Monday, February 26, 2007

Losing Bet

I'm not used to this.

Usually when someone is being talked
into something, I am the one doing the talking. But now, all of a
sudden, the tables are turned and I'm going to Vegas. 

I didn't
want to go to Vegas. I didn't want to leave Zev for two days and three
nights. I've been telling Keren as much since October. But somehow, I'm
sitting here, at my computer, with Keren on the phone, watching little
white dots dance on my screen as processes my order for two
round-trip tickets.

The little logo below the dancing dots says, "Your trip, your choice." 

I read this to Keren and say, "Hear that? It doesn't say, 'Your trip, against your will.' "

"Come on," she says. "It will be fun." 

probably right. But I still have pangs of guilt and longing just
thinking about leaving Zev for the weekend. The only time I have ever
been apart from him for that long was after he was born and an
ambulance rushed my ailing baby to Children's Hospital of Orange
County. Doctors wanted to keep me in the hospital for four days, but
the stakes were too high: I talked them into letting me out in two.

now I've been talked into spending two days without him. Sure, it will
be nice to stay in bed for a few extra minutes every morning without
hearing, "Mamma! HOLD! Mamma! PICKIE UP!" But I am going to miss him
like mad. 

"Can you tell me again how we got to this point? How did you get me to go to Vegas?"

She laid on her Israeli accent super thick and said, "I have powers."

don't know much about poker, but I know that if you bluff and confuse
your opponents well enough, you'll likely win. Keren knows a lot about
poker. She plays every week and usually cleans up. So I guess I should
have known all along that I was going to fold.

Still, I thought
I was playing a good hand back in October when I ducked behind my milk
ducts, telling her I couldn't leave Zev because I was still nursing.
Then came a series of colds. Some family trips. A few work-related
delays. I started to think the whole thing was going to fade away. But
it didn't. 

She lobbied hard: It'll be a good bonding experience
for Zev and Hubby. I can get a massage, go to the spa. I need a break,
a chance to remember what it was like to have zero responsibilities.
Besides, she said, a girls' weekend would be fun.

She had me
there. I haven't had a girls' weekend – or even, really, a girls' night
– in a long, long time. Zev gives me so much love and life and purpose.
But he can't give me the latest gossip or help me pick out shoes. 

are essential, the people you can retreat to when toddlers (or
husbands) throw temper tantrums and life stops making sense. I should
be more grateful that there is someone in my life who would want to
spend a weekend in Vegas with me.

Besides, Keren's a good girl.
A mom like me. It's not like she's going to get us arrested or dance on
the bar until dawn. It'll be a nice, mellow weekend. 

By the time those little white dots finish their dance and complete my plane-ticket order, I decide I'm all in.

Good," she says, and I can hear her smile on the other end of the
phone. "I'll call you tomorrow, and we'll get tickets to 'Thunder From
Down Under.' " 

Oh, dear.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Hi. I'm Mayrav, And This Is My Husband's Penis

I didn't expect to share a picture of my husband's genitals with a
group of strangers at a bar the other night. But, you know how it is.

college roommate e-mailed a bunch of us to say she'd be in town, and
could we please come see her and meet her new husband over a few beers.
Hubby agreed to stay home with Zev on the condition that I snap a
picture of his package with my cell phone and show it to Damon, a
school chum we haven't seen in a dozen years. 

This seemed like a reasonable trade-off, so, without asking questions, I shot the picture and headed out the door.

first two things I ever thought about Damon when I met him as a college
freshman were 1. "He has long, sexy hair," and 2. "He's wearing nothing
but a towel."   

My first impression of his now-wife Jackie was
that she was easily one of the most beautiful and soothing women I had
ever met. And when I met my roommate, Liz, I remember feeling like a
couple of 5-year-olds let loose in a combination candy/toy store. We
even ran to registration together, holding hands like kindergarteners.

impressions are important. And they're often right on the money. It's
something I know well but didn't really think about until after I
introduced myself to Liz's husband with a
friendly, "Hi, I'm Mayrav, and this is my husband's penis."

"I have heard a lot about you, and
you have far exceeded expectations," Eric said. I was relieved. Eric
seemed amused and warm, friendly and drunk. A few other people, though,
were thrown off.

One gentleman said, "I'm not going to shake your hand. I've seen where it's been."

would have been embarrassed for having made a bad first impression
except that I long ago realized that if two people don't click right
off the bat, they never will. The non-hand-shaker is probably a
wonderful person, but I'm willing to bet that even with the most mild
of introductions we'd run out of things to talk about in 10 minutes.

a lesson I learned not long after meeting Liz. We were at a dorm
meeting where the R.A.s made their introductions and went over the
rules. I raised my hand and asked whether there was a policy
prohibiting, say, a boy from spending the night. Everyone – every
single person in attendance – was thinking the same question. I just
happened to be the one who asked it.

I was too naïve to
realize my question was going to make an impression, and I was more
than a little embarrassed after the meeting. But it turned out to be an
amazing litmus test: Almost to a person, those who were grateful that
I'd asked ended up being my friends, while those who hoped/worried that
I was some sort of marauding libertine did not.

