SPF 75, towels, goggles, pool bag and rolling cooler are all shoved in the back of the van as I slam the hatchback door closed. Ugh! I have been dreading this since the initial mention of it in on the FaceBook page for Austin’s second grade class. “Back to School Bash Pool Party.” This is the cover story on the invitation, but what it really means is “Adult Cocktail Party with Bikinis Where Children Just Happen to be Present.” Your child is merely your admission ticket for this wing-ding.
As we pull into the gated-community on the south side of town, I tell the guard we are here for the pool party. He looks a me like I am in my tangerine jumpsuit, and begrudgingly lifts the candy-stripped lever to allow our entrance into real-estate heaven. Houses with columns of stone reaching into the sky with lawns manicured by artists to construct the riches shade of green available.
Stephanie Mahalo was hosting this soiree, which she has done for her other 3 children before they enter the 2nd grade and who happen to be in my other three children’s classes. This is not my first rodeo, but it doesn’t mean the rodeo gets any more comfortable as time goes on. And at this particular rodeo for extra punishment, my “WC” (women’s cycle) as it is endearingly referred to in my family has come right on time for full bloating to be in effect.
As the van goes into park, Austin is off and running before I can speak his name. I gather all the things necessary for a day at the pool and waddle my way to the Clubhouse. The automatic doors open to the gorgeous tropical, floral grotto created in the middle of this beautiful neighborhood. Already dripping with sweat, I make my way toward an open umbrella in search of some shade, when I am spotted by Stephanie waving at my like only a beauty queen would.
“Hey girl! How was your summer, Ruby? I thought I saw Austin running around a few minutes ago.”
“Yeah, he made his way in. Summer was great. Too fast as usual.” The typical small talk continues as I set up camp for the day.
“Don’t I know it! We just got back from Cabo last week doing mission work and now it’s time for school supply shopping. We blinked and summer was over.”
I am unaware of the many opportunities for mission work in Cabo, but who am I to judge. I continue to unpack my gear for the day and pull out a taco dip and chips from my bag to donate to the party. “I brought this to munch on. Pool snacks, right?”
Stephanie looks at the dish I present her as if it was a tub of warm lard. “Oh. Um. Yes, pool munchies, but I made sure the kids had plenty of gluten-free, organic snacks. You know Matilda is allergic.”
“Well maybe the adults can munch on the dip then. It has fat free sour cream in it.” I smile as I continue to hold my calorie-filled offering.
Even more horrified she glares at my gluten-filled toxic dip and responds “okay” then disappears with my dish. I would have been better off to keep it for myself.
As I scan the party, women are in full-on pool outfits, not swimsuits. Jewelry sets to match their large brimmed hats with sheer cover ups that do anything but. Designer sunglasses with heels where flip-flops should be. Hair, nails and make-up done with no intent on ever seeing any water.
Abby, a ginger and one of the few moms like me who afforded comfort over style for the pool, made her way over to share the shade with my ivory skin. “What’s up, Lady? I see you sneaking over here all alone avoiding everyone.”
“I’m not avoiding. I’m protecting my skin against the UV rays and if that also protects me from the mob, well then that is a bonus.”
We both laugh.
“I think some of them plan their entire summer around this. What about you, Ruby?” Abby hands me a Sam Adams from her cooler.
“If there was a way around this, I would have found it. Hell, I even got my WC, I mean my period today. I would gladly have stayed home and out of a bathing suit but Austin was excited to see his buddies and it’s good for them to see each other to get ready for the new year.”
“Oh damn!” Abby shudders at the thought. “The things we do for our children, am I right?”
“That you are, Abby!” We cheers our beers and enjoy our view from the shade a little while longer until Austin runs up shaking around like a wet dog to get us both soaked. On a typical day, I would be annoyed but today it is as hot as a 90’s boy band and I am melting even in the shade.
“Come on, Mommy, please get in and play with me! Jump in with me, PLEASE!”
Oh this sweet baby has no idea the weight of this request. There are surgically enhanced body parts as far as the eye can see with perfectly sprayed tans and hair extensions that Indiana Jones could swing from. Austin’s not-yet-forty-year-old momma (Me) has her one-piece mom-suit with extra support up top with a water-proof bonnet to keep the sun out of her eyes and hair out of her face, extra large sunglasses to mask the lack of make-up with a cover up the size of a moo-moo.
But, how could I say no to my baby boy who could care less what I have on and more about my Marco Polo skills in the water. So, I throw caution to the wind along with my enormous cover up and Mrs. Ruby Errore takes the walk toward the diving board.
I strip myself of all my armor. My hat comes off and lets my greasy-haven’t-washed-in-two-days-hair show. My sunglasses stay on the table to reveal the not covered up bags under my eyes. I adjust my “slimming” elastic material on my one-piece which inevitably hugs all the wrong places on my WC-bloated body. Like a woman being led down the Green Mile, I do not look to the side, but I can see the heads turning as I make my way. It feels like I am in slow motion, so I decide to strut to the driving board and I cannon ball in the pool to 7 year old boy cheers with pride in my step and a smile on my face.
I spend the next hour kicking ass in Marco Polo with the entire 2nd grade class laughing and weightlessly jumping around in a really nice pool. Abby joined the game about halfway in, but she was the only other adult who got into the water. I could feel my delicate skin getting warm so I got out to dry off and reapply the SPF. When I did, Stephanie came over to the shade where my camp was set up.
“Well, you are the hit of the party, Ruby!”
I wrap the towel around me and replace the armor on my face (my sunglasses). “Oh how so?”
“I mean jumping in the pool and playing with all the kids? That takes some guts.”
As she usually does, Stephanie’s passive aggressive nature can’t help itself and I know where this is going. I have a choice on how I am going to react. And as she stands there with her martini glass, in her string bikini that may fall off her enhanced body parts if it ever came in contact with water, and her shear cover-up that covers nothing with her bright pink lip-stick on her filled up lips and she smiles as she lets slither out “I mean I would never be as brave as you to walk around in just my suit, not to mention get in the water. Bravo to you.”
I want to revert to the days when many of my sentences started with “Bitch, you know what…” however I vote against that approach today and reply with as much passive aggressiveness as I can muster up. “Oh thanks, Stephanie. I wouldn’t either if I were you.”
Stephanie’s face is frozen with disbelief from my response. She silently turns on her pool heels and walks over to a group of moms watching our interaction from across the pool.
I sat down finished my beer from earlier with the most satisfaction I could imagine, until later on our way home. From the back seat of the van my baby boy yells, “hey mom!”
“What’s up, buddy?”
“You were a Rockstar today! All friends said they wished you were their mom. I told them too bad suckers, she’s mine!”
With a smile on my face and tear in my eye, “yes I am buddy!”