I took off my jeans, crumpled my G-string in a ball and stuffed them in my pants pocket, put my bra on the hanger, my button-down shirt over the bra, then sat down between the stirrups. I wished I’d worn socks—I get dingy flip-flop rings around my toes from the dust whenever I decide it’s better to hike up the hill than pay for parking in the medical center’s overpriced garage.
I grabbed a parenting magazine and tried to make myself comfortable—as comfortable as a person can be with a paper towel wrapped around their waist and an ugly pink tunic that opens up in the back, like the little ties are going to make a difference. The doc was late as usual, but I wasn’t going to complain. I went back to flipping pages in my magazine. My cell phone rang. I got up, and of course my paper “wrap” stuck to my butt. I answered the phone. It was Dave, my husband. I sat back down between the stirrups, and told him I loved him.
“Remember that e-mail you sent me?” he said.
“Yeah. You asked for Josh’s e-mail address. I gave it to you.”
“In that email you also wrote that you thought Eli”—Josh’s son—“wouldn’t be coming to Jeff’s party”—our son—“because he’d be too busy with his World of Warcraft ‘vidiot’ friends. You called Josh’s kid a ‘vidiot.’”
I laughed. “So? Eli is a vidiot. All he does is play video games.”
“You said that you’d never forget the Passover when Josh told you that Eli had tossed and turned about inviting Jeff to his party, and in the end, he’d decided not to because he thought it was bad people-combining.”
“Yeah. It still makes me sick when I think about what Eli did and how fake he was after he’d overheard Josh tell me Jeff wasn’t invited.”
“I know. You wrote it in the e-mail. How Eli slung his arm around Jeff and told him he was his best buddy, even though he’d already said that thing about bad people-combining. You said the memory of that still brings a chill to your heart every time you look at that sniveling little shit.”
“Yeah, so? What’s wrong with that? That’s what he is, a sniveling little shit.”
Dave sighed, was about to say something, then sighed again. “He got it.”
“Josh. You c.c.’d him. Why did you c.c. him?”
“Hang on—I erased Josh’s address from the c.c. box,” I insisted. I tried to breathe over the sinking feeling in my gut. “Didn’t I?”
It hit me. I knew exactly what had happened. We’d just gotten a new Internet service, and I haven’t been able to figure out the address book. The only way I was able to find an e-mail address was to c.c. the person, then copy the address into the body of the text. Then I’m supposed to erase the address from the c.c. box. Only this time I hadn’t. “Oh, shit,” I said.
My husband read me Josh’s response. It started out with, “I’m crying as I write this,” and went downhill from there.
I couldn’t hear the specifics through the pounding self-loathing in my mind. “Fffffuck. What am I going to do?”
“I don’t know, but you’d better think up something quick. Josh and Rachel are really upset. I’ve got to go. Hang tough,” he said then hung up.
There I was—alone, nude, just me and the gigantic plastic vagina on the shelf six inches away from my ear. There was nothing to do but hate myself. These were friends we’ve spent every holiday with since our kids went to pre-school.
The door swung open. “Hey, Kath,” Doc Don said. “What’s up?” I lay back on the table, put my dirty, warty feet in the stirrups, and let the tears drip into my ears.
“Oh, no,” the doctor said. “I’m sorry I’m late, but one of my patients had a hysterectomy and …”
I blubbered. “I don’t care that you were late.”
“Then what’s the matter?” Looking into Doc Don’s blue eyes made me cry harder. We’d been through vagina hell and back together—bladder infections, the birth of my two kids, episiotomies, crabs, an IUD, every kind of birth control imaginable, scary pre-cancer cells, and in my late twenties, he talked me out of the idea of going through fertility treatments so I could spawn in Ireland. I had wanted to increase my chances of having a redhead.
“Come on, scoot down to the end of the table and tell me what’s up.”
“I’m hideous,” I sobbed. He stuck in the speculum and cranked it open. “I’m putrid on the inside.”
“I grabbed a parenting magazine and tried to make myself comfortable—as comfortable as a person can be with a paper towel wrapped around their waist and an ugly pink tunic that opens up in the back, like the little ties are going to make a difference.”
He took off his rubber gloves and then opened my pink smock and began the breast exam. “You picked a great time to be an asshole,” he said.
“Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.” He shrugged. “It’s the time of forgiveness and renewal.” He softly poked at my boobs. “Are your friends Jewish, by any chance?” I nodded. “Great. Make amends. Write them a letter—handwrite it—go to their house, ask if you can read it to them, then let it go. You did what you could.”
“I was with you up until the ‘go to their house and read it to them’ part,” I said.
“Yeah, you’ve got to go to their house and read it to them. We’ve got a prayer.” He switched boobs. “I don’t remember it verbatim, but basically it says, ‘how can we expect God to forgive us, if we can’t forgive the sins of others?’”
“Hmm,” I said. Great prayer, but hand-delivering a letter, and opening myself up to being yelled at, slapped, or spit on, seemed rough to me.
He then went on to say that once a year everyone from his temple gets together, goes down to the ocean, and watches all their sins and grudges float out to sea.
“Josh and Rachel are good Jews,” I said. “I don’t suppose I should mention anything about speaking to you and the Yom Kippur prayer in my letter, should I?”
“Probably not. You’re not Jewish. They might think you’re being manipulative. Get dressed and meet me in my office.” He was about to shut the door, but poked his head back in and said, “You’re not a bad person, Kath. You made a mistake. Unintentional. You caused your friends a lot of pain, but you’re not a bad person.” He shut the door.
That afternoon, I went home and wrote Josh and Rachel an amends letter and said things like, “My actions were indefensible.” I closed it out with, “I understand if you want to end the friendship, but I love you guys dearly and hurting you is the last thing I’d ever intentionally do.”
No, I didn’t read it to them at their door. No, I didn’t handwrite it. I typed it and sent it the exact same way the original letter bomb was delivered. E-mail. Turns out, old Josh is a way better person than I would be if the situation were reversed. He agreed to meet my husband and me for dinner.
My husband grumbled the entire way there, but endured the encounter, and on the way home said, “You were like a Judo master.”
“What do you mean?” I was thrilled at the prospect of hearing something nice, since the entire focus of the dinner was about what a piece of shit I was.
“You used the might of their blows to disable them. They were ready for a fight, and you didn’t give them anyone to fight with.”
“Oh.” I lit a cigarette. “There wasn’t anything else I could do.”
“Hey!” he said as he pulled his quiet Prius up to the light. “You can stop beating yourself up now.”
“I guess we’re not invited to the annual Break-the-fast this year either, huh?”
My Jewish husband laughed. He’s always said I’m more Jewish than he’ll ever be. “I could give a shit about Break-the-fast,” he said. “I’m proud of you.” He tousled my hair. “When we get home, I’m going to teach you how to send someone an email address. In the meantime, how about you not say anything in an email that you wouldn’t say standing on a street corner with a megaphone. How about that?”
“Good call,” I said and we drove home.