Sunday, February 15, 2009

STAWTTN: Rewind

Sprite's Keeper's spin this week is laughter. I'm not a funny on demand kind of gal. My writer's voice wanders at will and if I forced it into comedy when I tend to wax poignant who knows how bad the post might turn out. Sometimes I'm funny, or at least I'd like to think so. But I'm not sure if I have a funny story for this week.

I have a house guest staying with us for the week. She is a friend and a colleague and she moved in a bit of a rush at the end of last school year. She is here for a court date for a divorce from hell. 'Nuf said. Except I'm giving Mr. Pseudo bonus points for sharing Valentine's weekend with the kind of commiserating going on around here.

Last night the conversation drifted to the changes that occur during difficult times. The old "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger" adage. My dear friend is a different person than the woman I met eight years ago. She is still in the middle of a lot of crapola, but already a much happier person. We were only imagining how much better it will be when the divorce is final and she can move on.

She then asked me how I thought going through cancer had changed me in ways for the better. I said the biggest bonus was that it gave me the ability to let the little things go and not let myself get caught up in stressful crap that does not really matter (at least more of the time). And that I thought it gave me a better sense of humor about myself - not to take myself too seriously.

She mentioned a post I wrote when I was first blogging that she thought captured this. So, I am cheating a bit and for the first time since I began this blog am rerunning a post. If you have been around since last summer you might have read it already.



SOMETIMES THERE ARE WORSE THINGS THAN NIPPLAGE

I’ve got some battle scars. My right breast has a one inch mark from a lumpectomy that was benign. There’s a leftover trench, a hidden valley of sorts from that surgery. My left breast has a larger disfigurement from the removal of a malignant lump; the lymph nodes were taken as well – sacrificial innocents. There’s a thickening of tissue between my left breast and my underarm. Thirty-seven radiation treatments have made a rough-hewn road between these two camps. And above my right breast, there’s a pot-holed scar. Where the chemotherapy port resided. I had to go in for surgery when this soldier was inserted; but when it was taken out, the surgeon ripped it from its combat zone with just a local in an office exam room, an intern looking on.

So I’m not supposed to wear underwire bras anymore. And I mostly don’t want to because with three scars and road track, they’re uncomfortable. I like to wear sports bras now, or those camisole tank tops with the support bra built in. OK. Not exactly a bra, but a stretchy hammock slung inside for the gals to relax in.

I’m not big breasted, and I’d say with as much humility as possible, that for 50, my boobs are not bad. Plus I have never been super modest in the upstairs arena. Back in the 70’s, my friends and I used to drive up to “Oil Piers” beach (north of Ventura on one’s way to Santa Barbara), the north end of it, and lay out topless. Not because we were showing off our stuff. On the contrary, this beach was deserted. We just didn’t want strap marks. One time, we noticed a guy had worked his way along the boulders shouldering the beach and was checking us out, half hidden. Which we ignored, until we realized that the half of him that was hidden was doing something disgusting while he starred down our way. I really think he thought we’d be so freaked out we’d scream, cover up maybe. Give him some more thrills. But we started laughing, and then the feistiest of us, a 5’2” petite little thing, got up and started calling him out for being such a disgusting loser. Walking toward him with her finger wagging accusingly. He ended up being the one who looked freaked out. I’m pretty sure he never finished what he started as he ambled back down the beach trying to act like he’d been looking for something lost in the rocks. Perhaps he thought he’d find his pride ground up and spread across the sand and if he stepped in it he could carry it back along the bottoms of his feet.

Anywhos, awhile ago my daughter’s performing arts group was having a dinner show to fundraise. My husband and I decided to make it a date night, since we hadn’t been out for months while we paid off my medical bills. Our first date since my hair had grown back enough to not look like a recovering chemo patient. On the night of the event, I was in my bathroom, almost ready. I had on a camisole tank for a bra, a long ribbed tank layered over the cami, a decent pair of jeans and low-slung heels. My short, spiky hair was gelled back and had come out really Euro-chic. I’d just finished my make-up (thrilled that I once again had eyebrows) and was adding the finishing touch – a pair of silver earrings, when my daughter walked in, took one look at me, and said, “Mom. I can see your nipples.”

