Do you think Jon Hamm would like me in real life: Monologue for a brain

[Curtain rises on a stage pitch black except a dim spotlight on a woman in a rumpled but comfortable-looking bed. She leans over and turns on her sound machine—winter wind—and snaps off the small lamp on the nightstand, cocooning herself in the blankets and preparing for sleep. Just as it appears that she is drifting off, a loud, unsettling voice comes over the loudspeaker.]

Brain: Hey, I see you’re almost through with your relaxation routine? Which is cool and everything, but I just thought I’d remind you that one day your parents are going to die. I don’t know if you want to spend a few minutes going over those scenarios, but I’m going to assume that you do, so please watch these horrifying daydreams capturing what it might be like in your parents’ last moments. Enjoy! [A screen descends from the ceiling, displaying silent, flickering images of the woman in the bed crying dramatically while leaves drift past a window streaked with rain.]

I wonder what it would be like to have just like a really big dog. Like comically big, like a Great Dane or some other kind of dog. I wonder if you could ride it like a horse. Why don’t you get up and go get your phone and see if there are any dogs so big that you can ride them like horses? No? Okay. Maybe in the morning.

This pillow is too hot. But the other side of it is too cold. It might help if you flopped around like an electrified fish for a few minutes to get everything just right.

Do you think Jon Hamm would like me in real life? I feel like he would, but then again, I honestly can’t tell, because it seems like he might also be a little bit of a douchebag. Would you like to spend some time fantasizing about a road trip you and Jon Hamm would take together that would mostly consist of you singing along with the radio and him in awe of how fantastic your singing voice is? Yes? I feel like the answer to this one is always yes. [The images on the screen change to the woman in the bed sitting in a car with Jon Hamm, who is smiling at her raptly as she sings along with “Love Will Keep Us Together” by the Captain and Tennille, too lost in the song to notice his look of obvious adoration.]

You know, I want to be thin, but I also want to eat everything.

Are you sure you don’t want to play a few more games of Best Fiends? Because I feel like you’re so close to solving this level. The magic might be gone if you try it again in the morning.

Oh, your kids are also going to die one day, BTW. Just thought you might want to know.

OMG I JUST THOUGHT OF A COMEBACK TO THE SHITTY THING THAT WOMAN SAID TO YOU AT WORK TODAY. Here are several versions of how it could have played out if you had actually gotten to use this, instead of just blinking back tears until you got into your office and then sobbing like a wussy babyperson. All versions are highly satisfying, but I think you’ll especially enjoy the one where everyone around stands up and slow claps after you deliver your devastating retort and disappear into your office. [The images on the screen transition now to a scene in a maze of cubicles, each with a person’s head visible over the top. First one person, far from the action, claps once, almost sarcastically, but soon enough, everyone has joined in, and the shitty woman, chastened, runs away, crying so hard that tears shoot straight out of her eye sockets with the intensity of a garden hose.]

Wouldn’t it be cool to just, like, walk across the whole United States? I bet you’d be so thin at the end. And have so many wise revelations. You could write a book about it. Never mind that you can only walk for like five miles at a time before your legs turn into rubber bands and then you walk around like someone broke your kneecaps with a hammer for the rest of the day.

How do they make cheese? Isn’t cheese just, like, spoiled milk? I don’t understand cheese, and I don’t like it.

Holy shit, it is 2:00 in the morning. What is your problem? You blew it.


The least threatening person in the room

The girls and I have a play date tonight with a woman I met at the library last weekend. Her kids are the exact same age as mine, and she was wearing leggings as pants, too, so I know there’s major friendship potential here. So of course, this means I will probably definitely do something stupid to ruin it.

Remember when you were in elementary school, and making friends was as easy as walking up to someone and asking them if they wanted to play John F. Kennedy Assassination? (This was a legit game that my friends and I played in the third grade. You can pretend to be freaked out by it, or you can admire our love of American history from such a young age.) Even in graduate school, my approach to making new friends was to stride up to my chosen target and blurt out “You seem like the least threatening person here, would you please be friends with me?” Amazingly, this worked—looking back, this could have really backfired and I could have gone through graduate school as The Girl Who Drastically Misread Someone’s Body Language and Is Now Their Bitch.

Now that I’m out in the real world, though, making friends is much more difficult. Most of my best friends live in other cities or even other states, and I don’t see the ones who live nearby as much as I would like. Sure, I have my work friends—it’s not really difficult to make friends when you spend 40 hours a week together and free coffee is provided—but work friends have their own lives on the weekends, and suddenly someone you’re fairly chummy with at work becomes an embarrassed teenager when you try to wave them down in the razor aisle at Target on a Sunday afternoon.

So that leaves only one option: making new mommy friends.

One would think that this would be fairly easy—“You’ve got kids? I’VE got kids! What a zany coincidence, let’s drink wine while our kids destroy the basement!” But befriending other moms is a minefield that must be navigated carefully. It turns out, for instance, that some moms insist on feeding their children actual food, and not chicken puree molded into the shape of a dinosaur, and they will judge you harshly for your non-organic choices. They will also judge you for breastfeeding too long, or for not long enough, or for breastfeeding with a cover on, because dammit, it is your constitutional right to have your boob just OUT THERE, and you should definitely take advantage, even if having strangers see your boob is at the top of your list of nightmares.

