I did but do I?!

Even when the weekend arrives, I rarely stay up very late. I have a train ride and 8-5 office routine and my now hospitality husband works nights and weekends. Opposite schedules is a dynamic our 30-year marriage is currently figuring out. My husband sometimes has Sundays off and we covet that time together.

On Friday night, I went for a hike in the woods with a neighbor after work. We ended in her yard, sat in the Adirondack chairs and her husband started a fire. Another neighbor couple joined us and we wined and dined until midnight.

On Saturday night, I worked on a couple small projects, wrapped a birthday gift and then decided to go to bed; it was just before 10. After brushing my teeth, I had a new text from my husband. Their work kitchen had finished up early and he was already on his way home. I climbed into bed with a book and decided to wait up.

On Sunday morning, I woke with a stir when an extra pillow landed on my belly as my husband climbed noisily from our marital bed.

“What are you doing? Thanks for waking me up!”

“You were snoring your head off!”

“When I am soundly sleeping, you wake me up? Who does that?”

“Actually, you sounded like an old woman snoring.”

“Oh really?” I gave his spice right back. “And you know what an old woman snoring sounds like?”

“Yes. I do.” he vowed. “Now I do.”

I solemnly promise that I won’t wait up for my 30-year groom next weekend.

Pee or plea?

Tonight I decided our toilet seat had mocked me long enough. My husband adhered the smiley adornment about two years. A Christmas gift from his brother, that had to be used, and used for its intended bathroom purpose. His brother is a gem and gives the best hugs and joke presents. However, his Christmas gifts can also be wildly outrageous, near insulting or absolutely offensive. There is The Gift of the Maji and then there is the present of Brett.

Brett’s happy toilet seat was on its way out of our house; I bought a replacement on my way home. I walked right into the bathroom to complete the quick switcheroo before I sat down to dinner (and before my husband came home from second shift). As I stood over the commode nemesis, and reached to the right, the first seat bolt came right out. The seat bolt on the left was relentless. It didn’t budge at all. I squatted down for better leverage. No movement. I laid on my side, to get a better view and grip. The bolt was tightened beyond the maximum and my too small hands could not loosen the bond at all. After 20 minutes, I was still determined to unhinge the smile. I left the bathroom to fetch some tools.

I came back with grips and a metal wrench to unscrew a plastic-coated bolt. I leaned in under the toilet, grabbed hold of the bolt with the wrench, and still could not break the hold. I got back on my side, positioned the wrench around the octagonal top of the screw, and tried as hard as I could to create a turn. I tried multiples times as more minutes ticked by. On one desperate attempt, I held my breath and grabbed hold again with my second hand, forcing as hard as I could to the left. I succeeded – only in snapping off the bottom part of the plastic exterior coating.

I threw the plastic tip away, gave in to being so close to the yuckiest place of a home, and laid down on the bathroom floor snuggling up to the toilet. I was fully committed.

Backed into a corner

I repeated everything I had already tried. I grabbed on with the wrench a dozen more times, desperately awaiting any give in the fastening. I held on with both hands, and on my umpteenth try, realized I was more likely to break my wrist than break the bolt’s hold.

Before that actually did happen, I needed to call in the big guns. I was not leaving my position until I knew the toilet seat was coming off! I reached up to the edge of the bathroom counter for my cell phone. Not to view a how-to video or to call in extra muscles. Rather, I Googled for a Saint.

There are thousands of saints; saints for every ailment, occasion and need. This was my aha! moment. Saints intercede during impossible and difficult times. I needed to know there was a Saint that could help with my situation. There are saints for everything, I convinced myself.

As a Catholic-raised child, I knew of St. Nicholas, St. Patrick, St. Christopher. We learned of saints for confirmation and I was St. Bernadette, hailing from Lourdes. We read of St. Theresa and St. Jude.

I didn’t think I was a hopeless case just yet, so I took the next step. I considered how to pose my URL question. On my back, on the bathroom floor, I googled “Saint of janitorial support”. When the result came up, she was staring right back at me – Saint Zita.

Patron Saint of Maids and Domestic Servants

This Italian Saint entered domestic service at age 12 and spent 48-years serving the same family. Known for doing ordinary things extraordinarily well, she was also reputed for her kindness and generosity to the poor.

I opened my heart and spoke a prayer, on my back next to the toilet, that went something like this: . “Saint Zita, I need your help and guidance. With your lifetime of service, you must have knowledge and strength to assist at this moment. I realize my need is trivial compared to your works of charity. Please assist me to loosen this bolt and I will continue to spread The Word. I believe in the intercession of saints. I plea to you for help, as I grab hold one last time. St. Zita, loosen this bolt with me; I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.”

I clamped the wrench over the nut as securely as I could, grabbed on with two hands and yelled, as loud as I could, “ZzziiIIIttTTaaaAA!!!”

My wrench shifted to the left and my hands fell to the floor in exhaustion. In peaceful awe, I slowly reached up with my right hand and witnessed a loose bolt that had been set free. I thanked Zita and picked up my phone to read more before I finished my, our, mission.

Saint Zita died in 1272, at age 60, at the Fatinelli family home in Lucca, Italy. Her body was exonerated in 1580 and was determined to be incorrupt. Her body is still on display for public veneration at a Bassilica in Lucca.

Saint Zita – Basilica Di San Frediano

I believe that the Holy Spirit, and Zita’s spirit, is alive and well. There are large and small acts if we maintain our faith. While I have experienced and written about more significant intercessions of the Saints, they do meet you in times of need. I realized I had tears in my eyes when I stood up and looked in the bathroom mirror.

