Illegal Smile: Mommy Crimes (take two)
Cynthia Bono, stay-at-home-mom, was unhappy in her life. She had four children by her husband, Gyman, a cookie entrepreneur. They were neck-deep in debt, she was always screaming at the kids, and she was certain that nobody respected her.
“It’s not the life I thought I would have,” she complained to her yoga guru, Wintergreen Pinkspoon, one day. “I love Gyman, but who would have thought he’d get me knocked up four times, then be gone every weekend at cookie trade shows? How do these things happen? All I do all day long is clean house and break up fights between these worthless, snot-nosed brats. I want to kill them.”
Cynthia had long blonde hair and was as inflexible as a fork, but she was sensitive.
“It’s not just them, it’s everything. Do you know that the top-paid women in the nation still make only a fraction of the top-paid men? That blondes have a better chance of getting service in any kind of retail setting or doctor’s office? I need a vacation to a beach in Bali. I need to eat mangoes standing in the ocean with some young, dark-haired man as the pulp runs down my fingers and my chin. I need to sunbathe on the beach until I’m as brown as Salma Hayek and grains of sand cling desperately as lovers to my skin. I need,” she sighed, “to live. Is that such a crime?” (More mommy crimes http://wp.me/p1sqej-111 )
Pinkspoon adjusted her thumb ring. “Vacations solve nothing. Yoga will heal you. You need to stretch and to go within.”
“And I need some new clothes for this vacation and a new figure. I wish I looked like you.” Cynthia sighed and took off her wig. Her hair beneath was short-cropped and brown.
“I feel so powerless. I wish I could just start all over. Be born to the right parents who would send me to the right college so I would meet the right rich man like Hilary Clinton did. Maybe even have a career in politics.”
“But I’d be different from Hilary. I wouldn’t wear pants suits or have a mannish voice or be pushy about health care reform. And I would take an interest in Bill’s cigars. And his interns.”
“I had a dream last night where I was stuck in a concentration camp where the guards were all under 4-foot tall and wearing Angry Birds underwear. The only food was cookie crumbles.”
“Cynthia, the worst thing you could do now is ruin yours and the kids’ lives by giving up on what you have.”
“What do I have? A house full of savage children? A man who comes home only to watch football and complain about the toys on the floor? I can’t even put 2 minutes together to check my emails. The other day I locked myself in the bathroom just to get some time alone. Then the toilet overflowed. I barely escaped with my life.”
“What was Gyman doing?”
“Eating pork rinds off his belly.”
Wintergreen put her hands in the Namaste position and closed her eyes. “It sounds serious,” she said, “and we can’t shine your light or help others shine if we’re completely stressed out.”
“Help me,” Cynthia pleaded, “I’ll do anything.”
Wintergreen gave her a long, squinty look. “I think you need super-deep guided meditation that takes you completely away from your body. Come to my studio tomorrow at 6 p.m.”
“I put dinner on the table at six.”
“That’s bath time.”
“Bedtime stories and Gyman’s foot rub. But if I skip the foot rub…”
“Can you make it at nine?”
Cynthia took a deep breath. “If I don’t do little Abby’s before-bed night-time breastfeeding session. I need to start weaning her, anyway. She’ll be 6 next month.”
That evening Cynthia stuffed herself in her yoga pants and waited at the door of Wintergreen’s yoga studio, which was a converted garage. Peering through the horizontal windows, she saw the familiar electronic candles and a huge yin-yang sign.
She’s skipped the bedtime story, the foot rub AND breastfeeding. She muttered to herself, ‘it’s criminal to be taking so much time away from my family, but, then, so are matricide and filicide.’
(Some handy words on killing things http://phrontistery.info/kill.html)
Winterspoon, in yoga gear with her head covered in a black burka, answered.
“I can’t see your face,” Cynthia said.
“There is no need for faces in deep meditation.”
“But I can’t even really see your eyes.”
