I knew I was in for a very inconvenient few weeks when I saw it get added to the calendar.
He instituted a strict calendar sharing arrangement a few years ago, "to keep better track of things!"
It seemed like a good idea at the time. Like something a forever family might do. Responsible in the same way as dutiful oil changes. We should do this. We, Two Very Busy men should fill a joint iPhone calendar with the parade of noble pursuits in which we engage. And so, he synced our phones.
Almost immediately my phone began to buzz a dozen times a day with notifications that something had been added.
"Waxing," one said, vaguely.
"Purchase new socks for Eli so he stops looking like he's given up," another said, passively aggressively.
"DATE NIGHT WITH MY HOT HUBBY," a note read last year. Curiously, the event was only scheduled from 7:00 to 7:30.
They read more as a to do list than an itinerary, most of them. That, or gentle feedback on ways I can improve.
"Stop using the good dish towels to wipe up messes," one read two months ago. It was added to the calendar at a specific time, two weeks into the future. That felt like a deadline, really. A subtle unspoken threat about noncompliance.
I dismiss the notifications almost the moment I receive them now. They're too constant—too frequent—no one human has the capacity to give each of them recognition.
But this one? This one caught my attention.
"You're doing fraxeling again?" My greeting at the beginning of my abrupt phone call was not really a question—or, rather, that wasn't the question my tone was asking. Translation: "I remember when you did this four years ago and I do not want to relive that."
Skylar had done this skin treatment with a dermatologist in 2017 or so. What is fraxeling, you ask? Basically a trained professional points an industrial blowtorch at your face for 30 minutes. Here's live video of the procedure:
It then takes a full eternity for your face to grow back. In the meantime, it is puffy, swollen, flakey. Basically it looks like you have leprosy. But less biblical and more Beverly Hills. The biggest side effect is complaining.
Supposedly at the end of all of this your face looks five years younger. I think this is because the procedure actually kills you so if you survive it, you have to be reborn as a new baby.
When Skylar what's his name did this in 2017, we then had to live through a solid three weeks in which he couldn't go outside or stop talking about how much his skin felt like an Old Testament punishment.
We had to cancel events over this.
So when I saw "Fraxeling, Skylar" appear on the calendar, you can understand why I needed to ambush him with emotional acrimony.
Skylar explained to me that our dermatologist friend invited him to come do this so a new person in the clinic "can practice!"
"Practice?" Again, these weren't real questions I was asking. "On your permanent face? You know you only get one of these in your life, right?"
Skylar made some off-the-cuff remark about how he was just trying to stay hot so I wouldn't leave him for a younger man, like he was an Orange County housewife in the late 90s. I explained to him that I've done the younger man thing (him) and if I ever leave him it's definitely going to be for an older model with money.
"I get it. That's what I did."
I earned that wound.
And then, two weeks ago, he was deposited into a clinic, only to then return with a puffy swollen flakey face.
"I have to wear these," he told me of the horrifying face ice-masks in which he began wandering the house, a sloshing glass of red wine in his right hand, a biting puppy in his left.
"God," I told him. "You really should have married someone in the NFL."
It's hard to describe how terrifying it all is. The ice masks look like something from my absolute worst nightmares. He doesn't seem to understand it. He thinks I'm exaggerating.
Last weekend his classmate and friend, Sophie, came to our home to babysit Louie so we could escape for a few hours. She was dropped off by a friend so when we arrived home, Skylar had to drive her back to her house, like she was a 12-year-old tween trying to make a buck so she could buy some glitter make-up and he was the awkward dad who would sit with her in silence on the lonely trip back to her own place, two blocks away.
I grew up in the 90s.
Just after they got into the car and began to drive away, I got a text from Sophie. It was a picture she had just taken. No explanation. No context.
Look. If I have to have nightmares about this, so do you.
~It Just Gets Stranger