Years ago, visiting my mother-in-law in Omaha with my husband and two (or three) kids, I faced a dilemma. What to do with my diaphragm as it air-dried after I washed it? There was no discreet place to put it, since we all shared the same bathroom. Instead, I elected to put it up in the closet of the guest bedroom, on a pile of shoe boxes.
In case you don’t know, a diaphragm is a springy circular piece of latex that gets inserted up at the top of the vagina to physically block any sperm swimmers that want to get through. It’s like a dam, and it works well with spermicide gel. It is less convenient that the pill, but that made me moody and fat.
Wouldn’t you know it, I forgot to put it away in its little pink plastic case.
My husband wanted to take his mom and the rest of us out for Sunday dinner. His mom needed a certain pair of shoes, which just happened to be in the guest bedroom closet. As she bounded into the room to get the shoes, there wasn’t time to do anything. I held my breath as she jostled the boxes around and then found the right one.
The diaphragm fell onto the floor and landed with a splat. My mother-in-law picked it up, turned it over, and studied it. I quickly stepped out of the room. I did not want to tell her that I had been with her son the night before in a compromising way. She already didn’t care for me.
I’m not sure if she knew what she was holding, but she carefully put it back on top of the shoe boxes. At dinner, she didn’t give me any knowing looks. I don’t think she knew what it was.
This is the same woman who said that she hated wirting and she didn’t know how I could be a writer.
She also said she hated homemade things when I was making a Christmas tree skirt for my mother.
She said she didn’t want a birthday cake on her birthday, but I made her one anyway, and she complained that it wouldn’t be fully cooked.
She complained and complained and complained.
When I ducked out on her birthday to have a brunch with the teachers I’d taught school with in Council Bluffs, Iowa, she made a big stink about it, even though she had insisted that she didn’t want to celebrate her birthday. I was back by noon.
There was no pleasing her. She got nicer when she was on pain pills and I visited her in the care home. She thanked me for coming to see her. It was weird after all those years of animosity.
I am thinking of you now, Myrtle, and how you picked up the latex dam in your closet, oh, so long ago. Why did that pop into my head today?
I have no idea.