This afternoon we ate at our local athletic club, and they were holding a squash tournament, so the restaurant was super crowded with middle school aged kids, all of whom had their heads buried in their cell phones, including the four kids sitting behind us, which resulted in one of their dads scolding them, “Could you put your fucking cell phones away?! No wonder you’ve been here for 40 minutes, and no one’s taken your order!” I was kind of appalled but not really, because I’m accustomed to the f-bomb, and it was sort of nostalgic, as it’s something I could envision my dad saying to me.
So then these two blonde women (probably mid or late 40s) sat across the aisle from us (and it became apparent that the cell phone kids were their kids). They’re the kind I’m used to seeing at “The Club” – ones who don’t work even though their kids are well into their school-aged years and who are “so busy” with pool days and tennis matches and social obligations and who send their kids to private school (where just as many kids end up smoking marijuana and snorting cocaine). They’re the kind who maybe I’ll become some day if Mark gets promoted (sans the marijuana and cocaine). Or maybe not. The future is unpredictable.
But ANYWAY, Mark picked up Joel and wandered aimlessly near their table. (The restaurant overlooks some tennis courts, and I think he wanted to see if Joel was interested in watching tennis.) But Joel started screaming, so then Mark turned back towards our table, and one of the women was like, “Oh what a beautiful baby! How old?!”
And Mark was like, “5 months.”
And then (because of course) she was like, “Is he your first?”
And then the conversation proceeded as follows…
Mark – No. He’s our second.
Blonde Squash Mom 1 – Oh! How old’s your other one?!
Mark – Well, sadly he passed away…
(NOTE – In case you haven’t learned from my other posts, or from personhood, this is normally when people say, “Oh, I’m so sorry.” Or they make an awkward attempt to relate or they say, “Everything happens for a reason.” Or they just shut down. But not Blonde Squash Mom 1. No, she went off script, escalating things rather quickly.)
Blonde Squash Mom 1 – How did he die?
Me – Ummmm… Uhhhhh… Well, I was in week 33 of my pregnancy, and he had a knot in his cord, plus two neck wraps, so it cut off his oxygen. They tried to save him, but he died shortly after my emergency C-section.
Blonde Squash Mom 1 – Oh. So he died before he was born?
Me – No. He lived for about 20 minutes.
Blonde Squash Mom 1 – Oh. I’m so sorry.
Mark – Thanks… Yeah, it’s been really tough…
Blonde Squash Mom 1 – Yeah… My friend’s child was stillborn at full-term. It’s pretty common isn’t it?
Me – Well, it’s actually not as rare as people think…
Mark – About 26,000 babies die this way each year in our country.
Blonde Squash Mom 1 – Yeah, that’s a lot.
Mark – And after losing Matthew, we’ve met so many others who’ve lost children.
Me – Yeah… It’s good because we’ve found a lot of support, but it’s obviously sad… We live in a tragic world…
Blonde Squash Mom 1 – Over Thanksgiving, my husband’s cousin’s 11-year-old boy, who’s a twin, died from his nut allergy. He ate a piece of cake, and it had a nut in it, and they gave him Benadryl before the epi-pen, but they should have given him the epi-pen first. But they didn’t, so he died. I’m wearing these red shoes today in his honor, and now it’s creating a lot of awareness around the world about how the epi-pen needs to be used before the Benadryl.
Me – Oh my gosh… That’s so sad. I’m so sorry.
Blonde Squash Mom 1 – So do you think you’re going to have more kids?
Me – Uhhhhh… Ummmmm… I don’t know… Maybe? I mean, pregnancy is pretty complicated for me. Every day I was terrified that Joel was going to die, and I was in the hospital, like, constantly.
Blonde Squash Mom 1 – So you have anxiety issues?
Me – Yep.
And the conversation continued for awhile, and it included the following additional questions: Where are you from? Where do you live? How did you meet? Where did you go to college? How old are you? What do you do? How much does it cost each month to be a member here? How much do you make? (Just kidding with this last one.)
Finally, Joel shit himself, so we got up to leave our table to go change his diaper, and Blonde Squash Mom 1 was like, “Oh, nice to meet you all! Bye!” And Mark replied, “Oh, we’ll be back – we’re just going to change his diaper because he loaded his pants.”
But when we returned we were disappointed and also overjoyed that Blonde Squash Moms were gone.
The only thing we learned about Blonde Squash Moms was that they were affiliated with an Ohio country club.
And we still don’t know what squash is.
Old me would have been pissed off by such a nosy stranger. New me was amused by her unique reaction and welcomed the opportunity to talk about Matthew. New me will take prying questions over the radio silence and boldness over shying away from the hard subjects (which are my reality) any day.
And Blonde Squash Mom 2 wasn’t actually a mute, but I truncated her role in the conversation for purposes of keeping my account of the story to a reasonable length.