Posts Tagged ‘Wife’

Bumper Cars with a Legend

To begin, I must apologize for such a lengthy absence. I have been pursuing means to boost my resume and to finish the dissertation early (which results in a pretty penny saved). In all honesty, little of note has transpired in recent months that has merited attention… until about seven weeks ago.

Cousin Frank, the legend himself, ventured across the Atlantic to spend a week with our family. In terms of Franktitude, this visit was relatively uneventful (i.e. no near-death experiences on a 600-foot cliff or falling off a bicycle in the path of an 18-wheeler). One gloriously bright day, we clambered out from behind our red door and the oppressive weight of grey that had sealed us indoors for months, determined to give Nottingham the benefit of experiencing Frank and vice versa. The best (and perhaps only) attraction within reasonable distance of our home is a massive property called Wollaton Park. The locale has acres upon acres of open lawns, free-roaming deer, a lake, a historic hall, and, on certain weekends and school holidays, a carnival.

Frank and I found ourselves near the top of a hill gazing down into the valley at painfully gaudy fabrics constructed into tents and awnings, seizure-inducing, flashing lights, poorly-crafted prizes that virtually deteriorate when (or if) the gamemaster begrudgingly puts one into your hands, and a fleet of ice cream trucks. Abandoning my wife and our friend, Laura, to watch the child, we found ourselves quickly at the base of the hill, wandering between the various stalls with increasingly disappointed looks on our faces. As we turned back towards our companions, we began to search desperately for any activity that might contribute towards financially, nearly placing our heavy coins into the grubby hands of the giant slide minder. Yet reason won the day and we turned away from the sackcloth and pink and yellow lengths of metal. It seemed, however, that fate had spun us too far. For we were not facing our family uphill, but rather a mauve-colored arena, full of miniature cars and spewing exhaust from the generator that apparently powered it. Bumper cars.

The only known photo of the legend from his time in Nottingham. No longer in grainy, unclear black and white- he exists!

Cousin Frank and I casually made our way over to the enclosure, not wanting to appear desperate. We asked the gentleman (though there was nothing gentle about him) the rate for hiring his restricted automobiles. When he responded £3 per person, I began to turn toward my family again, but was stopped by a hand that firmly grasped my shoulder from below. Frank was already dropping £6 into the hand of the salesman, one coin at a time, and saying to me, “Let’s enjoy ourselves. This one is on me.” I should have known from the way that the coins fell in slow motion, as though he was paying our fee to Charon, that there was something sinister afoot. But I thought to myself instead, “Free bumper cars!

This electrical car mechanic assigned us to our respective vehicles, while two other pairs of people joined us and shared cars with each other. I looped the “seatbelt,” which amounted to little more than a sharp-edged, loose-fitting noose, over my neck and waited for the buzz of electricity to signal Frank’s demise. As our cars began to glide across the flat surface of the track, we all ignored the “one-way” sign posted on the eastern pillar and began driving erratically, hoping for maximum speed to proceed a collision.

I noted that not all seemed right as Frank paid the ride owner and cackled maniacally. It turned out that after I reached maximum speed and cousin Frank sat helpless against the edge or a few other cars, the vehicle I had received opted to slow down dramatically and suddenly send me in the opposite direction. No amount of steering or stomping on the accelerator would remedy the situation. The vehicle tended to right itself only after Frank collided into me with cataclysmic force and shrieked with delight as an egregious inferno blazed in his eyes. In several crashes, the seatbelt “saved” me by nearly severing my head and drawing the blood to the surface of my skin in a neat little line that ran along my neck and down my chest.  It appeared as though Frank had mollified the carnival gods and rode on the wave of their favor. He had cleverly guided us toward this activity, feigning disinterest in the revelry and acting as though the bumper cars were something “we may as well do” because we had walked “so far.” Frank had an axe to grind, as it turned out. For he was suffused with rage that I had told so many stories in which he was the subject of hilarity.

But, you see, when Cousin Frank went with us to a playground in Nottingham, he got stuck on a merry go round (or “roundabout”). After observing me pushing Langston and wife in a large swing together on which they were able to lay down, Frank desired to partake in the relaxing activity. Behind us, he found a dish-shaped merry go round composed of stacked metal rings and climbed inside.

