Monday, June 30, 2008

Oy Gevalt! The Heat! The Humidity!
I am dripping with sweat. I feel like I am suspended inside the lid of a cooking pot, but I’m just sitting at my computer in my den, where the temperature is 95 degrees, and the humidity is hovering at about 90%. I hate humidity. I hate heat. I especially hate heat when it’s accompanied by humidity, and vice versa. Why am I being punished like this? Maybe I’m in Hell, and just don’t remember dying. One thing for sure is that if I’m not dead yet, I will be soon, if it doesn’t cool off in here. That may be a slight exaggeration. I should have said that I’d soon wish for death if it doesn’t cool off in here. But then, if it turns out that I’m not dead yet, and therefore not in Hell, if I were to die now, and go to Hell, chances are that it would be even hotter there; probably more humid too. That may not be true, though, because if it were any more humid than it is in this room, it would have to be raining, and I don’t think it rains in Hell. If it did, it might put out the fires, and what kind of Hell would that be, with no fire? It would be hellaciously steamy for a while, though. That would be dreadful, but eventually the steam would condense, and there would be puddles, and then lakes and rivers. The River Styx would overflow its banks. Then the mystified, damned souls might drown, but since they’re already dead, that shouldn’t be a problem. Eventually, as the water receded, plants would grow, and in a few short millennia, the whole place would look like a tropical forest. There would be exotic flowers, colorful parrots, and luscious fruit hanging from low branches…

Wait a minute. This is starting to sound more like Heaven than Hell, or maybe the Garden of Eden.
I doubt if an apple tree could grow in that kind of climate, though. However, that would be a good thing. If there were no apple tree to tempt Eve, then the wrath of God would not be visited upon this new territory, and maybe there wouldn’t be a need for Hell.

Now that I’ve thought this whole thing through, I see that the heat and humidity in here might not be so bad, after all. Maybe an orchid will spring from the puddle of sweat forming on my chair. The cold lemonade I am about to drink will taste extra good. And all I really have to do to feel better, is to think of how I felt six months ago, when I was sitting here shivering, with ice-cold hands and feet, cursing winter, and wishing for summer.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

I was just now reading DCup's post about vaginas and how we are made to think that they "should" look a certain way. It reminded me of this short story (true and autobiographical) I wrote recently. Here it is...

Hanging Out

Whenever my family visited Grandma Willis’ house, I chose to hang out with Grandma and Mom instead of my younger sisters and assorted cousins. Apparently, my status as the oldest grandchild made this scenario acceptable. I usually sat quietly, with my mouth shut and my ears wide open, as Mom and Grandma talked and laughed. Their stories were much more interesting than anything my peer group had to say.

One day, when I was about eleven years old, the conversation turned to the subject of masturbation, a word that was new to me. I had no idea what they were talking about, but it sounded naughty, so I paid attention. Then Mom started telling G. about something my Dad had told her, which involved me. He told her that he had seen me taking a bath and had noticed that my inner labia protruded. That indicated to him that I masturbated, and he was shocked and horrified. Mom, of course, thought that idea was not only preposterous, but also very funny. Zelda would never do anything like that! So she and Grandma were laughing about how silly and amusing it was that Daddy would think that about me. Of course, I laughed along with them, since I wanted to seem like one of the girls. Then I asked Mom, “What does ‘masturbate’ mean?”

She turned to me, with a slight frown, and said, “It means to play with yourself.”

At that point, I must have turned bright red, and her frown grew fearsome as she said, “You don’t, do you?”

“No, no, never, uh-uh.” I felt like my face was going to melt off of my skull.

Grandma kept quiet as Mom continued to give me the evil eye, but with no more to go on, she changed the subject and pretty soon we were all laughing again, about something else my funny Daddy had said or done.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Racism, What's It Good For?

Part III

My ethnic background is 1/2 Norwegian, 1/4 English, 1/8 Heinz 57 and 1/8 Cherokee. When I was a teenager, I thought it was so cool to be part "Indian" that I told people that I was half Norwegian and half Indian. I don't know if anyone believed me, but I enjoyed my little ruse and it laid the foundation for a few fabrications later in my life.

