I like to drive in the mini van. Feel free to make fun. Feel free to laugh. But the mini van offers me satisfaction that no other car can offer…I don’t care if it is scratched. In fact, I relish in the idea. I still have the mark on the door panel where Dylan W. and Dylan J. fired tennis balls at me while I raced back and forth down the street throwing the ones that came in the window back out at them. I like to get in the mini van and turn on the air and drop people off and pick people up and ask people to come along and talk to people on the phone through the speaker so that everyone in the car can join in the conversation. I love the mini van. My punk friends, the ones that are now 40 years old and still refusing to drive a mini van laugh at me as I blast past their houses. The car full to the brim with the Millikan Water Polo team. Ramones, The Who—or even the soundtrack of Westside Story blasting out of the open windows. They don’t understand that the mini van is a mini universe on wheels and I…I am the Commander and Chief of the world. The President of the car. I decide who gets in, who gets out. Where we go, and what path we take to get there. I can speed up and scare the shit out of everyone or I can slow down and infuriate even the most patient passenger. Ahhh the power of it is lost to them…Stuck in the punk world of the 1980’s they have forgotten what punk means. I am now punk. I refuse to drive a hotrod, get a tattoo, or go with the group…I am now the punk rock mini van commander.
And so, you can imagine my chagrin when I am interrupted while running an errand in my mini van. It’s Lexi on the cell phone. Lex, my 21-year-old daughter. A disgusting girl. The kind of girl that I would love to hate if I could but because she is my daughter, I’m not allowed. Lexi is 6 feet tall. Honestly 6 feet. I still don’t understand how a child of such gargantuan proportions ever came out of my vaginal cavity but I’m too embarrassed to bring it up for fear that people will think that I have the largest expanding hooch in the world. Lexi. 10lbs. 8 ounces of joy! Bullshit. 10lbsd 8 ounces of here comes trouble for the rest of your life. Lexi. 6 feet tall about 145 pounds. She is a cross between Uma Thurman and Heidi Klum. An Amazon woman that Pigmy queen produced. She has perfect skin, perfect boobs, and a butt that can still wear size 4T Fruit of the Loom under-roos. She can sing, she can dance, she is smart, she is a smart ass, she can do anything and do it well. The only ugly thing on the child is her feet…her size 11 feet that she doesn’t seem to understand she needs to hold up her 6 foot Amazon frame. She hates her feet and so I am happy. Happy to know that there is actually one flaw on her whole 6 foot frame that I can make fun of on a regular basis.
I am of the belief that it is necessary to raise a child with some sort of self-esteem issue so that they never believe that they are the be all and end all of everyone’s existence. A way I guess of keeping Lexi in line with the rest of us flawed and fucked up human beings. So, when she waltzes into the living room in a polka dot string bikini (and I swear she does) and looks in the grand gold mirror and poses (no matter who is present) and says, “Look at me…I’m so fat…I’m so ugly” I can actually say…”No, you’re not fat…you’re not ugly…but you might want to do something about that weird giant toe on your left foot” the pleasure is immeasurable.
No beautiful people should be allowed to get away without a flaw.
So it’s Lexi. Lexi on the phone and she is in tears. Lexi is crying and whining and asking when I will be back home. Now on most days, I might instantly snap at Lex. She has a tendency to truly be a drama queen. Everything plays out to her like a soap opera. The storylines of the events of her life are so confusing and convoluted with incestuous twists and turns that to write about them would sound like fiction. Bad fiction. But it would be truth.
However, on this occasion, I wait before I snap. Lex and I have recently been to the doctor because the beautiful person is ill and unlike the flawed weird big toe, this is not something I can wish upon my girl. She is sick. Sick enough for serious evaluations by Dr. Gem our new woman internist. Dr. Gem whom we waited over two hours to see just because we heard that she was that good. Two hours…and when we finally get into a room, I make a comment to Lexi behind closed doors that I think Tom, her ex-boyfriend from Clinton Massachusetts, looks like he might smell of bad fish if you were a stranger and didn’t know him and hadn’t gotten a chance to smell him yet, and that is when Dr. Gem knocks and then appears in the doorway. She has an odd look on her face, one that leads me to automatically believe that she has overheard only a partial amount of this conversation and that she now believes that I have been making slanderous comments about her obvious Asian heritage by talking about “smelling of fish” from behind her examining room door. So I smile big and try to explain and realize she doesn’t know what the hell I am talking about and could care less what I am mumbling about Lexi’s ex-boyfriend.
