A Parisian Screwing: Part 3

Ahh Paris.  It really is a lovely city.  I fell in love with it immediately.  But it was becoming painfully obvious that I was enchanted with Paris much more than Paris was enchanted with me (refer to A Parisian Screwing: Parts 1 and 2).

So BR and I decided it might be nice to venture outside the city and spend a few days in the countryside.  We would take in the scenery and visit a few local vineyards.  We drove out to the region of Champagne and BR surprised me with a few nights in an absolutely breathtaking chateau.  I mean this place was stunning.  It was a beautiful castle surrounded by manicured gardens like I had never seen.  I almost cried when we pulled up.

We arrived just in time for dinner.  We were shown to our lovely suite and decided to freshen up and change before heading down to the fancy restaurant.

But just as we were heading out the door BR got a business call.  I waited.  And waited.  And waited.  Finally he told me to go ahead without him so we wouldn’t miss the last seating.  I was reluctant to go by myself but I went anyway.

Now, I don’t usually enjoy sitting in restaurants alone.  Especially very fancy, Michelin-starred restaurants in a castle.  I get a nervous and start to feel a bit self conscious.  Then I start to think about all the embarrassing things I’ve done in restaurants: I’ve tripped in my heels, fallen into waiters, fallen down stairs, accidentally set my sleeve on fire with the candle, choked on my drink, knocked multiple drinks over, accidentally gotten a straw stuck up my nose because I somehow missed my mouth… the list goes on.

But it’s always easier to endure these social mishaps when you have someone else with you.  At least they can laugh with you afterwards.  When you’re alone, it’s mortifying.

So I went down to the fancy restaurant sans BR.  I waited for a couple of minutes until a waiter approached me and said something to me in French.

I stared at him blankly.

He cleared his throat, repeated himself, and then clasped his hands behind his back as he waited for me to respond.

Me: Ummm… pour deux?

He smirked a little.

Waiter: I see.  Right zhis way please.

He took me to my table which was set far more elaborately than I was used to and asked me if I would care for a glass of champagne.

Now ordinarily I would have said yes – since we were in the region of Champagne and I assumed it was proper etiquette to consume the local beverage – but there was no price list.  This place was super fancy and I didn’t feel comfortable ordering without BR.  So instead I said something which I would soon regret.

Me: Actually, can I please see a wine list?

He smirked again.

Waiter: Huh-huh-huh… but of course.  Un moment s’il vous plait.

He returned not with a wine list but rather a wine encyclopedia.  It was an enormous book.  It probably listed – oh, I don’t know – a million wines.  And it was surprisingly heavy.  So heavy, in fact, that when he placed it in my hands I immediately dropped it onto a side plate and some cutlery which made a big clank and in my nervous rush to pick it up I knocked over a wine glass and a bunch of other cutlery onto the floor.

The restaurant was small, so that little episode caught the attention of all the other patrons, most of whom happened to be elegant Frenchmen in perfectly tailored suits.  They were frowning.  Awesome.  But I couldn’t just give the wine list back after requesting it. No, no, I had to somehow carefully place it back onto the table and then actually attempt to look through it with the self assurance of a seasoned connoisseur.

The waiter raised his eyebrow, smirked again, and very condescendingly said, “take your time.”

OMG, where the F was BR.

So I sheepishly went through the motions of pretending to peruse all one million wines until the waiter eventually came back.

Waiter: Madame, have you made a decision?

Me: Ummm… actually I think I’ll have that glass of champagne after all.

Waiter: Huh-huh-huh… of course you will.

I wanted to chug that glass of champagne.  Actually, I wanted to chug the whole bottle.

Finally BR came and sat down with me.  But before I had a chance to tell him what happened the waiter returned and presented us with a couple of fancy menus.

Now, with the exception of bread, cheese, wine and pastries… and fries… I am not a huge fan of French food.  My unsophisticated North American palate, not to mention my ultra-sensitive GI tract can’t really handle it.  It’s a bit too fussy.  So I was searching the menu for something that I could, A) swallow without gagging, and B) digest.

BR: What are you going to have?

Me: I think I’ll start with scallops and then I’ll have the lobster.

BR: Are you sure you don’t want the chicken?  That looks good.

Me: No, it’s too fussy and full of garlic.  The lobster looks pretty safe, I’ll just have that.

BR: I really think you should have the chicken.

Me: But I don’t want the chicken.  I want the lobster.

BR: Blondie, just order the chicken.

Me: What’s wrong with you.  Why are you being so bossy?

BR: Why are you being such a Diva!

Me: What are you talking about?  I don’t want the chicken because it’s full of garlic and I’m going to get cramps!

BR: So you decide to choose the two most expensive things on the menu?  What, do you think just because you’re in a castle you can order scallops and lobster all willy-nilly?  Ooooh, look at me, I’m in a castle!  Lobsters for everyone!

Me: What do you mean “most expensive?”

BR: What do you mean “what do I mean?”  I’m looking right here on the menu!

Me: Where?  I don’t see any prices!

BR grabbed my menu.  At first he looked a bit confused.  Then he looked irritated.

I guess at super fancy restaurants it’s customary to give the gentleman the menu with prices and the lady the menu without.  Hence the misunderstanding.

Me: Look, I would gladly order the chicken, but the lobster is the only thing on this menu that’s not going to rip my stomach to shreds.  Is it really that expensive?

BR: If it’s a diamond-encrusted lobster then no, it’s not expensive.  Just tell the waiter you want the chicken without the garlic.

Me: I can’t tell him that!  I already embarrassed myself with the stupid wine list and I knocked a bunch of stuff off the table!  He already hates me!

BR let out a long, agonizing sigh.

Me: And besides, I didn’t Know the lobster was more expensive because I don’t have any prices.  I just figured it was all-inclusive or something.

BR: All-inclusive?  All-inclusive?  Where do you think we are, fucking Mexico?!   No.  We’re in a castle.  In France.  In a Michelin-starred restaurant!

Me: Oh.  Right.

BR let out another long, agonizing sigh.