The year I was 29, I was working part-time at night in the "cash cage" (back office where the money was kept) in a K-Mart in Salt Lake City. My shift was 5 pm to 9 pm, and I was the only person in the office, except for the night manager, who would pop in to visit with me rather more often than he should have. He was a chubby, randy young guy who enjoyed getting me riled up with his pro-war, conservative politics and stupid racist remarks, among other subjects. He had discovered early on that I did not like it when he would use words like ni**er, coon, and other disparaging terms for blacks. The more I objected, the more fun he had using them. One night, I was at my wits end with him, and I suddenly got a brilliant idea! Here's what I said:

"Dick, you know I hate it when you talk like that. Now I'm going to tell you why. But first you have to promise me that you'll never tell anyone. Nobody outside of my family knows this about me."

Dick became appropriately quiet and serious. "No, I won't tell. Honest!"

"Okay, here goes." I took a deep breath. "My mother is half black and half Indian."

Dick's eyes opened wide. After a short pause, he said, in a completly calm voice, "Oh! What kind of Indian?"


"That's interesting! Actually, you do look a little Indian. The cheekbones or something."

Long silence....

"I'm sorry about the way I talked. Don't worry. It's our little secret."


And you know what? He never used the "bad words" around me again. And he never told "our little secret" to anyone in the store.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Racism, What is it Good For?
Part II

Wow! Doesn't that sound formal! My opinions are so profound, they must be divided into PARTS! Maybe I should stop now. Nah...

When I was a child in California, back in the 'fifties, racial prejudice was rampant and open. There was no such thing as "political correctness." The shit just flew. I was fortunate to have parents who may have had some prejudices, but they weren't necessarily negative, and they definitely weren't hostile. My dad worked in the steel mill, alongside men of many different ethnic backgrounds, including "colored." He was friends with at least one black man that I remember, mainly because of the following incident. Dad brought Charlie home for dinner one evening. My little sister, Judy, was two years old and very cute and engaging. As Daddy and Charlie were sitting at the table talking, Judy was standing nearby and staring at Charlie. Charlie started talking to her and she was all smiles. He picked her up and sat her on his lap. She reached up to his face and wiped her hand across his cheek, and then looked at her palm. At first, the adults wondered what she was doing. Then she did it again, and looked puzzled when there was nothing on her palm. Then everyone burst out laughing, realizing that she thought the color on his brown cheek was painted on! There was no animosity on the part of anyone involved. It was just funny and innocent.

My mother also had black friends now and then, depending where we lived. Most neighborhoods were segregated, but the lines of demarcation were sometimes fuzzy, so we occasionally had black and Mexican neighbors. I remember one "colored" friend of Mom's that I am grateful to. My sisters and I had contracted a lively case of pinworms. Maybell gave Mom a recipe for a thick, dark syrup containing lots of garlic. We were given a few doses of that syrup and Voila! Pinworms were history.

The only thing that bothers me now is remembering that both parents and their families used the "N-word" freely. They didn't call colored people ni**ers, but they used the term sometimes. The only things I remember right now is their term for Brazil nuts - "ni**er toes" and the child's verse, "Eeny, meeny, miny moe. Catch a ni**er by the toe, etc." Remember that, any of you other geezers out there? I know there were lots of other references, but I can't remember them. When I had my children, Brazil nuts were only called Brazil nuts and I changed the second line of "eeny meeny" to "catch a tiger by the toe." The kids were teenagers before they heard the original verse.

Hell's bells. I guess there's going to have to be a Part III. I'm too sleepy to finish now.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Racism, What's It Good For?

I was inspired to tackle this subject after reading an interesting post on the subject, by dcup on June 13. She confessed to having been raised in a mildly racist atmosphere, and has since rejected that influence and is stridently anti-racist today. I’m not sure if the word “racism” is the correct one to use in my post, since the technical definition of racism is “a doctrine of racial superiority,” according to my Merriam-Webster Scrabble Players Dictionary (the only one I can find, right now). I think that most of us think of racism as a dislike (or hatred) of people of other races. It is also used interchangeably (and inappropriately) with “prejudice.”

