Monday, June 20, 2011
15 June 2011
Last weekend, I gave serious consideration to cheating and writing this essay early. It's not like anyone would ever know but me, and more to the point, do you suppose anyone would care? However, I remained a good boy, mostly because I just knew that if I wrote early, then my partner would go into labor, and I'd have to discard what I had and replace it with something more appropriate. Yeah, I'm so sensitive that way.
So here it is, after work, time to write, and I'm gaunt. Oh, what to do? Eat something. But not something in the house. The Rocket is cooking! So it's downtown for some dinner. Just a little dinner, not enough to threaten my girlish figure. That should be churlish figure, more likely. A pint of PBR at $2. Half-priced appetizers? I'll take two. And another pint. Dessert? I wish, but the banana pudding is not on the list, and they say there won't be any more before the weekend? Is there a grief counselor in the house?
Let's pay the tab, tip well, and go back home. There are tweets to check and post. Don't forget the web site from the ladies downtown. That needs to go on Facebook. The straight boys need the reality therapy. Yeah, they watch too many movies. So what was it that had me all deep in thought and preoccupied? Oh yes, nail polish.
I had gone to the gas station for non-lunch. Think roller dogs, except also think about getting distracted. This was my second time to that gas station in ten minutes. First time, I filled up the tank. On the opposite side of the pump was a sweet young thing in flip flops, extremely short shorts with perfectly random stitching that only a machine could have done, a very lacy tank top, and a man's suit jacket to top it all off. Yes, with exaggerated shoulder pads. One peep suggested the jacket made the outfit appropriate for work. I suppose that's about right, especially if the work involved holding up a street lamp.
I don't generally react (much) to what people wear, and that's because so few people wear anything outside a quarter standard deviation of whatever Kmart defines as the local norm. I include Toronto and New York City in that statement, though in those places, as well as several others that might consider themselves stylishly different than the rest of us, there still exists, despite whatever they might think, very few substantive deviations, though you'll likely find a long, black leather coat or something else climatically appropriate. All that said, I really don't care how folks dress, and I've long held that comfort reigns without challenge. Of course, I generally stand alone. I got used to that long ago.
I returned to the gas station after bouncing off the food court at the small mall where long lines awaited. Perhaps they were giving something away. I was not really in the mood for roller dogs, and the packaged ham sandwiches nailed my attention about three steps into the door. As did a PowerBar and a fountain Diet Coke. The challenge was to pay the bill. You see, someone was not paying for gas while she couldn't make up her mind as to how to spend $20 on scratch-off lottery tickets. I usually wish such people luck in the hopes that some of that wished-for luck will rub off on me, but I made an exception for this child and quietly wished for an alligator to eat her. Right there. Right then. Yes, with a smile.
Back to the office with my odd non-lunch with follow-ups to my tweets from the gas station about the gal in the jacket. Coming through the door and down the first hall, I was distracted by a commotion in a peep's office. It appeared that Peep 2 was opening a shipment of cosmetics while chatting with Peep 1. I stopped to ogle the cosmetics. Bear in mind that the makeup has yet to be invented that would make me pretty, aside from a large block of cement and a deep pool of water. Along with the cosmetics came a free gift, a small bottle of red nail polish named “Between the Sheets,” and Peep 2 handed it to me.
There was a double story here to tell, and Peeps 1 and 2 indulged my telling. They always do, though I'm not sure why, but I'm glad they do, what with me being an old fart and all.
My mother entered the orphanage when she was three years old. A family that owns most of the sand in the county can't afford to have a dead sister's children running about eating costly food, wearing costly sackcloth, and expecting to go to school, especially when some of the children were difficult. Mother was never one to accept external rules all that much, something that made her take on Christianity a puzzlement for me, and at some point, her young girl self turned to self-adornment. She wanted to wear nail polish. Well, as you surely know, girls who wear nail polish will go to hell, straight to hell, and this orphanage of the Baptist church was not going to have any of its charges showing up in hell, not as long as there was corrective pain to administer to the children. To handle this conflict, Mama wore socks, and under those socks, her toes were a brilliant red, as red as could possibly be manufactured and smuggled onto the campus.
There was not a time growing up when her nails, toes and fingers, were not red. Now, I haven't seen the woman's toes in years, but I am without doubt that this woman who can not remember her husband has bright red paint on those piggies, and I know as sure as the sun rises in the east that there is not enough willpower resident on this earth to put another color on those nails.
Fast-forward from the early 1900s in that orphanage to not so many years ago in Jamestown just before she and Buck stopped traveling. We were sitting in the living room, and the subject of church attendance came up, which made me moan out loud. Even then, I had little use for church. There were, and there still are, many reasons for that, all of which will go unmentioned here. Mama leaned over to me holding up a magazine so she could whisper in my ear without the children hearing, as though toddlers would pay any attention to anything, and there she told me “I hated church too, especially before air conditioning, and I always sang those songs and repeated those prayers with an extra little bit added in the pauses.”
I looked at her without understanding. She smiled, leaned closer, and sang very quietly: “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound...between the sheets...that saved a wretch like me...between the sheets...” She stopped and looked at me with a knowing smile. I realized at that moment that I had no idea who this woman was sitting to my side pretending to be my mother.
I still haven't opened that small bottle of paint. Maybe this weekend, even if it does defy the narrow definitions of acceptable gender expression that so many people would foist upon us, regardless of their own proclivities. I'm thinking Mama and the Honey Badger, and yes, even me, really don't give a shit what they think.
Editorial Note: For those of you unaware of the reference to the Honey Badger, go to Youtube.com and search for “Randall Honey Badger.” The video you want will have some 10 million hits. Study it carefully.