BR: Alright Blondie, you win.  Order the lobster.  But you will not be eating again for the rest of this vacation.

So the waiter came back and I ordered the scallops, then the lobster.  And another martini for BR so he wouldn’t be so cranky.  BR ordered the chicken.

Then my scallops came but there was a slight problem.

Me: Oh no.  I don’t think I can eat these.  They’re raw.

BR: Blondie, I don’t care if those scallops are crying out on the plate and pleading for their lives.  You’re eating them.

Me:  I can’t, I’ll gag!  Please don’t make me eat them.

BR: Blondie!  Those scallops cost more than your mortgage payment!  You’re eating them.  I don’t care if you barf them back up, but you are putting them in your mouth and swallowing them.

Me: BR, please!  I’m begging you, I can’t eat a plate of raw scallops.  Why don’t you eat them, you like sushi!

BR:  Blondie, I’m a Jew.  I don’t eat shellfish because it’s not kosher.  I’m not a selfish Christian like you.  You are eating them.  Now chop-chop.  Down the hatch.

So I took a big swig of champagne and reluctantly put one in my mouth.  I reluctantly began to chew.  Oh my god, oh my god, oh my godsooo grosssooo slimyoh my god I’m gagging…

My eyes were watering and I began chewing as fast as I could while trying not to breath.  I was also grimacing which I’m pretty sure you’re not supposed to do in a Michelin-starred restaurant.  It’s kind of like sticking your tongue out at a Picasso.  But finally I swallowed it.  Thank god.  Only several more to go.

And the rest of the dinner went pretty much like that.  What was supposed to be a romantic dinner in the French countryside very quickly turned into the dinner from Hell.  BR was drinking heavily to try and numb the pain of spending a small fortune on a meal that I could barely eat.  I was drinking heavily to try and keep myself from barfing up a plate of raw scallops.  The waiter hated us.  And I’m pretty sure every other patron in the restaurant did as well.

And although we did truly enjoy our trip to Pairs, nearly three weeks there proved to be a bit much for us.  By the end we were exhausted.  We got into one of our first big fights.  I honestly don’t remember what the fight was about, but I do remember that for a good year afterwards BR would refer to Paris as “the city of hate.”

I’m still trying to convince him to take me back there again.

Oh well.  C’est la vie.

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A Parisian Screwing: Part 2

Now don’t get me wrong – I adore Paris.  It’s absolutely beautiful.  But our first trip together there was proving to be a bit… challenging.  We had already been laughed out of Hermes (refer to a Parisian Screwing: Part 1) and the jet lag was starting to catch up with us.  So we decided to go to an absynthe bar around the corner from our fancy hotel.

That was our next mistake.

Since I don’t remember much about the actual bar, let’s just fast-forward a few hours… to utter delirium.

Now when BR gets really drunk, two things happen: he gets really hungry and he likes to wrestle.  I don’t like to wrestle, so the only way to keep him at bay is to stand several feet away and throw pizza or beef jerky at him.  Since I didn’t have either of those things, I immediately called room service when we got back to our room and ordered him up a club sandwich.

We wrestled for a bit until the sandwich came.  BR scarfed down half of it before passing out cold on the bed.  I undressed and climbed into bed beside him but the smell of the half-eaten sandwich was bothering me.  So I threw on a towel and decided to put the tray outside the door.

Now I’m not exactly sure how this happened – oh wait, I was drunk – but as I was clumsily trying to slide the tray outside the door with one hand, while holding a towel around myself with the other, I heard a “click”… and turned around to find that the door had shut behind me.  I was locked out.  In a towel.  At three in the morning.  In a fancy hotel.  Drunk on absynthe.

Plus my hair was really messy from the wrestling and my makeup was smudged all over my face.  I looked like a cross between a cheap hooker and a scary clown.

SHIT!

So I knocked on the door.

Nothing.

I knocked louder.

Still nothing.

Me: BR!  (knock knock knock)  BR!!  Open the door!  I’m locked out!

BR was obviously out cold and wasn’t waking up.  So I started to pound on the door.

Me: BR!  BR!!!

BR still didn’t wake up but a very angry Frenchman across the hall did.  He swung his door open and glared at me.

Angry Frenchman:  HEY!  SHUT UUUUUUPPP!!!

Me: Oh, sorry.  I’m locked out of my room.

Angry Frenchman: Stupide woman!  (SLAM!)

So that was a bit harsh.  Not wanting to get a another severe scolding, I realized I had no choice but to go down to the front desk.  Unfortunately the hotel was really old and the lobby was waaaaaay at the other side of the building.   So I took the elevator downstairs, staggered past the bar, then the restaurant, then down a couple of very long hallways, past a few perplexed guests, in a towel… until I finally got to the front desk.

Now some things get lost in translation, but other things do not.  Like the look on the young man’s face that said, “who the hell is this hot mess staggering through my lobby.”

I explained that I had been locked out of my room and asked if he could please give me a new key.

Maybe it was because I couldn’t remember my room number, or because I was slurring, or because I wasn’t wearing any clothes, or because I looked like a scary hooker-clown, but I could tell that he didn’t “believe” I was an actual guest.  Finally he agreed to help me.

But this was an old hotel and they didn’t have any spare keys.  Or so he said.  He would have to escort me back up to my room and let me in himself.  Excellent.

My head was pounding.  All I wanted to do was go to bed.  I looked like a hot mess in a towel.  And I had no choice but to do the unbelievably long walk of shame back to my room with a strange young man who seemed somewhat amused, but mostly appalled.

The walk itself was awkward enough – but then we had to somehow get into the absurdly tiny elevator together.  It was one of those really old European elevators, about the size of a small refrigerator.  There wasn’t even enough room for us to stand side-by-side, so we had to turn and face each other.  Awesome.

Could I look him in the eyes?  I could not.  Was he laughing at me?  I think so.  Was it the longest elevator ride of my life?  It was.

Finally we got to the room.  He opened the door, stuck his head in and did a very slow, deliberate scan of the room – probably to make sure it wasn’t littered with bags of cocaine and dead hookers.  Fair enough.