“There are three layers of material over my nipples. The tank, the camisole tank, and the built in bra.”

“That’s NOT a bra. No one wears a spaghetti-strap tank without a bra unless they’re an A-cup and twelve years old. Can you PLEASE put on a bra and not show up at the fundraiser with your nipples showing.”

Well, I did not have a strapless bra as it had been an underwire bra and I had gotten rid of all of those. But… I did have a pair of silicon enhancers I had bought recently to wear to a wedding. When I went to the wedding I was in the middle of chemo and wanted desperately to not look too forlorn. I had worn a beautiful scarf around my head, topped with a summer straw hat, and a summer dress that was deep pink with wide straps. I had needed something to smooth out the uneven terrain of the battle scars and a friend who is a wedding planner had suggested the free floating implants to fill out the bottom of my bra. I had to go to Neman Marcus to get them and at $50 they were quite the investment. But they were so worth it. Instead of rough seas, there were smooth swells.

Remembering how pretty I had felt that day, I slipped the jelly pads into the camisole’s hammock. I figured that after all those months of doctors, nurses, radiation techs, not to mention their interns, best friends, and publicity agents feeling up my boobs and then leaving me topless while they discussed my boobs in front of me I had become a little too cavalier and perhaps my daughter was right. So, for my daughter’s piece of mind, I smoothed out the nipplage with silicone pads.

The dinner before the show was a buffet and after claiming our seats my husband and I made our way over to get our dinner. As I leaned over to ladle something onto my plate, there was a slight feeling of slippage in the old hammock area. One of the gals was separating from her false friend. I eyed out the “waiters” (theater teens) on the other side of the buffet to see where they were looking. I was hoping I could just stick my hand down my top, grab hold of the jelly half-boob, and slap it back into place. No such luck. The kid was standing there with a pair of tongs and waiting to see if he could offer me some chicken. Hmm. As I moved down the line, I held my plate with both hands and lined up the inside of my right bicep with the renegade and gave a squeeze and a push. Nope. I tried to use non-obvious muscle movements to force the errant falsie back into place all the way down the buffet line. My right boob must have looked something like a confused and insane puffer fish.

I gave up hope of straightening incognito and took my plate back to my table, resigned to having to excuse myself to the restroom. Besides, it probably felt worse than it looked. I smiled over to my daughter who was working the soda bar across the room.

After I put my plate down and before I cut loose to the facilities, my daughter magically appeared in front of me. She hissed at me under her breath. “MOM! You need to go fix yourself. NOW. You look like you have two boobs on one side.”

Meanwhile my husband, who has been at my side the whole time and never noticed a thing, is already eating. I glare down at him and he looks up at me and asks me if I got some of the orange chicken because I really should have gotten some of the orange chicken, and by the way daughter, do you know where you guys ordered the orange chicken from, because THE ORANGE CHICKEN IS REALLY GOOD. He has NO IDEA how close he came to wearing his orange chicken.

So now I have to walk clear across the room to the exit by the bathroom and suddenly it feels like I AM THE ONE ONSTAGE.

“Daughter,” I whisper, “why don’t I wait until the show starts and the lights go down?”

“No mom. That’s rude and unacceptable in theater. You need to fix it now.”

So I walk across the room, the whole way pretending to scratch my chin so my arm can crook over my right side, which apparently is in possession of two boobs.

In the restroom I square myself off and look in the mirror.

OK. Not pretty. But not exactly TWO boobs on the right side. More like a double-up. You know, like those waves that have a wave on their backside.

Ah. Well.

Apparently I missed a flush. Or been too self-occupied to realize someone was using the facilities. But as I started to pry open my cami, the jelly boob free fell out and plopped onto the floor as a young woman of about 17 simultaneously walked out of the stall. For a second that stretched into eternity, we both stood there, the quivering mass of flesh-colored jello on the floor between us. Then the girl politely stepped over it, washed her hands, dried them, stepped over it again and exited. She was way cool.

My inner monologue was not so cool. It was SO HARD to just stand there. And though I lacked the fortitude to JUST PICK UP THE FUCKING THING AND STICK IT BACK IN, at least I did not blurt out the train wreck going on in my head. No. I am NOT some wanna be MILF. REALLY REALLY REALLY. I’m just a battle scared survivor who can’t wear most bras. TRYING TO NOT SHOW MY NIPPLES.

