Chapter Nine: Big P and Ma’am

I stare at Big P in the rear view mirror.  Big P, my down on his luck rapper, a thing of the past.  I smile and say ”Good morning” to my new Big P.   I visualize my new Big P and her triumphant life story.   A young girl working in the rice paddies of a farm community, behind her the Great Wall.   I shiver with excitement at the story Big P must have! I begin to converse with her, hoping she will bare her soul to me.

I ask her how her morning is going.  I wait for Big P’s story.   I get nothing… at a red light I turn and really look at Big P.   I see that underneath her sweater she has on a t-shirt that says “I Do It Anywhere!” beneath this statement , is a naked cartoon man with an erect penis.   I do not know whether to laugh or cry at the ridiculousness of it.  A horn honks behind us and I move through the traffic.   I give it another try. “How are you today Big P?” I wait hoping to hear a sweet voice respond.   Again… Nada.  Instead, I hear a snort and realize Big P is asleep.   I smile as I drive to take Big P to her drop off spot.

I create Big P’s life story in my head.  An orphaned youth forced to work in the rice paddies in the shadow of the Great Wall.   When she turns 16, a local farmer takes her for a bride, but Big P is not destined to be a farmer’s wife.  She runs away to Beijing.  In Beijing she meets Po, a charismatic boy with big dreams!   They fall in love and stow away on a freighter headed to America  .It is filled with fruit, so Big P and Po have plenty of food. They make love amongst the banana crates on the ship.  It is all so romantic until after several weeks on the fruit ship things take a turn for the worse.
Rough seas ruin the refrigeration on the ship.  The fruit begins to spoil.   Rotten fruit brings fruit flies, which swarm up Po’s nose and mouth suffocating him.  He is thrown overboard with the rotten fruit and Big P is now on her own…

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Chapter Eight: Ma’am On The Road!

Within a week I am ready to drive!  My adventure begins!  I carefully choose my first day, first ride attire.  I go with a Mad Menesque ensemble.  I am channeling Betty Draper (minus the cigs and martinis). I log in, click on my not the most flattering picture (tried to have photo shoot using 12 year old son as photographer- this idea was not good. Most of my driver photos looked like I had come down with food poisoning or had just escaped from a cult).  I then have  Confused husband snap my photo in hopes it will be better.  I know this, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.  I look as though I have been photographed for proof of life by my kidnapper.  Blink once for yes and two for no!  I hope my future passengers are not deterred from my photo!  I wait… like a nervous, virtuous bride on her honeymoon.
Finally, I hear a chime like sound someone has picked me!   My heart leaps out of my chest.  I click “Accept” for someone named Big P.   As I drive to pick up Big P, I create Big P’s background in my head. He is a down on his luck rapper, living and hustling on the mean streets of DC.  I am picking him up at his baby momma’s house.  He is headed to the recording studio to give it one last try.   I look at Big P’s dot, I am 430 feet away! My excitement grows. I pop an Altoid in my mouth, spritz the car with Febreeze and hope for the best!
I approach the figure on the side of the road as the GPS tells me this is where I pick up pick up Big P.  I look at the screen and click on arrive for Big P.  Big P gets into my car and turns out to be a tiny 90-year-old Asian grandma…

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Chapter Seven: Don’t burst Ma’am’s bubble!

I glare at Confused husband through the bathroom door. Let him sit there on his mock throne reading his party napkin! I will do this and become a world famous author!   When I am on the Today show and Matt Lauer is interviewing me and asks, “How supportive was your husband during this process?”  I cannot let Matt Lauer know that husband was on toilet reading pirate party napkins!   I will deflect and flirt with Matt Lauer and get him to say how young I look!  Hopefully, then, all of those 20 year olds who dismissed me and made fun of me will realize that they were once in the presence of greatness!

At this thought I do my happy dance!  Twelve year old pre- pubescent son walks in and sees me dancing like there is no one watching and says, “Mom are you having a seizure?”  I stop and glare at this creation of one too many margaritas 13 moons ago.  Do I tell him if he had been a girl his name would have been Margarite?
No, I take the high road! Confused husband and Junior will not rain on my parade! I begin to dance some more and belt out Don’t Rain on My Parade!  I believe to the untrained ear I sound like Barbra Streisand.  No one will burst my bubble!