I crawled into bed and tried to wake up BR to tell him what happened.  But he was in no condition to comprehend what I was saying.  He just kept slurring, “shhhh… isss ok.”  He was trying to pat me on the head but he ended up knocking me over and shoving my face into the pillow.

Me: BR, you’re suffocating me.

BR: Shhhhh… isss ok.

Me: It’s not really ok… I can’t breath!

BR: Shhhhhhh… isss oh-khaay.

In the morning we felt terrible, but we had a good laugh about everything.  We figured it might be best to check out and spend a few days in the country.

Because what could possibly go wrong in the country…

A Parisian Screwing: Part 1

I won’t lie… I love shopping.  I am a girl after all.  But before meeting BR, I had never experienced high-end shopping.  I just did what every other middle class girl did – I shopped at the mall in places that I could afford.

But much to my surprise there was a whole other world of retail out there.  A fancy world.  An expensive world.  A world where if you look even remotely out of place, you likely won’t be helped.  Do you remember that scene in Pretty Woman where those awful women in the fancy clothing store refused to serve Julia Roberts?  Trust me, that’s nothing.

When you go to these fancy establishments, you almost always get what I like to refer to as the “three-point check.”  They check your shoes, they check your bag, and they check your jewelry.

If you have three out of three – designer shoes, a designer bag and a giant rock on your hand, you can expect excellent service.  Wave a black card around and they will literally bend over and kiss your ass. Two out of three and you’ll get good service.  One out of three and you’ll get a polite smile and possibly a hello.  Zero out of three and you’ll get a sneer or be totally, blatantly ignored.  Or worse.

Me: Oh, excuse me, I was wondering if you could help me?

Snarky Sales Clerk: Are you lost?

Now I’ve gone into such establishments with anywhere from zero to three of the things mentioned above, so I can usually predict the level of service I’m going to get.  And as much as I sometimes resent having to dress up to go shopping, I’m also not super jazzed about the likelihood of getting treated like crap by some snarky sales clerk.  So I usually dress up a little.

But if you let your ego get in the way, you can really screw yourself over.  When a sales clerk gives you the brush-off, your initial reaction is to think, “oh really asshole?  I’ll show you how poor I’m not!”  And then you end up spending a jillion dollars on a bunch of crap you don’t need, just to prove a point.

It’s a brilliant sales tactic.

Like the time Lance (BR’s business partner and longtime BFF) spent a small fortune on the giant 3-storey display dragon in FAO Schwarz, because it “wasn’t for sale.”  Oh yes it was.  But then he was stuck with an absurdly enormous stuffed dragon.  And he had to figure out where to put it.

It was so big, in fact, that it took a team of people to figure out how to ship it to his house in Palm Beach.  Unfortunately they realized the only way to get it into the house was to remove the roof and lower it in by crane.  This was not ideal, so he decided to have it shipped to his summer house instead, which was in the process of being built.  They ended up having to ship it by sea in it’s own special crate – costing Lance yet another small fortune.  He hadn’t anticipated having a giant stuffed dragon in that house either, and was very disappointed to find out that it wouldn’t fit into any of the rooms.  Not wanting to add an extension onto the house for the sole purpose of housing a 3-storey stuffed dragon perched on a rock, he decided to donate it to a museum… and have it shipped half-way across the United States for the second time.  However, he ended up taking it back from the museum (and shipping it across the US to his summer house once again) when he realized it would fit in his indoor tennis court which has a 37-foot ceiling.  It is now living there happily ever after.  Apparently it’s getting quite good at tennis.

Seriously people, you can’t make this stuff up.  Lance said that even the shipping guy was overheard saying, “this guy obviously has more money than brains.”  For the record, Lance has lots of brains.  But this is what can happen when you let your ego do the shopping.

BR, however, doesn’t fall for that.  If you’re rude he’ll just walk out and vow to never come back.  And he doesn’t.

So about three years ago BR took me to Paris.  I had never been and I was very excited.  But before we left, an acquaintance of ours asked us if we could do her a “small” favour.  She had lost the hang-tag off her very expensive Birkin bag and Hermes wouldn’t send her a new one.  They said she would have to go to Paris to get a replacement.

That should have been our first hint.

Now for those of you who are unfamiliar, the Birkin is a ridiculously expensive purse made by Hermes that retails for several thousand dollars.  The hang-tag is just a small leather tag that hangs off the handle.  But according to Hermes it is a signature part of the bag, one that they won’t just ship out all “willy-nilly” to some random person who “claims” to own a Birkin.  So this acquaintance had to send them the bag’s serial number, a copy of the receipt, photo ID, and probably her finger prints along with a sample of her DNA, in order for them to send her a letter that said she could come to Paris to pick up a replacement tag.

If Hermes doesn’t excel in making exquisite leather goods, they certainly excel in excellent customer service.

So she gave us a copy of the letter, and asked if we wouldn’t mind stopping by Hermes to pick up her hang-tag.  Of course we could do that.  What could possibly go wrong?

At this point BR and I had only been living together for about a year, so I was still adjusting to this new lifestyle.  I wasn’t really aware of the “three-point check” because we hadn’t been to too many fancy stores, and I felt generally out of place in them anyway.  So after a day of strolling through Pairs we decided to stop by Hermes to pick up the infamous hang-tag.

And as usual, I looked like a relatively poor tourist.  Actually, we both did.  BR was wearing jeans, sneakers and a baseball cap and I had zero out of three on the “three-point check.”

As we approached the store, two tall, slim sales associates wearing slim-fitting Euro-suits and matching Hermes ties opened the doors for us.  We said thank you and they looked us up and down for what seamed like a painfully long time.  The store was enormous, stunningly beautiful, and very, very busy.  So BR asked them where we should go to pick up the hang-tag.

They smirked.  Then in their snarkiest of French accents, they responded.

Clerk 1: I’m sorry, I do not know what you are talking about.  Do you know what he is talking about?

Clerk 2: No.  I also do not know what he is talking about.  Sir, what are you talking about.

So BR briefly explained the situation.

