Papaya Daze

Rather than making you all feel bad that you are not in sunny Puerto Vallarta sipping margaritas by my side, I’ll make you feel bad that you are not in sunny Puerto Vallarta while everyone else sips Coronas and margaritas while preggo you enjoys your bottled water and stealing sips off your kids’ cherry lemonade. Life is hard.

I have been to Puerto Vallarta twice before, but both were a very long time ago. The first was in 1990 for my high school graduation party. As you can imagine, that was pure debauchery, which I don’t remember very well except for vague memories of waking up in only my bathing suit bottoms on the bathroom floor (apparently, I thought swimming at 3 am after a night of partying was a good idea. Luckily, my stomach didn’t feel the same). The second time was for a college friend’s wedding in 2001, but that was almost the same as the high school grad trip except for the fact that I was a little more mature so I didn’t get quite as dumb-ass drunk.

So maybe that explains why I don’t remember PV being such a gay mecca. I have seen more banana hammocks in two days than my entire time backpacking through Europe. The fact that PV had become a gay destination gradually dawned on us as we approached the main beach. We could hear the techno thumping a mile away. As we started noticing that the party scene was mainly made up of well-oiled, hard-bodied men trying to strike their best poses in their itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny speedos, a Mexican man trying to sell us on a booze cruise asked us as we walked by:

“Are you part of the family?”

Me, my husband and my two sisters looked at each other. What did he mean, exactly? We were party of a family, but were we part of the family?

“What family are you talking about?” I asked him.

“The gay family,” he said, a note of impatience in his voice, as if I should have known what he was talking about.

Oh, I thought, ‘family’ must be a code word for ‘gay,’ kind of like when people ask “Do you party?” they mean more than just drink alcohol.

“No, no, we’re not part of that family,” I told the man. But he was not so sure.

“But she has a butterfly tattoo on her back,” he said, pointing to my sister Julie.

“A butterfly tattoo? Why does that mean she’s gay?

“Some people might think that’s a sign she’s papaya,” he said.

Papaya? Apparently, an orange fruit is another code word for ‘family.’ I was learning more code words that a double agent at the CIA.

As we walked home, Siig got depressed that no man was even batting so much as an eyelash at him. “I ain’t got it no more,” he said. “I’m old.” 

To make it up to him, I bought him a mango-on-a-stick that some vendors were selling on a beach. “It ain’t papaya, but it will do,” I said. “But you’re still forbidden from ever wearing a speedo.”

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Wax Me a New One

I’m off to Mexico next week, so that means one thing – time for the dreaded Bikini Wax.

I like to compare this unfortunate-but-necessary beauty ritual to visiting your therapist, OB/GYN and dentist all at the same time. I both look forward to it and dread it.

I look forward to it because, in a weird way – during the brief moments when you are not getting the hair in your private parts ripped off – it’s kind of relaxing. Laying on a massage table with soothing music in the background, listening to tinkling water from a fountain, and the lights are dim – you could almost, almost, trick yourself into thinking you were about to get a massage. That is, until you look up to see a woman between your legs with a popsicle stick full of wax. Now the experience has suddenly turned into a trip to the dentist’s office – you know pain is in your very, very near future.

Mostly what I think about when I’m laying there while the Bikini Waxer (or should I call her “Torturer”?) does her thing is how incredibly awkward it must be to be her. She chatters away, asking you about your plans for the holidays and your kids, like it’s perfectly normal to be having a polite conversation while she coats your nether regions with wax and then yanks it off, reminding me of the scene in “40 Year Old Virgin” when Steve Carell gets his chest hair waxed while screaming obscenities at the esthetician. My favorite is when the Waxer asks you to hold your leg up in the air so she can reach those hard-to-get places near your bum. It makes me feel I’m about to star in a porno or deliver a baby.

I mean, Bikini Waxers have got to see more vaginas than Baby Doctors and Tiger Woods put together.

But really, the ultimate is when she breaks out the tweezers. She starts talking about her plans to go to Disney Land while she casually inspects her work, her heard tucked between your legs like she’s working on a car engine, plucking away at all the individual hairs she missed. Makes me think she’s going to embark on a full makeover of the area with lipstick and rouge and mascara. Now that would be interesting.

I have never so much as contemplated a Brazilian – I don’t know how those ladies endure that. I think would have to undergo general anesthesia. Which gives me an idea – I think Bikini Waxers and OB/GYNs and midwives should get together to offer a special – bikini waxes while you are in labor. You are already in so much pain, and any attempts at modesty are already out the door, what’s a little more? I say, get it all over and done with in one fell swoop.

Not like you will be wearing a bathing suit any time soon, but at least you’ll be looking good in those granny panties.

