My next-door neighbor, Amy, and I made an arrangement. I’d babysit her three kids while she went to the grocery store. Then she’d return the favor and keep my two. For weeks, we’d done this. It worked really well until…
One day, when I got home and called Amy, and she said, “The kids are playing so nicely, why don’t I keep them a little longer?”
The mistake I made was jumping on her offer.
Envisioning twenty minutes of blissful alone time, I grabbed a diet soda, a lusty novel, and raced up the stairs. I shook off my clothes and slipped into the bath. Warm, peaceful water enveloped me. I closed my eyes and breathed. Lavender. I sighed, sunk back, and rejoiced.
After a while, I cracked open the book and flew forward in time to the year 3,012, to another world, one without kids and carpools, peanut butter and sticky hands. I traveled the galaxy and experienced a life filled with danger.
“Ma, did ya get some popsicles?” Gina burst into the bathroom.
“Did you Mom? Huh? Huh?” Mia trotted close behind with all three of Amy’s kids, plus two more they picked up along the way.
Within seconds, seven kids, ages 3 to 6, were lined up at the edge of the bathtub, staring down at me… at my nakedness.
I dropped the book in the water. Flipped over and welded my body against the side of the tub.
“What are yawl doing here?” I gasped in horror.
“I wanna red popsicle.” “Can I have a green one?” “I like chocolate.”
Popsicles? Crap. Where was Amy? Why had she sent the kids over without warning? Oh, double crap… Was she about to walk in too? My butt bobbed, exposed to all, and they wanted popsicles.
“Hell… O.” I stifled my first response and flinched. What if they argued? Tried to negotiate? I needed them to go away.
“Sure. Go. Take whatever you want.”
“Wow! Thanks, Mom.” Gina beamed, turned and raced from the room.
The rest of the kids followed, leaving the bathroom door wide open.
Even so, relief flooded through me. I jumped out of the tub, grabbed a towel and wrapped it around my body. Shaking, with liquid knees, I locked the door.
Then, I caught sight of myself in the mirror. Wild eyed with corkscrew curls, I looked crazed. Insane. Wild. But, my mind wouldn’t leave it at that. No. I couldn’t stop thinking. What had they seen? I had to know the complete, horrible truth. I took a deep breath and dropped the towel. I turned around and looked at my butt.
Ghastly cellulite divots stippled my giant marshmallow white butt.
Oh, the horror of it all…
Those poor, poor, innocent children. Scarred for life.
They needed comfort. I needed damage control.
I jumped into some clothes and, without running a brush through my hair, raced downstairs.
I expected to find the kids traumatized and screaming, “My eyes, my eyes.” But… No… They seemed happy, sitting on the floor eating popsicles.
“Mom?” Gina cocked her head and squinted.
She had a weird look in her eyes. Oh no. Here it comes, all those horrible questions. Mom, why do you have hair there? Or, does everyone’s belly button look like that when they get old?
I gagged. A loud, sick, gurgling burp crawled up from the bowels of my body and escaped.
All the kids turned and looked. Their bright, shining eyes appraised me. Again.
I felt faint. My heart pounded. Sweat poured from my pits. Would these indignities never stop?
“We couldn’t find any chocolate popsicles. Mom didn’t you get any?”
What? I caught myself. Gina was still talking about popsicles? I pulled myself back from the abyss.
“N-no-o,” I stuttered trying to appear composed. “I forgot. Sorry.”
“I like the green ones better anyway.” Mia shrugged, licking away.
With that, I was dismissed. Forgotten. Invisible.
I crumbled onto a chair, mind racing, wondering what to do. All the children had seen me naked. I couldn’t have them go home and say, ‘I saw Mrs. Smith’s boobs today.’ Their parents would think I was an exhibitionist or worse, a child molester. ARGH.
But then, I perked up. A desperate, sliver of hope shimmered. Maybe they didn’t notice my extreme nakedness.
No, that wasn’t possible.
Maybe they wouldn’t say anything. But… Could I count on that?
No. I had to buck up. Gather my courage. Call the parents. Explain what happened. Throw myself on their mercy. Explain my innocence. Convince them I meant no harm. And, I was heartfelt and sorry for any long-term damage that the sight of my naked body had caused.
“Boy, this is good.” Gina smacked her lips. “Can I have another?”
“No.” I spoke a bit too harshly. “It’s almost dinner time.”
It wasn’t. But it was the best I could do under stress. I needed them to go home.
Finally, the kids finished their popsicles and I, as any dutiful caretaker would, watched them walk back to Amy’s. She was watering her yard.
That witch even had the nerve to wave.
Really? I stifled a nasty response, smiled, and waved back.
Then turned, and with all the studied grace of a diplomat’s wife, shut the door. I went straight into the kitchen and poured myself a giant glass of wine. Downed it. Then, poured another.
I drank it too.
I picked up the phone.
“Amy, are you sitting down?’
I told her the entire, horrific thing.
I called my other neighbor. Did the same thing.
“Don’t worry,” she said. “My kids see me naked all the time. They probably didn’t think a thing about it.”
Ahhhh… yea… She was skinny and perfect. And, her boobs looked like they were still located where God installed them.
I hung up and had another drink.
Days went by. Nobody said a word about my nakedness. Not the kids. Not their mothers. No one.
Their silence ate me up. I lost sleep. I ate everything in sight.
I had to know.
A month later, I got my chance. I was at the neighborhood playground. As Amy, another mother and I sat watching the kids, I casually, acting totally disinterested, asked, “So… Amy… Did your kids ever… Ahhh… say anything about seeing me naked?”
I couldn’t believe it. Not one of them had said a word.
My naked body hadn’t caused one comment. Had not made the smallest impression. It was as if no one had even noticed.
The conversation flowed on.
Knowing I should be thrilled.
Or, at least relieved.
But, for some bizarre reason, I felt…