Message Pending

wild flowers I was twenty-three. I was pregnant. And I did not need to take Lamaze classes. "I don't feel like driving all the way to Madison to learn how to give 'natural' child birth. What is natural about it if  you practice?  That is just like planting wild flowers.  How can wild flowers be wild if you plant them?" On January 25th, 1980 I was up and the sun was still asleep.  I finished a bowl of cream of wheat and slurped the last drop of sweet sugary milk.  I dressed in a pair of fake jeans with a spandex waist and a short sleeved, hand made, maternity top. I was all set to report to duty at the café. But then, I had to take one of those immediate, last minute, poops. While I was performing the simple task of pinching a loaf, I heard a very loud POP.  And then the Niagra Falls started spilling out of me. "What the hell?" This was a precarious predicament. I was pretty sure the water fall had something to do with a baby. But the baby wasn't due for another four weeks. I was due for work in twenty minutes. And the telephone was out the door, down the hall and around the corner. "Shit." I made a run for that phone. Fortunately it had a long, curly, cord that extended all the way back into the bathroom. So, I was able to call Jason. "Oh my God Jason. We are going to have a baby. Get back here." I then called the café. "I am very sorry for the short notice. I am having a baby." And then I called my mother. "Mom, I am having a baby." "Have you called the hospital?" "No." "Well, let them know you are coming." So, I ran back out and down the hall, grabbed the phone book, ran back into the bathroom and I called the hospital. After that, I called everyone else I knew to tell them that I was going to have a baby, just as soon as Jason came home and got me off the toilet. This past week, Sven and I were vacationing in the north woods.  We stayed in cabin number five and we were surrounded by eight more cabins, packed full of family and friends. Let me make a correction. We were not surrounded. We were down on the end, in the very last cabin. The very last cabin that is the furthest from the fish house. The fish house, houses the Wifi. I am glad that I am not pregnant today for so many reasons. I am too old.  I have enough children. And phones have changed.

[one_half]bat phone[/one_half][one_half_last]Gone are the  Gotham City batman style phones, complete with rotary dials and cords that stretch from here to Timbuktu. The kind that Commissioner Gordon used in every episode for every emergency. [/one_half_last]

Today we rely on our cell phones. If my water broke and I had a cell phone at twenty-three, me and my personal water falls, would have had to run all over the house, looking for a charger. Surely it would have been dead. I would have had to give the thing mouth to mouth, just to turn it on. And then, I can guarantee you, that I would have been sitting in a "no cell service" pocket. So, I would have done the next best thing. I would have sent a text. But, I am sure that I would have just been listening to my self made river and staring at a spinning circle. Eventually I would have read the words, "Message pending." So, I would have had to try my third and final option. Yes, I would have gone on Facebook, in hopes that somebody would read my message and somebody would contact Jason and then maybe Jason would come home and rescue me from the pot. And we could then welcome our sweet, little, bundle of joy, into the world, in the hospital. But, I have no doubt this would have been a failed attempt and my screen would have just turned white, with these words, "Diagnose internet connection." And at that point I absolutely would have thrown my phone against the wall and then I would have had to crawl out the door, into the snow and knock on a neighbor's door. Don't get me wrong. Cell phones are awesome.  I take mine with me everywhere I go. I can call people.  I can look at Facebook. I can read my emails.  I can text my sister.  All these things can happen, anytime, anywhere, except cabin five and anywhere else that I ever happen to be.

