The Night I Slept with Mr. Smucker & Peter Pan
Not everyone can say they’ve slept with both Mr. Smucker and Peter Pan…the Kings of Jelly and Peanut Butter…and at the same time. Yes, it happened. A threesome of the most unusual sort. It took place one steamy summer night some years ago, the day I moved into a new house with dreams of a new life, three children in tow. I was exhausted. The kind of exhaustion a single parent understands. The kind that happens when naps are absent between lifting couches and putting beds together all alone, as your children tug at your pants because they are hungry and you just used your last dime on toilet paper.
That night, my oldest son quickly fell asleep. The other two, they begged for pickles and sandwiches before bed at midnight. Since I was too tired to form an intelligible sentence, I said, “yes,” which in retrospect was probably not the best idea. “Yes.” The 3-letter curse word that often brought me a heap of regret. “Yes,” I said, the night I ate an entire green olive and pepperoni pizza by myself, thinking it would bestow upon me superhuman strength, when it only added to my girth and indigestion. “Yes, I am tired. Please pass the gastroesophageal reflux disease and hypercholesterolemia pizza. And don’t forget the diabetes on the side. I like to dip my pizza in it. Thank you very much.”
Giving into the life-threatening demands of my 3 and 5-year-old, two expertly crafted sandwiches of peanut butter and jelly were made, with a pickle to compliment the savory dish. My little son and daughter took their hard-fought meal to bed, laying the plastic plates proudly on their bellies as they munched away like little squirrels on their nuts. I laid between the two sawmills, listening to the otherworldly noises they made and wondered how it was possible for them to be human with such gurgling and swallowing it made my ears ache. Growing weary with each bite, their jaws finally gave out to sleep, wrinkled pickles with bitten edges in hand like swords. After making sure no piece had been left in the dark recesses of their throats, it took all the power I had not to grab a toothbrush and get busy, but I succumbed to weariness, tucked the blankets around their little bodies, and fell asleep, too, in between them…a mom sandwich.
A restless, sweaty sleep it was as I dreamed of bills in white envelopes chasing me inside a dark forest, only to be swallowed by a broken down car. Then, in a complete moment of utter hopelessness, Kevin Costner road towards me on a white steed, but I was stunned as he flew by, choosing another woman to save, she being much thinner and blonder and with boobs to the moon. Sadly, my ex-husband then arrived on an ugly mule and I, like a zombie, pulled myself up and sat behind him, resolved that I was destined to be loved by asses.
Nightmares over, I was up at 4 AM to work at my at-home job (listening to doctors dictate transcription, who often forgot there was a real person listening, not a robot who didn’t mind if they farted or talked with food in their mouths). I dragged myself to the end of the bed, my two cherubs still sound asleep with drool pools on pillows. I stretched, put my feet into Hello Kitty slippers and began to run my fingers through my hair, attempting to find some sense that I was still human. It was then I felt it. The moist vestige pulverized between blond strands, hanging there as if it had been caught in a trap, dying a ghastly death. The smell was worse. It was of old peanuts and sweet jelly, bread past its expiration date, a hint of pickle juice and saliva. Gasp. An annihilated half sandwich. I studied it with my fingertips, the unrecognizable, floppy mess…and was reminded of what happens after you’ve born three children…when perky breasts have all but passed into the dark nothingness.
Alas, I had my sweaty night, in all the wrong ways. I think Mr. Smucker and Peter Pan had a thing for me. The young blonde single mom with dimples, a curvy bottom, and the desperation of a kid needing to be first in line. That sandwich just couldn’t keep its slices off me. I am quite certain we rolled around a lot that night, me, Smucker and Pan. Head and sandwich as one. A tantric experience, rolling and sweating and slow as a sloth in a honey bath. Yes, Mr. Smucker and Peter Pan left their mark on me that night. I will never forget the passion I did not feel.
And so, I painstakingly pulled the incubus of plague remaining in my hair, studying what it had become — 50 Shades of Purple, Tan and White. My head had laid claim to it, so tired it could not decipher between Kevin Costner and the hands of bread. Finding a ‘slice’ of humor in my plight, I thought of keeping it in memorandum. The sandwich was a bit like me — It had fallen into disrepair to the point it was unrecognizable as if it had been flattened on the highway. Maybe I could recycle it in some creative food dish or eat it as breakfast, since all I had was pickles? Nope. I was tired of eating crap, tired of riding shotgun on an ass. Best to start over, I reasoned. What was left of Smucker and Pan met its end in the waste basket underneath my desk where my work computer sat waiting, like a case of bad gas you wish would go away.
On a personal note, my story of single parenthood had already begun one year prior, but it was at that point I recall most vividly being alone. It was my choice, Yes, in an indirect sort of way. Nobody plans for life to take such difficult detours, unless they are crazy. But, it was then I realized why people get married so quickly after they divorce or become serial daters. It is the Terror of being alone, perhaps. The only one at the wedding without a date. The one who sits by themselves as they listen to their child’s choir concert. The solo mom at the hospital holding their sick child’s hand. The woman at the back pew of the church nobody knows but the lack of a man tells them all they need to. The one people love to whisper about. Yes. I was completely alone for the first time in 16 years, but this time I had three children. Terrified. A little money (emphasis on little). A little job. A little house. A little hope.
That morning, I hemmed by pants with duct tape, then found a pair of unmatched socks to put on before I went to register my kids for school in the fall. First, I made sure to scrub Smucker and Pan out of my hair. But, it took some time. Pan had the hardest time letting go of our tryst. I watched as the little pieces of brown slithered down the drain, much as I wished my past would. Afterwards, I squirted Britney Spears on my neck (Well, not really Britney, just her perfume) in an attempt to cover the peanut odor that hung like a bad cold in winter, then dabbed a bit of makeup to my dimpled cheeks that made me look like a well-fed chipmunk. This would make sure to draw attention from my ill-hemmed pants to my face, which could be at times, be quite engaging when I decided to spend more than 5 minutes on myself.
And so, my night with Smucker and Pan ended, never to be revisited. Still, much more was to come, like the day the sewer got clogged and I had shit up to my elbows, or the day I found out why a sump pump must stay functional, or the day my car was repossessed the same hour they shut my electricity off. Then, there was that night I won the lottery and for one year, I had hair extensions and eyelashes like a Kardashian. Ah, the good times of a single mother, the unsung warrior that has grown used to being told by others she deserves her scars and made the choice to run into battle. Oh, but there is so much more they don’t know…so many stories yet to be told. But, these stories are for another day and another laugh, I think. For now, just take it from me. It is best Mr. Smucker and Peter Pan stay 100 feet away from a bed.
Originally published at jmhansonbooks.wordpress.com on February 19, 2017.