An Open Letter to the Adorable Young Couple Leisurely Strolling By As I Frantically Usher My Children into My RAV4

Dear Adorable Couple,

I see you staring at me. You are the most glorious goddamned couple I have ever seen. It is 7:49 a.m. on a Wednesday, and you are fresh-faced, your matching black curls tousled just so. You are tucked together sweetly, cozy against this crisp fall morning. I’m sure you just threw on those perfectly fitted, not-wrinkled jeans and those probably J. Crew rugged-but-not-too-rugged cargo jackets you are both wearing on your fit bodies. You didn’t make coffee because, why bother? You are on a natural high, and that high is called LOVE. And anyway, there’s this quaint café just around the corner from where we all live, and you’re in no hurry. Why would anyone be in a hurry at 7:49 a.m. on a Wednesday?

You are already staring, but I request that you stare harder. Bear witness to me. I am the person you quietly and adoringly swear never to become. You swear this while staring into the depths of each other’s deep-set eyes, and it reminds you of your vacation to Sicily this past summer. You looked into each other’s eyes intensely then, too, just before you jumped off those cliffs into the warm, turquoise Mediterranean waters. Because that’s a thing people totally do in Sicily. Right?

I interrupt your reverie by shouting at my son, who for some reason is kicking a tiny leaf on the grass when he knows—he knows—we have less than 30 seconds to get in this fucking car or we will be late to school. And we can’t be late to school. If we are late, I have to drag my sorry self into the office, along with two whining boys. The office staff will stare, then, too, but their stares cut more than yours. They are weary from years of dealing with inadequate parents such as me. They are too familiar with all manner of terrible parents, the neglectful, the uninvolved, the ones who send their kids to school with nothing but a bag of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos for lunch. Their stares contain the judgment of the stars. They will leap to conclusions about me, conclusions that are patently false—not that it matters—and I will have to explain and sign slips, and my boys will not receive a No Absences and No Tardies Award this month. They will suffer the indignity of three missed minutes of recess. The stakes are high, you see, and my panic is rising, and apparently my children have developed a sudden hearing impairment and an obsessive fascination with every single goddamned blade of grass that is between the back door and the car.

There are a lot of blades of grass. Millions of them. That’s why I am shouting.

You flinch. My words are louder than a carefree whisper between lovers on a lazy Saturday morning. I am a coarse woman and my sports bra is showing. Ah, my sports bra. She and I have memories together, too, just like your memories together. I bought her in a pack of two (for $8!) at Target something like eleven years ago. She is grey from years of wear and wash in un-separated laundry, but her navy blue HANES SPORT label shines on. It peeks above the neckline of my stained gray tank top, announcing her to the world, like some sort of trashy herald. This undergarment makes my already tiny breasts appear to be a single, sad lump beneath my shirt, but it is comfortable and all I could find, my only two criteria when selecting clothing for transporting my children to school when I have less than three minutes to get ready. I was not fortunate enough to find any underwear, so I’m just not wearing any. Yes, I’m freeballing it under these thin, heathered sweatpants.

I know you are worried about the outcome of this morning. I am writing this letter to tell you something important: we made it. Despite the odds, we made it. Despite the ongoing construction project on the corner two blocks from their school, the one that I always always forget about, despite the parents who inexplicably park perpendicular to the curb, blocking traffic in both directions. Despite my children’s decision to, just as we pulled into the unloading zone, launch into a nuanced and highly detailed discussion about which evolved form of which Pokemon character would win in a battle, forcing me to gently remind them to GET OUT OF THE CAR.

We made it, and there are only two conclusions to which we can come. 1) I deserve a parade, just a local one, nothing fancy. 2) You may be me one day. Keep gazing into one another’s glorious eyes. Make a baby, already. And then enroll that baby in public school and enjoy those Wednesday mornings. Maybe you, too, will have the fortune of suffering the judgmental stares of some beautiful, bewildered strangers as you cram that pretty baby into your crossover SUV.

Fondly,
Angela Cardinale

[This piece originally appeared on McSweeney’s Internet Tendency.]

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