Tuesday, May 4, 2010

I Can't

Ten years ago I was a CSI—just like the TV show, just not as glamorous (as the show is, I mean. I am very glamorous—at least I would be if my kids gave me 5 uninterrupted minutes to get myself together in the morning!) And I loved it, being a CSI. It was interesting and bizarre and every day was something different. The funny thing about the job is that you don’t really know if you can do it until you are doing it. Luckily for me, I was able to do it. I think most people could do it if they just had to deal with the way things look—what haven’t we seen on TV or in the movies? The way things look is not what makes the job challenging…what makes the job challenging is the way things smell. And I’m here to tell you, it isn’t pretty.

One day I went in to work and a body had been found in a drainage ditch and it appeared to be wrapped in a tarp. It looked suspicious. The cardinal rule of Crime Scene Investigation is “Do it right the first time, the scene will never be this way again.” So I had to treat it as if it was a homicide which meant getting down and dirty in the ditch. All of the detectives were wearing masks. I wore one, too—not because the smell was so bad (it really was) but I wore one because I did not want a fly to touch my face or (horrors!) my mouth while I was working. When the coroner got there, I assisted her in her investigation. (None of the detectives wanted to get that close because of the smell.) And I told her, “I will do whatever you need me to do with this body, but if I see a rat, I’m gonna freak!” Blood—no problem, body parts—whatever, but keep the vermin away from me—I can’t handle them!

And while I am divulging what I can’t handle, I’ll let you in on another dirty little secret: toilets are at the top of my list. Public bathrooms almost put me over the edge. I still want to throttle Brittany for that barefoot stunt she pulled. Come on! Having kids who need to use public restrooms more frequently than I would like has really been a challenge to my balance. My skin crawls when we cross the threshold into those dirty, germs-running-rampant, cesspools of filth and foul odors which, inexplicably, seem to make kids want to touch every last surface. (I mean really, who in their right mind wants to touch the bolts that hold the toilet to the ground, the bottom of the sink, and the sides of the trashcan?) I will hold it until the cows come home, but what’s a mom to do when you’re out in public and your child utters those dreaded five words…”I need to go potty” ??? Personally, I bring the portable potty training toilet with me in the back of the car. And if we can’t make it out to the car in time, I have a few tricks up my sleeve. Each venture into one of these black holes earns me a badge of motherhood. If only my kids could understand that I’m good—I don’t need any more of those darn badges!

For those of you who are tougher than I am in the bathroom department, I applaud you –and I know you think I am being overly dramatic. Please let me assure you, this is a deep-rooted, enduring aversion that I have to deal with almost daily. When I was a teacher, I had a toilet incident. It was actually my first day of teaching. Not with my classroom full of kids, but of getting my classroom ready for a classroom full of kids. I went to school, got my room assignment, got my keys, got all my “stuff” and went to the room to get it ready. I cleaned, I arranged, I got my bulletin boards set up, name cards placed on each desk, books, materials, and activities placed invitingly around the room. And then another woman walked into the room. It was another teacher, much older—and extremely irate. She went off—“What are you doing here! This is my room! You have no right!” and on and on she went. Then, abruptly, she left. As I stood there, stunned, I heard my name being announced over the PA system. I was being summoned to the principal’s office. Oh, great. What a career this was turning out to be, and I hadn’t officially started yet. Anyway, while meeting the principal for the first time, she regretfully told me that I had erroneously been assigned the wrong room. My classroom was actually on the other side of campus, and the custodian would gladly help me move my “stuff” to my real room. (That was all fine and dandy, but who was going to clean my real room since I had already cleaned my fake room?) And so for the second time in one day I set up my classroom. By the time I was finished, it was late and I needed to go home, but first I needed to go. So I hiked back across campus to go to the bathroom before I left for the day. I went into the stall and locked the door. As I reached up to get my customary TWO toilet seat covers, my wrist grazed my leg and my wristwatch did a swan dive into the toilet. Now, let me tell you this—it was a clean toilet in the staff bathroom, I had not “gone” yet, and I was alone. What do you think I did? If you guessed stand there for 37 minutes, crying and squirming (not because I still needed to go, which I did, but because the last thing I wanted to do was to reach in and retrieve my watch) then you are right! I finally came up with a plan. I left the door locked, and with my best limbo moves, I went under the door, out into the hall and into the office. I got a pencil, went back down the hall, into the bathroom, and back under the locked stall door. Then I fished my watch out of the toilet. I wrapped it in paper towels and shoved it into my bag. It was possibly the worst first day of work ever in the history of a toilet phobic teacher! (By the way, in case you were wondering, the watch stayed wrapped up in paper towels for the better part of the school year. At that point I decided that I still couldn’t stand the fact that it had been in the toilet, and I got rid of the watch.) The office staff assumed that I was upset about my classroom and was especially nice to me the whole time I worked at that school. Everything happens for a reason, I guess.

Just the other night it was bath time for the kiddos. Marlo was already happily sitting in her bath seat. Joy was dawdling and had gotten some tea cups to play tea party in the bath. At the last minute she decided that she needed to go potty before getting into the tub. She went, wiped and as she reached back to flush—you guessed it! She dropped the tea cup into the toilet.

I am a mom now. I don’t have time to debate for 37 minutes before I take action. I had an out of body experience, reached into the toilet (I am gagging as I am writing this) and pulled out the tea cup. The tea cup was thrown into the side of the sink that we don’t use, and I scrubbed my hands for several minutes—while giving Joy a lesson on closing the toilet lid immediately after using it and not having tea cups or other such toys in her hands while going potty. The tea cup is still there. I am probably going to have to tell Hubs that he needs to get it out and put it into a bucket of bleach water…and then I will probably throw it away.

As it turned out, the body in the drainage ditch was a homeless man who had accidentally fallen in and drowned. His body was partially mummified and it was just coincidental that he was wrapped in a tarp. Recent storms had probably caused the water in the ditch to rise and become more turbulent and somehow, the body and tarp united, and came to rest on top of a large pile of debris. It was sad and interesting at the same time.

But I am totally serious—blood, body parts, skin, teeth, bones, dead bodies…piece of cake. Just keep the flies, rats, and toilets away from me. A girl can only take so much.

Posted by The Editor for Busy Body.

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