When I was a kid, Madonna's Material Girl video blew me away. How I longed to be that shapely, jeweled-studded, pink satin clad goddess. I later found out the video was a tribute the late, great Marilyn Monroe. Another icon of hourglass curves and feminine power. I worshiped them both and decided I would strive to accomplish what these incredible women had (except for Marilyn's untimely demise, of course). Ahhh, the best laid schemes of mice and pre-pubescent girls. To quote John Lennon, "Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans."
These days, the only diamonds I come in contact with are comprised of red dirt and green grass. And as for pink ribbons, well, I could never pull one off perched atop my head, but I do wear one proudly on my chest as I help one of my closest friends deal with the indignities of breast cancer. Far from the clean, neat, sparkly world I dreamed of, my life consists of grass stains, mud ground into the carpet of my Jeep, some crying jags and lots of laughter at inappropriate times. I would not have it any other way. Hi, my name is Cindy. I'm a baseball mom, foot soldier in the fight against cancer, and writer of chick porn. You heard me. I write erotic romance, kinda like that awful shades of grey crap except way better--a senior in college who's a virgin? Do I look fucking stupid? But I digress.
My weekend started with a hangover. It usually does these days, but I have a system to whip myself into fighting shape before my son gets out of bed, which is invariably at the butt crack of dawn...unless it's a school day. At five Saturday morning, I tossed down a Sudafed (to help with sinus swelling from last night's overindulgence), three Advil (for the headache), a Super B Complex vitamin (to get rid of the sluggish, dizzy feeling), and a Vitex capsule (that's for my malfunctioning lady-parts, but that's a whole other story). After a couple bottles of cold water from the fridge, I'm right as rain.
L, my son, staggers into the living room, longish hair a cloud of snarled espresso-colored waves. I can hardly see his eyes, which are lovely velvety brown if you're lucky enough to catch a glimpse. He reminds me of Harry Potter if Harry Potter were a five foot tall nine year old, half Caucasian, half Puerto Rican with the booty to prove it. It's okay. My son has a bodacious ba-donk-a-donk. I am strong enough to accept this fact.
After four pieces of toast and two eggs, he is raring to go. I manage to put off the inevitable by nursing a cup of coffee and puttering around the kitchen for another hour.
"Can you take me to the baseball field to practice pitching?" he asks, SpongeBob apparently at an end.
"I can, but the question is will I."
"Will you take me?" He rolls his eyes.
I sigh. This is not my job. I cook, I clean, I scrub red clay out of white baseball pants, I write about engorged naughty-bits. I do not squat behind home plate while my giant fourth grader hurls hard projectiles at me. But I know neither his father nor his stepfather are able to function in this capacity. They are both at work. Damn them for being productive members of society and good providers.
"I guess so. I can wear your catcher's gear."
A large-toothed grin lights up his face.
I'm doomed and I know it, but at least L is happy.
We get to the field so early that dew still clings to the grass and the sun hasn't even fully broken the horizon. We shlep his massive bag of gear to the baseball diamond, do some warm ups, and then I put on his catcher's mask and chest protector.
"You should put on the shin guards, too, Mom." He picks up a ball and slaps it into his glove.
"I'll be fine." I sit on an overturned paint bucket behind home plate because there's no way my middle-aged knees will put up with squatting for more than about five seconds. But then I remember he has a strong arm and really could chip a bone with a misplaced fastball so I spread my legs very wide. Yes, I'm a genius. This way there is less of a chance that he'll hit my legs instead of the mitt.
He shrugs and takes the mound. The first pitch goes wild. I don't bother to lunge for it. He has a pile of balls to work through. The second pitch it a little off, too, so I tell him to move over on the rubber. He complains that he's over far enough but then acquiesces.
There's the wind up.
The ball smacks me square between the legs. My hoo-ha feels as if it has been branded. I jump up, howling, tears in my eyes. My genitals are throbbing and not in that good way I love to write about.
Breathe, just breathe, I tell myself.
Holy fucking shit. If guys do indeed have it worse with the same type of injury, I will never again laugh at groin shot on those home video shows.
"Mom, are you okay? I'm so sorry. Is your leg all right?" He runs to me, genuine concern tugging at his features.
"My leg is fine, you didn't hit my leg."
"What did I hit?"
Before I can stop it, the admission has escaped my lips: "You hit me in the va-jay-jay!"
His look of shock dissolves into a fit of giggles. He is still nine after all. Crotch humor is the height of hilarity at nine. I even manage a chuckle.
When we have both regained our composure, I resume my catcher's duties, albeit crouching behind the bucket. Fuck my knees, I am not taking another shot to the clit. I'm sure it's going to be bruised tomorrow. I do not need a trip to the ER, me clutching my crotch, baseball stitching permanently stamped into my vulva. No, thank you.
We make it through pitching practice without another hitch. We go home and I down more Advil. Screw my kidneys, my snatch feels like an over-ripe orange ready to split at moment's notice. I then deliver him to travel ball practice at nine a.m. and sit through an excruciating Little League game from two to four.
Wounded and exhausted, we go by K's house to see if she needs some company for the evening and she does. Having cancer is a lonely kind of worry and pain. She worries about her prognosis through death isn't on the table. Not yet. Just the specters of the same old, same old horrors: chemo, radiation, surgery, possible double mastectomy, stress to her son, her husband, her body which has already been through so much. It's all overwhelming, but I have brought provisions: two bottles of white zinfandel.
"What's up with the pink wine?" she teases. "Does everything have to be pink these days?"
"It was on sale at the grocery store."
She nods, a deep understanding passing between us.
"May I have an ice pack, please?" I ask, easing into a kitchen chair, grateful it is padded.
"Of course, what's wrong?"
"L hit me in the pussy while we were practicing his pitching."
"On purpose?" She furrows her brow, cracking the first bottle and pouring both of us extra large glasses.
"I doubt it. His aim still isn't that accurate."
We laugh and listen to the boys digging through a box of Legos. Swunch, swunch, swunch.
She takes a sip of wine and then runs a finger around the edge of the glass. "The lymph node from the last surgery was positive."
My throat constricts and I wish I could take away the fear crinkling the edges of her eyes. I can't. I know I can't. My world narrows to a pinpoint. I need to scream, but I can't. I need to put my fist through a wall, but I won't. Instead, I focus on the pink liquid in my glass and wish it was something stronger.
"What does that mean?" I ask, knowing the answer full well, but I also know she needs to say it.
Months of chemo, three different drugs, all of which will ravage her body, killing everything, not just the cancer. Neither of us can even cry. Not in any meaningful way. It's just too big. Too shocking. This was supposed to be a tiny thing. A nothing thing. But nothing ever works out for K the way it is supposed to. We often joke that perhaps she ran over Jesus's puppy in a former life and failed to apologize.
She finishes her list of tests to come and treatments to follow, a hitch in her voice.
"So what do you think?" she asks.
"I think it would be easier if you had been hit in the cunt by a baseball."
She huff a chuckle, tears snaking down her cheeks. "Me, too."
I want to tell her how sorry I am. I want to shout. I want to burst into tears, but none of that will help. I lift my glass of wine to my lips. I may not be able to take away the pain, but I can sit with her and listen to our children play.
It's not enough, but for now, it'll do.