Scarp’s Pre-School Faux Paux…

Ms. Maria and I had our usual conversation at pre-school this morning. She says something I don’t understand, I say something she doesn’t understand; wash, rinse, repeat.  I was trying to hand in a form for a catered Thanksgiving luncheon the school is hosting, why I even bothered to enrich my son’s lunch experience is beyond me.  My son has recently, by choice, been existing mostly on popcorn and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches…and anything that is the color red.  Red is his favorite color this week, in his mind, red = yummy.  There was nothing red on the proposed menu they sent home. I might as well have taken the money I was spending and set it on fire.  There’s a pretty good chance that he is only going to take the turkey and try to fashion it into a hat or a pterodactyl, and test the viscosity of the mashed potatoes by applying it liberally to one of his classmate’s ears. Whatever, I’ve thrown money at more hopeless causes over the years.

Today was the last day to hand in the forms, why did I wait ‘til the last minute?  It’s simple, I lost it.  It came home, taped in his homework folder and immediately upon entering our dwelling, was sucked into a worm hole.  I found it this morning when I was trying to locate something for him to bring in for show and tell.  This week, they studied the letter “H” and the show and tell item had to start with “H” to corroborate the lesson.  “What about this, Mommy?” he asked, holding up a drum.  “No, that’s a drum.  It starts with the letter “D”.  You have to bring in an “H” something”.  “Drum does start with “H”.  It’s spelled H-I-E-R-ERM-P”.  “Hierermp? Oh, that’s how you spell drum? All these years I’ve been doing it wrong,” I said.  He wasn’t amused with my sarcasm, but he isn’t the first and he won’t be the last. “ERM isn’t a letter in our alphabet, buddy” I informed him, searching his toys for something acceptable. “Yes, it is. It’s one after “Q”, silly.

I finally put my hands on one of his matchbox cars, formed in the image of the discontinued, gas guzzling “Hummer”.  “This starts with “H”. Here, take this”.  “No, that’s my Polwice Hummew, I want my Snow Hummew”.  “Which one is the Snow Hummer, buddy?”.  “It’s the one with the white tirews and the blwinky wights. It goes beep, beep, vrwoom, like this” he said backing up and then leaping forward, pantomiming holding a steering wheel. “Oh, that one” I said, not having a clue what he was talking about, but genuinely appreciating his dramatic efforts. “That one is in the shop, take this one”.  “Ok, but we need to call the shop and see when it’s gonna be done. Those guys take forwever”.  His room often looks like a bomb created by Hasbro and Halliburton went off, I was glad he went for my shop excuse because we were pressed for time.  God only knows where the Snow Hummer is being garaged under.

As I exited his room, I noticed that something was stuck to my shoe. Jackpot!! It was the turkey lunch form. “How did this get in here?” I thought, out loud.  “I was using it as an airplwane” my boy giggled.  “That’s a reasonable enough explanation” I said and I removed it from the bottom of my flip-flop.  It was crumpled, had some purple marker on it and now, a shoe print adorning the front; but it was still legible.  I stapled four dollars to the back of it and out the door we went. Although, I am now enjoying my third cup of coffee, I had not been able to ingest any before we got to school; this is always a bad idea.  I walked my son to his classroom, instructed him to listen to Ms. Patty, keep his fingers out of his nose and kissed him goodbye.  On my way out, I looked at the artwork the little Picasso’s created for Thanksgiving.  “I am thankful for..” entitled the bulletin board that harbored the masterpieces.  Most of the children said they were thankful for their families, mommies or God, and colored the little Pilgrims holding their message of thanks quite nicely.  I was able to locate my son’s because he had blacked out the eyes of his Pilgrim and he claimed he was thankful for his dogs. “That’s my boy, at least he’s honest and not trying to kiss my ass” I mused.