I head downstairs to the computer to fill out the paperwork to become a driver.  I feel so elated when I finish.  Now I must wait. In the meantime I will Google side effects from using expired napkins for toilet paper…

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Chapter Six : Ma’am what are you drinking?

For the first time in months I wake up happy!  I have a plan and a purpose.  If I could sing I would break out in song!  As I dress, I act out the scenario in my head.  I picture myself behind the wheel of a sleek car.  I have on my Audrey Hepburn pearls.  I pull up in front of my first customer.  Ironically, he looks like George Clooney .  He gets into the car and says ”Why you look even better in person and thinner than your dot!  I throw my head back and laugh and invite him to sit upfront so I don’t strain my neck from turning around as we converse.  He agrees and hops up front, complimenting me on my Hepburnesque ensemble.  I tie a scarf on my head like Audrey in Roman Holiday and put the top down on the car, (did I mention my sleek car was also a convertible?).
We are zooming down the winding roads of Monte Carlo!  It is wonderful!

Confused husband appears behind me in bathroom mirror and asks if we have any more toilet paper.  BYE BYE George…..

I inform Confused husband that I texted him SEVERAL times to bring home toilet paper. I run downstairs to the extra bathroom and see the empty toilet paper cardboard . I search around and find some First Birthday party napkins in the dining room sideboard. I realize they are left overs from our son’s first birthday party who is now twelve. I wonder for a brief moment if napkins, like food, can expire?   The thought is fleeting as I crack open upstairs bathroom door and toss the pile of party napkins at Confused husband who is waiting like a King on his throne.

I close the door and begin to explain my BRILLIANT plan. I realize that Confused husband has not interjected his all important opinion that is looming. Instead, I hear him reading out loud. I know that the book he keeps for toilet reading is not in there because on my way out to hunt for tp I nipped it so he wouldn’t have any distractions as I layed out my plan.

Suddenly I realize that Confused husband is reading the pirate story on the party napkin. I bang on the door loudly and say, “Are you listening to me?”
“What?”rumbles from the other side of the door.
“I said I am going to become a car service driver and interview my customers and write a book about it!  Isn’t that a BRILLIANT idea?!”

Confused husband retorts, “Are you drunk?

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Chapter Five: Will they call me Ma’am in the Big House?

Inside the house, I run upstairs and jump in the shower, hoping all my shame will be washed down the drain with my sweat.  I go over the scenario in the car wondering if perhaps it wasn’t as bad as I thought.  I replay it and realize it was worse!  I am certifiable and even Mohammed dot knows this.
I wrap a towel around my puffy penguin like body and lay on the bed.  I close my eyes and try to forget about this day and Skippy, Giselle and even kind Mohammed dot. My phone beeps and I look at it. Staring at me is a pic of Mohammed dot and a Rate me with the infamous five stars.  I click on all five stars.  Mohammed dot now knows all my secrets and fears. Hopefully, because I gave him five stars, he won’t report me for being a whackadoodle.

Sometime during the night I have an epiphany!  If Mohammed won’t come to the mountain, than the mountain will come to Mohammed. I will become a driver!  I will forge my own destiny!  The car will be my mobile classroom and I will interact with people and hear their stories!  I will be the Ride Whisperer!  I will write a book about the people I meet and all their stories!  I am no longer a LOSER but a writer!  I let out a cheer, and next to me snoring like a platypus is Confused husband.  I stare at him and wonder what he will think of my brilliant plan!

The more I think about this, the more stressed I get.  Confused husband will have an opinion, that is for sure.  I begin to sweat, I turn on the tv.  There is some show about a woman who killed her husband is playing.  I look over at sleeping, snoring Confused husband and wonder.  What if I take a pillow and hold it over his snoring face?  Would I go to the Big House?  Or perhaps I would be celebrated by all menopausal women who unlike me didn’t have the guts to do it.  Would I be popular in the Big House?  Would I have to be a lesbian with Large Marge?   Worst of all, would the prepubescent guard’s call me Ma’am?

