Wednesday, March 3, 2010


“I think I have kidney stones,” my husband hyperventilated into the phone when I called see if he had any problems picking the kids up from school and chauffeuring them to their various and sundry afternoon activities.
          “Hon, the pain you’re feeling is just the stress I feel every day,” I replied. When I realized I may have hurt his feelings I tried to ease the tension by saying, “Maybe you’re just ovulating.” At that point our phones must have had a bad connection because the line went dead.  
          But it made me think; if one afternoon of getting the kids turns his kidneys into Jiffy-Pop, I must be Wonder Woman. Through the years I’ve witnessed mothers on crutches masterfully maneuver themselves while marshaling their kids to and from school; in fact, one mom with a plaster cast on her foot had two backpacks wrapped around her crutches while her pedicured big toe pushed the behind of her youngest to get him to walk faster. I’ve seen mothers pushing double strollers with one hand while dragging their screaming Kindergartner with the other in the middle of a torrential rain storm, and still get the Kindergartner through the door before the late bell. Clearly, what my husband was experiencing was his body rejecting the interruption to his normally static daily routine; the stress of conforming to the kids’ schedule had barnacled itself to his lower intestines.
          If only he knew that I was planning something spectacular for him, perhaps he would have been more cheerful. For his 30th birthday I took him to Ireland, where we got engaged. For his 40th birthday I took him to Italy, where our plane almost crashed, but we ate the most delicious food. I wanted to keep the tradition going for his next impending milestone birthday, but now we have kids, no money, and expired passports. However, unbeknownst to him I had signed him up for “AARP” and the laminated large-print beauty had just arrived in the mail.
When I initially showed Jim the AARP brochure that came addressed to him, he dismissed it as junk. I, however, salivated at all the hotel discounts. So, I took the application, engraved his pertinent information with a Sharpie pen (social security number, credit card number, chances of survival…) and proudly forged his signature.
          With AARP card in hand, I made reservations for the most exotic place on earth I could afford--the Ramada Inn on Route 46 in Wayne. Hey, at least there isn’t any bullet-proof glass protecting the front desk; at least I hope there isn’t. All that matters is that with the AARP discount I can get a non-smoking King for $29.99. Who wouldn’t want a piece of that?
I’m admittedly nervous because while we’ve never had a problem with long-distance travel, short trips have been a complete disaster. Years ago when we had just gotten married and our apartment had no heat, we spent the weekend at the Glenpointe Hotel in Teaneck until the furnace was replaced. I packed champagne, strawberries, Victoria’s Secret…When we got into our room, Jim jumped into the shower. As I uncorked the champagne I heard him scream like Janet Leigh in the shower scene from “Psycho.” I ran in to find blood trickling from his forehead; I looked around expecting to find Norman Bates, but instead I found the shower head nozzle lying guilty on the floor. Apparently it came flying off mid-shower and cracked Jim in the forehead.
After Jim’s frantic phone call, the front desk cordially re-assigned us to another room. Jim, dazed, confused and dripping wet, holding a hotel towel securely around his middle, and I carrying the luggage and an open bottle of champagne, followed the concierge two floors up to our new room.
As I unpacked, Janet Leigh screamed from the shower again! Can you believe the shower head flew off again and cracked Jim in the exact same spot? And that’s when his kidney stones kicked in.
The rest of the weekend was spent in the Emergency Room, Jim sedated on morphine, me licking the inside of an empty champagne bottle and eating strawberries with fungus beards. (Victoria’s Secret: she never came out of the suitcase all weekend.)  

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