Then, not long ago, Kevin hinted semi-jokingly that he thought it would be lovely if he came home from work to find me - AND I QUOTE: "wearing lingerie and scrubbing the kitchen floor." Later, he added: "...or doing dishes."
I laughed at first, of course. We both did. What an absurdly stereotypical, male-dominant, anti-feminist, caveman-like fantasy to have! Coming home to find your highly independent, boldly headstrong, reasonably intelligent wife (who has a Master's degree!!) doing something as subservient as scrubbing the floor? In lingerie? And ME, of all people, doing such a thing? I am about the biggest slob-o-phile that ever existed, hardly noticing or caring if we go five years without washing the bed sheets or vacuuming. Dirt doesn't bother me, so I wouldn't be caught dead scrubbing the floor.
But yesterday morning, I woke up feeling strangely inspired to run over to Victoria's Secret, which I knew was situated somewhere in the bowels of the crowded shopping mall down the street, to at least see if anything there was on sale. No harm in doing that, is there?
The timing was perfect, because this was to be the weekend of our customary, monthly "urban getaway.” We had put in a low Priceline bid for a fancy-shmancy 4-star hotel in downtown Seattle for one night, where we would gorge ourselves on a sinfully vegetable-less, butter-infused dinner at a French restaurant, drink lots of wine, and...well...you know the rest. This also happened to be Mother’s Day weekend, a time which – as we all know – is usually fraught with emotional peril for the millions of miscarriage-and-stillbirth “mommies” out there. “Mommies” like me, grappling with the surreal fact of having briefly been a mother in the scientific sense, yet with no real living child to show for it.
What better way to embrace my newly baby-less life by boldly surprising Kevin with my first piece of real lingerie, waiting for him on our hotel bed in my slinky outfit as he stepped out of the shower?
So I told Kevin I was off to run some boring errands, and drove to the mall instead, my heart going pitter-patter. I felt oddly as though I were doing something illegal, something that might land me in hell, something my prune-faced 4th grade teacher Sister Estelle would surely frown upon. I guarantee you, she would give me a hard whack with her rule if she knew what naughty number I tried on. It looked like this:
Black bustier. Made in Italy. On sale. Attached to something like these:
I felt strangely excited, trying on these foxy items, as though doing something sinful and anti-jesus - like gorging myself on peanutbutter cookies before dinner, spoiling my appetite. I'm pretty sure that grown-ups aren't supposed to purchase things like what you see pictured above. No, no. Grown-ups buy practical things, like frumpy flannel pajamas.
But, seeing myself in the mirror, I suddenly decided: I was sick of being a grown-up, a feminist, a flannel pajamas-wearing prude! Screw grown-up-ness! So I bought it - the entire ensemble - and one other thing - something white and simple and less over-the-top, just in case I decided later that the black get-up was too, too much.
That evening, we drank wine and had a lovely dinner of roasted chicken, then met up with some buddies from work for an apertif in the hotel lobby. Good times. I secretly wore the bustier underneath my dress, which I only felt brave enough to do because of the nearly full bottle of wine we had shared before leaving our room. The plan was that later, when we returned and Kevin was taking a shower or his usual post-beer piss in the bathroom, I would quickly pull on the panty hose and snap everything together (the sales associate had given me a quick lesson on how to do that in ten seconds flat), yank my dress over my head, and be lying there seductively in bed in my Victoria's Secret ensemble when he emerged (not scrubbing the floor, but at least meeting HALF of his fantasy criteria!).
Perfect plan, right?
It would have been perfect if, on our way back up to our room after drinks with my work-buddies in the lobby, we didn't run practically head-on into the LAST group of people I expected to see. It was a giggling gaggle of ladies from the Seattle Urban Expecting Parents Meet-Up Group, the group of which I was THE original founder almost two years ago, which has now exploded to include hundreds of members. I was the social queen-beeyatch of this group back in the day, head organizer of prego-lady parties and potlucks and trips to the market and prego-massages. Of course, when Zachary was stillborn, I dropped out of the group, passing the organizing torch over to this gal named C.
C was there, amidst this gaggle of mommies, some of whom I recognized from that time when we were all comparing belly sizes and drinking virgin cocktails together. They all kept hanging out, and still do - their kids growing older in sync. They were there for an overnight "girl's stay" at our hotel for Mother's Day - a little Mother's Day splurge for themselves.
"MONICA! Hiiiiiiii!" they said, and we did the small talk thing for a few minutes, the hugs and smiles and "how are yous" and "how's the baby" and "you're pregnant again? wow!" The newer members had heard my name but obviously didn’t know why I’d abruptly left the group, and I wasn’t up for sharing. C turned positively white, watching my face, biting her lip. Kevin and I just smiled and hugged, brushing off the questions.
“It didn’t work out,” we said. “Have fun, ladies!”
That was it - just a brief conversation before Kevin and I heard the merciful "ding" of the elevator, and we high-tailed it out of there, up to our floor. Kevin did jump in the shower right away, as I thought he would, and I carried out my plan as best I could, determined not to let disorienting melancholy settle in, keeping me from carrying out my big surprise. I sat on the edge of the bed and pulling off my dress, snapping those gartery-strappy thingies in place.
When he came out, I had the outfit on, but not lying seductively anywhere. Instead, I was sitting on the floor in the corner bawling my eyes out, getting snot on my lingerie and not caring. Kevin silded up next to me because he knew what was going on, and we stayed there for what felt like hours.
So much for my surprise "sexy evening." Of all the nights to have a crying fit - and I really don't cry that often.
* * *
You know, it was one of those situations that just hurts, and there isn't any rational reason for it, or way to explain what it WAS exactly, that I felt. Was it sadness? Jealously? Anger? Resentment? Longing? What was it? I have no idea - a swirling mix of all of those things, terribly, terribly strong. I couldn't escape it or suppress it or anything, not even with a kick-ass black bustier and thigh-high panty hose on my side. Maybe it was the wine in my system, or the sheer unexpectedness of it. Like, one past life colliding with this one, interrupting my plan for a sexy, surprising evening. Remembering suddenly, viscerally, what it was like to hang out with those gals, what the world and the future looked like back then, so different from what reality is to me now. Associating, perhaps, their voices and faces with movement in the tummy, joyful imaginings of good things to come.
All I know is that it ruined my entire plan, resulted in snot on my lingerie, and caused me to wake up this morning looking like a puffed-up sea monster, the way people look when they cry really hard for a long time and the go directly to bed. Oh, and I had a slight sore throat from breathing only through my mouth all night, my nasal passages incurably blocked with snot. For a moment, I thought I might have swine flu, but now I'm pretty sure it's not that.
Ah, well. All is not lost. Kevin WAS pleasantly shocked by the outfit, and said all the right things, assuring me several times over that it looked good, even with the puffy face and snot and all. It's kind of nice that my lingerie has now been "christened" with my own snot. Somehow it feels more "mine" than it was yesterday morning when I first brought it home. I'm keeping the black bustier and its strappy, lacy accoutrements for another evening when I'm more in the mood.
(I've already told Kevin he shouldn't hold his breath for the floor-scrubbing thing, the poor guy).