What’s a girl gotta do to find some Hanukkah candles around here?

I’ve been a bad, bad Jew. How bad? I can’t even remember the last time I celebrated a Jewish holiday. I think it was in my early 20s, about 15 years ago (cough, cough), when I was visiting my dad when he lived in Montreal. It was Passover, and we celebrated it not one, but two, nights at his Orthodox Jewish second cousin’s house. If you have ever sat through an orthodox Passover, it’s no fun the first night, let alone the second. The words ‘loooooooooooooooong’ and ‘painful’ come to mind. I think I was so scarred by the experience I haven’t honored a Jewish holiday since.

Since my kids have started attending an after-school program at the local Baptist church, however, I’ve realized that all that has got to change. (If you’re wondering why I send my kids there, I live in a small town and the church is one of my only choices for after school programs. Plus it’s super cheap.) I’ve been thinking about it ever since I had kids, but could never get motivated to dust off the menorah we got for a wedding present that hasn’t moved since, or try to remember the rituals that go with each holiday. And every time I planned on taking my kids to synagogue, just to introduce them, and Siig for that matter, to the Jewish religion, something would come up –  Siig would work late, or we would be too tired, or it was snowing, or I just plumb didn’t feel like it.

But when Kaya came home the other day singing “Christmas without Christ,” I knew it was time. Neither Siig or I are religious, I just don’t want my kids thinking Christianity is the only game in town. They are welcome to choose for themselves what religion, if any, they want to follow when they are older. But introducing them to Judaism is also important to me since it’s part of my culture as well. More so for me because my father is from Israel and half my family lives over there. One day, when I am not so daunted by a 24-hour plane ride  with 2 kids and the potential to walk in the path of a suicide bomber, I’ll take my kids to Israel. The last time  I was there was in 2003, when Siig and I went as part of our honeymoon.

What sealed the deal was when I got an email from the church saying they were going to have a Christmas party called “Baby Jesus Christmas.” Now, I have nothing against Christmas – we have always celebrated the secular side of the holiday. Growing up, my Jewish family would have a tree and stockings and exchange gifts on Christmas morning. We just did, you know, the fun stuff. We also celebrated Hanukkah. This never seemed weird to me. In fact, my extended family still all gets together over Christmas to give gifts. And eat. Can’t forget the eating.

This year, for the first time ever, we have a tree at our house. That’s all fine and dandy, but I have to draw the line at my kids singing about Sweet Baby Jesus and not knowing about their Jewish heritage. So, finally, after 5 years of thinking about it, I decided we would celebrate Hanukkah.

Well, easier said than done.

First, I had to find Hanukkah candles. I went to one grocery store, and then another, only to find not that not only did they have no Hanukkah candles, but they had nothing for Hanukkah at all. Not a single dradle or chocolate coin to be seen. One store manager brought me over to the “Ethnic” section, where on the second shelf from the bottom sat about four Jewish food items. He said that if they had Hanukkah candles, it would be here, sandwiched between the Matzah ball and Gefilte fish mixes. So much for diversity.

I have to say, I was a tad upset. It was one thing if I didn’t celebrate Jewish holidays all these years, but it’s quite the other thing if a major grocery chain doesn’t carry a single item for a holiday of the country’s second major religion. Now I was really motivated to light this damn menorah. I’d just do it with birthday candles. It’s the thought that counts, right?

Fortunately, a half-Jewish friend of mine who I had complained to about the situation managed to find some Hanukkah candles at the one store I didn’t go to (of course), and bought me a box. So now I was committed. I turned to my “Bible” – Google – to look up the correct way to light the menorah and the prayers that go along with it.

Tonight is the fifth night of Hanukkah, and I’ve managed to light candles two of the five nights. Guess I’m still not a very good Jew.

Oy.

Merry Christmas. Now Shut up and Stop Snoring.

Here is my idea of hell: to be stuck in a small hotel room with my two snoring kids in one bed, and me – Mrs. Insomnia – in the other.

Let’s make it worse, shall we? As we all know, I am two months pregnant and have thus sworn off my beloved Ambien, finally throwing it in the back of my husband’s very, very messy closet, where I knew I would not be able to search for it in the middle of the night without turning on lights to climb over suitcases and piles of clothes and most likely stub my toes on various objects. So here I am in a hotel room at 2 am, having failed to fall asleep since I went to bed at 10 pm, listening to Kaiden snore like he is an erupting volcano. I fantasize about Ambien like any normal woman would about a naked Brad Pitt – what I wouldn’t do to have it in bed with me.