Here is a day in the life of Millie Noe's cell phone.

cell phone 2 At 6:15 A.M. I unplug it from the charger and I drop it into my purse. We are all ready to go. I drive us to work. I take my phone out and I place it on my desk. There is no cell service at my desk.  So, if I get any calls on my cell, I must return the call on my office phone. At 3:30 P.M., I put my phone back in my purse for the trip home. No texting and driving. It is the law. No shit, Sherlock. I can't even get my phone out of my purse when I am driving. I have to dig it out while I am sitting at a red light, just to see who sent me a text. And nine out of ten times the light turns green before I have a clue who it was. I stop at the grocery store. While I am there, I wonder if we are out of sunflower seeds.  I pull out my phone and call Sven.  But you know what? There is no cell service in the produce section. "Oh fuck it."  I just drop the sunflower seeds in the cart and my phone back into my purse. I stop in at the condo to see my mom. I wonder if I should borrow her tomato, or if we have one. Do I use my cell phone? No.  There is no cell service at the condo. I just use her land line. Sven doesn't answer. I take the tomato. I arrive at home and I plug my phone back in.  It has less than thirty percent of a charge and I can't use it at home anyway. No reception there. If it rings I have to return the call with our land line. So, it is no surprise to me that Sven and I always stay in cabin five, the only cabin that the Wifi cannot quite reach. It is my destiny. But, I am on vacation. I do not need to text, or to call, or to email, or to check to see who liked my page, or to see who just posted a picture of me on Facebook. "Um, yes I do." On this annual vacation, I am often a little foggy.  I believe it has something to do with late nights all packed in cabins, singing out of tune and doing mystery shots. In the morning, I just want to do what every writer does. I want to drink a cup of coffee and send my mom an email. But, I cannot get connected to the Wifi from the comfortable chair.  I cannot get connected to the Wifi from the couch. I cannot get connected to the Wifi from the kitchen table. I have to take my phone out the back door and stand on the cement slab in order to hook up to the Wifi, that is still in the fish house. And do you know who else knows about this internet connection situation? The one thousand, two hundred and eighty, fifty, mosquitos who live in the bush next to the cement slab. That's who. And they are all rumor spreading, blood thirsty, assholes. I head to the door with coffee in hand.

"Oh Jesus!"

moth inside "What?" says Sven from the other room. "There is a sheep dog hanging on the screen!" Wifi Now comes up. "Please connect." It does. I forgot my reading glasses, but I type anyway. Why in the hell is the e right next to the w? I try again. Praise be to God. I am in. I type, "Hi Mom, I am crazy tired.  Having fun. I miss you." I hit the send envelope and I watch the circle begin to spin. I sip my coffee. I become impatient. The circle continues to spin. I sip on my coffee again. I slap a mosquito. Then I slap another. Time is running short. The circle is still spinning. The bastards know that I'm here on the slab because those first two losers just flew into the bush and told them all. I wonder if somebody liked my page.  I click on it. And then the screen turns white and I read the words, "Diagnose internet connection." "Ahhh, jeeez." I run inside, leaving my coffee on the stoop and slam the door shut in the face of a cloud of buzzing, blood thirsty, bullies.

The flying puppy dog, hangs tight.

moth outside

Until four that afternoon.

So, the question remains. Did Jason make it home that frigid January morning in 1980? The answer: YES. He squealed into the drive way. Told the dogs to get in the car and pulled me out of the bathroom. After a forty minute trip, we dropped off our Irish Setter girls at Grandma's house and then headed to St. Mary's. "So, said the nurse, as I lay on my back on the examination table.  How far apart are your contractions?" "I haven't had any." "That's strange." "Why?" "Because you are dilated to eight." "Oh.  How far do you dilate to?" "Ten." "Wow." "Do you feel that, right now?" She says. "What?" "Your stomach tightening up. Do you feel that" "Yes." "That's a contraction." "It is?  It feels like a cramp." "When you are pregnant, cramps are called contractions." "In that case, I have been having contractions for three weeks." She raised her eyebrows. "Well," I stammered. "I thought they were supposed to hurt." She looked at me. "You know, like when Laura Petri was doubled over on The Dick Van Dyke Show and Rob ran out the door with everything except Laura." "They will hurt, honey." And sure enough.  She was correct. Forty-five minutes later, at twelve twenty, Marques was born. message pending

And thirty-five years later, our washer box team, Mama's Boy, took second place in the biggest championship of the world.

In retrospect, that Lamaze class would have probably been a good idea.

And for the record, I have planted many a wild flower since.


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