On Friday, Meelyn, Aisling, Kieren and I drove over to New Castle so that Aisling and Kieren could mow the lawn (Poppy is still in his boot, nursing that broken foot) and so that Meelyn could wash windows. Nanny and Poppy are supporting the Teen Work Ethic Formation program this summer, accompanied by a little folding cash money. This transports me back to the days when Ma and Grandad paid me for pulling weeds and dusting books and cleaning golf balls. Regardless of the cash laid out, it is still important to help family members in need.
We'd had a busy morning, what with the never-ending housework, Kieren at driver's ed class and the girls still finishing up bits and pieces of schoolwork, so by the time lunch rolled around, we were ready to hit the road; I told the kids we could stop by a fast food drive-thru on the way to New Castle, if they wouldn't mind eating in the car. They didn't, and I told them they could each have four dollars to buy what they wanted.
The three of them made their choices as we sat by the menu sign, and I placed the order in the outside speaker. The young man who took my order repeated it back to me (he was correct) and gave me my total, then told me to pull forward, which I did.
Upon arriving at the window, the order-taker looked out at me and said, "Let me just repeat this back to you one more time, sir, to make sure we have it right."
My spine immediately stiffened. Sir?! I know the Bible says quite clearly that it shows a person's good sense when he is slow to anger and it is his glory to overlook an offense and I cite Proverbs 19:11, NAB as a reference. But the Bible doesn't have much to say about PMS and I sat there for that split second between being called "sir" and the kid's realization that I am, in fact, a woman, wondering what kind of exoneration my criminal defense attorney could muster if I briefly and fiercely assaulted the drive-thru guy, and moreover, if I could convince Jesus that my ill-tempered lack of respect for the scripture was motivated by biology and not my fault at all.
"I mean, ma'am," the young guy amended, somewhat abashed. But it was. Too. Late.
See, the bad thing about PMS is that there are times when you realize you're overreacting, right? There's this place in the back of your mind where reason and good sense reside, tied up in a closet, and you can hear them squeaking, "Let it go! Just chill out! Eat some chocolate! Laugh it off!" but the front of your mind is positively shouting things like, "Oh. My. HELP. Do I look like a man? A poorly turned out transvestite? A mannish lesbian? I knew this outfit was wrong! And I am sooo beyond overdue for coloring my hair! And the darned air-conditioning doesn't work in the van and my hair is frizzy like a dandelion clock! Do I sound like a man? Do I need hormone replacement therapy? Jesus, I know you're not going to like this, but I'm going to have to KILLLLLL HIMMMMMMM!!!"
The drive-thru kid correctly repeated the order again, so I said in retort, with a wry little smile that showed what a good sport I am when someone is confused by my gender, "You've got it, ma'am!"
Drive-thru guy whipped his head around to look at me, startled. "I couldn't resist," I said, and gave him a real smile to show that we were just friends joking with each other.
He gave a hollow kind of chuckle -- See? It isn't fun when people call you what you're not, is it? -- and said, "Right....Would you mind pulling forward? We'll have your order ready in just a minute."
As we waited, Kieren opined that the drive-thru guy probably had the teenagers working the grill spit on the cheeseburgers, which was all well and good for me, since I just got a Diet Coke, but somewhat harsh for him and the girls, since they were the ones eating.
"Sorry," I said grumpily.
"I guess they could have spit in your Diet Coke too, though," he said reflectively.
I chose to ignore him. "Listen, do I look like a man?" I looked at Kieren, then entreated the girls by peering imploringly at them in the rear-view mirror. "Sound like a man? I hate this outfit. I knew I shouldn't have worn it -- these are just work-around-the-house clothes. And my hair. My roots are SO BAD."
"I think you hurt that guy's feelings," said Aisling reprovingly.
"He hurt MY FEELINGS," I said in a high-pitched voice.
"Silly Mommy, you don't look like a man," said Meelyn consolingly.
"Or sound like a man," affirmed Kieren.
I flipped down the vanity mirror on the sun visor. "Are you suuuuuuuure?" I asked nervously, cringing at the sight of my mad hair. "Where's my lip gloss?"
I caught the three of them sharing a raised-eyebrow look at one another, but couldn't interpret if it meant I was being a crazy middle-aged trout with the PMS blues, or if I really do look like a man and they were just trying to spare me the truth. I got out my cell phone and called my husband at work for a fourth opinion.
"You do not look like a man. OR SOUND LIKE ONE," he added hastily, correctly anticipating my next question. "Let it go! Just chill out! Eat some chocolate! Laugh it off!" He paused for just a moment to rally all the forces of diplomacy he possesses and cleared his throat. "You, uh....do realize what time of the month it is, right?"
It's funny, after eighteen years of marriage, that my husband is sounding more and more like the voices of reason in the back of my mind. Or maybe the voices are sounding like my husband? Should I be worried about that? Is this indicative of some kind of mental issue, or is that just the way things are after many years of marriage? Maybe I need to find a therapist?.....
Oh, help. Here I go again.
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