Monday, April 18, 2005

Stuck in the Middle With You.

The scene: Daughter was in swim class. I edged my way into the viewing section, finding the last available chair. I opened an anticipated book on the common denominators between animal behavior and autism, and began to read.

INSIDE QUINN’S HEAD: The problem with normal people is they’re too cerebral. I call it being…

MOTHER NEXT TO ME: (To her friend) …So, did I, like, tell you what Bethany’s teacher told me? Well, I had gone in to, like, talk about that pushing incident with the Myers boy…

IQH: The problem with normal people is they’re too cere

MNTM: …which, of course, had led to spitting. So, like, I said to her teacher, “What are you planning to, like, do? I can’t be, like, bringing a change of clothing at lunch every day”…

I shifted in my seat, trying to read while cramming my fingers in my ears.

IQH: Like, the problem with normal people is, like, they’re too cerebral. I call…


I looked down. Daughter was out of the pool.

QUINN: What?

DAUGHTER: Bathroom.

QUINN: Of course.

I left the viewing section and escorted Daughter to bathroom. I returned to find that my previous seat was still the only one available. I picked up my book.

IQH: The problem with normal people is they’re too cerebral. I call it being abstractified...

MNTM: (Screaming next to my ear) …GOOD GIRL BETHANY! YOU SWIM ALL THE WAY ACROSS WITHOUT THE TEACHER, AND WE’LL HAVE MCDONALDS FOR DINNER. (To her friend) I’ve been, like, cutting back on the fast food, but it’s nice for a special occasion. For instance, we went night before last when her brother had a soccer game, but we won’t go again until, like, the weekend…

Having grown tired of the same sentence, my eye skimmed down the page for a fresh start.

IQH: Screwworms can attack humans, too, and like to lay their eggs inside the nostril.

MNTM: …I think that breakfast is, like, the most important meal of the day. For instance, today I got up an extra half hour early to make them a hot breakfast.

FRIEND: You are, like, such a good mom.

MNTM: It wasn’t, like, that hard. You just have to, like, remember to put the icing on after they come out of the toaster. Otherwise, it’s, like, a total mess…

I toyed with the vision of following this woman to McDonald’s and putting a screwworm in her McFlurry. I felt reinvigorated and continued to read.

IQH: When the eggs hatch the maggots come out and eat the animal alive…

MNTM: (To her friend) …did you send in your money for the Quilting Cruise?

FRIEND: No, I, like, totally forgot.

MNTM: You, like, totally have to send it in! We can be roommates. It’s, like, going to be a blast. We can, like, quilt and drink for three days. The last cruise was such fun. They had this quilt in the dining room, only it was made, like, completely out of shrimp! I, like, almost threw up, I ate so much. It was a blast.

FRIEND: Which quilt are you bringing?

MNTM: I don’t know yet. The big ones would be, like, hard to carry, because they’re, like big. But the smaller one might not be, like, enough to do for three days. I could bring the wall hanging.

FRIEND: Have I seen that?

MNTM: Oh, sure. It’s the one with the acorns.

FRIEND: I don’t think I’ve seen it.

MNTM: Sure you have. It’s the one with, like, the leaves and acorns.

FRIEND: Is there, like, fruit appliquéd on it?

MNTM: No. Acorns and leaves.

FRIEND: I don’t think you’ve shown it to me.

MNTM: You sure? You don’t remember, like, acorns?

IQH: ..Other maggots eat dead flesh, but screwworm maggots eat live flesh and are deadly…

FRIEND: …Wait, I think I do remember it. It has, like, leaves on it, right? And something else?

MNTM: Yeah, acorns!

I would give a year at the end of my life to have two screwworm maggots right now.


Daughter is out of the pool.

QUINN: Can’t be.

DAUGHTER: Bathroom.

I escorted her to the bathroom. When I returned, my seat was still available. I was beginning to understand why.

MNTM: …I told her Doctor that, like, her eye had been all runny for three days, and he said “It’s just allergies”, and I’m like “No, it’s not allergies, because allergies don’t just show up in one eye” and he’s like “They do if she’s touched something and touched only that one eye”, and I’m like “She hasn’t been touching her eye for three days”…

I grabbed my book and opened to any page at random.

IQH: A giraffe will spend 15 percent of its time grazing with its friend, and only 5 percent of its time grazing close to any other giraffe.

I imagine myself as a giraffe. I imagine the two women next to me as giraffes who are friends, standing next to me at a tree, nibbling on leaves and shooting the breeze.

I imagine my giraffe self throwing my long body in front of the nearest lion that will have me.


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