Saturday, September 22, 2012

Hoosier Cruizin'

The process of procuring a driver’s license in my new state of residence did not start well.  Having lived in 3 states in the past 3 years, we expected it to be like the others – you surrender your current license and the new state happily accepts you and gives you a new one as long as you can recite the little letters on the screen of the eye test machine.  Easy-peasy.   Well, not so in the Hoosier State.  

Shortly after our arrival in Indiana, we happened upon a state fair booth staffed by the Bureau of Motor Vehicles boasting the claim “Answering All Your Driving Questions.”  The only pressing driving question I had was “How do I get myself a new Indiana license so I can surrender the horrible one they gave me in Iowa last year?  You know, the one where I look like I’m only minutes away from blowing up my meth lab?”  - (Tip - never use the words ‘meth lab’ in a joking manner in the presence of law officers.   I was nearly arrested by the looming Troopers until I unsheathed the photo in question from my wallet and upon viewing my mug-shot, they nodded in sympathetic agreement.) 

“It’s simple ma’am.  You will just need to report to a BMV branch with necessary documents and take the written exam.  If you are able to pass the exam and you have the appropriate documents, you will be issued a driver’s license for the state of Indiana.”
          “I have to take the what?  Why?  I haven’t taken a driver’s exam in 24 years.  How am I supposed to pass it now when I barely passed it then?  In Iowa and Pennsylvania and every other state they just hand it over.”

“Fraud ma’am.  We’re working to prevent fraud.  Pennsylvania might not care about fraud but we do. It's just been too easy for illegal foreigners to get a driver's license.  We just can’t have that.”
        “So taking the driver’s exam will prevent illegal foreigners from driving?”

“That’s our hope ma’am.  Here ma’am,” She said handing me a copy of the Indiana Driver’s Manual.  “You’d better take this.”

Though I've given it a lot of thought, I am still totally unable to understand how forcing legal drivers from other states begrudgingly transplanted to the Hoosier State is going to put an end to illegal aliens procuring drivers licenses.  But my brief exchange with some of the Indiana BMV’s finest quickly demonstrated that logic was not at play here.  The Turk however, took it waaay harder than I.  

“That is it.  We move.  I am not taking exam.  Why I take exam?  No one else need exam?  Why Indiana?  Are so many people dying to live here?  No!  Nobody want to move here.  We all come here because we have to!”  
 At least the BMV girl had the good sense not to shove a Driver’s Manual in the face of a hostile foreigner.

After putting it off for as long as I could, hoping for divine intervention to occur and get me out of taking the driver’s exam, I eventually gave up and set the date last week.   I assumed that logic would prevail on the driver’s exam and as I am generally a rather logical woman and dare I say, since entering motherhood, an overly cautious driver, I felt I would have little difficulty with the exam.  

 I took a practice exam online to familiarize myself with the testing style.  Out of 10 questions, I got 4 right.  I sucked.   In 24 years of driving I’d only had 3 violations (If we don’t count run-ins with the Philadelphia Parking Authority and I’m not counting those as I was always an innocent victim in all of those many, many incidents.  I mean come on, if the Philly Parking Authority was a worthwhile organization, would they have their own reality show?  No, they are simply the trashy equivalent of the Kardashians in the US Parking Authority world!  But I digress.) but according to the online sample test, I was clearly not fit to drive.  Immediately I cracked open the manual.  It was time to study.

The night before my exam I was a wreck.  I barely slept.  It was like being 16 all over again awaiting my turn at the wheel to gain my freedom and the right to blast my Guns and Roses as I cruised the town square.   Back then failure meant I’d be relegated to a life in the passenger seat doomed to listening to my BFF’s bad Paula Abdul rather than calling taking over the driver’s seat and bringing Axel Rose with me.  Now failure meant…well, I wasn’t really sure.  If I failed would I have to move back to one of the states where I held a legal license or would I just have to give up driving until I finally passed?  Either way, the consequences were far worse than the doom of Paula Abdul – Strait Up.

I dropped my Midget off at Preschool and nearly vomited from nerves on my way to the BMV branch.   I practiced all Indiana road rules I’d read about in the manual on the way there hoping I would create a mind meld.  

“NUMBER 38 to DESK 6!”

I cautiously laid all my materials on the desk and stated my wishes with the secret hope that the mustachioed woman on the other side would inform me that the rules had changed and no exam was necessary for someone with a stellar driving record like mine holding a driver’s license from a fellow letter ‘I’ state.

“Ma’am, this Driver’s License does not constitute a legal form of photo identification.”

                “But it does everywhere else.  It works for the airlines.”

“We are not the airlines ma’am.  We the Bureau of Motor Vehicles.”

                “The place that issues Drivers’ Licenses right?”


