Forty Three

I’ve never trusted the number 43. It has always struck me as a surly and suspicious number–up to no good.

For instance, Dale Earnhardt Sr. died in the 43rd running of the Daytona 500. Don’t watch Nascar? Me neither. But I saw the movie Cars and it’s still ominous.

Our 43rd president choked on a pretzel and during his tenure the Twin Towers were attacked by a group of extremists looking to hook up with virgins in the afterlife. Then we went to war a few times. Whether or not you are a big fan of “Doubleya”, I think we can all agree that some bad shiznit happened during his tenure. And also that he can’t handle his snack food.

Chew your food and vote responsibly. (image via a magnet someone gave Hubs)

Not convinced?  How about this: Interstate 43 runs through Wisconsin, the dairy state. I’m lactose intolerant. And I hate cold weather.

The proof is there, people!

A psychotherapist would probably tell you that this prejudice is due to my mother’s death. She was 43.

I’m not going to argue the point. My mother’s death made me strong, independent and a wee bit effed up. If you are a parent, you should go out of your way to live forever or at least until your children reach adulthood. Untimely deaths in the midst of their childhoods will screw with their sweet little brains and leave them with baggage.

Like my extreme disdain for and obsession with the number 43. And my mild hypochondria. And deep abiding love of Carol Burnett. The list goes on.

The age of 43 has always loomed ahead with a flashing sign reading “Mortality”.  It is a marker, a milestone, a year of great meaning and pathos. My 26th year, the age of my sister when she died, was another marker. But 43 is 26 on steroids.

When I had my first child, a year older than my mother had been when I was born, the age obsession kicked into high gear.  You see, my fear wasn’t so much of dying as it was/is about leaving my children. Textbook, I know. If you want to bring me in to your Psych 101 class, you’re going to have to give me plenty of advance notice.

Anyway, today I’m turning 43. I’ve hit my milestone. And since I’m knee-deep in psychological baggage, I predict that this year will be full of personal wackiness. More so than usual. I could be a bit high-strung and so I felt the need to warn you, since much of it may end up in my posts.

Buckle up, folks. It may be a bumpy ride.


Note: my son just came into the kitchen with his pants around his ankles and stated that he is 43. Then he turned around and waddled away. How he came up with the number is a mystery since Hubs keeps telling the kids that I’m 25. I think the fact that Conor was flashing me during his statement was significant, though in what way I can’t be sure.

No, I’m not making this up. And yes, it did completely freak me out.

Welcome To Poo Corner

Warning: bodily functions will be discussed in this post. It’s about to get real, y’all.

My daughter had to pee in the tub today. Her younger brother had gotten to our sole toilet first and was monopolizing it like a one-person Occupy LA protest (the joys of a constipated preschooler) and rather than have my sweet girl wet her pants in the hallway, I had her utilize our bathtub, after which she was served breakfast in a nice warm bath for her trouble.  While in the tub she asked me if grown ups ever wet their pants. I told her that yes, even with years of urinating experience, accidents did sometimes happen to grown ups too. I further informed her that grown ups on rare occasions have even been known to poop their pants, at which point her eyes grew wide and her head exploded in disbelief.

My son learning how to monopolize a commode in the great tradition of Redican men. One day he'll add reading material.

Ah, the naiveté of youth.  Once upon a time I too didn’t believe in the intestinal fallibility of adults.  I, who refused even to relieve my bowels in a public restroom, who questioned natural childbirth not for the pain but for the possibility of also giving birth to something other than a baby in a semi-public forum, who had been known to make fantastical deals with God in exchange for helping me make it to my own private facility.

Dear God, if you help me not crap my pants I promise I'll join Up With People and tour the world, singing impossibly perky songs and spreading the word of Jesus. (image via Dreamstime)

I’d heard stories from those who had lost the battle of the bowel, to which I listened in wide-eyed wonder, laughing in sympathy. I never thought it would happen to me. Foolishly I thought I was immune.  I thought that my pants would never be sullied by the lowly contests of my intestinal tract. I was truly delusional, you see, because I’ve had an irritable bowel for as long as I can remember and when your colon has an anger management problem it’s only a matter of time before you become a statistic.  I was a ticking poo time bomb just waiting to happen.

And so it did. Evidently God had grown tired of my empty promises and desperate pleas. He saw the caller I.D. and let me roll to voice mail.  I’ll save you the gory details but I lost a good pair of jeans that night. May they rest in peace.

They were good to me and I broke their little denim heart. (image via Dreamstime)

Since I’ve joined the rank and file of the rank and vile I am amazed that there is anyone who has not felt the shame of crapping themselves.  Maybe you are a member of this fortunate group. Maybe you avoided the alcohol-induced black-out poo in college and never ate a questionable hot dog at an all day music festival with an insufficient supply of porta-potties.  Maybe you never drank the water and then boarded a rural bus in a far off land or experimented with laxatives in order to lose a dress size.  Maybe you’ve never been forced to address your lactose intolerance on a culinary tour through the cheese farms of rural Wisconsin or partook in the dubious Chinese take out during a working lunch at your overcrowded office. If you are one of these people, I salute you.  You should wear your achievement as a badge of honor: the Bulletproof Bowel Brigade.

I bet one of these girls ate some bad alfalfa sprouts. I hope she packed an extra peasant skirt. (image via dreamstime)

However, you should also know that the odds are stacked against you. Forces beyond your control are conspiring against you: E. coli, salmonella, intestinal disease, the panda flu (or whatever infectious animal we’re blaming this cold season). Even if you make it all the way into your twilight years without incident, age is the great equalizer, and chances are that you’ll lose your badge of honor along with the ability to eat a meal without part of it dripping down your chin.  And when that happens, you’ll know that you’re not alone. Unless of course your memory is so shot that you don’t even remember the names of your children, in which case it really doesn’t matter, does it? You can crap yourself without any shame whatsoever.

"Grampa" Simpson

Meanwhile, for those of you who have already shared in this particular dirty little life experience, the pressure is off. You don’t have to fear the unknown. You’ve already fallen short of the ideal and gained access to the secret society. To you I send a subtle “S’up?” head nod and anonymous cyber shout out.  My peeps.