40 comments:

Twenty Four At Heart said...

That's a great story. I got caught with my hand down my own shirt in public just last week .... maybe I'll write about it eventually. When the embarrassment wears off a little!

mo.stoneskin said...

Good story, and crumbs it sounds like you've been through a lot.

It could have ended worse though, the jelly boob could have quietly dropped into a bowl of soup and not noticed by the waiter...

Rikki said...

I feel a little ashamed to laughing out loud at someone who had CANCER - but I am laughing, all by myself on the living room floor (blushing a little in my shame). I am so happy for you, that you have these funny stories to tell, that you survived.

You have been on my mind (sorry if I sound creepy) because a friend of mine is taking what seems to be a turn for the worse. They are performing emergency surgery on Monday - double mastectomy and lymph node removal. The chemo simply did not shrink her lymph node tumors, in fact they are growing 'at an alarming rate.' I have taken comfort in knowing that people do survive this (you). Thank you for writing about your life - it's been awfully nice to have that touchstone.

Coachdad said...

I, too, am a cancer survivor. People like you were my inspiration. Thank u for your honesty.

Michele said...

Wardrobe malfunctions suck. Sometimes our only choice is to laugh. Hang it there.

only a movie said...

I remember this post. It's excellent perspective... :-)

The way my marriage ended and going through that very rough year definitely made me a better and stronger person. I'm so grateful for the experience - I hope your friend will see that soon. And you and hubby are so good to be there for her.

Beth said...

What an amazing story! It is funny and touching - not an easy combo.

While you may not be an on demand funny kind of gal, you have a GREAT sense of humor. Thanks for the reminder to laugh about the lemons life hands out.

starrlife said...

Thanks for repeating that story! I think it was the first one of yours I read and it was just as funny and true the second time! You've got guts Psuedo!

smiles4u said...

I do remember the story you shared and still laughed all over again today. I think it's amazing that you have learned so many things on this journey of yours and share them so honestly and openly with all of us. You touch lives with your story.

I think it is wonderful that you and your husband are there to support this woman. I am happy for her to be getting out of something so bad. Her life will continue to get better and better and she will be thankful that she did what she needed to do to be free. Every day, I am thankful for my trip out of hell.

Bless you my friend and hope the rest of your sunday is great.

Vic said...

I, for one, was not around last summer, so I'm REALLY glad you re-ran this post. You write with such grace and humor about such a hugely difficult experience (not the jelly boob, the cancer, although the slippage was pretty funny)
I'm glad I came by today.

Smart Mouth Broad said...

I missed this story the first time so thanks for sharing it again. I think reruns are a great idea. I sat here holding my breath as I was reading about the bathroom. OMG! You handled that so much better than I would have.

It's great that you're friend has someone like you and Mr. Pseudo there for her.

Sprite's Keeper said...

Now, that was a great laugh to end my Sunday! (As they said on NBC, it may be a re-run to you, but it's new to me!) You're linked!

Casey said...

Great story! I have err.. large boobs and they always have their high beams on at the most inopportune times. It's rather embarrassing. And sports bras give me uniboob, they turn them into one big boob in the middle of my chest.

Thanks for the chuckle! I'm glad the girl in the bathroom was cool...

bernthis said...

You are my hero. My hero. What a story.

The Rambler said...

I was pretty sure you were gonna slap the jelly boob in husbands orange chicken. :)

"How's your orange chicken now?"

That was a great story, thanks so much for sharing.

Chris said...

That was a great spin. I'm glad you shared your story a 2nd time. I've stood in aisles at stores with "itchy chin" for 5 minutes at a time before. "Hmmmm Which type of spaghetti should I choose?" LOL Mine was always brought on by a baby in the store crying and my body deciding it was time to nurse.

Again, thanks for sharing!!

Sunny said...

Love your post and glad to know that you're so much better now

hillgrandmom said...

That post really was funny!

Kristan said...

This post was one of the first I read on your blog and one of the reasons I decided to keep reading. :) Nice to see it back on top.

thistle said...