I stopped at the front desk to hand in the form and was greeted by Ms. Maria and the better-than-everyone Wasp that is the mother of a particularly wretched, ill-mannered, little beast in my son’s class. You can always tell exactly what kind of person is in private, by the way their children act in public. No matter what kind of polite, socially gifted, front she was trying to put on, it was pretty obvious that she was a douche when no one was looking.  They were mid-conversation, but paused to say “hello”. “I was just telling Ms. Maria about our plans to go skiing in Jackson Hole, this Christmas,” the Wasp bragged.  “Ms. Maria doesn’t understand a damn word you’re saying and probably doesn’t know were Jackson Hole is, you moron. Even if she did, she likely wouldn’t give a shit… because, I certainly don’t,” I thought.  “Oh, that’s great,” I forced myself to reply.

I handed the form to Ms. Maria and apologized for the shape it was in.  “My word! That piece of paper has seen better days,” the Wasp exclaimed.  “Yeah, it got lost in the shuffle” I explained shortly, trying to wrap-up the interaction, because I know myself without coffee and was afraid of what I might say if I stuck around for more early morning judgment.  “Someone hasn’t had their coffee, yet,” she went on. “No, it’s dangerous,” I politely warned.  She didn’t pick up on the cautionary nature of my statement.  “I don’t drink coffee.  It makes me jittery and I just don’t need it to get going,” she imparted.  I don’t understand why people that don’t drink coffee are always so effing proud of themselves and hold it over your head.  So what? You wake up in the morning and are happy with being slow and annoying, what so damn impressive about that?

“You know, my husband is a Doctor. We’re always getting invitations for some event or another, for the Church or his work” she said. “No coffee, Doctor, Church, wildly popular…got it” I thought, not really sure how long I was going to be able to tolerate her.  “I have to have three separate bins for our social activities in my kitchen, just to keep up. When something comes in from school, I sign it immediately and send it right back, so it doesn’t get lost.  I have to have great organizational skills or my life would be a disaster. Maybe my bin system will help you?”. Tick…tick…tick…boom! I had finally reached my annoyance threshold, after months of being the target of this bitch’s passive aggression. This was going to be ugly.

“Uh-oh, mouth! Please stop. Just stop talking. Ok, you aren’t going to stop, are you? Just don’t say “fuck”. There are children around” I pleaded with myself internally. “You know Kristi; I have my own organizational system.  When something comes into my house from school, I put it on the counter and wait for it to get lost in the many, many advertisements from Macy’s and Steinmart.  They’re always inviting me to spend my money on something or other. When it’s been missing for a few days, I look for it and curse a lot. After I’ve been through everything on the counter six or seven times, discovered it isn’t there anymore and decided I’ve made up all of the new hyphenated ways to use the F-word; I look under the couch and consider the very plausible fact that the dog might have ate it. Then I curse some more, and smoke a cigarette. Usually after that, I check my son’s room, shovel toys from one side of the room to another and discover the finger paint he squirted under his bed, when I wasn’t looking. On my way to the kitchen to grab a roll of paper towels and spray cleaner, I find whatever I was looking for is stuck to the bottom of my shoe. It works for me; maybe you should try my method,” Kristi, for once was speechless and not offering any suggestions to fix me.  Ms. Maria, even through her un-mastered grasp of the English language, understood exactly what I was saying, and had excused herself in an effort not to laugh.

The normally loud, bustling entryway to the pre-school was silent. Everyone was looking at us, but I didn’t care.  “And another thing, Kristi…you’re so effing (yes, I said effing and not the word in its full form) organized that you volunteered to bring cupcakes for Halloween and then “forgot”,  didn’t show or apologize for making someone else fulfill your responsibilities. Did they teach you that move in Church?”. “Uh, we had a flat tire,” she stammered. “Oh, that husband of yours is too busy saving lives to learn how to use a jack and a tire iron? This is the part where you say thanks for covering my butt, Sara”. “Um, thank you.  I didn’t think…” she fumbled, trying to escape my morning rage. “ No, you didn’t think.  You’re too busy telling everyone how wonderful you are and how much they suck,”.  Upon reflection, I might have gone too far with the last portion of the lambasting…but all crap and no coffee makes Scarp an angry broad.