They were joyous tears and I laughed out loud. St. Zita was the key to my happy night in the can. As a trusted and valued servant, St. Zita is depicted with a bag of keys. The janitorial key reference is often appealed to when keys are lost. I decided that I will tell my brother-in-law how much happiness his toilet seat provided. I’ll sit him down for the whole little chat, but only of course, after I hide his keys.

God has blessed us all…in the grandest and smallest of ways!

Post Script (P.S.) – When I finally started eating dinner, I realized I #praywiththesaints. I said a prayer for the one long-term domestic servant I know. An elderly woman in town, Anna, whom still cleans houses to supplement her social security. I know in her younger days, she also took care of my ill grandmother. Guilds have been established in Zita’s honor, to care for the aged and incurably ill. My prayer was for Anna to receive an unexpected blessing.

“Somebody” – an 80’s music tribute

I have Mercury in my teeth, and veins, so I look forward to dentist appointments – and their Spotify streaming service. Last week my appointment started like any other Fat-Bottomed Girl; I rested in the waiting room, and listened to the tunes. Under Pressure at work recently, I welcomed slouching into a soft leather club chair to await my turn under the exam lights.

When I was called by the new hygienist, I thought she was much younger than I. Based on our short opening conversation and her music selections, I decided we were probably closer in age than I thought. “Katie” referenced her arthritis and selected “Best of the 80’s” on Spotify. By the time she started adjusting the dental chair, I was convinced we were exactly the same age!

Katie asked if I was okay with the music selection in her room before examining my teeth.

“Oh my gosh, yes! Perfect.”

I continued before I literally wouldn’t be able to get a word in edgewise, “I don’t know a lot about music or reciting lyrics but play the 80’s and it’s a whole different story! Just roll in the karaoke machine!”

“Right!?”, she agreed, stating there was no better genre. She added, “I don’t mind if you sing either.”

I laughed out loud as she reached for her tiny rear view mirror and mini pick axe. “I would, if I wasn’t at the dentist!”

She started her examination of my teeth as ‘Men At Work’ began to play. After she poked at my molars for twenty seconds, I made huge eyes at her and grabbed the arms of the chair.

She retracted her tools immediately and I sang out “I met a strange lady; she made me nervous!” in unison with the Men.

She about fell over in hysterics but then continued her exploration. I realized that was the end of my karaoke as she went to work on my plaque. When we got to Brussels, I switched to charades and bent my arm to show her my muscles.

Katie laughed out loud and told me I was a Quiet Riot. “That’s right, you continue to “feel the noise”!”

Toto was next on the play list. Katie asked if I ever watched The Sopranos. I told her I never had but remembered people talking about it at work. She provided a synopsis throughout the song and explained how the series ended.

Simple Minds played next and I wondered if Katie thought I was simple-minded because her chatter died down. After a couple minutes she said she never liked that music video or song and was going to skip ahead.

[Hello?! – The Breakfast Club?! – Are you kidding me? – She better not forget about me.]

I took her discontent as a challenge.

Now halfway through the song, she reached for the skip bar on the monitor as I yelled out with Jim Kerr: “Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey!”

I scared out more laughter as the play list jumped to Footloose. I did not complain. My DJ hygienist went back to inspecting my teeth and my head remained still. While I didn’t have on my Sunday shoes, my work-booted feet danced in tune with the rebellious music.

Katie leaned back and said, “Now this movie and song is definitely a favorite.”

I took advantage of the moment to agree, telling her “everything is better with bacon!”

Her laugh lit up the room even more than it already was. Katie appreciated the reference, polished my teeth and talked about how well Kevin Bacon had aged. She made references to his career from ‘A Few Good Men’ to ‘The Following’. I still couldn’t talk but reminisced about my teen heart throb as she spoke. Now an adult, I decided I could fix Ryan Hardee’s emotional and physical scars, if given the chance.

My mind definitely kept going back in time during the appointment. As Katie flossed, she let me know the dentist would come inspect my teeth before I left. I already knew that and looked forward to the routine every six months.

My other teenage heartthrob, the dentist, was actually in the adjoining room. Mike ran the practice now and was just a few years older than me. His father, Joe, started the dental practice when I was a child. Joe always had family pictures hung in the hallway when I was a young teenager. Of all the brothers, my eyes always rested on Mike. I had such a photographic crush on him that I decided, since our fathers were friends, that if I didn’t get a date to my Senior prom, I’d just call their house and ask Mike to take me.

Katie let me rinse, took off my bib and handed me back my glasses while I waited for Mike. I got lost in a Daryl Hall and John Oates melody while I awaited my prom date. Katie handed me my next appointment card as the song “You Make Dreams Come True” ended.

“Hey, speaking of which, where is Mike?”

….he came around the corner and I couldn’t even tell you what song played next. His big smile and charming banter just turned me to jelly.

I floated out of the office and climbed into my car. I referenced my appointment card and logged the next time I’d see Mike onto my phone calendar. The car radio was already on an 80’s station and I had this feeling that wouldn’t subside. I drove down the highway belting the lyrics to “Hungry Eyes”!

If Mike could see me now. I wasn’t even in his office anymore but was still thinking about him and the appointment as I neared home. I no longer wanted to be that fat-bottomed girl. Maybe 80’s music was still playing in the dental office for Mike to hear? I hoped so as “She’s a Beauty” began to play. Why would I lie?!

Author’s note: Huey Lewis and the Newsflash: Don’t tell me I am crazy. It’s hip to be square! Here, there and everywhere.

I am a writer whom journals about life, family, New England, everything and nothing and whispers of the Holy Spirit.

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