Finally, around 4 am I fall asleep, only to be woken up by Siig yelling at Kaiden to stop snoring. He is hovering over Kaiden, who doesn’t move an inch, yelling “Come on, man!”, as if this 5-year old boy were a grown man who snubbed a prime parking place or was driving 40 mph on the freeway. I curse Siig under my breath.

The worst part? Kaiden did, in fact, stop snoring. But Siig, who soon fell back to a blissful sleep, then picked up the slack and started breathing like there were two stoppers up his nose. Can I not catch a break? What did I do to deserve such bad sleeping karma?

So here I am, now listening to the second member of my family snore like there is tomorrow while I try desperately to count sheep and the number of ways I could get Siig to stop snoring: Pillow case over the face? No, too mean. Kick to the shins? Tried that. Subliminal whispers? Maybe. I settle for a subtle elbow jab to his side and an extra pillow over my ears.

Finally, somehow, I drift off to sleep, but am woken up at 8 am by the kids jabbering away in their beds. Four hours sleep. Definitely not enough.

 But at least I know what to get Kaiden and Siig for Christmas:

(Model included. Bonus for me.)

Why potty-trained kids should wear diapers at the grocery store

Sorry for my absence. I know it’s been over a week since my last post. But I have a good explanation – I’ve been in the bathroom.

Namely, the Safeway bathroom.

This isn’t a pregnancy thing. I haven’t been getting sick in the grocery store or having to make a pee stop in every aisle. Rather, this is about my kids’ ability to have to relieve themselves at the worse times, in the worst places.

Allow me to elaborate, because I know you are dying to know the details.

We are at Safeway for what I hope will be a fairly quick shopping trip. No sooner had I started perusing the bananas when Kaya informs me she has to pee. We trek over to the other side of the store to the bathroom, which is not the most desirable place to spend an afternoon. It’s one of those institutional, 1970s-era restrooms that looks like it hasn’t had a good clean in as many decades. You kind of feel dirty just standing in there. Kaya is still wearing her ballet outfit, which makes the process that much longer. Off goes the coat, down goes the leotard, the tights and the underwear. On goes that damn crinkly toilet seat cover that never stays put, practically forcing you to touch the seat. Once Kaya is done and reminded to wipe (“Kaya, you don’t want a red putter, do you?”), we start the process in reverse – up go the underwear, the tights, the leotard, the coat. Done.

But our time in the icky bathroom is not over. Kaiden had to pee but of course only wants to go in the big stall that Kaya is in, so once she is done now it’s his turn. Off goes the coat, which he throws on the floor – gross! Meanwhile, I have to keep a close eye on Kaya who, after washing her hands, wants to touch everything – the garbage can, the walls, the disgusting hand dryer (I hate those things!)

15 minutes later, which feels like an eternity, we are finally out the bathroom door. Grocery shopping resumes. We make it to the check-out aisle. As my groceries are being bagged, Kaiden looks at me with this painful look in his eyes and his legs squeezed together and says, as if I don’t already know, “Mommy, I have to poo.” Of course you do.

I leave my cart there, hoping no one will steal my $150-worth of food. We walk back to the bathroom, which is now feeling oddly familiar, like returning to a house you used to live in but no one has cleaned in a year. I settle in for a long haul. It takes Kaiden on average about a half-hour to push one of his turds out. I wish I had brought some reading material.

Kaiden sounds like he is in labor. Grunting and groaning, I have to hold back my laughter so I don’t embarrass him. Of course, Kaya announces she has to pee – again. “Really??” I ask, hoping she is just pretending. No luck. The leotard process starts all over again. I pace the bathroom floor, check my complexion in the mirror, read the directions on the hand dryer. GET ME OUT OF HERE! I AM TRAPPED IN THE SAFEWAY BATHROOM! I am suddenly feeling very claustrophobic, and dirty. Very dirty.

Finally, the baby has arrived. Kaiden is done. He calls me into the stall for the mandatory ass-wiping. What I want to know is this: When will the butt wiping ever stop??? At what age are kids capable of doing it by themselves without leaving skid marks on their underwear? I can’t help but glance in the toilet. HOLY MOTHER OF GOD! It’s the biggest shit I have ever seen! Like seriously, it’s over a foot long. It barely flushes down the toilet. No wonder Kaiden winces when I wipe him, yelling, “It burns! It burns!” I tell him: “That’s because you just pooped out a 2-year old.”

Kaya is done also, her leotard back on. I look at the kids. “Are we done here? Can we please leave this disgusting bathroom now?” We walk back to the cart and towards the door. I hold my breath. Will we make it without one of the kids having to go? Finally, we are out in the fresh air. Hallelujah! Home free!

I walk outside like a free woman who has just been released from prison. Of course, now I have to go.