                “But you don’t accept a Driver’s License as a form of ID.”

“That is correct.”

Things were not starting off well between Yolanda and myself.  She looked over my papers and told me that I was missing my passport, birth certificate, Social Security card, pay stubs confirming my social security number and a letter from the postal service confirming my address change.  My 5 utility bills and Iowa Driver’s License were not sufficient.

Thirty-five minutes later I returned with the requested documents and Yolanda began typing.   She typed for about 10 minutes and then gave me instructions for the exam before informing me I would most likely not be able to receive an Indiana Drivers License because the names on my birth certificate, Social Security card and passport were not identical.  My passport –has both my maiden and married names as well as my middle name while my social security card has only my first and married name and unbelievable as it may seem, my birth certificate does not contain my married name.  I tried to explain things to Yolanda but she lost patience with me and my uppity need to have 4 names.  

“Just go take the test.  If you pass we can try to send it though.  If it goes, you good.  If not, you need a new passport or Social Security card with just one name.  You gonna need to pick a damn name and get it the same way on everything.” 

After the reassuring conversation with Yolanda, I was filled with confidence and certainty for my exam.  That was until I realized in my trips to and from I’d forgotten my glasses at home.  I looked at Yo about to ask if I could postpone my test  until I ran home to get my glasses but the snarl beneath her mustache propelled me forward .  It seemed I would be taking my “Written Exam” on a touch-screen computer sans optical assistance.

Fifty questions with a two hour time limit.  The questions ran the gamete from how many days suspension is issued for driving with a suspended license to how far before merging lanes should one begin signaling.  The computer stopped me somewhere around question forty-four with a flashing congratulatory banner.  I’d made it.  Suck it Yolanda.

Yolanda, unimpressed with my testing excellence, handed me off to finish processing with her 60 year-old trainee Joyce.  Joyce was a true Midwesterner from her hefty lower half in stretch jeans to her bad perm and genuine smile.  Joyce’s inability to see the keyboard without the glasses she continuously misplaced on the top of her head brought a bit of levity to my hostile day with the BMV.  

“Mmmmkay hon, we need to do an eye test and git yer photo.  Come on over here.”

Eye test?  Damn you Yolanda!  Why didn’t you let me get my glasses?

“M’kay hon, just read the first row.”

The first four were fine.  The rest – not a clue.

“Weeeeell…maybe we should try another row.”

This time I got the first six.

“M’kay. Let’s just try once more.”

This time I got nine out of twelve.

“Well, that’s probably close enough.  We just won’t tell anybody.  M’kay?”

Suck it Yolanda – Newbie over here just hooked a blind sister up.  That’s how we chubby girls roll.

“Now lemme snap a quick picture.  No teeth and hold you head real high,”  she leaned over out of earshot of the crowd around us “I find it makes your face look thin and hides any extra chins.”  - Yea, that’s right only a chubby girl can truly hook another sister up.  I'm sure Yo would have done the same for a sister with a mustache.  This time, instead of looking like a meth-lab proprietor, I looked like a dark haired Heidi Klum.  That a girl Joyce!

Just when it appeared all was running smoothly void of Yolanda, my new comrade Joyce was equally thrown by the name game being played out on my documents.  “I’m going to need to call my supervisor.”

Fifteen minutes of confusion later, the girls at the BMV decided to just run my information though Homeland Security to see if I was legit.   The same Homeland Security who has had me on their radar since I married a foreigner 6 years ago and ventured noisily into the world of immigration.  Needless to say, I came back confirmed.  Homeland Security has my every alias from birth to 40 and I was clean.

2 hour, 2 trips home and after providing my out of state driver’s license, Social Security card, 5 utility bills with my new address, a letter from the Post Office, pay stubs confirming my Social Security number, my passport and birth certificate I finally had a new license – or at least a paper slip stating I would receive a new license in the mail shortly.  In an attempt to spare the Turk the same drama I asked my new friend Joyce, “So my husband isn’t a citizen.  What documents does he need to get his license?”

“Oh just the letter from the Postal Service, his Greencard and a Social Security card.”

“What about passport, birth certificate, pay stubs, utility bills all that?”

“Oh no hon,  his Greencard trumps all that.”

Of course it does Hoosiers, of course it does.  After all, my foreigner only has one last name.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

That's Spanish for Butt...Right Mom?

Bath time with the Midget is always an adventure.  It seems like the minute that kid takes his pants off he can’t keep his mouth shut.  And while my mind is racing with hilarious jokes about his father being the same, or how he needs to kick this habit before adulthood, I will refrain from all of those in the name of good taste.   Since our latest move, and the painfully long period before the Midget began school, we got to spend a lot of time together – no, seriously – way too much time.  How can I be certain of this?   Every night at bath time it rears its head and I now know exactly what I would sound like should I ever be reincarnated into the body of a 4 year old boy.

