Tammy’s Crack-Up

by Mitch McGuire

Tammy Jones isn’t the name I was born with. My dad’s last name is really long and Polish. Jones isn’t my husband’s last name either. I picked it up when I moved to Vegas to shoot this women’s pro wrestling TV show. I’ve always been just the sweetest, but when I showed up to the casting call and they told us all it was for a wrestling show, I didn’t even think about getting up and leaving. I would say about a third of the girls there did, but I grew up with brothers. I was fine.

The first time I met the director and he found out my name was Tammy, he shouted “TAMMY JONES!” and that was that. My character was basically a Strawberry Shortcake doll. I spent ages twenty-two to twenty-six bodyslamming girls while wearing lace and pigtails, and when the show ended all of a sudden, the name just stuck. I guess it was just so much a part of who I really was. Then I used the name to launch myself as a real estate agent, which has been really highly blessed for me. They all recognized my name from the show when I first started, and now they recognize all the pink signs with the lace border, or the picture of my face. Tammy Jones. I’ve been a lot of people.

I’m hoping that next year is better than this one. The real estate market in Vegas isn’t as good as it was ten years ago and the dog never stops doing number twos in the house. Kimberly has been acting up at school more than usual. I never should have showed her Mommy’s wrestling show tapes. She’s been kicked out of about five daycares and two kindergartens. Eventually, I’ll run out of options, and then what will I do, home school her?

I feel so much more powerless than I used to, even with my own office. I can’t pile drive my frustrations out anymore, but I can feel them bubbling up. The other day I was cleaning the bathroom and I looked up at the mirror really close to my face and could hardly recognize myself. It’s a weird sensation to feel so divorced from your own image. I guess I got used to it from watching myself on the TV. Right then I couldn’t help it. I had to kiss the mirror, hard and cold and tasting like Windex. I knew the other me wouldn’t have flesh that gives or a tongue, just a hard glass wall. Still, it made me feel better, even though the lipstick was kind of a pain in the keister to get off the mirror.

Kimberly asked me the other day why I was acting so funny. I had no idea anything was even the matter, but then I looked at my can of Diet Coke and I had been gripping it so hard my nails left indents. Sometimes late at night when my husband is asleep, I sit on the computer and read Wikipedia. I like the mega lists with links to a whole bunch of different articles: List of Infanticides, List of Female Serial Killers, List of Matricides, List of Women Executed for Unspeakable Crimes. Or I watch Snapped when they have marathons of that. Then I go in to work the next day at 8 and everything is normal.

Everyone at the office has been extra tiptoey around me, which is how it should always be, I think. It’s been tense with my staff since the pizza came with olives on it and I nailed a slice to the wall so everyone could remember what wrong looks like. The next day it was gone; I have no idea what happened to it. I sent an email out to everyone and not even one reply. You would think these people don’t care about success.

I care about success. Tammy Jones is an industry, baby! How many people are blessed enough to do that for themselves? Everybody just loves me for being me. I try to love them just as much, but I have trouble.

Last week I did something terrible. It was a school night, so I put Kimberly to bed at 8 and I was walking through the sitting room and into the foyer when I felt my bare foot connect with something hot. Miffy, Kimberly’s little rat terrier, had taken a poopie right on the snowy white carpet. I felt my face flush and suppressed a scream as I hopped over to the bathroom and started running the water.

I did a nice little breathing exercise while I washed the doodie off of my foot with some lavender breeze shower mousse. When I opened my eyes after counting up to ten and then back down, Miffy was right in front of me, clicking against the marble tiles. I really only did it because I was so sure Kimberly was asleep. Once I saw Miffy, I flipped the tub stopper and started filling up the tub. Then I shut the door and turned on the fan. My one wet foot tracked water all over the floor. I never should have gotten that goddamn dog. I should have gotten Kimberly a fish or something that doesn’t smell so horrible.

I picked up Miffy and cradled him in my arms. He was shaking, vibrating like he had swallowed mommy’s iPhone. Then I got in the bath with my good red suit still on, I don’t know what I was thinking, and plunked Miffy down. He always hates baths, usually stands there defeated like a sad rat. This time since it was standing water instead of a hose or whatever, he tried to freak out. But I held him down as he wiggled, my acrylics digging into his sad little ribcage. He started to yelp, so I turned the water back up to drown him out. I had to kind of wrestle him; my whole outfit got soaked.

It almost made me flash back to the wrestling show. At least then the outcome of every match was predestined. Now I have no idea. It’s the worst. I was too involved with trying to get Miffy to stay under the water that I didn’t hear, but then the door opened. I turned around and who was there but Kimberly! She asked me what was wrong, why was Miffy yelling so much. I was so surprised that I let go of the damn dog and Miffy took off like a shot, doing laps around the house to dry off, rubbing against every bit of carpet and covering my gorgeous home in dog hair.

I leaned against the bathtub and panted and Kimberly padded over to me and touched my head. I told her that Miffy pooped and so he needed a bath. She said, “With all your clothes on?” and I just looked at her. She’s so perceptive sometimes, I think she sees me more than I do.

Mitch McGuire lives in Columbus, Ohio. See more of his work at www.mitchmcguire.net