My Octopus Shower-Mold Teacher

Dear Netflix,

Like everyone streaming their way through lockdown, I envied that guy who got to swim in South Africa with an octopus. But then I realized my life at home is just as exotic and inspiring! I think you’ll agree, after reading my daily log, that you’ve found the subject for your next documentary:

Day 1
I’m washing my stupid-long hair when I spot this extraordinary place where the walls above the shower meet the ceiling. It’s a protected place, reachable only with a ladder, if you had the energy anymore to lug a ladder into the bathroom. And right in the corner of it is this amazing blob of mold. She’s an unmistakably feminine grayish green, and shaped just like the map of New York’s B117 variant spread. Suddenly I have an idea: what if I don’t clean the mold? What if I ignore the alarmists who say mold causes lung problems and skin and vision problems and even psychosis, and I visit her every day instead?

Day 2
Feeling incredibly privileged, I notice between sneezes that a bulge has appeared in the mold’s side. She is with child. I admire her poise as she begins this life chapter. She is focused. In the moment. Unconcerned about how she can raise a young mold in such a troubled world. After my shower, I tell my 13-year-old it’s fine to spend her online study hall watching Bridgerton.

Day 3
Mere hours after the mold baby’s birth, it already has five siblings (exceptional!). Meanwhile, my mold teacher—Molly, as I have come to call her—has yet to lose her side bulge. But even to my strangely goopy eyes, it’s plain she isn’t worried about her weight. Instead, she has unapologetically gained an extra bulge in her rear. I feel more empowered than ever to eat a sleeve of Thin Mints after breakfast. And after lunch and dinner.

Day 4
I discover yet another astounding talent of Molly’s: she can be in more than one place at once! While still clinging to the corner above the shower, she has managed, simultaneously, to appear on two walls of the shower itself. I know it’s Molly rather than her children because, of course, no baby would be crawling so soon. A delightful thought strikes me as I cough repeatedly: could I convince people I’m present at all three Zooms I committed to this evening, just by leaving my video off on multiple devices? Molly makes anything seem possible.

Day 5
On my shower-caddy shelf, I spy something pink—and no, it’s not the razor I bought in June, when I still thought of myself as a person who shaves her legs. It’s a splotch next to the razor, in almost the same Pepto-Bismol shade as the razor’s handle. Molly! Not only can she pop up where she chooses, she can camouflage herself! (This is clearly Molly, since she has, once again, wittily assumed the shape of a map: regional vaccination rates.) Does she care whether her Pepto-pink is chic? She does not. I spend the rest of the day, as usual, in old stained leggings, blending right into the old stained couch. My husband asks, with a meaningful look, if he can add anything of mine to his laundry load. I shrug. Ditto when he offers to get ointment for my mysterious head-to-toe hives.

Days 6 – 13
Husband acquires annoying habit of asking why I’m taking such long showers. Says I never cook anymore. Says my boss keeps emailing him because I don’t answer her texts. Gasping for air as I rub my eyes and scratch at my torso, I tell husband to get the fuck out of the bathroom. Like Molly, I am naturally serene in the shower. My brain is alive and full of wonder, unencumbered by pointless thoughts of “nutrition” or “responsibility” or “not getting shitcanned.”

Day 14                                                                                                        
I wake to the ominous smell of bleach. Rushing into the bathroom, I find—noooo!—husband on ladder in shower, wielding a sponge. I shove him off the top rung and lunge to save Molly and her 79 children, ignoring husband’s selfish whining about a broken ankle. But I’m too late. Under a scrim of cleanser, my mentor and her family have vanished.

Day 14, later
Am spending the night curled on shower floor, while husband and daughter stay at Airbnb near hospital or something. My back throbs. And yet… I’m filled with joy. On the wall beside my head, nestled in a strip of grout, lies a triumphant gray-green smudge. My teacher! My brilliant friend, sister, soulmate! I will never leave her. At least, not until you, Netflix, make that movie about us, when I will of course roll out of the way so you can film while my husband blasts Molly again with extra-strength Clorox.

With thanks for your consideration,
A loyal subscriber

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