“The eyes are the soul’s windows. Think of the burka as venetian blinds. The only window you need to enter is that of your own,” Winterspoon paused, “eyes. Plus, I have a migraine. And I had garlic for dinner. By the way, do you want me to burn incense?”
“No. I want my life back. I want to know who I am.”
“But no incense, huh? Amazing. O.K. spread out your mat.”
Winterspoon, still in the burka, led Cynthia though a series of the most difficult yoga poses she’s ever done. Downward dog. Up dog. Downward, upward reverse dog with cat variation and hairball twist. Wide angle bend forward, then back, followed by eagle handstand, pigeon variation.
“I thought we were going to meditate,” Cynthia complained.
“We must first quiet the body,” Winterspoon huffed. A bead of sweat appeared at her eyebrow and made a short journey to the bottom of her eye hole. “We must stretch it into submission. And un-stretched body is unruly and distracting.”
Cynthia groaned, but 45 minutes later she was silent, worried that every sound she made would end in another weird series of dog poses she felt certain no dog had ever done. Finally, when she lay prone in corpse pose, the meditation began.
“I want you to imagine you are walking on a cobble-stone path beneath a perfectly blue sky,” Winterspoon said. “You feel light and happy. You feel the air soft around you. Leaves rustle and light bounces playfully everywhere like, like a kid on a trampoline. Ahead of you is a stone-walled garden. You find the key to the garden. You open the door.”
Cynthia, lying on her mat, imagined all these things. She imagined she walked through the door. There, on the other side, was an azure ocean and a sandy beach. She could no longer hear Winterspoon’s voice, only the lapping of the waves and the squawking of sea birds. There was the scent of salt in on the air.
She sat up and stood. She felt the sand on her feet and the bikini on her perfect body. She felt the soft wind. She smelled the smells of the sea. A dark, handsome man approached and embraced her. After a moment, he whispered in her hair, “who are they?” She looked behind her. There lay her body and her guru frozen as a diorama.
“Don’t mind them,” she said. “They’re just doing yoga.”
“One’s in a burka?”
“She’s religious. And spiritual.”
“Seems a difficult position to be in.”
“You should see her do yoga.”
The two spent the day together. They stripped and flung themselves in the water. When tired of that, they lay on the beach and baked in the sun. They held hands and talked about their childhoods. He said his name was Puck, and presented her with an iPhone so she could check her emails. There was no food to be had, but when Cynthia got hungry, he found her some bark to chew on. They supped, standing in the water, and she was able to wash her hands immediately after, which was good. Somewhere, a sound track played John Prine’s song, Illegal Smile. (http://youtu.be/5eccz7D0QK0?t=17s)
As the sun set over the ocean, and on that day the sun had never set in so seductive a manner, she said, “Puck, does it have to end?”
(Seductive sun setting http://wp.me/p1sqej-Ku)
“Yes,” he whispered into her neck. “Continuous yoga can cause injury, and continuous yoga meditation can sprain your brain.”
“I can’t hear you when your mouth is smashed against my skin,” she complained, but just then she heard Winterspoon say, “Bring awareness back to your body. Wiggle your fingers, your toes. Give a little shimmy to your pelvis. Give yourself one last, healing stretch and open your eyes.”
Without wanting to, Cynthia did and found herself back in Winterspoon’s yoga studio. Only an hour had passed.
“How do you feel?” Winterspoon asked.
“That was amazing,” Cynthia said. “But was it real?”
“With yoga, all things are possible. There’s a place inside you that doesn’t know the difference between dreams, meditation and day-to-day life,” Winterspoon said. “In that sense, it was real.”
Cynthia was skeptical but the next day, after she yelled at Tommy for kicking little Ray’s junk, and put Addy in time out for tying Abby to a chair, she sent everybody to bed early.
Then she had the concentration camp dream again, only this time there was whole cookies to eat AND milk.
In the morning, she found sand in her butt. The healing had begun.