A fairly close representation of the cone that ensnared Frank.

Proving to be decidedly less comfortable than he imagined, Frank attempted to climb out, but found the effort near impossible. Hearing the groans of struggle close at hand, I turned to watch him and capitalized on my opportunity.

I ran to the merry go round and, as he reached out a hand believing I had come to his aid, I grasped the top metal ring and began to spin the contraption as quickly as possible. Initially, Frank responded to my energetic whirling with, “No thanks. We’re not doing that.” Within seconds, as the cone approached maximum speed, his pitch modulated significantly and he shifted from the declarative to the imperative. In shrill, girlish tones, he shrieked, “Help! Bethany, save me! Save me, Bethany!” Wife responded by laughing near to the point retching and Langston lay their on his back, enjoying the swing and ignoring his relative.

We watched Frank as he attempted to climb out of the cone, but centrifugal force consistently threw him from side to side. Eventually, the device slowed to a stop and Frank managed to toss a leg over the edge of the rim, using gravity to drag his body out of the dangerous playground equipment. He staggered at an angle across a large swathe of grass before collapsing to the ground and giving the fluid in his ears time to settle.

As I sat in my bumper car, speeding aimlessly backwards and gazing at Frank as he repeatedly crashed into my side and foamed at the mouth, I realized that this vendetta had nothing to do with what I had done in the past, but with what I had recounted to others. For example, while Frank stayed in our house, he frequently enjoyed showers- as you do. I neglected to mention, however, that if one happens to turn on a faucet (tap- or whatever you Brits call it) while another is showering, the shower instantly goes cold to prevent from burning the showerer/showeree.

One evening, therefore, while Frank rinsed off, I set my nine-month-old on the floor, strolled over to the kitchen sink, and turned on the water ever so briefly. After hearing the change in water pressure upstairs, I laughed to myself and shut the water off, but was surprised to hear a giggle from elsewhere in the room and close to the floor. Langston stared up with a wide, toothless smile as though he was saying, “That’s right, Dad. Do it again. We shall freeze him out of the shower and there will be much laughter.” Not wanting to disappoint my son, I flicked the water on and off seven or so more times. Yet, I never told Frank of this shower-related phenomenon.

In the middle of our bumper car excursion, I suddenly realized that there are no carnival gods, and though my vehicle clearly suffered a curse in some capacity, I struck out at Cousin Frank. The first blow nearly ended the relationship between his arm and shoulder socket. Fortunately for us, the bumper car regulator let us drive for nearly 20 minutes before he made us stop. Frank and I drove like maniacs, attacking each other and the pathetic couples in the other two cars- who cares if they were children?

Though many an awesome t-bone was frustrated by my reversing vehicle, I saw to it that Frank left with minor whiplash and he reminded me how delicately my head sits upon my shoulders. As the electricity fizzled out, we stepped from our cars out into the sunset-stained lawn, laughed at the weeping children, and set our minds on ale.

Midwifery Colloquy

As the last eight months have progressed, wife and I have found ourselves in frequent contact with midwives (healthcare blessings in lilac blouses whose relative absence from America gives the UK a distinct advantage in pre- and post-natal care). Through the check-ups, scans, and birthing workshops (get with the program, America), we receive a massive amount of information, and occasionally an off-color remark. This entry is a tribute to those midwives who have let slip comments in our presence and never asked, “Why are you taking notes, sir?”

A string of favorites quotes came in a single day and from a single midwife during a course that helped prepare us for the birthing process and the post-natal period. In trying to help the soon-to-be-parents, the midwife fielded a question about the rate of increase in time between contractions. She began her response with, “Textbook rate, from a cervix point of view…” I did not hear the rest. Shortly after this, she encouraged those mothers who wanted to use the birthing pools which are available in most labor wards in the UK (can you hear me, America?). She encouraged the mothers to dress in what was most comfortable, or nothing, if they felt like it. If they want their spouses in the pool (nasty), however, the men must wear swim trunks because, “Midwives are used to seeing naked women, but we’re not so keen on naked men.” Eventually, she got beyond the items available to us during labor and spoke on the event itself. Her eyes glistened slightly as she looked around the room and told the wives, “When you start to push, you will feel like you are taking the largest poo of your life,” then reminded them at the end of the lecture on labor that you are “just pushing down into your body like you’re taking a big poo.” Ahhh, a veritable sonnet on the lips of a bard. Such skill it requires to punctuate one’s stanzas not with commas or ellipses, but with flecks of poo.

