“Oh, crap,” I said to myself as I looked at the clock in the corner of the computer screen.

I was late.  One of the women I’d met at Gymboree this spring and summer had invited Melinda and I over to swim at her community pool.  We’d had a few playdates at her house and my own, plus a third woman who lived right in between the two of us.  The three of us were a study in differing socioeconomics:  AnneMarie lived in a golf course community and her husband was an executive at Mercedes Benz; Diana’s husband was a local contractor who had an up and coming home improvement business; we were somewhere in between with R securely balancing on the bottom rung of the corporate ladder.

I’d showered during Melinda’s nap and had planned on blow drying my hair and getting all of our things together before she woke, but I’d made the mistake of pulling my mail on the computer in between.  No less than twenty messages popped up just in the short time I’d been in the shower; that always meant something big had happened in Rick Springfield world.

Sure enough, several fans had posted to our mailing list that Rick had fallen during the previous night’s show in Vegas. It had been serious enough that he’d been taken to the hospital afterwards.  Speculation abounded about the seriousness of the injury, how the everyone had always been surprised that Rick had performed all of his own stunts during the show, would an injury mean him cancelling the smattering of tour dates he’d booked for his off weeks coming up.  I hoped that wasn’t the case; one of them was nearby enough that I’d been planning to go.

Half an hour had passed while I quickly made phone calls, sent frantic emails and finally confirmed the news that Rick had broken his wrist, and therefore would have to cancel some shows and performances while the injury healed.  I plopped Melinda down in front of a Baby Einstein tape while I quickly typed up the news bit to place on both websites and then sent the confirmation that I’d done so to Vivian, who ran the fan club, and Elizabeth, who ran our mailing list.  I was just reading their replies back and forth when I noticed the time.  It was already noon, and I was supposed to be at AnneMarie’s by now.

“Hey,” I said into the phone, all apologies.  “I’m so sorry I’m late.  I am just leaving now, if that’s OK, unless you are on too tight a time frame for us to be this late.  I am so, so sorry.  I had to take care of something,” I paused here, never being sure that my friends in the Real World would understand the crazy hours and things I did for the people in Rick Springfield World.  “I had to take care of something and it took so much longer than I thought.  But if you’ll still have us, we’ll be right over.”  I glanced over at Melinda in front of our TV, happily tossing about her toys in time to the music.  She loved pools.  I felt a pang of guilt that my silliness online was keeping her from it.  I noticed how pale she was, despite it being mid summer.  We both were pretty white.  It was because we spent many, many days just like this; her in front of the TV and me in front of the computer.  Not good, I scolded myself silently.

“No problem,” said AnneMarie back into the phone.  “We were dragging a little this morning ourselves.  We’ll see you in a bit,” she reassured me.

I hung up the phone and ran to gather our pool things.  As I walked out the door I realized I’d never dried my hair or put on my makeup; a glance in the rearview confirmed that I looked like I had just rolled out of bed and into the car.

“Remind me, Melinda, to go underwater as soon as possible once we get there.”

“Mama wawa,” she responded from her car seat.


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