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In the year 2011, before Persnickety's was born, I was but an optician driving four hours a day to work in an optometric practice in Bellevue and was also the VP of a dog rescue in Seattle called Salty Dog Rescue. I started a blog to write out some of my feelings on mostly the dog front, since I really hated the four hour drive and complaining about a commute is just as uninteresting as hearing about someone's dreams. So, last December I wrote the following post. Now that we have met so many new friends, why not share with you a little of my love for my Ma and one of my most embarrassing moments.
The Proverbial Oreo, A Christmas Tale
At 7 years old I, like every other 2nd grader, was made to stand on risers in an abominably itchy sweater and sing Christmas carols at a school assembly/recital type thing. I was a nervous child, shy natured, with the intestinal constitution of a preemie nursed on Ipecac. Now, this is not to say I was an unhappy kid, just a sensitive one. Any unexpected change in routine, like the appearance of a substitute teacher in the place of my beloved teacher (Ms. Clarke, that year) would cause the churning and roiling in my gut that would send me running for the nearest bathroom.
At any rate, the morning of the 2nd grade Christmas sing-off, I was nervous. Nervous because of the singing to commence, my itchy sweater and my breakfast choice. I had decided that since the only cereal available was Life (blugh), and my mother was catching a little extra sleep, that I would take this opportunity to get my one and only chance at a sugar fix. Sugar was never available for breakfast in any form, you see, and as much as I begged for the cereal choices my friends enjoyed, there was no Cookie Crisp coming my way. It was Kix or Life and I was over both mushy, tasteless options. What did we have that would usurp Cookie Crisp? Oreo’s. Yes! Approximately 20 Oreo’s would do just fine.
Cookies guiltily consumed and my mom none the wiser, we headed to school. I walk in, but…Where’s my teacher? We have a SUB! On top of guilty Oreo breakfast, a dreaded sub. And just like an Oreo she was dressed in black and white. Black sweater and ivory pants. What are the odds? Sigh. Queasy, I swallow my bile and follow the other kids to the auditorium.
From my dead center location on the risers, I see my mom and the sub. I am hot. Then clammy. Nauseous, swallowing and gulping, I get through a song or two. Somewhere in the middle of Rudolph, I know it’s coming. The Oreo’s are on the rise and no matter what I do, I can’t keep them down. Panicked, I stare into the eyes of my sub, silently pleading…but it’s not working. Ms. Clarke would have known what to do…but this broad? Clueless. I can’t just throw up! I am in the middle of the risers, the star of the show! I am desperate. Not knowing at all what to do, I do what every well-behaved 2nd grader does. I slowly start to RAISE MY HAND. Mid-song.
The sub sees and looks at me quizzically. My instant Pavlovian response to her acknowledgement is burping, gulping and retching. Her eyes wide, she jumps up from her seat, runs up to me, yanks me from the risers in front of everyone. As the kids keep singing I can see my mom running toward me from the corner of my eye…we make it just outside the auditorium doors and still running toward the nurses office I can’t hold it any longer and BLLLLLLAAAAAAGHHHHHH….
Projectile vomit. BLACK projectile vomit. All over the creamy ivory pants worn by the sub. We stop running and I cry and apologize. Shock. No one can believe what just came out of me. My wide-eyed mom, mind whirling, is thinking first that I am dying: black puke is the precursor to dying, surely. Then the fleeting thought that I may be the Anti-Christ, spewing black froth at a Christmas recital can only be explained by this theory. She is perplexed for the moment, but I know the truth. And I am ashamed and embarrassed. And so sick.
Apologies and dry cleaning arrangements having been made with the sub, we head for home. My mom is the best mom and when I am sick, she is somehow even better. She tucks me in and I take a much-needed post-vomit, post-cry nap. When I wake up, my sweet mom is right there next to me, asking me how I am. “Better”, I manage to whisper. She tells me that’s she’s glad and looking down at me in my bed, she smiles. Smiles and offers me an Oreo.
And in my 7-year-old head I say, goddammit.
And now I am 35 years old and still a nervous and sensitive sort, though I hide it a little better. Or I’d like to think I do. I do have a tendency to emotionally involve myself in situations in which I know I will come out feeling sad or lost, particularly when dog rescue is involved. My mom may be proud of me for what I try to do but she doesn’t always say so…I think she wants me to find a project less taxing. I know that is born out of her own protective mom nature, but I find it hard to talk to her about, say, how sad I am to let go of a foster dog and how scary it is to trust his new family to love him, lovely as they are. In her mind, she thinks: you shouldn’t foster dogs, it will make you sad. Whereas I think: I will be sad, but it’s worth it. So we differ. However, yesterday, when exactly such a situation occurred, the first thing I could think to do was call my mom. She listened on the phone as I drove home and I found myself driving to her house. She made me soup and we didn’t talk about it, but that was ok. Because my mom is the best mom and when I am sad, she is somehow even better. She doesn’t ask why I would do something that would make me sick or sad, she just knows how to make it just that much more ok. Even when I eat the proverbial Oreo.
Mom and I are so happy to know you and continue to grow our friendships with you. It's an absolute honor and all we could ever ask for, Christmas or not. Also, I am additionally so very happy to not make that drive anymore. While the shop doesn't allow me the time or emotional availability to be involved with Salty Dog Rescue on a day-to-day basis, I still support them every way I can. You can too. This Friday December 7th at 8pm you can have some fun at the Naughty or Nice Funraiser for Salty Dog. Or check them out any time at www.saltydogrescue.org to see who they are and what they're about. Maybe give to them (they're a registered non-profit) for Christmas.
Of all the things I have done in my life, helping animals in need with these people has been a special honor. Give a donation, foster a dog, become a Facebook fan and share the animals looking for homes with your friends...best of all, take a rescue dog home to love. Everyone can do something to help. And isn't that what it's all about?
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from the Persnickety's family.