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Chapter four: Ma’am and Mohammed

In haste, I open my purse.  I see Mohammed dot coming closer. I reapply my Stay Put 24 hour lipstick that has come off in an hour.  I adjust my headband and pop an Altoid in my mouth.  I look at my phone screen and see my thin dot and Mohammed dot almost touching.  I look up and see a blue car coming towards me.  I silently pray not to disappoint Mohammed dot and get in the car.
I am greeted by a smiling friendly Mohammed.  He is wearing sunglasses so I cannot see  what I assume is the disappointment in his eyes.  We drive in silence for a moment. Finally I speak, “So Mohammed dot, do I look like my dot?”
Mohammed dot chez sunglasses looks at me through the rear view mirror.  I can hear my heavy breathing.  I hope he says”oh thinner than your dot!”
Finally he speaks,”I don’t understand your question.”  AWKWARD! I clear my throat, ” So how do you like driving?”
We converse and he tells me about his family, his homeland, his political opinion. Then he says ”What do you do?” The question hits me like a ton of bricks.I gulp and attempt to breathe. Does what you do define who you are? Are what do you do and who you are intertwined to be the sum of you?

I purge like I am in confession and Mohammed is Father O’Neal.  I tell him how rejected I feel, how I have no idea how to find myself.  I cannot even tell the difference between an elevator and a broom closet.  I am so unsure of the next chapter of my life.  I explain to Mohammed dot that I am overwhelmed, confused, unsure and  menopausal. I laugh, I cry.
I believe I had a breakdown in Mohammed’s car.  Poor Mohammed!  He listened, made  the appropriate sympathetic noises.  I waited for the great words of wisdom that I knew Mohammed would bestow upon me. I wait holding my breath. Finally Mohammed speaks,”I gave you 5 stars.”  I let these words echo in my head. I wonder to myself is this an ancient blessing from his homeland? A verse from a famous poem?  I rack my brain for the meaning of this. Finally I speak ” Mohammed, please explain to me what these incredible words: I gave you five stars means. Then I can go forth and use this knowledge to help myself and others.”
Mohammed dot turns and faces me. He takes his sunglasses off. I look into his eyes they are kind, non judgemental. He speaks, “I gave you five stars means you are a good passenger, nice, well behaved , except when you cried and cried. At first I wanted to give you four stars because you are sweaty. But then you cried and I feel sorry so I gave you five stars.”  He points to  the tablet mounted on his dashboard and I see my name and a Rate this passenger  with five filled in stars.
My mind begins to spin!  I am mortified!  I can’t get out of Mohammed dot’s car fast enough. I swing open the door and almost take out a bike courier in the process. Obscenities are hollered my way from the bike. I stumble out of the car and run into the house.

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Chapter Three: Ma’am the talking head…

I flee towards the elevator, and right on cue, the doors open.  I leap into the elevator and stand there waiting for the doors to close.  I stand there watching Skippy and Giselle pointing at the broom closet and laughing hysterically.  I watch them like a gold fish in a bowl, viewing the world exposed because the damn elevator doors won’t close. Finally, after what seems like hours, they close.  Like a dam breaking I begin to weep.  I am a sweaty, puffy, menopausal , rejected, unemployable LOSER. I am a wife, mother, teacher, event planner and now I am nothing. I am a boat lost at sea, a bruised piece of fruit no one will pick. I exit the non descript building in a cluster of other non descript buildings and walk.  I do not know where I am, nor do I care. I walk, I fantasize that a city garbage truck will plow over me.  I will hopefully be killed instantly and it will be painless.  Confused husband and kids will get compensation from the city. They will live well and have money. But, alas, I have Charlie Brown luck. I will not be killed but terribly maimed.  I will be just a talking head. My Head will be removed from my broken body. I will be attached to tubes like the Great Oz.  I will reside in a nursing home.  My children will argue about whose turn it is to visit The Head as they now refer to me.  They will draw straws, each hoping they won’t be the one to have to visit.  Confused husband will resent me because the city took him to court.  In my attempted suicide, I  ruined one of their trucks. Garbage trucks cost more than some homes.  Confused husband now has to work two jobs in order to pay for the truck.
Suddenly, I realize I am really literally lost.  I look around me and am behind buildings. I think perhaps I will be truly murdered in this isolated area. I call Confused husband and inform him I cannot find the metro, and do not know where I am. He informs me that all I have to do is click that app on my phone which he installed and a car will arrive. For a moment I rename him Clever husband.  I start to tell him this but realize he has hung up. He is demoted back to Confused husband with some expletives.
I look at my phone screen and see an app that all along I thought was just a pretty design. I click this and like magic directions appear. I follow them and feel powerful!
I find out that Mohammed will be arriving momentarily.  I watch this little dot on my phone screen moving closer and closer to the little dot which I assume is me. I smile at how thin the dot is that  represents me!  I smile to myself and twirl with glee!  I am a thin small dot!  I am not sweaty, puffy and old!  I dance and leap with joy! I look down at Mohammed dot and see that he is getting closer.  I panick!!!  In a moment Mohammed will see me!  Will he be disappointed?  Will he realize the dot on his screen is a lie?  Will he be repulsed when he sees me and not let me in his car?  Will he call me a dot fraud and drive away leaving me to deal with the looming serial killer that is probably watching me dance at this moment?