And the other
night – just as it was in college – the lines were immediately drawn:
People who didn't appreciate a good genitalia joke stayed on one side
of the bar, and those of us who wanted to laugh, drink and reminisce
stayed on the other.

Late in the evening, the talk eventually
circled back to Hubby's organ, and Damon finally explained why he had
been so keen to show it off. When Damon first got to college, before he
had met or spoken to a single soul, future Hubby walked into Damon's
dorm room, declaring without introduction, "I'm going to take a picture
of my penis and send it home to my family."

"Those were the first words anyone said to me in school," Damon said, sounding a bit wistful.

was the perfect introduction to set the tone for a new, important
chapter in an 18-year-old boy's life: shocking for shocking's sake;
funny, gross and bold but meaningless. The kind of salutation that he'd
always remember.

It was strange. It was unsolicited. But Hubby's penis made a great first impression.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Gimme A "D"! Gimme An "I"! Gimme An "E"! Gimme Outta Here!

My elementary school P.E. teacher was great. She was part P.E.
teacher, part cheerleader, always encouraging us, always motivating us.
("Go, Mayrav! You can do it!") But, man, was she old.

I mean
really old. Deep tanned-in-place wrinkles, liver-spotted hands. The
kind of old that has its own smell. So when I went back for a visit as
a high school student 10 years later, I was shocked to see she was not
only still alive, but still teaching. 

At the time, I thought, "Wow. I hope I live that long."

I've changed my mind.

no big secret that you start to die the moment you're born, but the
reality of that fact – the true meaning of it – doesn't really hit you
until you have a kid and are able to compare his growing, blooming,
thriving body with your own decaying one.

After a year and a
half of waking up achy and sleep-deprived, of looking at my flabby self
in the mirror and realizing that it ain't baby weight – it's my changed
metabolism – I've finally come to the realization that it only gets
worse. There is no
when-he's-older-I'll-have-time-for-myself-and-reclaim-my-life. By the
time that happens I'll be staring down the double barrel of menopause
and osteoporosis.

And it's not like I miss my teens or 20s.
They say youth is wasted on the young, but it isn't. People's bodies
start their erosion into oblivion long before they hit 30 – they just
don't know it yet.

So if the good old days weren't that good,
and the future is even more bleak, that means that this is as good as
it gets. The apex. The height of my existence. Allow me to describe a
morning in this, the best time of my life: I wake up too early to my
son's plaintive cry, "Momma! Hold-o." Almost immediately after I lift
him out of bed, he covers me in both diarrhea and vomit. Somehow, he's
the one who needs consoling. I clean him off and calm him down and
carry him out of his room and promptly step in dog poop.

All the while, my internal organs, long past their growing stages, slowly die.

(I can just hear the creaky voice of my grade-school gym teacher, "Humanity! Humanity! Go-o-o-o-o Humanity!")

you might say, "But, Mayrav, people have a much longer life expectancy
these days. Fifty is the new 30. Growing older doesn't have to mean
growing old."

To which I say, "Dye your hair all you want and
get your cute little Botox injections. Truth is, you're just a pile of
unrealized dreams wrapped in an easily sloughed mortal coil. And no
amount of stolen time is going help you win the Nobel Prize or find a
cure for cancer (unless, of course, you're some old person who is on
her way to winning the Nobel Prize for curing cancer)."

If we
as a species started to give up the ghost, as our forebears did, at 30
or 40, we'd die at this supposed apex, our rosebuds all gathered but
prostate cancer averted.

It's a radical idea, I know. And
please, before you fire off an angry e-mail, know that I'm not
literally saying that everyone over 30 should just drop dead. But maybe
we shouldn't put such a premium on trying to elongate our deteriorating

What do we really get out of the bargain? Maybe a few
more vacations, maybe a chance to meet our great-grandkids. That all
sounds nice. But it comes with broken hips and bad eyes and – and this
may be the worst part – wisdom. Wanna know what wisdom is? It's the
knowledge that you're not going to live forever. ("Humanity! Humanity!
He's our guy! Humanity! Humanity! We're all gonna die!")

not like there is any glory in longevity, anyway. Just a lot of dead
acquaintances. I can imagine myself at 102, hunched alone in front of a
too-loud television like a 2-year-old in timeout, wondering, "How much
longer do I have to sit here?"

What do you get when you live a
really, really long time? The title of "Oldest Known Living Person."
The previous oldest known living person was Emma Faust Tillman who died
last week at 114, four days after she claimed the title. Forty-one
thousand six hundred and ten days that woman had to endure on this
planet and she only gets to wear the crown for four of them? ("Gimme an

No thanks. Not for me. This whole grass-is-browner
realization has me thinking about my gym teacher in a whole new light.
I don't just remember her encouragements but I wonder if she was ever
in any pain on the playground? Did she get winded walking up the ramp?
Did we kids tire her out?

Or, I shudder to consider this: Is she still alive?