This was the first post of your that i read! i think i found it on Blogher...or one of the 'collected post' sites...i don't think i commented tho (believe the first for that was the one about your sister).

This was a great post...both times LOL. Having a sense of humour about the difficult times is important, thanks for reminding me about that...i'm needing it today.

Just B said...

Now that was very funny--intended or not:) I have so much appreciation for you and what you have survived with humor, grace and poignant insight.

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

I find it amazing how much this blog has brought me close to people in less than a year. Thank-you to all who have stuck around since those beginning days (which I consider last summer - although I started earlier, that was when I consistantly started blogging as well as started commenting on others' blogs). To bloggers I more recently connected with, I look forward to the next 8 months.

And Casey....UNIBOOB! My new fav word. I laughed so hard at your comment. Now I have to figure a way to work "uniboob" into a conversation.

Kathy said...

You're a good friend. Where were you when my ex and I broke up a year and 1/2 ago - I could have used a trip then. But Movie's right - it makes you a better person in the long run, it's just getting there that is tough. and OH. MY. GOD. That girl must have shit a brick when she saw that - but kudos to her for ignoring it, and I will have to admit, I might have laughed and picked it up and handed it to you. Great story. :)

Mama Dawg said...

That was funny! I can only imagine the look on your daughter's face when she realized you now had two boobs in one place!

That truly is a great story.

Alexis AKA MOM said...

First off you are amazing and a brave woman that has come out a true winner, so heck if a little cutlet has to make an apperance everyonce in awhile then heck bring it on. I was laughing so hard out load my son ran over and said what is wrong with mom. Thankfully I didn't pee my pants ... LOL. Thanks for the laugh, got to love those lovely moments!

goodfather said...

'My right boob must have looked something like a confused and insane puffer fish.' LOL! I loved that line, and your story is truly funny. Not that surviving cancer is funny, but huge kudos to you for seeing humor anyway, and sharing it with us. Great spin!

Debbie said...

I am so glad you reran this because I had not had the opportunity to read it. What a great story. It really shows your spirit (and other things!).

J'Ollie Primitives said...

I hate when that happens. :)

Excellent post.

flurrious said...

I love this post. It's funny and sad and brave all at the same time. I was also trying to decide what I would say if I saw someone's jelly boob fall out of her blouse, and finally settled on something about being glad the real one didn't fall out too. Because that would be trouble.

Ginny Marie said...

That is a great story! I wear a breast form since my mastectomy, but the only time it has fallen out of my bra is when I'm gardening. A little dirt never hurt a jelly boob!

Thanks for rerunning that post!

Cairo Typ0 said...

This is a fantastic post. Thank you for sharing this story. :) I look forward to following your blog and reading more great posts like this one. :)

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

I saw my friend off at the airport yesterday. Always a bit sad when a guest leaves and I have to go back to the routines. But it was a fun week.

Jack said...

First off, "let the little things go and not let myself get caught up in stressful crap" - Amen to that Sista!

Oh my this made me laugh!!!
I had a similar experience at a black tie event wearing a spaghetti strap back dress. I used those little pasties - the adhesive cup things (don't know the actual name), to hold my girls in place. Sometime through the night I lost one and didn't notice 'till hubby took me aside and suggested I take a trip to the ladies room. hahaha! Talk about lop-sided... One girl was all perky and happy and the other looked so sad and deflated. lol

So I'm not really laughing at you -- I'm laughing with you ;)
Thanks!

Melissa B. said...

I'm so glad I read this after school...I just laughed so hard I think the room quaked! Bravo, for an outstanding performance!!

CDB said...

Nice Spin! I have to admit, I'm ashamed to, but I laughed out loud too. Not trying to be a MILF internal dialogue got me.

sherri said...

great post, so glad you reposted, I wasn't there the first time around, but so glad to be here now.

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

Is it bad that I enjoyed Jack's similar experience??

AndreaLeigh said...

great post. i have large breasts and often suffer from a third boob situation when one of the girls wonders out of her cups. I;ve got good at sneakily slipping my hand in there and adjusting the situation.

Joanie said...

I have something for you on my blog!

Janie at Sounding Forth said...

I'm with AndreaLeigh. Big boobs. Big problems.