I thought you'd all like to know that I was not murdered by wasps today.
Can I paint the scene for you? I want to paint to scene.
OK. Wide shot on the living room. There is no place to walk. The floor is covered with the detritus of a fort gone bad – sleeping bags strewn about, an upside down kitchen chair, an angrily discarded fitted sheet. There is also a random firefighter helmet, lots of crumbs from illicitly eaten snacks, a bent light saber, so.many.sandals, a half-empty laundry basket, a giant box that looks like a car if you squint your eyes, a baby doll with one arm, a dog, one million books, my crushed soul.
Now, zoom in to the wildly blurred scrum in the center of the mess. Freeze frame. Please meet the girl child and the youngest boy child. They are wailing on each other, as you do when it's summer and your fort has not worked out the way you planned.
End freeze frame.
The camera now does that shaky-style walk through the living room, bypassing the catastrophe that one might have called a "kitchen" in the days before it was filled with sugar ants and fruit flies and a bowl of chocolate syrup someone secretly filled and then tried to hide under an old Entertainment Weekly magazine proclaiming something about Bruno Mars and his awesome house.
Through this wasteland formerly known as "kitchen" we see a pale, almost amorphous figure hunched in front of the glow of a screen. The camera hastily goes in and out of focus until we observe that this figure is in his boxer shorts. (Character note: he is always in his boxer shorts unless people are coming to the house, in which case, he puts on pajama bottoms.) The amorphous figure is currently banging keys and talking to himself. We can call him Rip Van Minecraft.
For a moment, I try to make the best of the situation. The camera catches a ray of sunshine filtering through the dirty windows. The sun lights up my face in a beatific housefrau kind of way. I put my hands firmly on my hips. I smile.
"OK, gang!" I say with a hopeful lilt to my voice. "Let's clean this place up!"
Rip Van Minecraft says, "But I have a suit of armor made of DIAMONDS!"
The girl child and the youngest boy child look up briefly from their violent scrum to scream, "NOOOOOO!" in unison, and then continue with their pummeling.
I take a breath. I think of my options. The camera focuses on my eyes as they glance to the ceiling with rapt decision-making concentration. I can ask nicely again, throw out some half-hearted threats, clean everything up by myself, OR….
The camera pans to the pantry, then pulls some CSI special effects so we can see through the door. Just like it would show a bullet piercing a clogged artery, it winds its way through the Costco packages of pasta and granola bars to find my hidden, beating heart: a stash of salted dark chocolate bars. Yes. I could go hide in the pantry and eat chocolate and just let the children Lord of Flies themselves toward either an early bedtime or an early demise.
But no. The camera reverses out of the pantry and shows me standing in the wasteland. The ray of sunshine is filled with fruit flies and despair. We can hear the screams emanating from the ball o' children on the living room floor. We can hear the grunts of Rip Van Minecraft as he patters away at the keyboard.
No. What Mama needs is a place to let out this growing rage. Because it's there. And like a shabby, hungover barista, I have only half-tamped this rage into a degenerating crumbly mess. We all know that half-tamped degenerating crumbling messes can only fill the rest of your day with bitter grit… and regret.
I need an outlet. I need to escape this place.
The camera slowly pans to the back door, peeking between the dusty blinds. There it is. EVERLAST is stamped across its side in faded, beckoning gray. "Please come hit me," it whispers. "Please come punch me in my face." EVERLAST smiles at me. "I love it when you pummel me. Just let it all out, sister. Let. It. All. Out."
My hand goes to the knob. I open the door with a twist and a yank because it sticks and the doorknob seems to purposely try to be an asshole. The camera catches the roiling heat as it blasts into me. But I just close my eyes and absorb the hit. I can be EVERLAST, too.
I find one sparring glove at the base of the punching bag. The camera scans the backyard and discovers the other glove planted in the vegetable garden. I crunch through the poorly manicured yard in my equally poorly manicured bare feet, and I fetch the glove.
The Rocky music begins to play softly in my head. The camera goes lo-fi, the colors of my hair and clothes deepening, spreading, seeming to become one with the heat. I strap on the gloves, anticipation building.
The camera's over my shoulder now, bouncing as I jog back to my friend EVERLAST. Then the camera pulls back, showing my sweating neck, my tanned arms. The lo-fi color de-emphasizes my blotchy coloring and suspicious moles.
I haul my right arm back, ready to let loose with a day's frustration; ready to wail on EVERLAST like the youngest boy child is currently wailing on his sister. But then I see it. I see them. The camera zooms in and focuses on two devils sent straight from Nature's blackened womb. No, not my sparring children… but wasps. Actual, flying, stinging wasps. They land on the base of EVERLAST. They climb inside EVERLAST. And they don't come back out.
The camera catches my arm fall to my side in slow motion.
Bitch slappus interruptus.
Because I know. I know. Where there are two wasps, there are more. And when wasps go inside a thing but don't come back out? It means they've gone home. Apparently, I am not the only thing who retreats to the confines of EVERLAST when the going gets tough. And just as I will freely and unabashedly run from my children when I'm terrified of them, I also run from wasps.
The camera soft focuses on my sweating face. I take a couple of deep breaths. I unstrap the gloves, letting them fall to my feet. The camera moves to the garden. No, camera. I will not replant the glove.
I roll my shoulders, stretch my neck, feel a trickle of sweat zoom down the Banzai Pipeline of my meager cleavage. And then the camera follows me back inside.
The rolling tumbleweed of fighting children has come to a rest in front of the television. Rip Van Minecraft has stumbled off to find non-8-bit sustenance. I make myself an iced coffee and sit down at the table that, like a beacon of sticky hope, rests in the wasteland of the kitchen.
The camera settles across from me at the table. It knows what I know. My children might be loud. They might not listen to me. But at least they don't gang up on me and pierce me with stingers that then inject me with poison until I die.
And thank God for that.
Crisis effing averted.
Cut to commercial.