Readers of this blog might like to know that at this very moment, my mother is likely dying a small death of shame over the title I’ve chosen. This is because, in Mom’s parlance, accoutrements refers to a very specific kind of female undergarment. One worn on the top half of one’s body. My mother, let me note, adopted this term out of her wonderful wry and intelligent sense of humor. She would probably prefer I not write a public blog post about unmentionable undies and so, no doubt, would you, but still I am going to do it. But don’t worry, that’s not the only embarrassing thing I plan to write about.
The “Vacation” part of the title is because my husband and sons are away camping for the week, and my daughter is mostly engaged in the serious young adult business of Going Out Somewhere, which leaves just me and the dogs home alone. All week. It’s wonderful! I wash dishes, and they stay washed. Three days ago, I grocery shopped, and the refrigerator is still full. I have almost excavated the laundry pile down to the place where the floor is visible again. (We had all begun to doubt of its existence.) I miss my menfolk of course, just…not all that much. Not yet.
I’m not actually on vacation vacation. Not the kind where your employer pays you for not working: I still have to show up at my desk 3 days this week. But today was my day off, and I awoke thinking, It’s going to be a great day!
The wrench in the works is that I had to spend a good part of it, as already mentioned, shopping for accoutrements.
I do this once a year or so, and it always feels like doing battle. Exhausting. Disheartening. Expensive. Like it might possibly qualify as a crime against humanity. Once, I had a professional “fitting” done, in which a sweet little old Accoutrement Associate flitted around me in the changing room, applying a tape measure to all my salient parts, and chirping, “Now, don’t worry! Don’t feel bad! They’re just numbers. They don’t mean anything!” To which I thought, Thank you very much for the complex, Accoutrement Associate. But today, I plunged into battle and came through victorious, with the J.C. Penney bag on my arm to prove it, and afterward my daughter and I went to get our nails done.
I spent a lovely (and ticklish) 45 minutes gossiping about medical marijuana, and the state of local health care with the 2 strangers in the chairs next to me, and then my daughter and I went out to lunch, where I poked my fork around a really bad quinoa salad that set me back 10 bucks, and picked French fries off Sarah’s plate.
Back home, I walked the dogs. This is probably my second-least favorite activity in the world. (I’ve already told you about the first.) Then I went to a meeting. And at the meeting, something fairly horrifying happened: a man I don’t know very well came up to me and we had the following conversation:
“I’ve been having some health problems lately,” he said, in low, furtive tones.
“Oh…” I never know what to say to this kind of statement, made in that kind of voice. Do you ask and seem nosy? Do you not ask, and seem cold-hearted? I settled for a neutral-ish, “Are you okay?”
“Well, it’s kind of an embarrassing problem.” He leaned in confidentially. “It’s not the kind of thing I can really talk to people about. It just keeps happening and happening….”
“Oh, well then…” I made a gesture meant to convey, Please don’t embarrass yourself on my account. Please, please, please don’t. A bit desperately, I cried, “Hasn’t this been a gorgeous day?” I'm not sure, but I may have shouted it.
“But I can tell you!” he went on, in a burst of optimism. “Because you’re a nurse!”
Gentle Reader, here I pause to implore you not to inflict this kind of thing on the nurses in your life. It’s not that we don’t want to hear about your health problems. We care. We do. We just don’t want to hear about the gross and embarrassing health problems of people we hardly know. On our day off from work. That’s all.
Well, this man left me with the juicy promise that after the meeting, he would meet me in the parking lot and tell me all about it. And I am not one bit ashamed to tell you that when the meeting ended, I hid in the bathroom until every last meeting-goer—including him—had given up and gone home.
So that’s how this day of my vacation has gone. Tomorrow is allocated for yard work and book rewrites, both lovely, embarrassment-free activities. There will be dog-walking involved of course, but at the end of the day, the kitchen will still be clean, and perhaps I will find the laundry room floor after all. No frustrating unmentionables will be tried on. I expect to lay my head on my pillow tomorrow night no wiser than I am today about the embarrassing health problems of near-strangers.
It’s going to be a great day. It is.