“Honey, you can’t hide your lyin’ eyes”
Monday, May 30, 2016 5:20 am
Thousand Oaks, California
There was a time in the not too distant past when simple questions asked were very hard to answer.
Where just the anticipation of being posed questions about my kids kept me here, at home, preferably on the terrace, where it was safe, predictable and the population was limited to me, The Dude, Schwink and familiar inanimate objects.
It was purely my choice not to go into a world, as I began recovering from The Empty Nest Syndrome, and dealing with the fallout of the resulting eight years that followed,to face questions I didn’t have answers for yet. I trusted that time, the process of recovery and God would fill in those blanks. And that the best thing I could do was wait and say nothing at all.
One of my favorite notes from the emptied nest files is a little story called “Truth or Consequences at The Nail Salon” and it goes something like this.
As a Graceful Recluse, few things could lure me further than my mailbox or the trash bins, a rocket run to the library with The Dude not withstanding, than an occasional manicure and a pedicure with Schwink. And so, once upon a Saturday, early on in my recovery, there we were; Schwink and I, at the nail salon, side by side in vibrating, massaging chairs, having our hands and feet expertly stroked, rubbed, aromatherapied and hot rock massaged. We were practically catatonic when reality murmured its way in via the soft voice of Katrina The Nail Tech.
“So”, she asked, as she kneaded a warm, oil-covered stone along the bottom of my foot (who knew I needed a hot slippery rock to be pressed into the bottom of my foot so badly?), “How many children do you have?”
Instantly, I snapped to attention. My eyes, formerly slits of pleasure, assumed The Deer-In-The-Headlights Formation. My hands gripped the vibrating, massaging chair. My mind, which had been emptied, flooded with warning bells and flashing lights and all kinds of furious sounds.
I do believe I heard a trumpet playing reveille.
“How many children do you have?”
Such a simple question. With such an obvious answer.
But not really. Not anymore.
Over the preceding eight years, there were times when months had passed without any communication from the kids at all. Their choice. And mine, following wise professional advice, was to stand down, to “let them do their work”.
They needed space and time.
Making that space and waiting were two of the toughest, and best, mom things I’ve ever done.
In the meantime, the question was a land mine. The answer required careful vigilance. To respond was to step onto one of those mines, which would then explode into a million more questions about my children-none of which I wanted to answer.
The strategy was obvious: don’t step onto the mine field.
Or lie. Which I really don’t do. Primarily because it’s wrong and goes against every standard, value, moral and principle I esteem, both in myself and others. And also because I’m pretty much constitutionally incapable. Born that way. Not only can I not hide my lyin’ eyes, I also cannot hide my lyin’ entire body.
Katrina, Katrina, Katrina.
Karina The Nail Tech and her hot-oiled rocks.
Katrina The Nail Tech and her hot-oiled rocks and her questions.
I glanced at Schwink, in her vibrating massaging chair next to mine. She was in a vegetative state and clearly useless, being kneaded and massaged with hot-oiled stones by her own Nail Tech. Who was humming quietly to herself and not asking questions.
Suddenly, I became inspired, remembering how Schwink, a Four Star General on the Socializing Battlefield if ever there was one, deftly maneuvers her way in one-on-one conversational combat. Using her strategy of answering a question with a question, I turned back to Katrina.
“How about you,” I asked smoothly, dodging her query about my kids with a query about hers,”Do you have children?”
“One”, she smiled proudly “A son. What about you? How many children do you have?”
Katrina, you bitch.
I looked over at Schwink again and this time, Schwink was looking at me. I knew she knew what was going on. That she’d registered my Deer-In-The-Headlights and, despite still being largely clueless, was waking up to the rocket’s red glare.
The question hung in the fragrant spa air.
Katrina looked up at me, her eyes soft and curious, her slippery, warm hands kneading my feet.
Schwink’s face was tense and on mine, her brows furrowed with worry.
A beat passed. And then another.
I kept my eyes locked on Schwink’s.
And then it came to me.
I knew exactly how to answer Katrina’s question without stepping on a land mine. And without a lie.
I relaxed, gave Schwink a slight “I got this” nod and said:
“My friend has two children”.
Schwink blinked. “I do?”
“You do”, I said, settling back into my vibrating, massaging chair.
“She does?”, Katrina, kneading, turned to Schwink. “How wonderful! How old are they?’