Daughters of the Dirt / Sarah Higdon

Spring Fever
by Jennifer Margulis

“I have Spring Fever,” my friend Siri said to me, leaning her ample cleavage over the counter of the Main Street café that she had recently opened in a small town in western Massachusetts. “I just want to drink sangria and kiss boys.”

Sangria? Boys? Spring Fever? Siri and I were both in our thirties. Like me, she had two very young children and one very loving husband.  I felt ridiculous for being shocked by her youthful verve, so I giggled.

Siri eyed the man in line behind me and grinned.

I tried not to look the exposed white skin of the top of her breasts. She waited on the other customer rather languidly, flirtatiously passing him a bagel with cream cheese and reminding him that the café had recently started serving beer.  Did he want one?

“I love my monkeys,” I remembered Siri saying at a mimosa brunch party she hosted. She was peeling her toddler off her lap to hand back to her husband so she could take a hit of the joint she just rolled.

My husband and I met at a party in drag. He was wearing a rhinestone-studded black cocktail dress and I had on a heavy boots, a tool belt, and a construction worker’s hat. Those were in the days when everyone I knew wore black, smoked cigarettes, and stayed out partying until four o’clock in the morning.

Now everyone I know has spit-up stains on their clothes and stays up until four o’clock in the morning cradling a crying baby. Spring fever, late-night partying, even a carafe of sangria all sound so... tiring.

“James is growing his hair long, isn’t he? He’s looking go-od,” Siri said the next time I came in the café. I felt like I should be grabbing hold of the thin fabric of her T-shirt and telling her to stay away from my husband, but instead I was just flattered. James was looking good. He was also all mine. 

Most people who know me through my children notice first that I’m rather fanatical about feeding them healthy food and that I don’t shave my legs. What they don’t know is that I have a soft spot for gambling (black jack my game of choice), I like Jackie Chan flicks, and that one summer as a graduate student I gave both an erudite talk in French about literary theory to professors from France and was the lead dancer in a performance of the can-can (which included doing an aerial split and wearing more makeup than a brothel worker in a Toulouse Lautrec painting), and that I like nothing better than dark chocolate, dark beer and an Egyptian cigarette, at the right moment, so to speak.

A few weeks later when I took my girls out for smoothies at the café, Siri announced she was getting a divorce. “I’m more relaxed than I’ve been in months,” she confided. “My shoulders were holding all this tension I didn’t even know about.”

She and her husband were together for seven years before their first child was born. Though I didn’t know them then I knew from the grapevine that they were a stylish, intimate couple that was very much in love.

“Mike’s pretty devastated,” she added in a whisper over the counter.

I took my coffee to-go and ushered my kids out the door. Outside yellow and black bumblebees mined for pollen in the soft pink petals of blooming dogwoods. A puppy sniffed my feet and shoved his wet nose into an enticing smell in the grass. The girls squealed at the sight of him. The sky was such an uninterrupted blue it looked like you could sail away on it.

“Mommy! Mommy! Mommy! Can we go to the park?” My oldest asked. It was getting on towards dinnertime, bath time, bedtime.

“Please, Mommy. Please?” The younger one chimed in. The baby, who I was carrying in a front pack, flailed his legs energetically.

The air smelled like plants growing. I assented. This was the only kind of Spring Fever I ever wanted to have.
Jennifer Margulis has published in the New York Times, Ms Magazine, the Christian Science Monitor, and dozens of other magazines and newspapers. The editor of the anthology, Toddler: Real-Life Stories of Those Fickle, Irrational, Urgent, Tiny People We Love (Seal Press), she now lives in Ashland, Oregon with three fickle, irrational children, one steadfast husband, and four wild deer. Find out why her book was banned from a Lincoln School sale by visiting ToddlerTrueStories.com