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Playing house

Most girls play house. They pick it up in preschool before they know much about babies or spousal dynamics -- woman = wife + mother, man = father + husband, and babies materialize from nothing.

The game evolves in kindergarten when children discover that novel thing called pregnancy. Then comes every father's worst nightmare -- the day their daughters incorporate gestation into their play stuffing pillows or balloons down their shirts to replicate pregnant bellies. It's usually based on their desire to be mothers like their mothers and grandmothers. 

That wasn't the case for me. Pregnancy and having children in my mind was synonymous with being an adult. I mimicked pregnant women because I foolishly believed that people would take me more seriously.

Exhibit A: Plums for sale!

My grandma asked me once to rake up the plums that had fallen from her tree in the yard and throw them in the trash.

I wanted to sell them.

I made a sign and packaged the plums in little white boxes -- all of this behind my grandma's back -- but no one who was out and about showed any interest in my produce.

Perhaps my age was the problem -- maybe people didn't trust 8-year-olds to handle their fruits and vegetables.

I decided I'd get more business if I wore my grandmother's clothes and pretended I was pregnant.

Grandma was pissed, and my business was shut down.

Exhibit B: Thanksgiving 1991 (The Pilgrims v. E.T.)

I spent many Thanksgivings without power because my neighborhood was in the middle of the woods and Novembers are blustery in the Pacific Northwest.

It was never a problem until CBS aired E.T. in 1991.

I'd waited all month for the TV premier and I wasn't about to let something as stupid as county-wide power failure prevent me from watching my movie.

I spent hours trying to reach someone at the power company while my family played board games in front of the fire. When I finally got through, the lady at then-Puget Power told me there was no way I'd have power in time to watch E.T.

"That's unacceptable," I told her.

I looked over at my family to see if they were watching.

"I promised my children they could watch E.T. tonight. You have to get my power on ..."

"Lexie," my mother shrieked in horror. "What are you doing?"

I didn't watch E.T. that year.

Exhibit C: Can I check your ID?

I smoked a little before I was legally able, and buying cigarettes was sometimes a crap shoot. It happened on one of those nights when every convenience-store clerk in Kirkland and Bothell was a stickler for the law.

I concluded in a moment of desperation that no one would card a pregnant woman buying diapers.

A couple of clerks laughed me out the door, one simply waived "bye-bye," and one exasperated clerk offered me one of his own cigarettes.

Suffice it to say my pregnant scheme was an all-around loser.


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