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March 12, 2013

A Message for Vickie from Reality Bites, with information she’ll already have been made aware of if she’s had children of her own.

vickieDear Vickie,

When I was fourteen, I wanted to be you. I wanted your bangs, your vintage clothing, your string of sexual partners, and friendship with Winona Ryder. I wanted every one of my words to be so laced with irony, to be that cool. You made me want to smoke.

But what I longed for most was your talent for disdain. “My mother,” you told your friend, Winona, while she was filming that documentary about you and your rumpled slacker peers, “goes to the bathroom with the door open.” And I knew exactly what you were talking about. It wasn’t even about doors and mothers and bathrooms, though these certainly stood for something concrete and disgusting, but instead, it was about an entire way of life, the kind of person neither you nor I ever wanted to be.

Vickie, I thought about this again years later, a few weeks before I turned thirty, which is a good half decade older than you’ve ever been. It was three days after the birth of my first child, born by caesarean-section due to her stubborn insistence upon lying sideways across my uterus. She was perfect, my daughter, pink and swaddled in a Perspex box, and I was already going to the bathroom with the door open. And oh, Vickie, that’s not even the half of it.

That I was going to the bathroom at all was a significant milestone, open door notwithstanding. It meant not only had they taken my catheter out (and yes, Vickie, motherhood is really this transcendental), but I’d walked the eleven steps to the bathroom by myself, even though my abdomen had been sliced in two just 36 hours before. I felt like a superwoman, until it came time to pull up my underwear; Vickie, I just couldn’t do it. To bend over so far in this strange new world had become anatomically impossible.

This was, of course, the official moment when the magic died. I had to call for my husband, who’d been gazing dreamily at our sleeping daughter, and summon him to my aid. He would come in to discover me sitting on the toilet, crying with embarrassment and pain. I needed him to pull up my underwear, which was not only a beige mesh hospital-issued pair, but had a diaper-sized sanitary napkin cradled in its crotch, soaked with the kind of blood that only comes post-partum. Dear Vickie, it’s like no period you’ve seen.

There was no mystery between us after that. How could there have been? And in the months that followed, when I got into the habit of going to the bathroom with the door open because if the door was closed, my daughter cried, I thought of you again Vickie, how I’d let us both down, but also of how much I hadn’t known about life and love when I was fourteen years, and you neither, even though you’d been so much older.

See, it was you, Vickie, all along. How you broke your mother, then resented the damage.  Turns out it’s not marriage and habit that are passion-killers after all, but instead it’s children. And it turns out also, which is such a revelation, that your mother  doesn’t care what you think.

Love, Kerry

9 thoughts on “A Message for Vickie from Reality Bites, with information she’ll already have been made aware of if she’s had children of her own.”

  1. Laura says:

    I want to write a book about birth called “Everybody Lies” — it will be the most terrible book, and no pregnant woman will crack the spine, let alone buy it herself (and woe to the bitchy aunt who buys it as a shower gift), but at least it will be honest. Can this be included?

    After Tobin’s birth I endured hundreds of indignities, and the only thing more surprising than the indignities themselves was how little I cared about them.

    Why do they still put doors on bathrooms anyways?

  2. Lisa says:

    Dear Kerry,

    You are the best.

    Love, Lisa

  3. Rebecca says:

    Okay, but do we really have to harbour resentment towards fictional characters we got a kick out of when we were young? Vickie didn’t ask you to worship her, nor did she claim to have all the answers. In fact, part of the point of the movie was to point out the inexperience and immaturity of these people. I think it’s great you’ve had this revelation, but there’s no need to point fingers at Vickie . . . if she continued on the same path she was strutting down in 1994, she probably has AIDS by now anyway.

    1. Kerry says:

      Yes, Rebecca. We have to! Forever! And thank you for your support of my revelation. xo

  4. Habbla says:

    Two words, Rebecca: Rhetorical strategy.

  5. Lee-Anne says:

    Yes. Yes. And Yes. Sing it, sister.

    (I would *so* buy your book, Laura!)

  6. I opted for the white mesh disposable underwear. SO much more sexy than the beige. ;0

  7. Oh, and the leftover supremely super maxi pads are indispensable for wiping up those tough kitchen spills.

  8. Laura Frey says:

    I don’t know why this popped up on Twitter, and I haven’t even seen Reality Bites but this may be my favourite thing I’ve read on your blog 🙂

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