They smirked again.

Clerk 1: Sir, I believe you have to pick zhat up in zhe lezher department.

BR: The leather department?

Clerk 1: Yes.  Zhe lezher department.

BR: Where is that exactly?

Clerk 1: I do not know.  Perhaps you can ask someone else.

Oh.  Well that’s a bit weird… but ok.  So we set off to find someone else who could tell us where, in this enormous, glittering store packed full of super-rich tourists, we could find the leather department.

We were blatantly ignored by the first three women we approached.  They knew we were there.  We stood at three different counters, said excuse me multiple times (very politely by the way), and none of them would address us.  One lady just stood there cleaning a bag.  Eventually she rolled her eyes, turned around to face the wall, and just kept cleaning it until we sheepishly walked away.

This was proving to be far more difficult than we expected.  We just wanted to pick up a stupid hang-tag and we had now been trying to get someone’s attention for 30 minutes.  I don’t do well in crowds and I was starting to get hot.  And frustrated.  Finally we cornered a woman on the floor and asked her where the leather department was.  She looked annoyed, dismissed us with a wave of her hand, and said it was probably upstairs on the second floor.

So up we went.  When we were finally able to get someone’s attention, BR once again asked where we could find the leather department.  The sales clerk started laughing.

Clerk 3: Zhe what?

BR: The leather department.  We need to pick up a hang-tag for a Birkin and we were told to go to the leather department.

Clerk 3: HAHAHAHA!  Zhere is no lezher department here!  HAHAHAHA!

Umm… pardonne moi?  And as we turned to one another, obviously confused, we noticed those two snarky little sales clerks who opened the doors for us, standing in the corner, snickering and pointing.  Those little douchebags in their stupid matching ties were screwing with us.  They had watched the whole thing.

HOW EMBARRASSING.

I was mortified.  BR was mad.  But we had made a promise and he was determined not to leave without this stupid fucking hang-tag.  So back downstairs we went.  We found another counter with yet a another sales clerk standing behind it, so we walked up.  This time politeness was not on BR’s priority list.  He got straight to the point.

BR: We’re here to pick up a hang-tag for a Birkin.

Clerk 4: Excuse me?

BR:  A HANG-TAG.  FOR A BIRKIN.

She looked us up and down.

Clerk 4: Is it for you?

BR: No.  It’s for a friend of ours.  Here’s a copy of the letter she received.

Clerk 4:  Well, uh Sir, I cannot just accept zhis copy of zhis letter and just give you zhe tag.

BR:  Why not?  It says right here that we can come to Paris to pick up the tag.

Clerk 4:  Hah-hah-hah… NO.  It says zhat she can come to Paris to pick up zhe tag.  Not you.

BR:  Are you kidding me?

Clerk 4:  No, I am not kidding wizh you.  Zhis piece of paper means nozhing wizhout some type of identification.  Do you have a copy of her passport?

BR: Uh no, I have a copy of the letter.

Clerk 4: Well, zhen zhere is nozhing I can do for you.

And she abruptly walked away.

At this point I think it would have been easier to purchase a handgun.  In Canada.  We had been jerked around for almost an hour and it was painfully obvious that they were not going to give us this small piece of leather that retails for a mere 50 Euros.  So we basically had two choices: buy ten Birkins to “teach them a lesson” or hang our heads in defeat and do the slow walk of shame out of the store.  We chose the latter.

And who was there waiting to open the doors for us?  The same two little jerks who initiated this Parisian screwing-of-a-lifetime in the first place.

Clerk 1:  Au revior!

Clerk 2:  Have a good evening!  HAHAHAHAHA!

I was so mortified I thought I was going to barf on the sidewalk.  BR was furious.  But being a man who is true to his word, he actually felt bad about not getting the tag.

BR: Do you think we should ask her to send us a copy of her passport?  Then maybe we’ll still be able to get the tag for her.

Me: Are you kidding me?  NO!  I’m never going back in there again, that was horrible!

BR: You’re right.  What a bunch of assholes!  From now on I am boycotting this store!  I AM NEVER SHOPPING HERE AGAIN!  I’ll show those douchebags what they can do with their Birkins!  Now at least I don’t ever have to get you one of those stupid bags!

Me:  BR, those bags are thousands of dollars.  I’m pretty sure you would never get me one anyway.

But I didn’t care.  In fact I totally agreed with him.  And to this day I will never wear or purchase anything from Hermes.  In fact whenever I see a Birkin I have a mild urge to grab it and fling it across the room.  And stomp on it.  And then set it on fire.

But the sad part is, Hermes probably doesn’t care.  In fact they’re probably still laughing at us.  But at least we didn’t end up with ten Birkins.  Or a 3-storey dragon.

Cellulite, anyone?

So I’m trying to find a bathing suit for our Israel trip, but nothing seems to fit because my ass has exploded.  This is depressing.  I’ve been very tiny my whole life but after two years of being on a wide variety of oh-so-fun fertility hormones, things have changed.  I feel like an animal.

BR: Blondie, why do you keep dressing like a schoolmarm?

Me: Because my ass has exploded and I feel like an animal.

BR: Why don’t you wear those sexy black pants tonight?

Me: Haha, I would love to, but my ass has exploded and I feel like an animal!

You try to explain this to friends and they say, “really?  But you look great!”  Which, by the way, is the CORRECT response.

But then you explain that they don’t have the “misfortune” of having to see you naked.  You disclose that the hormones have made you gain 20 pounds, have given you stretch marks, and have left a permanent explosion of cellulite on your ass and thighs that never used to be there.

And then they say, “well that’s nothing – just wait until you have a baby!”

HA HA HA!  Really person??  That’s so funny because I wish I could!

And that’s when the sad irony hits you.  Your body’s in a perpetual state of growing and shrinking and feeling out of sorts.  You endure big boobs, small boobs, bigger boobs, a swollen abdomen, nausea, a big ass, a bigger ass, big hips, fat pants, fatigue, anxiety, cramps, a muffin top, cellulite… and yet there’s no baby!  Isn’t that funny?

