Economy Refill Size (64 FL OZ) by Ray Ogar
>>> COPYRIGHT 2000
“what’d the baby-sitter say?... i doubt she’d have even
thought of such a thing, much less say it.”
mother wouldn’t listen to me.
today she’s busy doing her hair,
fingers around spatula,
spreading smart-curling cream over the balding areas of her scalp.
not very interested in my own day-time-drama.
and it’s not as if she has any friends of her own.
she thinks just because i walk through the door with two eniac-boys,
they constitute real social substance,
boyfriend-material and lower middle class networking opportunities.
being a hip dada girl,
i hardly _know_ them myself at any single moment,
my own interest being the dishing of
samples of variation-on-a-theme tube jelly.
think mediation films like vaseline mixed with
mr. clean to be placed on the pads of tv-eyeplugs.
this lets the pictures flush into your eyes under false pretenses.
so i just turned away,
fingers rubbing the ends of my plastic barbie hair in frustration.
i sit down behind the baby on the floor waiting for
the baby-sitter to finish its circumnavigations of said baby.
one of the machine’s smaller eyeplugs is still stuck in
the baby’s eyes--
i help it detach with a gentle wiggle.
this sort of thing has happened before when i’ve left the room.
the baby-sitter takes the opportunity to suck a little harder on
the baby’s pupil,
as if that makes the tv commercials’ subliminal messages
any more permanent.
mother won’t hear that this sort of thing might be damaging,
she’s more interested right now in it keeping the little one quiet.
i push the teasing picture plugs away from my face
preferring sociomechanized entertainment to
be a bit more distanced from my flesh.
i swear the baby-sitter cops an attitude when i’m in the den.
at this moment the visual plugs snap back into the rounded case.
“what _are_ you doing?” mother’s hands on hips,
scratching at the blue polyester of her pants--
sweat mark between
the tide-detergent stripe print across her breasts.
the moisture mark coalesces from too much sun while
sitting on the back porch talking,
to the woman next door,
yelling above the egg-shaped lawnmower that’s no longer quiet.
she doesn’t realize sometimes that the sound of
a door slamming shut is mrs. john doe going back
in the house to watch her oven bake a pie and
not an opportunity to dish a kitty-litter-pittance of her own drama.
i stare at the ceiling in don’t-ask-me fashion.
i pick the baby off the floor having to tug extra hard
because of a stray carpet cleaning strand teasing
a bit of urine left behind.
that’s so sweet.
i cradle the kid in my arms;
heat near my hands,
the diapers recycles what baby-waste was recently captured.
“the baby-sitter just quit. she must’ve known i’d tell you.”
mother looks to me in disgust.
“then you must have said something to her.”
pointing to the baby-sitter in oh-so-cuteness--
it’s ultra-mod hoop of spheres nestling snug in the carpet.
is it taking a nap or has it really quit?
the baby sleeps somewhat.
“get real! i swear the thing knows i talk about it. it’s just a
tv with extra-large knobs.”
mother’s eyes widen in horror,
in how-could-you sitcom fashion.
“what did you just say? i didn’t hear what just came
out of your mouth.”
this has happened before,
a silent groan at the back of my throat pushing into my stomach.
“i said... it.”
mother raises her hand,
the hair spatula with curling cream almost touching the ceiling.
i flinch a little,
holding the baby to my chest in talk-show-terrorist fashion.
this is a natural reaction to protect myself more than anything else.
mother pouts, “apologize.”
my lower jaw shrinks a bit, “what?”
i look at the entertainment center.
plastic wood more like plastic covered in plastic paper
made to look like fake wood--
the humongous nonfunctional dials and the teeth of a tuning band
circling its crown in 1950s aesthetic.
my teeth clench.
mouth not really opening.
i say it real fast.
mother smiles in sarcasm, “now that’s better.”
mother’s eyes squint--
i think concentrating more on the heat coming from the
curling cream in her hair than from any sort of anger now.
her lips purse, “oh my god! it’s set too long! quick!”
her hands wave in the air like a cheerleader-try-out-mom,
mind you i never enjoyed going to such events.
she runs into the kitchen.
i follow as fast as i can,
setting the baby on the dinner table,
pushing away the lime green salt-and-pepper shaker dispenser
as it moves towards my hand.
i help mom rinse the cream off;
the substance turns a rust brown under the heavy stream of water.
she keeps complaining as the water auto-heats for quick
i barely keep-up,
turning the cold knob further in retaliation.
she pulls her head from the basin then half tangling with the
smart-faucet as it moves near her hands to wash items that
water drips from her head to the floor;
i try not to laugh when the floor-cleaner bumps purposefully
into her feet.
the floor’s nanomachined wax begins peeling and
resurfacing on the spot.
mother’s toes force the cleaning device back.
and then just a moment of reality, “the baby!” we both yell in unison.
we watch in po-mo-slo-mo as the cute little salt-and-pepper
shaker set slowly shoves the child toward the table’s edge,
the typical hand-lifting-a-single-dispenser-out-of-tray motion
i dive for the baby and trip over the chair that pulls
itself out for me to sit down on.
with luck i manage to sit in the chair and still catch the baby.
i shove the salt-and-pepper dispenser away in disgust,
its little plastic cog motor acting against my force.
mother still shoves the floor cleaner with her foot.
something sparkles in her eyes and something else sparkles
on her nose, “how about a happy meal?”
“can we leave the baby home?” i almost finish my thought,
remembering the last time when we went to micky d’s and i left
the baby on the bathroom counter for the diaper changer to do its job.
i used the restroom and then left the stall to find the kid wrapped in
cloth at both ends.
i didn’t like the scream mother gave when she walked in on me
cutting the diaper away with pink self-protecting lefty scissors.
she wrestled me to the floor while i choked out the truth.
“how about i drive,” i say this in the most minimal of uptalk,
remembering how she pulls onto sidewalks to avoid getting
slug-bodies on the car tires.
caution: eye irritant.
first aid: eyes--flush with plenty of water for fifteen minutes.
if swallowed--drink a glassful of water.
call a physician.
keep out of the reach of children.