Hi. My name is Jen and I am an Aquarian. Try not to hold it against me, because Sue already does. Generally speaking, Aquarians are outgoing people, but occasionally, we feel the need to retreat in to our own worlds and shut everyone out. Sue refers to this as “going in to the bubble” and it’s a behavior she does not appreciate. Sue’s older sister is an Aquarian, as am I and another of our close friends. When we retreat in to our bubbles Sue gets panicky and nervous because she’s never sure how long we’ll stay in our respective bubbles leaving her alone to entertain her kids. Quite often, the $hit hits the fan for more than one of us at once and Sue really is left high and dry.
I’ve been proud to say that I’ve stayed out of my bubble for a long stretch. It’s hard to shut everyone out when your husband and kids live in the bubble with you. Let’s be honest, who can shut out an eight year old girl or a five year boy completely? However, 2012 has been a full year. I’ve done my best to roll with it. I barely blinked an eye at the January you-have-Raynaud’s-disease-so-bundle-up-before-running-long-distances-in-the-cold-like-a-freak diagnosis. I rolled with the hip that totally tweaked out in May. I rolled with a summer full of PT that seemed to help, but never quite got my hip back to 100%. I rolled with the summer full of endoscopy, colonoscopy and barium swallow tests. But I didn’t roll so much with the resulting diagnosis of you’re-anemic-because-you-have-Celiac-so-don’t-eat-bread-ever-again diagnosis. I stopped rolling completely after being chased down and bitten by a golden retriever on my early morning Labor Day run (after my hip was finally starting to feel better again) and spending the next three hours in the emergency room getting stitches. In fact, people started mentioning a noticeable demeanor change, but I somehow managed to stay out of the bubble. Then I got shingles Thanksgiving weekend. And into my bubble I went.
At first I thought I might manage to stay out of my bubble. Warnings were given to people and most people that I know have had chicken pox or the vaccine anyway. I sent an email to my students and planned on going to work Tuesday. I even made plans with Sue for our usual Wednesday play date with Little Man and DJ. But then anti-viral I was on starting kicking my a$$. I was headachy, nauseous, and lightheaded. There was no way I could make the 50 minute drive to work. I sent the kids to school and curled up on the couch watching tv and started to remember how nice things can be in the bubble. I bailed on running and swimming. I stopped thinking about what I was going to make for dinner and either winged it or let Big Man figure it out when he got home from work (usually the latter). I responded to texts, emails, and calls, but only from certain people. I went to bed early. I had to bail on a girls’ night because a) I felt like crap and b) one of the girls was post chemo and post radiation, and therefore immune-compromised. I bailed on a friends’ baby shower. One night in bed I told Big Man that I just wanted to call “uncle,” but didn’t think anyone was listening. I’d had enough and was done with 2012. I was safely ensconced in my bubble, with no desire to ever come out.
The next day we were making lunch for ourselves and the kids when Big Man pulled out the American cheese. He’s very particular about his cheese and cheese products. We only buy certain brands of Swiss. American cheese must be Land O’ Lakes white, sliced VERY thin. He has stood at the deli counter and handed the cheese back when it hasn’t been sliced thin enough. Personally, I don’t get it, and it’s not just because I rarely eat cheese anymore. I have never gotten it. But it makes him happy, so I buy what he likes. As I was making lunch I noticed that Big Man must have eaten 8 or 10 slices before even making his lunch. Another thing I don’t get. We’re making lunch, right? We’re gonna be eating in 5 minutes, and you’re putting cheese in that sandwich, so why the Land O’ Lakes appetizer? Apparently, this phenomenon is not uncommon with men. Sue’s hubby will do the same thing (in fact he just admitted to it a few minutes ago) and my friend F-bomb used to have a boyfriend with a similar cheese obsession. F-bomb. That girl makes me laugh. And yes, she drops f-bombs like it’s her job. (In fact, it’s that exact quality that made me decide we’d be friends, about 11 years ago.) A smile spread across my face just thinking about telling her the story.
So the texting began.
ME: Hey. I know that you have a lot going on these days. BUT if you make it here Sat, you should know that I just watched my husband eat like 10 slices of cheese. Just in case you needed any material to work with.
F-BOMB: LOL! Yes, I am going to plan on coming as long as there are no surprises thrown my way in the next week with the apartment… Hehe. I already have an idea for the cheese.
ME: Lol!! You’re the best!
F-BOMB: What kind of cheese was it?
ME: Just plain old Land O’ Lakes American
F-BOMB: OMG. Perfect. Lol.
We went back and forth a while, making fun of men who fold slices of American cheese in half and just snack away as you’re making dinner or lunch for them. This is a running joke that has been going back and forth between us for the better part of five years now. F-bomb and I will meet a few times a year for dinner and to catch up. Several years back now she was on a tear about her boyfriend at the time. He was fat. He was lazy. He never did anything anymore. He ate too much f@#$ing cheese. F-bomb’s ex used to eat half of a pound of American cheese between the deli counter and the check out at the grocery store. (Big Man does NOT do that.) He’d come home from work and fold slices of Land O’ Lakes white American and eat them two at a time, while she was cooking dinner. At the time, I assured her that Big Man did (and still does) have the Land O’ Lakes appetizer while I make dinner, but it didn’t really help her to feel better. Instead it just fueled a long running inside joke.
The cheese text made me feel much better. I considered leaving my bubble, but I couldn’t just burst out this time. I was pretty comfortable. But then F-bomb sent me the you-tube clip of Homer Simpson eating the 64 slices of American cheese mid week. I belly laughed. She did show up at my house the following Saturday, as promised. After giving me her coat she walked right up to Big Man and handed him a 1 pound bag of Land O’ Lakes American cheese wrapped in a Christmas bag, like a host/hostess gift. He took it with a smile. I had been feeling so desperate the week before. Of all f@$%ing things, cheese pushed me out of my bubble…