I was browsing CVS on Friday night when I overheard the cashiers talking about the eminent Rapture. I looked down at the deodorant in my hand and wondered whether I should be wasting time on my underarms when the world was about to end. I'm not religious, but from my limited knowledge of the Rapture I guessed that I'd be in for a whole lot of hellfire, so I got the deodorant.
Though I fret at least weekly that I'll meet some tragic end that will leave my daughters motherless and my husband and family bereft, I was a little apathetic about the impending end times. If everyone in the world goes at the same time, no one misses out on anything, right? Still, I wondered if I should spend my Saturday any differently, just in case.
Of course, I couldn't actually deviate from the general routine because that would arouse the suspicions of children, whom I would hope to keep in the dark about the whole situation at least until fire began to rain from the sky (and even then I'd probably try to explain it away until the earth actually opened up and swallowed us). So, I spent my Saturday as I always do, with swim lessons and soccer, but kept a mental list of the subtle alterations I'd have made had I actually believed that I was spending my last day on Earth. Here's what I came up with:
Unleash my inner crazy mom. In my years of teaching, I've dealt with the occasional hysterical parent and heard tell of scores more. I have always sworn that I would not be one of these crazy over-reacters, and I have mostly managed to avoid it. (Well, except for this one incident in the lobby of Little E's daycare after she'd been bitten one too many times.) If I were confident that the world would end within 24 hours, I would love to share my unvarnished critique of the teenage swim instructor of the group next to Little E's. Since she's not actually my child's teacher I've held back, but on the day that the world ends it would feel great to point out to that while it's annoying that she shows up late each week, causing my child's instructor to take on extra students, it's plain disgusting that last night's mascara is streaming down her face into the pool where my child is currently forced to blow bubbles. I'd also point at that a hickey so large and, um, fresh-looking is kind of horrifying, especially in juxtaposition with the innocent preschoolers forced to rest their heads against her defiled neck as they attempt a back float.
Because I was pretty sure we'd live to see another lesson, I watched in fascination as she turned green and struggled not to vomit into the pool where my child was dog paddling but kept my mouth shut.
Eat Fritos. Just as it was the highlight to my own childhood YMCA trips, a visit to the snack machine is always the grand finale to my kids' morning at the Y. They love the Fritos and Cheese Puffs that come out of that machine so much more than anything I could ever make them, more than the same snacks, even, if they came from a source that didn't involve scrounging change and punching in codes. Each week they make their selections and I abstain. . .until we get into the car and, I demand they share. When I was in high school, I couldn't bring myself to eat in front of boys. It was as if I thought they might believe that I survived on Diet Coke, oyster crackers and coolness alone. Perhaps this is the message I hope to send the YMCA desk clerk. I don't know. But I do know that if the world was at its end, I'd buy my own bag of Fritos and savor every salty, crunch bite.
Because I was dubious about the supposed Rapture, I waited until I got home and then gorged absently on handfuls of reduced-fat wheat thins as I ranted to my husband about the hungover swim teacher.
Stop off for Botox. I have a face that people tend to misconstrue. I hear a lot of Cheer up. It can't be that bad! and Oh dear, is everything okay?. In response, I've learned to say, "No, that's just how my face looks," which generally shuts down the conversation. It's true, though; I am usually reasonably cheerful and without problems that require concern from acquaintances and co-workers, but I don't always look that way. My brow tends to furrow without my prompting and this has caused a crease between my eyebrows that apparently makes me look angry or upset. I try to be conscious about relaxing my facial muscles and thinking serene thoughts, but who wants to worry about this in the face of Armageddon? In this scenario, my concerns over the long term side effects of injecting toxins and the cost of repeated treatments would be nullified and I could face my end with a brow as serenely unlined as a Real Housewife's. It would be the silver lining to an otherwise crappy day.
Because I knew I'd likely wake up on Sunday, I concentrated on lifting and spreading my eyebrows so as to smooth my crease naturally.
Have word with the soccer parents. Every Saturday my husband gamely tries to teach a squad of first and second graders how to juggle a soccer ball, patiently explains the proper part of the foot to use for a short pass (the inside) and for a long kick (the laces), and gently shows them, over and over, the appropriate form for a throw-in. Week after week he kindly reminds them of the importance of fun and sportsmanship and not celebrating every goal as if you've just won the World Cup. Each week he brings a stopwatch to ensure that every child gets exactly the same amount of playing time. Every Saturday I sit and watch all of this, and I listen to those children's parents on the sideline as they scrutinize the equality of the playing time, act falsely modest about the abundance of talent they see in their children, and, on a recent Saturday, deliberate over which island nation's shopkeepers were more "disrespectful" of them --Jamaica or the Dominican Republic (ultimately, a draw). The one thing I never hear, in keeping with their Upstairs, Downstairs world view, is a "thank you" when they all walk away with their lawn chairs as my husband runs around gathering orange cones and soccer balls. Even at the end of the world, I probably wouldn't tell them exactly what I think about this (too embarrassing for Big E), but I would happily prompt them with a little What do you say?.
Naturally, as soon as I added this to my list one of the fathers piped up and thanked my husband. In fact, he said it twice to make sure he was heard.
I'm pretty sure he was just tying up loose ends in the face of the Apocalypse.