“Whoa Woman, watch the hands.  I cleaned my butt yesterday!”

“Now look what you’ve done.  You got soap in my eye.  Nice job gurrrrl.”

“Mom, why do I need to wash my hair if I didn’t roll around in the dirt today?  I mean, some days I do put my hair in the dirt, but I didn’t today.  Fo real.”

But last night I realized just how much time he’s spent with his mother when his feminine side reared its little head.  
“Mom, make sure you wash my bagima.  I think it’s dirty.”

Um what?   Bagima?  Wash your bagima? 

As I’m sudsing up the Midget, he revealed to me that not only does he have lady parts, but that his lady parts got dirty when he was outside playing because the seat of his truck was dirty.  In fact, he feared he’d gotten leaves and grass on his bagima.  I’m not sure where he got the word as I’m not mature enough to use the scientific terms for genitalia and God knows the Turk isn’t either.  We’ve called his little man parts ‘a walnut’ since birth and  have been widely known to use whistles and eyebrow raises in place of the real words.  I can assure you, he’s learned some good stuff in two different languages from his potty-mouth parents, but this one did not come from home.  I blame one of those little playground hussies at the preschool, but regardless, the word (or some bastardization of it) was now out there.

“Honey, I don’t think you have a bagima.”

                “What?  Are you crazy?  It’s right here.”  (grabbing his butt)

“Um, no.  Do you know what a bagima is?”

                “Well duh.  Of course I do.”  (again, grabbing his butt)

“Honey, only girls like Mommy have bagimas.”

                “No Mom.  Look.  I have one right here.” (this time shaking his butt)

“No, that’s not a bagima.  That’s your butt.”

                “Right.  Bagima is Spanish for butt.”

Oh right….how could I forget? Bagima is Spanish for butt.

Now any normal parents would correct their little one and give a scientific explanation maturely explaining the difference between the sexes and let it go at that.  Normal parents would laugh it off and let it rest.  But then again, we are not normal parents.  Moments after the Midget was toweled off and struggling to don his Iron Man undies and T-Rex jammies, I ran into the office to share the tale with the Turk.   As with all things Turk-related, it took a couple minutes of translation before he busted out laughing.

For some reason, we - and in we I mean since it’s better to take the Turk down with me - just cannot let it go.  

Here is an example of our last few days:
Watching National Geographic  shows – “Did you see the bagima on that elephant?”

Walking down the street -  “Whoa, that woman’s pants are so tight I can see her bagima!”

In traffic – “That car just but me off.  What a total bagima!”

The irony is that I hate the v word.  I would never dream of commenting on an elephants coochie using the v-word.  I’m no prude, I just hate that word.  I can’t stand to hear people say it let alone say it myself.   I was fortunate during my pregnancy that the entire thing happened in Turkish and I was never once forced to hear the v-word  even on a scientific front.  I realize that as an educated woman in her 40’s, I should not fear the word vagina but I do.  It makes me cringe.  Coochie, love muffin, naughty bits, vajiji and now, thanks to Honey Boo Boo on TLC, I can even accept the term Biscuit when discussing lady parts, anything but the v-word.  

So in all honesty, I think the Midget’s birth of the word BAGIMA was actually meant for me.  My son created a cute little word that was a step closer to the grown-up word I should begin to use.  Thanks to my son, I am one step closer to adulthood.  The true test of progress will be seen in a few months when it’s time for the bagima doctor.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

My Son's First Stripper

Bob Mackie's Version Complete with Blinking Boobies

I took my son to meet his first stripper yesterday.  He wasn’t overly impressed.  Perhaps because he’d seen a few on video the day before and the film versions were a tad more endowed than the live version.  In matters of strippers, I hear things are better on film.  We’re trying another one on Friday.   Perhaps Girl Friday will be more to his liking, or at least have the ability to pull his attention from the pile of Hot Wheels in his backpack.

Before you call Child Protective Services, allow me to explain.  I work in the world of professional theatre.  I have for years.  In between and often simultaneously while teaching, I’ve managed to flesh out a nice career in costumes.  It’s a great way to make a few bucks doing something that just comes as second nature.  Need a nude bodysuit with nipples and vajayjay outlined in glass beads?  I’m your gal.  Perhaps you need someone to create life-like blood splatter from a gunshot wound to the chest. I got it covered.   Dancing unicorn?  No problem.  Crack ho?  Give me 5 minutes.  Or maybe you just need a beautiful period gown from the turn of the century?  I can do that too, but it’s not nearly as much fun.  Theatre, dance, film, performance art, I’ve done it all.  I don’t, however, do Halloween, except for the Midget.  And needless to say, he steals the show every Halloween.  