(An aside…I was looking for “prejudice” in the dictionary and accidentally saw the word “priapism, a persistent erection of the penis.” Now I’m all distracted.)

Okay, back to business. “Prejudice” is the act of judging beforehand. I think that prejudice is a natural and very common human trait. We tend to have a feeling that people who look different from us probably are different from us. Then, depending on various experiences, and teaching from family and friends, negative or POSITIVE connotations may take hold in our psyches. Everyone knows that “white men can’t jump” and “blacks have rhythm,” along with countless other generalizations.

I also believe that most people of various races tend to associate more with people of their particular color than with others. I always think of the term, “birds of a feather flock together,” when I observe this. The white ducks in our pond tend to hang out with the other white ducks, instead of the grey and green mallard ducks, who hang out with other mallards. I don’t think they are racists. When I was a freshman in a California college, I lived in the dorms. My roommate, Carol, was a black girl, very, very smart, with perfect deportment. We became close friends. When we were together, she spoke perfect English (much better than my mid-west tainted dialect) and was always discreet and genteel. But when she wanted to relax and let it all hang out, she visited with several other black girls. She told me it felt good to be able to "talk broad" (kind of a southern dialect) and not be self-conscious. She took me with her once, and I felt uncomfortable, just because the atmosphere was so different from what I was used to.

Okay, I have a lot more to say, but ah'm tahred! I'll continue tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Twenty hours from now I'll be in Pensacola! My best friend, Kerry, has lived there for the past 10 years. I've only visited her once, about four years ago, and she's visited me twice, so it's my turn. I hope the skies will be friendly...

Sunday, June 01, 2008

The Blues Made Me Happy!

Hubby and I just got back from an outdoor concert. The weather was perfect and the music was red hot and blue! The star was Big Jack Johnson, still dishing out the soul music at age 67! He was accompanied by the Corn Likkers, a bunch of hard-rocking old white guys who seemed to worship B.J. All of us in the audience were pretty darned captivated by him as well. He just leaned back in his chair and made that gee-tar moan. I loved watching his face. He had this easy, relaxed smile that made me feel that he was as entertained by us, as we were by him. Hubby and I danced our socks off...literally! Shoes and socks were discarded after the first song. We were dancing on the lawn, and it felt good to have my bare toes digging into the grass.

It was also fun to observe some of the other dancers. There were all ages, from babies to some really OLD people (even older than me!). My favorite in the "old" category was a tall, slender woman who must have been at least 75 or 80. She had BRILLIANT RED-ORANGE hair that was positively stunning! And she was dancing like it was 1950! Shaking her booty and having a good ol' time. It made me feel good to see someone who wasn't about to let her age get in the way of enjoying herself. I'm always fussing about how awful it is to be getting old and thinking I should just wear a sack over my head. And here was this lady, old enough to be my mother, who didn't give a good god-damn if everyone in that whole audience saw her wrinkles. Yay! Rock on, grandma!

I also enjoyed observing some of the young people, particularly some of the young MEN, and ESPECIALLY a CERTAIN young man. He had been sitting on the sidelines of the dance area, his whole body convulsing to the rhythm of the music, but seemingly reluctant to stand up and dance. Then along came another young guy, tall and gangly and dancing spastically, with a big, happy grin on his face. Apparently, he was a friend of the first guy, because he made his way over to him and persuaded him to get up and DANCE! I'm telling you...when that kid got up from his crouched position, it was like an explosion of testosterone! He jumped and stomped and jabbed his arms up and down, his eyes were glazed and the muscles in his arms and shoulders were was electrifying! It had a positively visceral effect on me. I had to lead hubby over to the side, because I didn't want anyone to know what a DIRTY OL' LADY I am.

Anyway, a good time was had by all, and after two hours of non-stop R & B, including two encores, they packed up their band and we revelers all wandered back to our cars. My brain is still pulsing to the beat.