When she carried on into the information about actually caring for the baby, she made note of numerous foul, squirty, mucousy, and sticky qualities of this new person. Numerous items were novel to me, and I frequently caught myself grimacing in disgust. More often than not I only realized my expression when I looked around the room and saw all of the women nodding knowingly at our sensei. One of these (numerous) occasions resulted from our midwife’s description of the meconium poop that babies produce for the first few days of life. Apparently, it is a dark, sticky substance (that doesn’t smell!!) that gets all over the baby and can take some effort to remove (Wikipedia has a picture, in case you’re curious). She noted that dads are particularly sensitive to their baby boys being cleaned, and will cry out in horror, “Oooooh! How can you scrape his balls like that!” As she passed on from cleaning the baby, she encouraged us to have our hospital bag ready for the big day, and got very detailed in the process, not even realizing how it sounded when she said, “If you want to be really prepared, because I’m anally prepared…”

As the day drew to a close, she noted that mothers should do all they can to bring the labor on once the baby has reached term. “At 39 weeks [of pregnancy],” she exclaimed, “you should be eating hot curries, taking lots of walks, and having lots of sex. And if you do all three, you get a prize.” I just eyed her suspiciously, because I don’t believe she has any prizes. This suspicion was compounded by her frequent use of the word “squozen”as the past tense of “squeeze.”

She concluded it all with information on breastfeeding, noting that it would be difficult at first, but eventually things would just click. She cautioned, however, that if the baby is not on correctly this can lead to a great deal of soreness- soreness we cannot even imagine, because, to put it in her words, “I don’t want to get into anyone’s private life, but odds are you have never had that much suction on your nipples.” After wetting myself and several others, I gathered my belongings and made for the exit.

The comments above, though amusing, do not capture the awkwardness of another engagement with a midwife during an active birth workshop. She was attempting to demonstrate how a pregnant woman should sit on a birthing ball by actually having a pregnant woman sit on a birthing ball. A novice at it, she just could not get the posture that would please our midwife. “No, that’s still not correct… you’re back needs to hammock… No… stand up for a minute.” She then had her sit on the ball again. “No, you need to sit on your perineum… Wait… do you all know what your perineum is? It’s the place between your bum and your… um… front… between… um… it’s… the area between, you know… between your vagina and you bum.” The fact that a woman who delivers babies for a career had such a hard time saying vagina tickled me ever so much.

That’s all for now. Only four weeks lie between today and the due date. Unless something of great interest arises in the near future, the next time I write there will be another Talbert in the world.

An Ankle-Smashing Holiday with a Little Yellow Bird

Thirty days of paid vacation: one of the numerous, fantastic realities about living in England. This reality resulted in wife and I awake at five a.m. and on our way to the nearest airport with dirt-cheap tickets to the Canary Islands (a sharp contrast to leave the land of soft-spoken, polite Brits for a place where all conversations sound like arguments) and a hotel of similar price categorization. We had scheduled ten days of holiday, though you will see shortly how that materialized. By noon we were on a bus to Puerto de la Cruz and nearly two hours later we found ourselves in the lobby of a hotel. Though Bethany’s Spanish is rough, it is kilderkins better than my own, so she spoke with the concierge and dealt with our reservation. If you need help counting to fifteen in Spanish, then I’m your man, otherwise I would advise you seek help elsewhere.

Having surveyed the room and deciding it met with our standards, we ventured out into the city of Puerto de la Cruz to see what it had to offer. Being the misers that we are, wife and I firmly decided against renting a car and opted for walking in the city or taking a bus to the more distant sites. As it turns out, our hotel is located at the top of a moderate-sized mountain and the city lies in the valley roughly one mile below. The hike down is relatively simple (and high-speed, should you like), but the return journey demands a bit more of the body. After several days of multi-mile walks through the city we found ourselves with bulging, trunk-like leg muscles, the veins of which were pressed up against the skin in order to transport the massive amounts of blood to our lower extremities… except that genetics expressly prohibit the veracity of this statement in my case.