But it’s not their fault.  People who haven’t been through infertility really don’t know what to say.  And usually they say the wrong thing.  It can be hurtful at times, but you just have to remember that they really are trying to be helpful.

Some people (BR included) give you all sorts of unsolicited advice.  They’ll tell you that you should “distract” yourself and take up a class or join a gym or something.  Or be more social.  Or try a different clinic.  Or don’t think about it so much.  Or try and “relax” and think “positive” thoughts.  Or have you considered adoption?  Or stop drinking coffee.  Or stop drinking wine.  The list goes on.

Unfortunately this “advice” is rarely helpful.  In fact, it’s the opposite of helpful.  It reinforces the idea that you’re probably doing something wrong, and that’s why you’re not getting pregnant.  You’re already a bad mother and you’re not even pregnant yet.

And you learn very quickly that you have no control over fertility treatment – it controls you.  Your ovaries are literally holding you hostage.  You’re at the mercy of your cycle, the hormones, the doctor, the clinic, and a medically induced, totally unnatural schedule.  You can’t make plans because you don’t know if you’ll be in the middle of a cycle, possibly pregnant, possibly devastated or drowning in hormonal hell.

So I find the most helpful thing that friends and family can say is actually very simple:  “I’m very sorry you’re going through this, is there anything that I can do for you?”  Or, “can I make you some chicken soup?”

That’s it.  I don’t need “strategies” and “distractions” and “micromanagement” and “medical” advice from the internet, and “organic” cookbooks and all that crap.  Just give me a little bit of sympathy and a hug, and some god-damned soup already.

I wish I could distract myself more though, especially when I’m in the throes of a cycle.  But unfortunately when I’m eyeballs-deep in hormones, I can barely even commit to having dinner with someone.  I end up cancelling a lot.  And it’s not just because I feel like crap and have to use all my brain power to try and form a sentence – it’s also because I don’t want to unleash my hormonal wrath onto innocent members of society.  I just figure it’s “safer” for everyone if I stay home and hide under the covers.

I’ve made the mistake of trying to go out in public a couple of times, but the hormones make me extremely self-conscious.  It doesn’t go very well.

Friend: Oh my God, it’s so great to see you!  How are you?  Wow, everything looks so delicious on this menu, I can’t decide what I want.  Actually I think I’ll have the pasta.  What are you going to have?

Me: I… having… burger.

Followed by: What exactly does the waiter mean, do I want water.

Followed by: No, I will not take off my sunglasses because I can’t look anyone in the eye.

Followed by: How googly are my eyes right now.

Followed by: I… should have (sniff)… ordered (sniff)… the pi-zaa-aaah-aaaaah (sob).

Followed by: No, I don’t know how to get to my house Mr. Cab driver, isn’t that your job?  Asshole??

Now unfortunately, as I mentioned in my last post, our last IVF cycle was a bust.  It was our second attempt at IVF.  Unfortunately the first time was also a bust, and since we only got one little not-quite-developed-embryo out of it, we had to do the egg retrieval all over again.

And since I’m considered a “low responder” to the medication, it was a miracle that we got 6 embryos this time.  We were very optimistic.  We also opted for genetic testing, just as a back-up.

So the day of the embryo transfer came.  We went to the clinic.  I was ushered into the special little waiting room.  I changed into my gown and that stupid-looking blue hairnet, and was anxiously awaiting my turn while trying to ignore my very full bladder.  BR was back there with me.  We were too nervous to speak, but we both had our fingers crossed.

But then the Doctor came in and told us we had a problem.  All of our embryos came back genetically abnormal.  He said he was very sorry, but he couldn’t do the transfer.

I’m sorry, what?  What was that again?  No transfer?  No transfer??  But I’m here and I’m all ready to go!  I’m in my gown and this stupid-looking hat and I’m about to pee my pants and what do you mean abnormal?!

He couldn’t give us an explanation right then, but he assured us that it was nothing that either of us had done.  He just said we should get dressed and go home.  So we did.  We were in shock.

That’s when I told BR that I needed to get away ASAP.  So we went to Chicago.  While we were there we had a phone call with our fertility doctor.  We found out that we have an egg problem.  My spindles – those little things in eggs that zip together pairs of chromosomes from egg and sperm – are, for lack of a better word, wonky.  So instead of “pairs” of chromosomes, in some cases our embryos had 3 or 1 or none – a mistake which kept repeating itself.

And then the big crusher:  Our doctor told us that he would only try IVF with us one more time and if it didn’t work, we’d have to get an egg donor.

what??  But I’m only 35!  And a late bloomer!  And I’m very immature!

Needless to say, I was not happy with that answer.  Neither of us were.

Now theoretically speaking, I believe that you could love any child – I really do.  But when someone actually tells you that you probably won’t be able to have your own baby, it’s pretty crushing.  This baby needs my DNA!  It needs my DNA so it can balance out BR’s crazy robot DNA!  What if the donor egg comes from someone who’s also a techie/evil genius/robot?  What then??  And if it’s not my egg, will the baby even be Jewish?

SO. MANY. QUESTIONS.  I cried the entire day.  Literally.  I literally cried all freaking day.

Which is why we’re now heading to Israel.  For peace of mind I’ve decided not to google anything on the internet, but the technology is supposed to be very advanced over there.  Apparently they can “repair” DNA.

So after a long, horrible day in a Chicago hotel room, full of tears and snotty kleenex and deep-dish pizza crumbs everywhere, BR rubbed my back and said something to try and make me feel better:

BR: Don’t worry Blondie.  If this doesn’t work out I have a plan-B.

Me: (sniff) You do?  What is it?

BR: Two words Blondie: Clone Army.

Cheapness

BR is a little funny when it comes to his wealth.  On the one hand he can be extraordinarily generous – he gives to multiple charities – and on the other hand he can be extremely cheap – although I guess the polite term would be “frugal.”  And I don’t even think it’s because he wants to be cheap.  It’s because he can’t help it.  It’s purely psychological.  He can’t bring himself to pay for something if he even suspects he might be getting ripped off.  Like bottled water in hotel rooms, for example.  Unless they are free, I’m not allowed to drink them (which I totally do anyway, but he gets really mad).

