By the time Liza and I got home from our marsupial moment we were wax versions of Gretchen and Penelope oozing out onto the driveway leaving a mirage of ourselves in every step. I dripped to the house and up to top of the stairs desperately trying to free myself from my clothing on the way. Stairs and undressing are a bad combo. . Memories of the pool. My hair was again stuck in my shirt and my pant leg with twisted back around my kneecaps
"Help!! Air! "Liza found me splayed on foyer flailing. Mostly gasping.
Liza was of quick help peeling me out of my sticky ensemble as she was raised in the spit on the wash cloth wipe your face - the band aid off with the scab- zip hoods into chins and if it doesn't fit use a hanger or a stapler school of dressing. So she snapped my shirt off and did that groovey one hand bra snap. Snaps ndeed! Free free at last!!
But three was more than one snap. Both our heads spun to look at poor Ethyl.
Wow. Not right at all.
Lumpy. White hard swollen pulled so tight. I could see - Peter Paul and Mary really were killing her.. She was so sweaty and I think possibly crying. I know I was. I gently coaxed her from trying to hide in my belly button. We turned to snuggle into Liza.
"Ew. Get off of me. You smell like boobie cheese!""
She waddled us into the shower and walked away. I think mine and Ethyl's tears were louder than the spray. Myrtle slipped into my armpit to give Ethyl and I little one on one time with the poof and the Irish Spring. That and I think she was embarrassed that I was still wearing pants. I turned to look in the mirror something I do quite often. Not as a habit of vanity but one of self talk.
My mother allways said " No matter where you go - there you are. Now look at yourself and love yourself. Just the way you are. I do"
I could't help but sob. And laugh. And sob. I am a mess. We are a mess. I made a giant soap bubble nose for myself and pasties for the girls. I put the pouf on my head pulled my wet pants up mom style and stuck the girls nipple to nipple on the steamed glass shower stall. Ta das!
"Well mom. Here I am. One cancer ridden clown!"
Ethyl pried her face off of Myrtle spat off the bubbles and in a rare moment spoke. ( she usually sings broadway Merman style )
"Ummm before you go completely off the rails - and before I get hacked off - do you think I could have a picture. A proper picture - because if this is my last memory of myself - a lot more than sun shine and roses are going to be coming up.. and perhaps out your nose."
I wiped away the soap and the snot.
"As you wish Ethy. I will get Liza to call Suzi. Right now I have to get my pants off and the soap out of my eye. - and maybe call my therapist. Or a circus."
"Ummmm Kelly? Stop talking. Even Myrtle - who by the way is turning blue - thinks you should."
" Yes. Of course."
Always listen to your boobs before you become one.
Once one has come to terms with the enevitable loss of a body part the next step is much like rebounding from a bad break up. You go shopping for a new one. And thankfully Vegas was good to us. Not only did I get smancy new sneaker set for the hospital but I had a large chunk of change for my ' new' Ethyl.
But where does one - in a slightly small town go to find a rather large boob - other than a strip joint or used car lot? Pretty simple. There is only one mastecotomy shop to choose from. So you go there or back to grade 6 and stick socks in your bra.
So we jump in the Porsche because for the first time all summer it is actually summer - not sprinter or sprummer real hot. Actually too hot. Yes Vegas is hot - but they cool the air inside and out. As in you have to wear pants. Maybe even a light sweater. We kinda forgot that and were a tad overdressed. Like two house salads in a retirement home with moist lettuce and 100 000 table spoons of dressing. One with 1000 islands and one with that orange kind. I was the orange one. And not all cool like orange is the new black. That was Bea.
Bea runs the boobateria and is as intimidating as Red but in the absolute total opposite way. Of those 100 angels I mentioned - she is in the top ten. That and she knows everything about boobs! My hero.
I was already sweaty from the car ride and now was even more nervous because Bea is a hugger and as we climbed the stairs to the secret room of requiremt the air beacame as still and hot as goat gas in a mountain cave.
"So you are here for a boobie?" Asks Bea in her fabulous mysterious eastern real European accent. ( it took Penelope everything she had to be quiet but the heat was melting all sense and sensibility)
"Ahh yes" said both Penny and I sounding more like Bob's burger does Laverne and Shirley. "Yes. I am going to need one and perhaps a special bra for when I have the surgery and I have this drain thing..." and on I rambled until Bea said.