At any rate, after the long walk back up the mountain, we examined the immediate environs of our hotel and noticed an inordinate amount of German restaurants close at hand, not to mention large numbers of relatively pale men and women wearing fanny-packs, hiking boots, and backpacks everywhere that they went. It turns out we had landed ourselves in the German quarter of Tenerife, which boded well for our ability to communicate. In the end, we settled down at a genuine Canarian restaurant and, thanks to a multi-lingual waiter, were able to order our first meal. Typical lady-style, wife first ordered a salad, though I insisted on large quantities of meat to nourish my growing, über-masculine boy developing in her womb. She settled for some fish. For my first course, however, the waiter brought out a scalding-hot skillet full of boiling oil with chilies, garlic, and shrimp. It was refreshing for someone to consider me a person of basic intelligence such that he did not warn me “not to touch” because the skillet was hot. I suppose he figured the bubbling of the oil would be a hint enough for me. Regardless, I immediately grabbed the skillet, poured the searing oil onto my crotch, and sued the restaurant for millions of Euros, all in keeping with my American sensibilities. That pretty much brings the first day to an end.

Bubbles Galore!

The following day we began the day with a traditional Canarian, German breakfast and decided to explore our surroundings more thoroughly. Initially this led us to the impressive botanical garden north of our hotel- not much to report here. It was pretty and peaceful enough. We even stumbled upon a dragonfly that was smacking his bottom against the water for some bizarre reason. Mimicking the behavior does not enable you to get any closer to the insect, nor does it aid in flight as one might think- you just end up with a wet butt and a dragonfly (not to mention onlookers) that thinks you’re a weirdo. After fifteen more minutes of failure in my entomological experiment, I dried off and dejectedly looked at the rest of the flora that the garden had to offer. A long walk later and we had arrived at our first beach for the vacation. It looked peaceful enough, but the steep incline of the shore and the yellow flag on a nearby pole did not sit well with me. I stuck my toes in the water- not too cold. In fact, it felt quite nice. Then the first large wave came in and I instantly realized why there was no one else in the water. The steep angle of the beach, coupled with the strong current meant that each wave sent large, rounded volcanic rocks up the shore and then sucked them back out with equal force. Putting something between the path of such a rock and the ocean, say a foot or an ankle, for example, means that the rock strikes said foot or ankle with the force of a furious ocean. You would be surprised how much foot skin a single rock is capable of removing in one go. After collapsing on the sand and cursing Poseidon, I dragged myself back to our towel and slowly bled while I waited for my ankle to recover enough to sustain my weight again.

Put your workboots on and join us for a swim

As the day drew to a close, wife and I sat in the hotel lounge for some drinks and conversation to wind down. We looked at each other and almost simultaneously asked, “What are we going to do here for ten days?!?” We came to realize something important about ourselves on this vacation: what made vacations so enjoyable was the company of family and friends, or being in an area with less stereotypically touristy options. Within minutes, we were at a computer booking a cheap flight back to England. The hotel even refunded us for the final days of our reservation. We certainly missed the final few days of sun, but the benefits of coming home early outweighed our vitamin-D needs.

Free from the concern of what we would do for so many days in Tenerife, we entered the new day with the aim of visiting a banana plantation. Less than two hours later, our hopes were dashed when we told the plantation had been shut down. Plan B: walk around relatively aimlessly until we find something to pique our interest for several hours. This led to an uphill hike of several miles to a park designed with multiple types of gardens. The apparent claim to fame was that it had been built on one of the few remaining “Plais” on the island. The information board never fully explained what a “Plais” was, so when we finally stumbled upon this legendary “Plais,” we were little impressed to see an unkempt weed-garden, populated with various cacti and low-lying shrubberies. The excitement for the view of a “Plais was only further quelled as we explored the countryside and found that this “rarity” was, in fact, ubiquitous. Perhaps they meant “rare within 500 square meters?”

The ever-impressing plais- in mint condition!