Now, it really isn’t any of my business how BR chooses to spend (or not to spend) his money, but over the years I have learned that his cheapness tends to have a direct effect on the “quality” of our lives.  And no, I’m not talking about Prada bags and Gucci shoes.  I’m talking about all the other stuff that actually impacts your day and prevents you (or him) from functioning like a normal person.

Me: BR?  Have you picked a flight or a hotel yet?  You’ve been in bed looking at Kayak for eleven hours.  And you’re still in your underwear.  And you’re all sweaty… and googly-eyed.

BR: I don’t know what’s wrong with me.  I just can’t bring myself to pull the trigger.

Me: But we’re supposed to leave for our ski vacation tomorrow.  With your entire family.  Everyone keeps calling me, they want to know what’s going on.

BR: Just tell them to pack and wait for my call and be willing to leave for the airport at a moment’s notice.

Me: Umm… ok.  I don’t really think that’s going to work for your sister and the kids, they kind of need to have an actual plan…

BR: Blondie!  Just tell her to pack for the kids and be willing to throw them in the car at a moments notice!  Kids like that sort of thing.  It’s adventurous for them.

Me: No, actually they… ok.  Have you at least narrowed it down?  To a city?

BR: Not exactly.

Me: Why don’t we just go to Aspen like we talked about?  Can you pull the trigger on Aspen?

BR: Blondie!  The flights to Aspen and the hotel have gone up in the last 48 hours.  I can’t book something now, knowing that it was cheaper 48 hours ago!

Me: Then why didn’t you book it 48 hours ago?!

BR: BECAUSE… I thought it was too expensive.  So I thought I would wait and see if the prices went down.

Me: Well that was an unfortunate gamble, because now the prices have gone up.  And it’s 11:00 pm, and there are eight of us who are supposed to be going on a family ski vacation tomorrow!  Pull the trigger!  

BR: I can’t!

Me: Just pick SOMETHING!  For the love of God, YOUR MOTHER KEEPS CALLING!

BR: I’m just waiting for the right flight and the right hotel to magically appear on my computer, and then we’ll all go on a nice family ski vacation together.  Ok?

Me: You look crazy and you’re making me nervous.  And I really don’t think the Aspen prices are that unreasonable.  Why don’t you just book it?

BR: Blondie!  What are you, some kind of GAJILLIONAIRE?  Do you think I’m going to let you throw my money away all willy nilly?  The airlines and hotels are already giving me an ANAL RAPING!  Is that what you want?  Do you want to give me A BIGGER ANAL RAPING?!

Me: I’m calling your family and telling them that you’re insane, and this trip is cancelled.

I remember the first time BR and I went to Florida for the winter.  BR had a very difficult time picking a house for us to rent.  Not because there wasn’t an abundance of them, but because he thought they were all a little too “pricy.”  As it turns out, a lot of people rent houses in Florida for the winter, so the longer you wait, the less available properties there are, which in turn makes prices go up.  That’s basic economics BR – you of all people should know that.

So is it practical to arrive in Florida with a horse trailer, six horses, three months worth of clothes and two standard poodles with no place to stay?  No.  It is not.  But that’s what ended up happening because somebody couldn’t pull the trigger on a rental property.

Luckily the horses and the trailer were staying at the barn, and a lady who cooks for us was gracious enough to take the dogs while we looked for a place.  But that still meant finding a real estate agent and looking at numerous properties, while in the mean time staying at a hotel.

Only it wasn’t a hotel, it was a motel because BR wanted to spend as little as possible until we found something permanent.  And it wasn’t a “nice” motel (if there is such a thing), it was a ghetto motel off the highway, beside a gas station.  So obviously the first thing I did when we got into the room was check under the bed for dead hookers.

Me: Ok, well there are no dead hookers in here, so that’s… positive.

BR: Blondie, stop acting so spoiled.  It’s only for a night or two.

It was not for a “night or two”, it was for a week and a half.

Did it smell weird?  Yes.  Was the comforter made out of some strange synthetic material that will likely cause cancer later on?  Yes.  Was the television from the eighties?  Yes.  Was I afraid the pizza delivery guy was going to murder us?  Oh yes.  Was that the worst of it?  No.

Sometimes when BR travels he gets these horrible IBS attacks that cause excruciating abdominal pain.  They can last for around 48 hours.  I’m not sure if it was the stress, or the flying, or the crappy food… but regardless, as soon as we settled into our “room”, he got one.

BR: Blondie!  Blondie!  I’m in a lot of pain Blondie!  I need some nursing!

Me: Umm, ok.  What can I do for you?

BR: Uuugghh, I don’t know!  I need some chicken soup.

Me: Ok, well that’s going to be a little tricky to get here.  Would you like a gingerale out of the vending machine or something?

BR: A popsicle, Blondie.  I need a popsicle.

Me: Ok.  Let me put the television on for you first, maybe it’ll help distract you.  Oh look, this channel’s coming in sort of clear…  Ok, I’m leaving the safety of the room now and going outside to the vending machine.  Please come and find me if I’m not back in 5 minutes.

BR: I’ll try.

So I made it back to the room alive with the popsicles and gingerale.  But BR was getting worse.  He asked me to run him a bath.  So I went into the tiny, stark white bathroom, turned on the extremely bright florescent lights, and began to fill the very small tub. Now I’ve never actually been in an insane asylum, but I imagine that this is what the bathrooms would look like.

Me: Ok BR, your bath’s ready.  Come on, let’s get you in it.

BR: Oh my god.  I must be really sick, Blondie.  I’m green.

Me: No no, it’s just the lighting in here.  We’re both green.

BR: Blondie, turn the lights down!  They’re making me nauseous.

Me: Well I can turn them off.  Would you like me to turn them off?