Dr. Gem begins to examine Lex and as she does so, she begins to ask her questions. This is when I find out what my daughter has really been doing over the last six months. She has been throwing up, passing out and losing weight. She has been drinking nightly, smoking daily, weeding weekly, and eating crappy. I sit with my eyes locked on Lexi’s…ready to kick her ass and kill her and at the same time, hoping that the problem really is as simple as too much partying…too much “21”. Dr Gem doesn’t seem to think it is though. I can tell by her face that she is concerned. When she pulls a thermometer out and finds that Lex is running a low-grade fever, she decides that a full work up is necessary and so she writes it up and sends us to the lab.
We go to the lab where we then find out that Lexi must give blood from both arms, urinate in a plastic cup, and …special surprise for us…take three stool samples daily and scoop them into little plastic jars for the next three days.
So Lex…on the phone…crying and whining…gets out of being snapped at immediately today.
“Mom, when are you coming home?” She whines and desperation and moaning have now moved in. I ask her why she needs me home and I try to remain calm. I do this for two reasons. One, she is really sick and deserves my patience and compassion and two, I don’t want her to know that I am truly worried about such a disgustingly beautiful person. So she then says, “I can’t do this stool sample mom…it’s making me throw up…It’s making me sick…I need you to come home and do it for me.” And that is when I lose it…that is when I know, that Lex truly does deserve the S-N-A-P, because what you don’t know about Lex is that Lex, the beautiful one…Picks up dead bodies for a living. Yes, dead bodies.
She started almost two years ago. The bodies. I thought it wouldn’t last. I honestly thought that someone that looked like that would not last one hour picking up dead bodies from homes and hospitals and who knows where else she gets them but she did. Lexi with a job, recommended by a family friend, as a body snatcher. So here is my girl, my Victoria’s Secret Uma-Heidi Thurman-Klum girl, picking up dead bodies for a living…and this same girl is now calling me on the phone to tell me. That she honestly can’t scoop her own shit?
So I say to her…in my best mom voice…my best I’m the principal and listen to how disgusted I am with you voice, “You can pick up a dead body that is blue and so covered in mold that it looks like the guy is wearing a plaid robe but you can’t scoop a small bit of your own shit and put it in the sample bottle?” …She cries, “Yesssss” and then I hear her gag as if she is about to chuck. So I go off, a complete tirade, about how I am not coming home to scoop her crap. I refuse. I’ve already served my time. I scooped shit from birth to three and I’m done. Two asses; Hers and Dylan’s and now it’s time for them to take care of business on their own.
I make her scoop her shit while I talk her through it on the phone and all the while I am picturing everything that I have witnessed in the last year. Lexi burning rubber around the corner in a white hearse. Ozzie blasting from the open windows, coffin in the back. She stops by the side of the house; waves at me while I water the lawn and waits only long enough for my mouth to drop when I realize she has a body in the back. Then she gives me a huge rock, “WAAAAAaaaAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH” at the top of her lungs, flips the universal rock sign (now known as the sign of the devil made music by Christian Fundamentalists), and spins the wheels burning rubber again as she leaves. It isn’t until two days later that I realize my mom was smart enough to run out behind me and take a Polaroid snapshot of Lex throwing the sign as she sped away. The picture now hangs on the refrigerator door, proudly held up by a sticker from Spencer’s gift and gag shop that reads…I SEE DEAD PEOPLE…Scoop the shit Lex. Scoop the shit.
I think of the time that I come in from work to find a note on the bar that says, “Pick up Fernando Hernandez, flight 462, Delta, LAX, arrives 7pm.” The kitchen bar where all of our communication takes place. The bar, which usually holds notes about live people but today, my mom tells me, the note is for Lex. Fernando will be arriving from Mexico tonight but Fernando has no idea he’s flying and no idea that he’s dead in fact, and on his way back to L.A. Scoop the shit.
I think about the time that Lex caught me on my ride home from a business meeting to tell me that she was really upset because she was at the morgue and her bodies weren’t ready yet. Margie, my good friend sitting next to me in the car, looking at me as if to say, “Please don’t tell me that this is truly what motherhood entails.” Lily, her own daughter, still years away from this type of adolescent body snatching fun! Scoop the shit Lex. Scoop the shit.
And so this is how it goes…me in my mini van…Lex at home scooping her own shit until we get it done. Done and then, Lexi is finally calm. The shit has been scooped and labeled, and so I can once again go back to being Commander and Chief of my world. A world without beautiful people, dead bodies or little jars of labeled shit. A world where the Ramones shout “Gabba Gabba Hey!” from my speakers as I navigate the city streets of Long Beach—Looking for people to pick up—Looking for people to drop off—enjoying the air while running my daily mundane errands—pleased to know that my van carries only live passengers—no need to speak to Lex before climbing on board. Just a typical day in my suburban punk rock mini van as I command the world.