Title: Don’t Mind Me, I Came with the House
Author: CJ Zahner
Nikki Stone is an extraordinarily ordinary, awkward mom who just wants to be noticed, but when the popular golf-pro, Blake Andersen, falls in love with her, she becomes an internet sensation—for all the wrong reasons. Careful what you wish for!
I’m sitting underneath a sheet of paper, stark naked, wondering what type of human being wants to be a gynecologist. Not an obstetrician, you can understand that profession. A new life slipping into your hands could make anyone forget the sordid details. But what went through a gynecologist’s head on high-school career days? “I’d love to spend my life looking up vaginas?” Or “Wouldn’t it be fun to yank a uterus?”
These people are sick.
I glance around the room. Stare at the colorful sketches of female parts I don’t want to think about. Then I shift to a more comfortable position on the table and one knee pokes out from underneath my paper skirt.
I examine my kneecap. Several half-inch hairs point up at me.
How’d I miss those? I raise my leg. Longer hairs stick out the back.
My mind dances on to my shaving inabilities. This must be some deep-seated human survival technique. I don’t want to think about my exam or worse, a formidable C diagnosis, so I muse myself with the hair on my knees. Allow my thoughts to tango toward trivialness. I imagine how great life would be if I invented something that shaved a leg perfectly, knees, front and back. I’d secure a patent for the flawless instrument. Become rich. Like the post-it guy. He made a bundle.
I sigh. I’m waiting for the most uncomfortable examination in the world, fretting about whether I have the big C, and suddenly course leg hairs and post-its matter. I’ve lost all sensibility.
I lean down and take one last look.
“Good morning, Mrs. Grey.” I nearly pee myself when the doctor surprises me.
“Stone,” I say, a tad too loudly. “I’ve taken my maiden name back.”
“Sorry, I’ll note that.” She taps something onto her iPad. “So how have you been feeling? Any menopausal symptoms?”
“A few,” I say because yelling, “Yes, I sweat profusely. Can’t you see my paper robe disintegrating?” might send her into a mood, and Lord knows I want a happy examiner.
She stammers on about this and that. I have to tell her about Mark. Then Blake. Yes, sex is fine. No, I’m not experiencing any pain. What? Oh, yeah, kids are great. Job is fine. Why is she chatting like we’re on a coffee date? Get it over already.
She chatters on about menopause and periods and how spotting is unusual and should be checked out but, blah, blah, blah, I shouldn’t worry yet. Finally, she walks to the sink, washes her hands, and tells me to scoot down and put my feet in the stirrups.
Supposedly, the most unpopular word in the English language is moist. I disagree. I vote for stirrups. It shoots electricity through me every time. I lie back, smoldering, pondering the ugliness of what’s about to happen beneath my paper sheet. I practice my breathing while Doctor Yank picks and prods like she’s at a campfire trying to restart the flames. Right when she is deep into the exam, I hear a knock, and a nurse jars the door open.
“Oh, I’m sorry doctor,” she says.
Seriously? I cover my face with both hands in case a husband walks by and recognizes me later in the waiting room.
Isn’t that the old lady with the ugly vagina?
“No problem, Aimee, I’m almost done here.” She keeps prodding.
“I have the results of Mrs. Grey’s tests.”
“Stone,” I lift my head and yell. A flash of a face passing in the hall behind the nurse startles me. I make eye contact with the person. Are they selling tickets to my exam? I raise my voice. “It’s Ms. Nicole Stone.”
The nurse’s neck snaps back, her eyes widen, and the doctor stops prodding. We stare at each other for an uncomfortable few seconds. Of course, can there be a comfortable moment when your legs are spread from wall to wall?
“Thanks, set them on the desk.”
After the nurse leaves, I apologize, the doctor is gracious, and, mercifully, the exam ends.
Now the wait is on.
“How long before I know if this is cervical or uterine cancer?” I ask.
“Mrs. Gr—I’m sorry.” Fright spreads across her face. She backs up as if I might unloose a foot and lodge it in her mouth. “I mean Ms. Stone. I’m certain I know what the problem is. Let me take a look at your results.”
“You can sit up,” she says, but I can’t. The tone of her voice tells me what her words don’t. It’s bad news. Worse than expected.
This is the story of my life. Every time a speck of happiness falls my way, a mound of troubles follows. I should have known dating the best guy in the world would have drawbacks. My love life is perfect so my health is bad. “Oh, my God, I have ovarian cancer, don’t I?”
“Ms. Stone, please.” She pats the side of the table. “Sit up and we’ll talk.”
“Oh, my God.” I begin crying. “I shouldn’t have come alone. I have temporal lobe epilepsy. I’m not supposed to stress out.”
“If I have a seizure, I’ll lose my driver’s license. How will I get to my chemotherapy? I have a daughter in high school. How am I going to tell her? And a boyfriend. He’s a wonderful guy. Will I lose my hair?”
“Ms. Stone,” the doctor hollers above my wailing. “You don’t have cancer.”
I barely hear her through my crying and snorting. “What?”
“You don’t have cancer.”
“I don’t?” I wipe my face and sit up.
“No, you don’t.”
“Then what’s wrong with me? Why am I spotting? My mother’s friend started spotting after menopause, and she had ovarian cancer. I remember it as if it were yester—”
“Ms. Stone. You’re pregnant.”
The conversation speeds up.
“No, no, no. I can’t be. I’m forty-seven.”
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Don’t Mind Me, I Came with the House has 54 rave reviews of 56 on Amazon. Readers are saying this feel-good romantic comedy is endearing, laugh-out-loud funny, awkwardly hilarious, and relatable to every mother in some way. “I laughed so hard at times I almost peed myself.” – Karen, Amazon Reviewer
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CJ Zahner is a digital-book hoarder, lover of can’t-put-down books, and the author of three thrillers: The Suicide Gene, Dream Wide Awake, and Project Dream; and two Chick Lit novels: Friends Who Move Couches and Don’t Mind Me I Came with the House.
Currently, she is working on The Dream Snatchers, a sequel for her Dream Series. She recently completed a narrative nonfiction, The House that Loved, detailing the effects Diethylstilbesterol or DES has had on her life. DES was a drug prescribed to prevent miscarriage from 1938 until 1971 when the FDA banned its use because of devastating side effects.
Born and raised in Erie, Pennsylvania, Zahner worked full-time as a grant writer/administrator and part-time as a freelance writer until 2015 when her only sibling was diagnosed with early-onset dementia and his wife with early-onset Alzheimer’s. She said when something like that happens in your family, you realize what’s important in life. On a particularly rough day at work, she picked up her purse, walked away, and never looked back. Zahner and her husband moved to Wendell, North Carolina in 2020.
Now she reads, writes, and runs in the Raleigh area, travels with friends, vacations in Erie, and spends as much time as possible with her three children and two grandchildren.
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Author interview: http://bit.ly/CJZinterview