So BR chose to keep the sickening lights on and managed to (sort of) squeeze himself into the tub.  There was a lot of moaning.  There would have been more thrashing, but honestly, he didn’t have the room.  The tub was uncomfortable.  The lights were bothering him.  He was in pain.  He couldn’t get any soup.  The covers on the bed were itchy.  The television was broken.  And there was probably a dead hooker hidden in the room somewhere.

BR: Blondie!  Uuuuggghhh!  I’ve really let my cheapness get the better of me this time Blondie!  Uuuuggghhhh! I’ve made a terrible mistake!

A what?  Oh no, this was not a “mistake”, BR.  This was an EPIC FAIL.

Eventually BR got better, and we were able to start house hunting.  Now I won’t go into detail about just how many houses we looked at, or how many frustrated real estate agents we went through in a week, but in the end, in true BR form, he found us a cute, very reasonably-priced house on Craigslist.  It just happened to be in the ghetto.

It took three years of renting in Florida before BR finally bit the bullet and bought a place.  And it’s in a great location and I’m not worried that I’m going to get murdered every time I walk the dogs.  The house itself needs a lot of work and of course BR wants to tear it down and rebuild it from scratch… in the shape of his face or something.  Or at least that’s what I’ve overheard while he’s been hiring and firing various architects.  I’ve also overheard him say “menacing”, “shark pit”, “wall of fire”, and “fortress of despair”… so it should eventually be a nice little beach house.  Cozy, I would imagine.

Anyway, in all the time that BR and I have been together (since BR does not like to be told what to do, and is typically not one to listen to reason) I’ve had to learn some passive-agressive, very subtle, “mind control” techniques in order to try and manage his cheapness and other crazy tendencies.  Basically I have to make him think that everything is his idea.  Is this exhausting?  Yes.  I spend approximately eighty percent of my day doing this.  Is it optional?  No.  Because otherwise I will murder him out of frustration.

BR: Where did you get that top?  It looks expensive.  Too expensive.

Me: You got it for me, remember?

BR: No I didn’t.

Me: Yes you did, you even picked it out.  Remember that time at Saks?  And that funny gay guy was helping us and you picked out this top all by yourself and it was on sale and he said you had fantastic taste in women’s clothes and he called you a fashionista and a super-genius and we all laughed and you high-fived him?  Remember?

BR: Oh yeah… I sort of do remember that…

Me: See?  You’re super smart and super fashionable.  It’s like you’re some kind of super human.

BR: That’s right.  I am totally all of those things.  You’re lucky.

Yes BR.  Very lucky.

Broken Leg

BR and I go to Florida every year for the winter.  Which is great because not only do we both get to escape the cold, but BR also gets to play polo, which he loves.  And hockey.  (Who knew?)

I love Florida in the winter for two reasons: First, it’s the time of year when BR and I get to spend the most quality time together.  Second, the people-watching is awesome.

So the year before last we rented a cute house on Palm Beach island and quickly settled into the poodle-walking, pastel-wearing, sun-tanned life of a snowbird.

Until one night, about a month into our trip, BR went to hockey and broke his leg.  In two places.

After spending a couple of nights in the hospital, he was sent home with a bottle of Vicodin and a full cast up to his thigh.  Which meant he would be bedridden for two whole months.  Let me repeat: bedridden for two whole months.

BR is a man who gets cranky and restless and “difficult to manage” if he misses competitive sports for one day.  Now he would be bedridden – and entirely dependent on ME – for two whole months.

I’ve never broken anything so I really underestimated the severity of his injury.  He’s also pretty tough so I really thought he’d be up and walking around on crutches within a couple of weeks.  Oh no.  He lay in bed for two whole months and literally milked every single second of it.

Now, I am a very caring person.  I am a very patient person.  And BR is high maintenance on a good day.  But I had no idea just how difficult  – and exhausting  – and stressful – and bonkers the next two months would actually be.  Good bye easy, breezy Florida.  Hello Shutter Island.

Perhaps you’re asking yourself, how much damage can a bed-ridden evil genius with half a dozen light sabers and a bed-side urine bottle actually do to someone’s psychiatric well-being?  The answer: a lot.  A lot.

BR: Blondie, do you want some lemonade?

Me: BR, if you refer to your urine one more time as “lemonade” I’m going to barf.

BR: Drink it.

Me: I am totally barfing now.  Are you happy?

BR: Just drink a little bit of it.

Me: What is wrong with you?

BR: I’m hungry!  Get me a cupcake.

Me: We don’t have any cupcakes.  Do you want something else?

BR: Blondie, just go to the store and get me a cupcake!  I’m so hungry and that’s all I want.

Me: It’s 7:55!  Publix closes in 5 minutes.

BR: Blondie!  I have a broken leg!  Put your running shoes on and run to the store!  If you hurry you’ll make it.

Me: Fine, I’ll go.  Please stop pointing that light saber at me.

BR: And Blondie, one more thing.  I’d like a nicely decorated one.

Me: Pardon?

BR: The cupcake.  I’d like it to be decorated nicely.

Me: I’m going to murder you.

BR: Blondie hurry up!  You’re wasting time.

So I ran to Publix with literally 30 seconds to spare.  I ran over to the bakery counter.  Strangely, they were not all that happy to see me right before closing.  Finally a less than impressed African-American lady with a gold tooth sauntered over to the counter.

Cupcake lady: Can I help you?

Me: Oh hi… I’m sorry, I know you’re about to close… but I have a guy at home with a broken leg who’s feeling really sorry for himself and he would really like a cupcake.

Cupcake ladyAwww, that’s so sad!  How old is he?

Me: Ummm… 41.

Cupcake lady took a step back and put her hands on her hips before less-than-enthusiastically grabbing me a cupcake.

Cupcake lady: Mmmmm hmmmm.  Oh really.

Me: Ummm… yes.

Cupcake lady: Well ain’t that just like a man.  Meanwhile, if that was you all up at home with a broken leg?  He’d be like, “sorry baby, there ain’t nothin’ I can do for you no more, I’m goin’ out tonight.”

Me: Haha, that’s… probably totally accurate.  Thank you for the cupcake.

Cupcake lady: Mmmmm hmmmm.