“I, uh…never meant to make you feel inadequate,” she apologized, finally noticing the other parents were staring at us and trying to save face.  “Yes. You did.  That’s you’re mission in life; to make people feel Godless, poor and inadequate.  But don’t worry; since you’re sorry now, I have to let you know… you never succeeded in making me feel any less capable than you”. Again, I went too far, but I was on a roll.  Why stop now?

I’ve been very patient with her, and given her a few months of silent indication that she wasn’t one of my favorite people. Still, she persisted zinging me every time she got the chance… and for what reason? If my demeanor annoys her so much, she can always stand at the other end of the hallway at pick-up time and pretend I don’t exist, like I try to do to her.  I don’t have any intention of apologizing for assuming things or commenting about her state of affairs, I’m not sorry. She does it to me all the time. That Bible stuff she’s always trying to force down my throat says something about “doing unto other’s…” and “judge not lest ye be judged”. People like her can always quote these verses, but have no idea how to live them.

I have to say, after my Wasp-lashing…I felt much better.  I’m sure the only thing I accomplished was making myself the topic of Bible Study gossip on Saturday, but since I won’t be there and I don’t care…they can talk about me all they want. Maybe I taught a bunch of little people an exercise in manners and how not to react to someone who annoys the living shit out of you. But, I’m sure I taught their parents not to provoke the lady who hasn’t had her coffee, yet.


*Please see “Salvation…Straight Outta Compton” for background information.

Salvation – Straight Outta Compton.

I pulled into a parking spot at my son’s preschool, to my left was a blandly colored, imported, luxury SUV. To my right, a domestic minivan in metallic, cornflower blue.  I was hoping the people that drove these vehicles were already inside waiting for their children and I would be able to avoid the awkward, walking-through-the-parking-lot-together, conversation. If the speakers of my factory installed radio weren’t blasting N.W.A at a ridiculously loud decibel, I might have been more aware of the disapproving glances I was receiving from behind the tinted windows on either side of me.  Not that noticing them would have made turn my music down, or change the station to Radio Disney, but it’s always a good idea to take note when you are being judged.  I tossed out my cigarette and rolled up my windows to the tune of MC Ren encouraging me to “F*ck tha Police”.

I may have been sitting in the middle of a manicured suburban landscape, but in my head I was straight outta Compton.  As I got out of my car, the drivers’ side doors on either side of me opened, too.  “This is just effing perfect,” I thought, as I faked a smile at the mothers of my sons’ classmates. Since my son developed the ability to repeat things, I am no longer capable of using the queen mother of all curse words in anything but its abbreviated form…not even in my head.

“My, your music choice is interesting today” the WASP who pilots the SUV cackled. While my brain said “I hate you”, my mouth managed to fake a laugh. “We’re having our Women’s Group on Saturday at my Church, if you’re interested” she offered for the 2000th consecutive time.   I wasn’t interested. There is nothing about my personality and outward demeanor that suggests I would be remotely attracted to sitting around with a group of medicated housewives, reading the Bible.  I’m not knocking religion or the Good Book here, but social functions at places of worship haven’t been my thing since the ill-fated “bobbing for apples” incident, during a Catholic Church Halloween party in 1987. I showed up to the party dressed as Cyndi Lauper, circa: “Girl’s Just Wanna Have Fun”. I was really enjoying myself, until I fell, head-first into the large vat of water and red produce. The moisture predictably caused my neon pink, spray-on, temporary hair color to run into my eyes and burn with the heat of 1000 suns. I left the party dressed as Cyndi Lauper, circa: blind, wet and mortified.

I don’t know why, but her invite caught me off guard.  I didn’t have an excuse prepared for the pushy, Bible-beating, soccer mom in khaki walking shorts and intent on fixing me.  I blurted out the first activity that came to mind. “Oh man, Kristi. I can’t. My kitting circle is Saturday”. Yeah, I used the words “knitting circle” as part of my clever ruse to get out of going to church. She pressed further, “Well, what time is it over? Maybe you can still make it?” “Um, it’s an all-day thing. Yeah, it’s our…Knit-a-thon.  We do it every year…to… raise money for the Humane Society.  I’m already committed to bringing the fruit salad and bottled water”.  I fumbled.  I guess she bought it, she didn’t proceed with the inquisition, leading  me to believe  her life must really be as boring as I’d like her to think mine is.