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Chapter Two: Ma’am Do you need a Depends?

I leave Skippy’s office and my puddle behind. I dart to the elevator and wish the doors would open and swallow me up. I can feel Giselle, Skippy’s secretary’s eyes upon me, like two brown lasers penetrating into my back.  The doors remain closed, and my sweat continues to pour down my legs into my shoes where my toes wiggle creating this squishing sound.  The silence is deafening, except for the squishing sound coming from my shoes. I try to play Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star with my toes, briefly wondering if I could start a band.  The absurdity of this notion causes me to laugh out loud like a crazy person.  All of a sudden, I feel an abrupt tap on my shoulder. I whip around and see Giselle staring at me with the same look Skippy gave me. I stare back at her, realizing she looks like my daughters playing dressup when they were little. . She could pass for a middle schooler without the makeup.  She is speaking to me and pointing.  I try to focus, but my ears are ringing. I shake my head like a dog and watch the beads of sweat go flying.  I then hear Giselle say,” You are standing in front of the broom closet, the elevators are over there.”

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Chapter One: Don’t call me Ma’am…

Why doesn’t anyone tell you about the dark, evil monster named  ”Menopause”? It lurks in each of us ladies. Silent, like a hunter stalking its prey. Striking when you least expect it. Leaving you battered, bruised, fat, and sweaty.Yes, you have been bitched slapped and all that remains is this alien form that barely resembles you. You are expected to continue with your life, as though nothing has happened. Ignoring the saturated penguin like figure, looking back at you in the mirror.

Chapter two of your life has begun, and let me tell you it’s a cluster page turner. You are a hot mess and there is no turning back. It is presumed that you must forge ahead, ignoring the elephant in the room, which is now you. Spouses and children walk on eggshells, uncertain if your exorcist like behavior will return. Let’s be honest, there is no field of wild flowers with middle aged women skipping through them, while happy music plays in the background. Ladies smiling in their yoga outfits, giving testimonials of how marvelous menopause is. Whilst Oprah narrates how to ”embrace” your menopause. Sorry O but I am not going to fall for that! I hopped on that train you drove where less is more and find happiness in simple things that money can’t buy. You preached this from your fifty million dollar compound in California and I drank the kool-aid on that one, as Confused husband and One too many fought in the background over the one working toilet in our match box of a house.

I speak the truth! You will be: hot, bloated, fat, forgetful, and irate. You will resemble the Michelin man, and this is on a good day! All you will search for, is some place cool. You will exhibit behavior like an animal on some National Geographic episode searching for your comfort spot. You want a cool place where you can strip off your clothes, and be in your granny underwear, the kind you swore and vowed to yourself that you would never be caught dead in when you came across that horrid vision of your mom in them, which scarred you for life! Here is my story. Like it or not, it is your story too.

I am a fifty year old woman.  I am attempting a career change.  Here is the problem, I am no longer in my twenties.  I go on lots of job interviews.  I am interviewed by people who are 12 years old with acne and retainers.  They start off  their sentences with “Like, back in your day!, like did you……. They all call me Ma’am like I am some old feeble spinster. I stare at them blinking back tears mixed with sweat caused by a huge hot flash. I want to lunge over their Ikea desks and choke them. Although I know the desk wouldn’t hold me. It would collapse, I would break a hip, and I don’t have health insurance. Silence…… I hear the drops of sweat dripping off of me, hitting the plastic chair that I am now stuck to, as they roll onto the floor creating a puddle.  I look down, it looks like I have peed on the floor of  Skippy, my potential puberty stricken future boss.
Skippy’s eyes dart to the floor, his eyes widen and then bug out. He sucks his cheeks in and out causing him to resemble a fish.  His phone rings and he answers, after a moment he says “Cool! See you dude in 20! Wait til you hear about the old lady who pissed in my office!”

Apparently I am not only old but deaf as well…..