So I ran home, ran straight to the kitchen, opened the freezer, and grabbed the vodka bottle.

BR:  Blondie?  BLONDIE?!  Where is my cupcake?

Me: It’s coming, just a second!

BR: What are you doing down there?  I HAVE A BROKEN LEG!

Me: Just a second!  I’m just getting something.

BR: Are you drinking again?  

Me: No!

BR: Then why do I hear bottles clinking?

Me: Shut up, you’re hallucinating!

And this went on for several… weeks.  Cupcakes, light sabers, incessant moaning, urine bottles, sponge baths, multiple snacks, spoon-feeding, foot massages, “mantrums”, more snacks, more cupcakes, sleep depravity, eventual alcoholism…  And all the while having to hear, “Blondie… Blondie!  BLONDIE!  BLONDIE!!!”

Finally one day I could take no more.  I needed a time out.  I was on the brink of a nervous breakdown.  He had broken me.

BR:  Blondie!  Where are you, I need my foot rubbed.

Me:  BR, I need a break.  This is what’s going to happen: I’m going to take an ativan, go into the spare room, read my book, and take a nap.  Now unless you are on fire, I don’t want you calling me for at least two hours.  Or I’m going to murder you.   Do you understand?  I just need two hours.

So that’s what I did.  I got all cozy in the spare room, opened my book and began to read.  But about 20  minutes later I realized I had to pee.  Crap.  I was going to have to sneak past the master room in order to do this and the floors were really creaky.  BR would hear me.  But I really had to pee.  So I quietly opened the door and crept out of the room.

BR: Blondie?

Just ignore him.  Keep walking.  Now go to the bathroom, quietly flush, and creep back.

BR: Blondie?  BLONDIE?  BLONDIE!

Me: For the love of God, WHAT?  What is it?  I told you not to bother me unless you were on fire and you’re clearly not on fire!

BR: I heard a noise.  I thought it was a cat.

Me: A cat?  You mean the cat that we don’t have walked by our room, went to the bathroom, flushed the toilet and walked back?

BR: It sounded like a cat.  But since you’re up can you make me a snack platter?

BR was bored.  And probably mildly depressed.  He couldn’t get out of bed and enjoy the Florida sun.  He couldn’t play polo or hockey.  And aside from torturing me and swinging his light sabers around, there wasn’t much he could do to entertain himself.  So he decided to online shop.

Me: BR, what’s with all these boxes that keep getting delivered?

BR:  Those are for me.  Bring them up here.

So I brought them upstairs.

BR: Awesome, I’ve been waiting for these.

Me: What are those?

BR: Star Wars costumes.

Me: Umm… for us?

BR: Blondie, don’t be ridiculous.  They’re for the dogs.

Me: Of course they are.  How many Vicodin have you been taking?

And every day a new box would show up with something weird inside.  More light sabers.  More techie gadgets.  Several computer monitors.  A spy pen.  A variety of security cameras.  Underwear.  Binoculars.  Two fax machines.  Approximately seven different cell phones.  The list goes on.

I knew he was really starting to lose it when he started putting his Cookie Monster doll in front of the computer during video conference calls with his business partner.  Every once in a while he’d give Cookie Monster a shake and I’d hear “MEE WANT COOOOKIE” coming from the bedroom.  Or I’d hear BR say, “Cookie Monster doesn’t agree with you” or “now you’ve made Cookie Monster upset.”

Me: I was reading an article the other day.  Apparently there’s some big-wig club owner who will only show the back of his head during video conference calls.  Isn’t that weird?

BR: Very interesting… from now on I will only be showing the back of Cookie Monster’s head during video conference calls.

Then one day a large delivery truck showed up in front of the house.  The delivery guy asked me where I’d like him to wheel the very large box that was inside.  It obviously wasn’t going to fit through the front door.  I asked the delivery guy to please wait a second, and told him that I would be right back.  I quickly ran into the house.

Me: BR?  There’s a delivery guy here with a huge box.  Where do you want it?  I’m kind of afraid to ask what it is.

BR: Oh.  That’s just my four-person bicycle.  It’s for the cottage.

Me: Of course it is.

BR: Just tell him to leave it on the driveway.  You’ll probably have to cover it with a tarp or something.  I don’t want anyone stealing it.

Me:  Yeah I don’t really think you have to worry about… actually, how are we going to get this thing home?  It’s huge.

BR: Blondie, don’t worry.  We’ll put it in the truck or the horse trailer and drive it home.

Me: Who is going to put it in the truck?  It’s enormous and you have a broken leg!  Why didn’t you just ship it to the cottage?

BR: Blondie, stop interrogating me.

Me: Did you not want to pay the extra shipping?!  How much did you save.

BR: A lot.

Me: How much.

BR: Two-hundred dollars.

Me:  We have to lug this thing all the way home so you could save two-hundred dollars?!  What is wrong with you?

BR: Blondie, the bike only cost four-hundred dollars!  I’m not going to pay two-hundred dollars on shipping for a four-person bicycle that only cost four-hundred dollars!  Where is the math logic in that?!

Me: WHERE IS THE LOGIC IN A FOUR-PERSON BICYCLE?!

It was a long winter.  BR was finally able to walk around on crutches a little by the time we got home.  But he still wanted to keep his pee bottle beside the bed because it was “convenient.”

And we did manage to get the four-person bicycle to the cottage.  Much to my surprise, it didn’t seat four people in a row like I had imagined – it had two benches (one in the front and one in the back), a steering wheel and two large wheels on either side.  The entire thing was covered by a bright red-and-white striped canopy with tassels.  It was kind of like “Fred Flinstone car meets Candy Land.”  It takes up an entire space in the garage.  We still take it out occasionally and I’m finally starting to get used to the laughing and pointing, which is positive.

And it took a year but BR’s leg finally healed.  I figured if our relationship can survive that, it can survive anything.  And although I would like him to be a bit more cautious, I really can’t stop him from playing a bunch of competitive sports that are probably far too dangerous for a man of his age.  So that’s fine.

But if he breaks his leg again I will murder him.