So you must navigate these initial meetings as carefully as Nixon brokering détente with China. You want to appear organic, but not too organic. Your kids eat Stonyfield Farm yogurt, but you don’t feed them muesli, because you’re not an animal. You’re involved, but not too involved, because helicopter parents, amirite? You buy your children’s clothes at Children’s Place, because Walmart is too cheap and Janie and Jack is too excessive. It’s a very complicated dance, until one of you blurts out that you really just buy most of your kids’ clothes off Ebay because they’re just going to destroy them all anyway and they only eat Easy Mac and Gogurt and you have definitely allowed them to be babysat by the TV a few times in the last week and you haven’t shaved your legs in a month because every time you try, the baby waddles in and rips her diaper off and looks you right in the eye and then drops the whole diaper in the toilet and tries to flush it, so you have to get out of the shower naked and dripping and screaming and scrabbling at the septic bomb as it swirls to oblivion.

Then there will be an excruciating silence. The whole friendship is determined in this silence.

Sometimes, the other mom grabs her children against her bosom while backing slowly from the room, maintaining eye contact with you the entire time to make sure that you don’t lunge at them with your substandard parenting. Most often, the date just peters out, and you promise to call each other again, but then never do, and you’re both fine with it. But every once in a while, that silence is broken by two simple words—ME, TOO—and that’s how you know you’ve found the least threatening person in the room.

Everybody’s working on the weekend

Perhaps to punish me for the puppy-induced stupor in which I spent the late afternoon yesterday, I had to go to work this morning, even though it’s Saturday and I’m pretty sure Jesus died so that I wouldn’t have to work on Saturdays (or something like that, I didn’t go to Sunday school because I also assume Jesus would want me to sleep in). In fact, I actually had to be there about an hour earlier than usual, just to make it extra cruel.

I’d like to point out, for the record, that everyone told me that it would become easier to get up in the morning once I had small children. I want to let you all know right now that this is a lie, and people who perpetuate this travesty of the truth should be severely punished. It is never easier to wake up in the morning. Unless your version of “the morning” doesn’t start until 10:00 AM.

But I did manage to drag myself up and out of bed by the appointed time, at least taking solace in the fact that I didn’t also have to get the children ready. In fact, my plan was to sneak out of the house without them even knowing I was gone– everyone would sleep in a little, there would probably be a cute father-daughter montage of snuggles, pillow fights and French-toast preparation, and they’d hardly even notice my absence. Considering the lengths to which I had to go to wake them up on weekdays– I’ve considered getting one of those one-man-band get-ups just to help expedite matters, although it still probably wouldn’t work on Addie– I considered this plan pretty foolproof.

This was immediately ruined the second I opened my eyes after rinsing the conditioner out of my hair to find Rosie plastered against the glass of the shower door like a zombie seeking brains. My shrieking then woke up Addie, so then, for no reason, both children were awake before 7:00. On a Saturday. When I had to leave.

I tried to sneak out, I really did. But as soon as I started putting on my boots, Rosie had to go put on her boots. And Addie was announcing very loudly ever 15 seconds or so that she REALLY NEEDED A RICE KRISPIE TREAT PLEASE, THANK YOU, like some sort of terrible breakfast Amber Alert, and my poor husband had barely woken up, and Rosie wanted to know why I was wearing boots and not Crocs and demanded that I change them and HEY WHERE ARE YOU GOING WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’RE DOING YOU CAN’T LEAVE WITHOUT ME MOMMY THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE I WILL CUT YOU!

Finally, fifteen minutes late and scared for my life, I managed to escape to the garage, Rosie’s manic wailing still ringing in my ears. It apparently continued until she passed out some time later, my husband informed me through a series of increasingly desperate text messages.

I read these texts while eating a chocolate chip muffin, unencumbered by little hands, surrounded by adults who were fully clothed and didn’t want me to play Jungle Baby Animals with them. It occurred to me then that even though I was the one who had had to get up early and physically drive to another location, it was my husband who really had to work on a Saturday.


My Friday with Harry Pawter

I’ve been sitting at my computer for the last half an hour trying to come up with a clever way to introduce this topic, but I can’t, so I’ll just say it– OMG YOU GUYS PUPPIES CAME TO MY WORK TODAY AND IT WAS THE GREATEST EXPERIENCE OF MY ENTIRE WORKING LIFE! It turns out my company never had to promote me, or give me raises or an office– if they had just given me puppies, I would have continued working indefinitely for the starting salary I got straight out of grad school.

This magical encounter happened courtesy of Uber– for $30, they would show up at your office with puppies and let them romp around for 15 minutes. I had heard tell of this magical event before, but as a person over the age of 27, I think I am actually not legally permitted to use Uber, so I had to rely on the Young People to make this happen. And it did– right as I walked into a meeting with HR.

I got the first text just as I was sitting down: THE DOGS ARE ON THEIR WAY YOU HAVE TO COME NOW

I looked around the room, evaluating the situation– the meeting didn’t really pertain to me, per se, but I am not the kind of person who just walks out of meetings, especially not if I am one of only a few people invited. I texted back: I don’t think I can, can you stall them?

It only took a few seconds for the next text to come in: THE ONE DOG’S NAME IS HARRY PAWTER.

There is really only one response to that. I’ll be right down, I said.

And then I got up and, without ceremony, left the meeting, making hasty apologies and hinting at a vague disaster on my floor, which there was, because THE FLOOR WAS EMPTY BECAUSE EVERYONE ON IT WAS DOWN IN THE LOBBY PLAYING WITH THE PUPPIES EXCEPT ME.

And when I got down to the lobby there were two hound puppies there and everyone was acting like they were five years old and people were physically rolling around on the ground with the puppies and squealing and taking selfies with the puppies and IT WAS EVEN BETTER THAN THE TIME THAT A SINGING TELEGRAM DRESSED AS A GORILLA SHOWED UP FOR GINA’S 30TH BIRTHDAY, which is saying a lot, because singing primates are generally considered pretty rare.

And I’m fairly positive that no more work was done for the rest of the day, but how could you really expect anyone to be productive after puppies?