"shh. I show you. I know your sizes." She glanced at Liza. Nailed it. Liza was agast. " I go to beaches with my husband. I know all sizes. From little baby b to big triple e. All wowmn are beautiful in all sizes. You will be beautiful too. Just like you are now. "
She looked me up and down thankfully missing - or ignoring he tears welling up in my eyes. Fear and kindness make my face leak. Both were walking all over my brow- rather slithering in my gaping pores.
She rose and strode to a rack of bras. Like 200. Victoria may have secrets but Bea has top secrets. The best ever. She collected a handful of soft sexy and yet very purposeful - oh god. Lingere.
Panic. More perspiration. I have only ever worn a sports bra. Except once in a play. Disaster. How do these even do up? That thing is not gonna hold up Myrtle.
Who by the way was checking out the potential Ethyl replacements sitting oddly in a box to my right. Ethyl? No worries. She thinks we are still in Vegas. She does not freak out until later.
Bea catches all three of us - staring at the giant boobies in a box. The bras land on the desk. Bea is delighted.
"You can choose your nipple too. Look" she grabs the boob from the box and essentially tosses it at me. There was a thump behind me which might have been Liza fainting but I was too busy feeling up myself to compare the fake boob to Myrtle. Woa.
OMG. It feels the same!!! I was far far too enthusiastic. In a second the back of the foobie had been peeled off to reveal zillions of little suction cups and Bea slapped it on my skinny clammy little arm.
I tried to shake it off. I turned and flung my arm at Liza who was a colour I have never seen before. Kinda a crimson winter wheat with a side of bleached blotchy violet. Uh oh. I spun around.
"Holy crap! This sucker is not coming off!!" I was on my feet now - flailing -visualizing myself skiing and swimming with my new invincible Ethy. I was so losing my grip on realty.
"AND!" says Bea we have them in every size. You are 11 let me show you 22!!"
Another thump. This one I saw. It was like a ginormous naked sea turtle had jumped a wave and died on her desk. Ethy and Myrtle seemed so - well. Teeny. All was still. Goat gas had steamed the windows. I just stared and thought of my Mom.
Now I understand why a 22 gauge double barrel shot gun blows your shoulder off. And now I know why my Mom had deep dents in her bones. Point made. I sat down. Deep breath. Bea took off the foobie with some groovey twist.
"But before this you need these." She handed me the beige pile of lady things.
I rose again but this time the perspiration and shame had pooled in my pants. My beige lady pants. Oh god. I was soaked. Stuck to myself with a nasty Hanes no ones way wedge. I manoeuvred to the change room.
I could here Lizchatting as I attempted to ooze myself out of my shirt and bra. The girls were molten wine gums. I wrestled them into a new bra. Wow. Comfy. Perky. Stable.
"Uh all is good. This one works. But what are theselooking down inside the bra.
"Those are the spots for your drains. You will have a tube that pulls the fluid out of your nodes and it will collect in the little balls." Yes. I lost it. Little balls. Giggles.
Bea tossedr another garmentr over the door.
"You will need this too. This is a surgical corset to support your Myrtle ( she was listening ) an lpin your drain and put the ball in the pouches."
I was a little light headed as I took off the bra and began to stuff myself into the thick full front zip iron maiden corset from hell. I was beyond stuck. My arm was pinned under Ethyl and I zipped my finger into something made of Velcro. I figured I had about a minute or two of air left in the change room. I was wrong. I was almost unconscious when I flung open the door with my chin completely unable to free myself from the straight jacket I had tied myself in. As I stepped forward I lost my balance and began hopping to find my feet.
My head was out the right arm and my hair was tangled in a clasp. Both arms were now twisted and clearly I had it on inside out. I knew this because when I looked down the pouches were on the outside.
Bea was hysterically silent laughing. Liza was was hysterically silent staring.
I got my feet up under me and snapped upright in one last pathetic sweaty hop.
"LOOK LIza!" I panted as I motioned to my dangling pouches " I am a marsupial!!"
Bea collapsed into her chair. None of us had a shred of mascara left. Liza took out her wallet.
"Write her up Bea. "And make it two. If cancer does not kill her maybe this will."