Dejected, we turned south and decided to venture an encounter with another beach. Playa Jardin promised a shallower incline, potential swimming, and a weaker current than the previous beach, but the percentage of topless women made it difficult to find a spot where wife was comfortable sitting. Eventually, we settled, swam, and sunned until late in the afternoon. After the 14-mile walk back to the hotel, we settled into an evening of playing cards and reading. At some point in the early evening, an idea came to me with such impact that it nearly erupted out of my head. You see, several weeks ago, a friend recommended that I give any children we have prenatal names. These names would differ from their birth names and, because they due not last beyond the pregnancy (not yet anyway), they can be anything I want. Therefore, I burst into the bathroom while wife was showering and shouted “Freydor Hammerhelm son of Og!” It is a collection of the most masculine names that I could envision, and even includes the name of an ancient relative in the time when names were at their manliest. At this point, we are sure Freydor will be born with a full beard… and perhaps a sword. After a discussion with some friends we determined that Freydor will fly out of the womb during the birthing procedure and, with a single stroke, slaughter all of the medical staff in the room and cut his own umbilical cord.

Freydor in situ

The next day we decided Puerto de la Cruz had offered all that it could, so we took a bus to the west coast in order to explore Los Gigantes. For those with a proclivity toward motion sickness, I would advise against the bus manned by Mario Andretti. It was as though our driver lived in a perpetual fear that the volcano on the island behind him was constantly erupting. The tortuous roads were better for little else than exacerbating the nausea. Every time we reached the crest of a hill, I thought, “Thank you, Jesus” only to see a long stretch of road and another slope in the distance.

Upon arrival, we found that Los Gigantes had more Brits to offer than our base city and an inexpensive cruise along the coast. Because of Freydor’s endless stomping upon his mother’s bladder, we found ourselves frequently in need of a restroom, but rarely one of the public variety on offer. We even settled on our cruise boat because it promised a toilet on board. After boarding the boat, however, there was no toilet to be found. I disembarked quickly and found the crew to ask about the aforementioned situation. The captain first asked, “For pee-pee only?” When I said, “Yes” he nodded and tapped another man on the shoulder. He turned around quickly and asked how he could help. So, I repeated my question. He looked at me over his sunglasses and asked, “For pee-pee only?” I nodded. So, he led me back to the boat and pointed out a secret compartment that a person could fit inside, indeed, even a toilet. Then he asked again, “For pee-pee only?” I assured him it was only for pee-pee. Then, he turned and laughingly said, “Something else for po-po!”

Our terlet situation sorted, we took off for a view of the local dolphin pod. Though our shipmates squealed with delight at the sight of the marine mammals, wife and I nodded in acknowledgment of their presence. At first, I must admit, I was overcome with the group’s excitement at seeing a dolphin surface, but, as I desperately scrambled for my camera, I remembered that I had grown up in Florida. Excitement then waned into familiarity and I shook my fist at the dolphins, shouting, “Kill a shark and impress me!” As a whole, the experience was nice, and we managed to snag a less erratic driver for the trip home.

I see you

The final two days in Puerto de la Cruz were relatively uneventful. We spent one day relaxing, and the last day up at Mount Teide– the highest peak in Spain. After marching around in the desert for a bit, we returned to the café at the tourist center and waited for our bus to arrive.

It took her twenty minutes to find the mountain.

We were up early the next morning for our bus back to the airport. The only bus that we were sure would get us there on time left at 6:30 a.m. and arrived five hours before our flight departure. Hoping that a coffee break and security would take up some time, we sluggishly proceeded through the airport. Wife passed through the metal detector first and managed to set it off. As the female security guard called her over and began to pat her down. She reached wife’s stomach and began to rub in circles. From the other side of the metal detector, I saw her ask something excitedly, then say something to the other security staff, all the while continuing to rub Bethany’s belly. She is probably the friendliest airport security guard of all time. Sixty games of gin and a Burger King break later, we were in line to board our plane.

As we filed in like so many bovine, I caught a glimpse of the prohibited items sign. I was surprised that they needed to mention crossbows, but less so to see fingernail clippers and liquid containers over 50ml. It was good of them to note all of these items in the end, however, as I had contemplated rigging up my arbalest with some fingernail clippers soaked in 100ml of travel shampoo to shoot the flight crew in the eyes. Wife wisely advised against this, so that we have made it home without a hitch.

A Fashionable Conclusion

Due to sun-deprivation, that's the actual color of her legs.

Alabaster Hamstrings

You may have thought she was done, but wife is full of trend-based surprises. Due to sun-deprivation, that’s the actual color of her legs.