I wanted to be honest and tell her Saturday was my designated day to be drunk and watch College Football, but I knew that would prompt a more aggressive soul salvation campaign. I lied because it was less confrontational than revealing that her repeated invitations irritate the piss out of me. I was hoping that I would be able to keep up the appearance of someone who wouldn’t tell a woman of God to go “eff” herself, for the duration of the school year.

I was relieved when the Asian woman who dives the Ford Windstar and claims her name is “Sally”, broke in to the conversation and started talking about preparing for college.  At least, that’s what I think she was talking about. She speaks about as much English as I do Chinese. 

I have often wondered why the Chinese, when adopting names that can actually be pronounced by their American counterparts, pick monikers normally reserved for the Irish. I have known more than a few Kevin, Molly or Maggie Chung’s in my day.  I’d be willing to bet large sums of money that the potato never makes an appearance on the dinner table. 

Speaking with Sally, although physically exhausting, is usually amusing. I try to use a lot of hand gestures and facial expressions, while talking loud and slow.  Many of us do this when we encounter someone that doesn’t speak our native tongue; it’s a wonder that we aren’t depicted on foreign T.V. as screaming, sloth-like, pantomiming mongoloids.

Due to her very poor decision making ability, she had kind of adopted me as her gateway to all things American. When not talking about pushing her son “Aiden” to exceed and achieve his goal of being a “Biotechnical Engineer”, she asked hilarious questions about my way of life.  Well, to be fair to Sally, these questions are only hilarious to me. They reminded me of my high school interaction with a Japanese foreign exchange student named “Mikki”. Mikki could only say the following three phases in English: “I like chicken fingers”, “I want an American boyfriend” and “I have a hamster named Toshi”. It still amazes me that she didn’t return to Tokyo pregnant or 100 pounds heavier, from a steady diet of deep fried, poultry phalanges. To my detriment, whenever Sally asks a question about hair salons or tutoring programs; I hear Mikki’s voice, talking about her hamster, in my head.  

For the record, I don’t buy that Aiden wants to be a Biotechnical Engineer.  When I was his age I wanted to be a Singing-Princess-Veterinarian or a Roller Derby Queen. There was no way he picked up this term on Sesame Street, but if she wants to delude herself with predictions about his career path at four- who am I to stop her?  My predictions about Aiden are quite different. I surmise that his head will explode from all the information being forcefully shoved between his ears… and by age 14 he will be dressing in black, skinny jeans, sporting a haircut that can only be achieved by going to a blind beautician, and yelling “You don’t understand me” whenever Sally comes into his room to put away his socks. But, hey- I’ve been wrong before.

We had all made it in to the pick-up area by the time our children were lead out, smiling, wearing construction paper headwear created in the image of those circular metallic disc things doctors used to wear on their heads (I looked for the actual name of these antiquated medical  tools, but, apparently, Google doesn’t know either). “You’re a Doctor!!! Just like Daddy!!!” the WASP exclaimed.  In addition to trying to recruit me as member of her Southern Baptist cult, baking cookies and implying that she was better than me; she also informed every one of her husband’s profession anytime she could. While being a doctor is admirable, with all the studying, life saving and what-not, I couldn’t figure out why she insisted on talking about it all the time. It wasn’t like she donned scrubs and requested 20 cc’s of saline, STAT; the only thing she did was lay in the missionary position and disappoint his parent’s because she wouldn’t convert to Judaism. Hell, I could do that with my eyes closed.

My son was very proud of his hat, which was held together with staples and scotch tape.  I debated suggesting that they use a more updated symbol for the “Doctor” next school year, thinking perhaps a trophy wife made out of pop-sicle sticks and pipe cleaners or an Italian Sports Car would be more appropriate. I thought better of it, and left with my bouncing little physician in tow, before I had to decline an invitation to the park