I’ve been trying to ‘listen to my body’ lately, to pay better attention to my physical needs. Am I thirsty? Should I take a walk? Do I really need seven cookies? My brain’s attempts to override reality get me in trouble.
Tonight while I was attending a choir concert, this Body expressed discomfort. “Suck it up, Body” thought my Brain, “we’ve got a whole evening ahead of us. Concert, reception afterward, plus the train commute home.”
Body, offended, began constructing a headache.
“Psst,” whispered Body, “these fishnets feel too tight. Would you mind maybe hooking our thumb behind the waistband and pulling it away? Take off some pressure down here?”
“Oh, there’s a swell idea,” thought Brain. “This is an opera house, not a barn. Behave.”
Body retaliated with a wave of nausea. I tried to reach through my dress to tug at the offending pantyhose. My thumb slipped; the waistband loudly snapped against my flesh. Brain winced, Body blushed, and we all listened to the performance in ashamed silence.
At intermission, I bought a bottle of sparkling water, checked my lipstick, and paced the halls. “Could we go home now?” asked Body. Brain said “no, I love this show! Besides, what if the ticket was expensive? What if it hurts Mr. Jaunty’s feelings? Plus we’ve got that great seat, facing almost center stage.”
All three of us thought to ourselves, “which means if we need to leave suddenly, we’ll have to climb over half a row of people…”
An electronic gong sounded. The audience shuffled back to their seats, and the concert continued.
Halfway through the second act, Body said “Hey, maybe if we rest our head on our knees we’ll feel better.”
“No no no. Mr. Jaunty works here, remember?” said Brain, “The entire opera chorus can see us. We’ll look rude or bored, whichever is worse. We’re an adult; we can certainly manage to sit upright for another hour.”
Body heaved a sigh and issued a volley of stabbing cramps. I doubled over with my head on my knees.
“Now isn’t that better?” said Body.
“Only if you don’t mind looking like a damned fool,” hissed Brain.
“Oh, I’ll show you a fool,” muttered Body, ratcheting up the headache and cramps. “Remind me, how long has it been since we last threw up in public?”
“You wouldn’t dare!”
“Try me!” Body played its final card. Waves of nausea made my stomach churn and head spin. Defeated, I stood up and hurriedly tried to squeeze past a dozen people between me and the exit. “Entschuldigung, danke. Danke, entschuldigung” I whispered as I inched down the row, stepping over purses and trying not to brush breasts or bellies with strangers. The people slowly stood up one or two at a time to let me pass, watching me with curiosity.
At long last we reached the Exit sign, where Brain made one last bid for power: “Are we positive this isn’t an emergency exit? Think how mortified we’d all be if you set off an emergency alarm during your husband’s performance…”
I looked up at the glowing green sign, depicting a white stick figure dashing out a doorway. There were no words on the sign, no ushers in sight. I stood, waffling. I was feeling better now, right? Surely I could casually lean against this wall for the next few pieces. Casually, that was key. Never mind that hundreds of people had just watched me scramble to leave. My throat tightened, my stomach flip-flopped, and my Brain conceded; “…but then, they’d hardly lock an entire audience in. We can’t be the first person who ever needed to leave.”
I carefully turned the door handle. No sirens. Saints be praised.
As I trotted down a passage with mirrored walls, I admired my reflection; a pale pink sheath, nude fishnet stockings, and two-tone T-strap spectator heels. Pretty makeup, tidy hair. It was by far the best I’d ever looked to puke my guts out in a ladies’ room.
I am listening to Body now. It says it deserves a second dinner, and although Brain is thinking “what, after the way you treated the first one?” Brain, Body, and me are headed for the kitchen.