The Dude at the Door

Dear WBGH door-to-door fundraiser guy,

I was going to leave a short, “it’s not you, it’s me” note on the door. But I won’t. Because it’s not me. It’s you.

It does appear that you’ve been trained to identify yourself and point to your WBGH badge, even if it is one I could reproduce with a 2 second Google search and my laminator. It’s a nice touch to thank me for being a loyal supporter. However, I’m pretty sure I’ve never given money to any public radio station, and it makes me uneasy that you’re pretending to check my name on your clipboard. So as quickly and politely as I could, I asked you to leave information in my mailbox. I have to go, I said. Good luck, I said.

Anyone walking door to door in cold weather to raise a few dollars for the local station probably spends his free time finding homes for stray dogs and never balking about tampons on the grocery list. Your hand-knitted wooly hat and ice-grippy boots belie a dangerous dude at the door. But there was something that made me want you off of my stoop, and your response only reinforced why:

“I’m going to the other houses, so I’ll just circle back and check with you again later.”

No, don’t do that. Just… no. Is not taking “no” for an answer in the training? Is a woman’s first refusal always a springboard for negotiation? Is this me reacting to too many #MeToo stories?

Perhaps.

But now I’m hiding at my dining table away from the front windows hoping a stranger doesn’t think I’m being rude. It’s a well-known situation for many of us, this worry about hurting the feelings of others, even if said “others” are making us feel pressured, unsafe, badgered, or beholden. Well, no more, WBGH dude. I don’t believe you when you say you “need to sign people up today” or that you cannot accept donations via mail. It’s cold outside and I want the door closed. I didn’t invite you to my home or ask you to return. And frankly, I hate you a little for not reading (or worse, ignoring) my body language that is screaming, “Get off of my stoop!”

My boys just got home and I told them about you: how you leaned in a little too close, how you insisted on returning, how I was home alone and didn’t want you lingering around my door. Teddy ran upstairs and grabbed his nun chucks. Brodie found his wooden “practice sword.” They’re only too happy to defend the hearth and home in a playful, mom-is-being-nutso way. But I made sure they understood where I was coming from: always listen to a girl when she is telling you “no.” Respect and honor that “no.” Don’t be the clueless, close-talking dude at the door.

“Duh, mom. We know. He’s probably just SUPER awkward. I mean, he’s raising money for WBGH.”

But the weapons are still on hand. Just in case. The little dears.

Sincerely,

The Mom Not Answering the Door

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Go. Away.

 

 

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Day 26

I’ve never been on any sort of “diet” for this length of time. I’ve almost stopped missing food, but I miss meals something fierce. Humans are designed to break bread with each other, share sliced meats, divvy up the vegetables, refill the wine glasses, and make yummy noises together. I’m ruining the meal aesthetic with my liquid substitute in an oversize plastic cup. Drinking your dinner—unless that means wine accompanied by bits of cheese and crackers and sausages—just isn’t social. Frankly, it makes me feel like a jerk.

About 219 people have asked me why I’m doing this/torturing myself/dieting at all. At first, it was to slide the scale back for an upcoming oncology appointment. Now, it’s really about willpower. Can I eat only one meal a day for 30 days? Will I be able to navigate cocktail parties and (let’s be honest) chilly, dark school nights without a glass of Cabernet? Is a shameful, furtive, late night potato chip binge inevitable? This diet feels like a hair shirt, and the old Catholic sensibilities have kicked in. I’m starving and I’m offering it up. No lie.

I have cheated. A little. Teddy requested teeny, spiced cupcakes for his birthday (cream cheese frosting), there’s a HUGE candy bowl (Almond Joys and 3Musketeers!), and I’ve been to six different cocktail parties (an occasional glass of Prosecco). But my restraint has been LEGENDARY. I’m wildly hungry, headache-y, and occasionally dizzy. Brodie wants to know the difference between this powdery meal plan and an actual eating disorder. I have no good answer.

And now it’s Day 26. I’m lithe and slim and fabulous—that is, if those adjective also mean “look exactly like I did in October,” which is what my kids tell me. Either they are doltishly unobservant, or they’re right: I was actually fabulous then, and remain unchanged. However, my skinniest jeans fit right outta the dryer, which is how all women gauge their weight no matter what the scale says.

Happily, as I enter my fourth week as an ascetic, the scale has budged. But it’s probably not because these liquid meals are magic. It’s because I’m not drinking them. After the first few attempts, I just couldn’t gag down powdered milk mixed with water. I cannot. I will not. I refuse. I’d honestly rather starve, and have chosen this option. How anyone incorporates a whey protein “shake” into her daily life eludes me. Had I known I’d have to drink all of this reconstituted milk, I would never have signed up. First of all, I really do love food. But more importantly, I really really really hate milk.

Remember when President Bush declared, “I’m the leader of the free world and will never eat broccoli again,” or something like that, and then banned it from the White House kitchens? That’s me with milk. I can’t even watch you drink milk. The very idea of someone tipping the bowl to lap up, sweet, chunky, stagnant cereal milk makes me dry heave. And Teddy does it all of the time. I have to look away. It’s my bugaboo. And as Tony used to say when challenged about his limited palate and inability to eat food anyone else had touched, “I reserve the right to be irrational.”

To be honest, what feels really irrational right now is any sort of maintenance on this “system.” I did appreciate the two cleanse days avoiding all food and just drinking an ersatz Gatorade, effectively hydrating my cells and shrinking my stomach. An occasional fast? Redemptive suffering comes naturally (though never easily) for those of us who were raised in the Catholic tradition. But I’ll never swap a fake shake for a real meal ever, ever again.

Four more days, friends. Sauvignon blanc is chilling.

rosary

The fasting and near Lenten devotion to restraint and sober reflection on this “diet” has felt decidedly Catholic. When you learn this a small child, you never forget it. It’s also quite a soothing practice when you’re trying really really really hard to forget there are potato chips in the house.