The whole class joined in, and I wanted the floor to open up and flat-out eat me.

On the upside, I never, ever wore the split skirt combo again. I guess the lesson is that even life’s most embarrassing moments can have positives – if we know where to find them.

Drowning in the Architect’s Pens

It is a fundamental fact of any architect, one that anyone who lives with him or her has to just accept – architects love their pens. There can never be enough pens. And, they usually must be a specific type of pen. Any old pen will not do.

We are now in the mountains. One of the purposes of our trip is to try to finish digging our hole, and MTM is all atwitter, trying to finish the design for our 12 x 12 storage building on our property.

So, MTM brings all of his architectural accoutrements, and they pretty much fill a whole section of one suitcase. When I unpacked, I was astounded to pull out at least dozen Uni-ball Extra Fine pens. (As an aside, when I just asked him for the exact name of the pen he prefers, he whipped one right out of his pocket here at Conrad’s Coffee Shop and looked to make sure it was the Uni-ball. He ALWAYS has at least two pens in each pocket.)

Here are just a few of the odd places I’ve found MTM’s pens: next to the toilet; underneath every car seat; in the clothes hamper I take to the dry cleaner; between the sofa cushions; in the refrigerator; in the washer; and in our bed. Yes, I once rolled over on a pen in the middle of the night and was stabbed by it.

Once I rounded up the gaggle of pens and put them out of the way, unloading the rest felt like I was revisiting geometry class. I try not to look at MTM’s drafting desk or even enter the room where it is. That’s his room, and he can do whatever he likes in there. I don’t want to know about it, but I especially don’t want to SEE it.

I can’t believe architects need all this stuff. For such minimalist people, the sheer volume of straight edges, triangles, pencil sharpeners (why, when you only use pens???), compasses, sticky things, some razor cutter contraption, tracing paper, more rulers and funky shaped objects astounded me. Won’t just one straight edge do? Why are fifteen required?

I mean, I can’t have ONE extraneous photograph or knick-knack perched anywhere in our house, but this stuff is now covering the entire length of the dining table in our cabin. I just hope I don’t get stabbed by a pen in my sleep. Yes, MTM even sleeps with his beloved pens. I’m drowning in the pens of the architect.

*Hung Up* at Work

Yesterday, I got stuck to my desk chair. Literally. Stuck.

What’s worse is that a client had just requested some of my time by e-mail, and I responded by typing the following: “Call me any time tomorrow afternoon. I will be chained to my desk trying to get something done.”

I did not mean for this desk chaining to happen, but alas, I’m me, and therefore, it did.

I was wearing a sundress, standard work attire for me in summer, regardless of its lack of professionalism and age inappropriateness. This white frock has a zip-up back with the standard hook-and-eye closure at the top of the zipper, which hit the upper middle of my back.

Concentrating feverishly on my work, I suddenly craved a glass of water. Only, when I tried to stand up, I couldn’t. My hook had grabbed the back of my mesh chair and was stuck there.

Trying to stand up meant dragging the chair with me in an awkward dance of gawkiness. No matter how I contorted myself, I couldn’t reach the hook. First, I tried one hand and then the other, wrenching my neck in the process. If I moved forward, the mesh came with me, the hook twisting at varied angles such that I could never tell exactly WHICH way it should point to disengage. I tried using both hands at once, and couldn’t grab anything at all.

For almost ten minutes, I reached, stretched, strained, struggled, cursed, swore, screamed, pulled, wiggled, mashed, pretzeled, and pushed the sodding hook. I think my entire life flashed before my eyes during those few minutes of my intense groping clumsiness.

Sweaty and still attached, I had one final dreaded thought – I was going to have to call MTM at work to come and dislodge the stupid thing. And, he was going to laugh at me for days and days and days, justifiably. All because I typed the phrase “chained to my desk.”

When I had totally given up, I had one last idea. Unzipping my dress and taking it off would at least save me from calling MTM and hearing his deep, manly laughter. With shooting pains in my neck, I managed to get the zipper about half-way down. Then, suddenly, with no warning or struggle, the hook popped away from the chair.

I was free.

At least for thirty minutes until I was stuck to my chair. Again.


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