Though incredibly dramatic by nature, I’m not really what one would consider a ‘theatre person.’  I hate show tunes and I know relatively nothing about musicals.  I do wear a lot of black but that’s more to hide my big butt than to appear dramatic.  I fell in to theatre more than anything else.  I became a costume designer because I couldn’t decide if I wanted to go into fashion or into sculpture – costumes seemed to be the perfect mix.  Ok, that and because my high school guidance counselor told me that “Real costume designers do not come from a town of 6000 in the middle of Iowa.”  25 years later I’m still taking design jobs just to spite the old hag.  Over the years, I’ve managed to embarrass myself among some of theatre’s biggest - even Arthur Miller, and had a ball.  Though I’ve tried many times to quit, I always go back.  Theatre is my go to job and since arriving in our new local, I’m back at it.  And while years ago I kept working in theatre because it was exciting and fun, now I’m back because it’s the perfect Mom-job.  I have built in child labor with nimble little fingers to do all of my fine beading and detail work.  Ok, just kidding.  I’m no Kathie Lee Gifford but I can save a fortune on daycare by just dragging him along and he doesn’t seem to mind.  If he can’t entertain himself with the toys he brings along, his dress-up options are endless.  You have no idea how many things a 4 year old boy can do with a stripper’s bra.

In his four years, the Midget has been privy to some extraordinary costume endeavors preformed on the dining room table from a trio of gigantic horse heads to a bedraggled African army to the current bevy of strippers.  He’s spent countless hours backstage in dressing rooms and he knows the drill.  Find a dressing room, unpack snacks and Matchbox cars and keep busy until Mom is done.  And in the case of our current contract – Gypsy - pay no attention to the stripper in the corner. 
Now before you all think it’s a great economical plan to take your child to work with you on a daily basis – it’s important to note, it can be dangerous and as in the case of the Midget, scarring to the point of developmental delay.  About a year and a half ago, I had taken the Midget with me to one of Philadelphia’s largest theatres.  I’d been contracted in to do some distressing.  Distressing is the process of  using various paints, graters, sanding devices and wire brushes to turn pristine new clothes into something befitting the script, in this case a battle-ragged army, and a handful of dirt poor hookers. While professionally I was dealing with war wounds, personally I was locked in my own war of wills centering on the area of poop with the Midget.  I felt the most appropriate place for him to do it was in the potty.  He disagreed.  Strongly.  He’d been peeing in the potty for months but for some reason, refused to poop anywhere but in his pants.  As any desperate mother does when stuck in a mind-meld with their suddenly demonic offspring, I shared my problem with the Universe and asked every single parent/aunt/uncle/grandma/godmother – you name it, if they had any tips.  Fortunately this particular cast and crew was overflowing with understand, but very little guidance beyond, “He’ll poop when he’s ready.”  Easy advice to dispense when you are not elbow deep in kid-poop on a daily basis.

On his third day backstage with Mom, something gave him the urge.   As Mommy mixed three shades of red and created a shockingly life-like stab wound on cute little hooker dress to be used in Act 3, the Midget decided it was time to give in.

“MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM!!!  I  gotta poop!!  NOW!!!!”

Fast as a ninja, I cast aside my crime scene and hauled him to the nearest bathroom, which of course was attached to the ladies’ dressing room.  Amid weaves and wigs he sat happily on the potty and let ‘er rip.  He was so elated with his achievement of turd meeting potty that he began to squeal at top decibels.  

“Do you see that?  Mom do you see it?  It’s as big as my arm!   I did it!  I did it!  I FINALLY POOPED IN THE POTTY!!!!!!”  

 Those of you who’ve ever been backstage during performance know how impressive the level of virtual silence there can be, now combine that with the power a 3-year old has to break the sound barrier.  I wanted to quiet him but there was no way I was going to put even the slightest kibosh on the monumental event.  

Moments later as we wrapped things up and began to debate the payoff time of a previously issued bribe, The Midget exited the bathroom into a full standing ovation performed by a fully dressed African army and a handful of hookers who were minutes from taking the stage.   As he passed through the congratulatory cheers offered by some of television’s best characters and some of regional theatre’s finests, he took it all in like the little sultan believes he is.

It would be another 6 months before my little sultan attempted to poop in the potty again, as I was unable to ever again produce a fully costumed standing ovation upon the final flush.  It seemed a simple “Good JOB!!!”  from mom was not what he deemed fitting of his stature.  Woman, if you want potty poop, I want an ovation.

Now, a year older and wise he’s moved on from armies and hookers to strippers and it seemed he’s rather un-phased.  Or it did, until the other night when he asked me if I had a bra that made my boobies light up like the lady at the theatre.   Three more days and two more strippers on this contract.  I’m certain we can do more damage.