02 December, 2006

Real Life, Part 3: Sons & Daughters

This series consists of a somewhat fictionalized account of things that probably actually happened but maybe not in this order, with a few identifying and temporal details altered.

Carole King is singing “You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman” via the cafĂ© sound system. I like the Aretha Franklin version better. Regardless of the artist, though, this song always makes me think of 3 specific things: 1) an old commercial extolling the virtues of 100% cotton clothing, 2) my brother laughing and using the term ‘natural woman’ in a condescending manner and 3) as a direct result of #2, my internal monologue questioning and speculating on the meaning of womanhood and what a ‘natural woman’ really ought to be, anyway. Perhaps in preparation for motherhood, perhaps not, I’ve been feeling much more like a natural woman these days. I’ve been learning to cook, and crying more, and earlier today I went shopping!

I tell my friend about the stores I went to in the new enormous shopping center that opened last week, and how much it reminds me of an American mall. She tells me about the boots she tried on this morning, and also about the true meaning of Zen Buddhism that can’t be put into human language.

Eventually our coffee date ends, and I head home to get working on some details for an event coming up. As I settle into my work, the doorbell rings. Taylor and another girl are doing a bible study in the living room, and someone opens the door for our visitor. Well, the visitor is one of my friends, dropping by unexpectedly. No big deal, really. I get out some cookies and offer coffee and tea. Suddenly her face falls. “This is katastrof!!” she exclaims. (Katastrof = catastrophic.) She glares, and pointing to my sock-covered feet with one hand, she grabs my calf with the other. Because I’m not wearing shoes or slippers, she proceeds to lecture me in extremely broken English and universal gesturing that I will have problems with my ovaries because of the cold from the floor traveling through my legs and right on up. Well, this would be an unfortunate development. It’s clear that our conversation will continue no further without shoes, so I go and put some on.

My friend leaves and my roommates and I start making dinner for ourselves, John and Andy, and a couple from church and their little boy who are coming over soon. We are so excited to have guests, but I am mainly looking forward to playing with a little kid. Spending time with kids used to be a big part of my life before moving to Croatia, but here even the toddlers speak Croatian better than I do (and no English), which makes things difficult.

Dinner’s going well, and the conversation is interesting enough. Little Nikola keeps running around and getting up and down and up and down from the table. He also keeps asking for Coke. His parents let him have a little bit at a time, but he is never satisfied. When the duties of politeness have been fulfilled, John, Sunny, and I practically run from the table into the living room to explore the wonders of tiny cars, plastic tigers, and a pirate toy with our smallest guest. The others continue to engage in normal adult interaction. Nikola keeps drinking Coke, and we are having lots and lots of fun. The evening is winding down and we say goodbye and thanks for coming. We put away the food and start to clean the dishes. Andy’s face tells us something is wrong.
“This isn’t Coke.”
“What do you mean it isn’t Coke? Of course it’s Coke.”
“No it isn’t. It’s bambus left over from last weekend. It’s Coke and wine!!!”

Maybe I’m not ready for children after all.

This may or may not be continued at some unidentified future time.


Anonymous said...

Astounding. You may have altered one boy's destiny that night. And what's with "getting ready for motherhood"? Am I out of the loop?

Alexis said...

Haha, no. I meant that in terms of a vague, sometime-in-the-next-decade-or-so type context...

Anonymous said...

Oh, ok. Thought so. But best things in life get better if you don't plan for them. Don't know if that includes child bearing, though. You be the judge sometime-in-the-next-decade-or-so.

Tim & Sara said...

I'm pretty sure Zoran was the boy in this story at a different point in time and with his sister playing the part of the supplier instead of Alexis.