Me: the pale, chinless brunette staring at you from behind the toddler climbing wall, a dusting of golden muffin streusel clinging to my heaving bosom/clammy upper lip.
Oh, you didn't see me? I was kind of hiding I guess.
I was the one with the green jacket and white sweater?
Still not ringing a bell, huh.
OH I was the one with crow shit in my hair! Of course, I didn't know that at the time. I just thought, wow, that was a big, warm raindrop!
Your buttocks looked like actual bricks beneath the thin, shining fabric of your clingy running shorts.
My buttocks looked like actual buttocks beneath the thin, shining fabric of my leggings.
You were calling out fun challenges to your daughters as they monkeyed around the jungle gym.
"Now, Allison, try to climb only using your tip-toes!"
When you spoke, I almost fainted.
DUDE. ARE YOU FROM NEW ZEALAND?
Are you seriously a hot, well-built, creative and engaging father, with an accent? The kind that skillfully caresses vowel sounds into compounds unmastered by the slappy tongues of American men?
"Neeaw, Eeyallisin, troiay teh cloimb ehohnlay yewsaaing yoaw tep-taohs!"
When when you spoke, Troy - I hope you don't mind that I've named you Troy - I began to mouth-breathe.
Oh, Troy. The things you could teach me about meat pies and sheep.
I watched you play with your daughters. So engrossed was I that I completely ignored my two-year-old son as he attempted to scale a ladder 12 feet off the ground, slipped, dangled from one hand, and finally hit the wood chips with a thud.
You looked over.
I yanked out my ponytail holder and shook out my flowing mane of... honestly, it's basically a single dreadlock at this point.
But Troy, I felt our connection. I knew you saw past that long, meaty clump of hair, like Jabba the Hutt's tail, like a weave that had fallen out in the shower last winter and spent the summer months growing stronger and thicker every time another strand of hair slipped down the drain, before I pulled it back out of the black slime and sewed it back onto my head. For volume.
Oh Troy, there was something about you that just told me you understood that there is a woman inside me with clean hair, a woman deep inside me who eats spinach frittatas for breakfast, a woman really deep inside me, like, elbow deep, with abs like a honeycomb and an ass like like two whiskey barrels covered in beige velvet.
Maybe it was the way you spoke to your daughters - those broad, roaming vowels in the warm but masculine timbre of a coach, but not like a creepy doughy coach with a Chicago Bears memorabilia collection and a pushbroom moustache. Like a movie star coach played by Idris Elba. He wouldn't even have to be a coach. He could just be Idris Elba. Doing anything, really. Canning fish. Spraying roaches. Voting for Trump. Honestly, I'd still hit that. Probably harder, cuz, you know, he needs saving.
As your daughters ran off to play on the swings, you glanced around the playground. Were you looking for me, my love? My steaming slab of sheep meat pie? My creamy mouthful of pavlova with fresh...
Did you seriously just kick up on the play structure and start doing HANDSTAND PUSH-UPS?
Like, ten of them? Like, super gracefully?
DID YOU DO PULL-UPS TOO?
Did you whip out like 20 of the HAND-JUMPY PULL-UPS where you pull up so hard that you can actually let go of the bar for a quick sec at the top?
I love you. And I always will.
But you gotta die now.
It was one thing for you to be built and hot and fun with your kids on the playground. It was even cool that you were the builtest and hottest and funnest because I've been a parent long enough to bear witness to the whole spectrum. I know that some days you're the fun parent on the playground and some days you're the phone parent on the playground.
But Troy? Buddy?
Headstand push-ups? For real?
SHUT THE FUCK UP TROY.
NOT IN THIS HOUSE.
Everyone else on that playground bought the pants they were wearing based on the ratio of stretchiness to thickness. Did that seem like the crowd that would pack the stands at your one-man slinky-shorts peen bulge and sinew show?
Here I was, doing an extra couple of laps around the play structure to get a few more steps in on my pedometer. I was feeling pretty good about the extra effort I was making. Look at me everyone! I'm an ACTIVE mom!
You made me look like an IDIOT, Troy. With my STEPS. And my DREADLOCK.
TROY. What kind of name is TROY. Probably a dumb indigenous Maori New Zealand tribal name. By the way, your accent makes you sound like Forrest Gump after Lieutenant Dan hit him with a fatal overdose of morphine.
By the way, your skin GLOWS like you are a human candle sculpted from warm wax that smells of the FOREST and MAN. By the way I'm sorry about what I said about your accent. And the Maori people have contributed immeasurably to the rich history and culture of contemporary New Zealand and INDEED THE WORLD ENTIRE. I was just mad about your muscles. That's why I said the thing. Earlier.
You know what really curdles my cream here, Troy? It's that I'm usually super happy and supportive when I see parents taking a few minutes to get in a workout at the playground.
Moms doing calf-raises on the side of the sandbox? GET IT, GIRL! Sculpt those calves! Make em look like you're a black-market pear smuggler!
Dads doing bench-presses with giggling 6-year-olds? Let me BUY YOU A DRINK and SMELL YOUR DAMP NECK HAIR, SIR!
There's something about seeing human parents working on themselves, outwardly, unabashedly, that makes me happy. It makes me feel like I'm part of a community that values health and strength.
Parents who work out at the playground usually make me feel like I'm still on a team. We are all working together to be better than we are, snatching a few seconds here and there, hungrily, for ourselves. Beating back the bottomless depths of our childrens' shrieking demands for attention, whenever we can, to just make a fist of muscle and then let it go.
I can't really put my finger on the exact thing that inspired me to plan your murder today, Troy. I can't say exactly why I googled "untraceable household poisons," and began scanning the bases of trees for blood-red mushrooms to drop in your Klean Kanteen.
There was something about the hilariously difficult display of upper-body strength, the showmanship, the arduous feats that you performed trippingly, like one of those bugs that skates on the surface of water.
There was something about the way that I felt we were the same - despite the bird shit in my hair and the softness of my belly - and then discovered, as soon as you neatly, crisply, pressed your body weight against the pull of the earth more times than I could count, that yikes, we are NOT the same.
There was something about it that made me feel bad.
And yes, I know that's about me.
And yes, I am still happy that you got your sweat in. I'm happy for you, Troy. In the words of your people, kia mate ururoa, kei mate wheke. And I mean that from the bottom of my heart.
And I'll never regret our time, however brief, no matter what it cost us. For a day, we glowed together (actually it was mostly you with the luminous glowing in the thin light of the gray September morn. I kind of buzzed like the fluroescent bulb in a motel bathroom until someone was like "WHY AM I SO ANGRY," and then someone else turned off the light and everyone was like "oh, thank God.")
But Troy... I just think the universe is taking us in different directions. I'm going to walk the long way to the bakery - I can get 4,000 steps if I snake back and forth on both sides of the street. And then I really, really have to take a shower. Crow shit gets gluey.
I think you should go back to Crossfit. Or Ultramarathon training. Or Mount Olympus. Or WHEREVER THE HELL it is you came from.
I think you should go, Troy.
I need some time on my own.
Go, now. And don't look back.
OMG I'm so serious about not looking back. If you look back you'll catch me taking a pic of the mountain range that is your shoulders and that'll be like whaaaaaat so embarrassing.