You know my life kinda resembles a bad Hee Haw skit.
If it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all.
Over the past six months, my daughter nearly died. I lost my job and am too old to become a brain surgeon or a rock star (which were my other two career choices.) The hubby received his lay-off notice from the factory where he’d worked for 20 years. Of course, the “change in his employment status” wasn’t unexpected. We had prepared financially and were just waiting for the other shoe to drop. We did not, however, expect the shoe to knock up upside the head the same week Diva’s thoracic surgeon mailed out his bill.
Our family also lost two relatives this year, which introduced a new set of issues that I wasn’t prepared to face. Suddenly, the hubby and I were discussing merging households with my mother-in-law, who is over 60 and lives alone in the deep backwoods of Tennessee without reliable transportation. (I mean so far back in the woods, you have to pack snacks for the drive over) Since the hubby figured 2 Southern women + 1 Kitchen = a bad idea, we talked about building a garage apartment. Oh. Yeah. There’s that whole we’re po’ folk now thing. So, we talked about selling the house and moving closer to his mother, at which time he pointed out my parents, who reside here, aren’t spring chickens either. And that observation made me mad – irrationally, uncomfortably, cheek-aflame, if-looks-could-kill, nuclear-type mad. I really wanted to stick my fingers in my ears and sing na-na-na-na-I-can’t-hear-you. I mean, c’mon, as long as I can still outrun my nine-year-old, have all of my original joints, can rock 5 inch heels, drink younger folks under the table AND do not need industrial-strength Lycra to hold in, up or down any body parts: then I am too young for my parents to be old. These issues are something adult children of a certain age must think about: not me. I’m not at that age. Seriously. I’m not. My parents are fine. Fine, I tell you. Now, discussion closed. I mean it. Na-na-na-na. I-can’t-hear-you.
While these issues are still lingering around unresolved (because I’ve yet to take my fingers out of my ears) the dog got sick. Daddy’s blood pressure got stuck somewhere between elevated and “Holy Shit!” and my son declared me a horrible mom, which means I’m just a hop, skip and jump away from “ruining his life” on a regular basis. Coming from the kid, who once claimed I could outsing Aretha, outcook Granny and outglam a supermodel… well, it stings a little. Not to mention, he was far more amicable back he was delusional and tone deaf.
Add to this, the perfectly-imperfect non-judgmental mommy friend, with whom I would normally discuss my I’m a bad parent fears, packed-up her family and returned to her home state of Alabama. The humidity there was easier to handle than the hypocrisy here, I guess. The sad truth is she left in the nick of time because people here are losing their ever lovin’ minds.
Folks are short-tempered and hot-collared. I fully expect the little ladies at church to start resolving those “what hymns shall the choir sing next Sunday” disputes by stabbing one another with hatpins. And I’m no sociologist, but I’m guessing all of this might have something to do with the fact that the only people still getting a paycheck here are the the politicians, the repo guys, the bail bondsmen and maybe the Ku Klux Klan recruiters.
Yeah, the KKK. In Hawkins County. It was a fairly predictable thing, don’t you think? After all, it’s one thing for white folks to stop holding black folks down: it’s quite another when they realize black folks no longer require their help in getting a leg up. I mean – a black president? Woo. That’s some scary shit right there, particularly those who have nothing against “the blacks” shucks some of their friends are “blacks”, and they aren’t racist at all… because if they were the people at church would talk bad about them. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way, these folks decided to hell with social mores and said what they really thought. When they did, they were pleasantly surprised to discover the preacher, three deacons and the guy four houses up held similar views.
As a result, I’ve overheard insulting comments made by community leaders, school staff members, the neighbors, and my family. Earlier this year, the Klan held a rally close to where I grew up and where Mama and Daddy live now. It was hosted on the property of a Hawkins County school system employee and there were quite a few rumors circulating afterward about who was in attendance. (I have not been able to verify these rumors. Turns out there aren’t many “reliable sources” attending those events. By reliable I mean one who does not drink beer for breakfast and/or didn’t out his brother-in-law/wife’s ex-boyfriend’s as a Klan member because the summabitch borrowed his lawnmower/wife last year and has yet to return it/her in the same condition it/she was in when he took it. After talking with these people, I’m still not quite sure if the wife came back pregnant or the Murray 0-turn mower was out of gas.)
Either way, (and in spite of the burden of proof because you don’t need proof for purposes of repudiating individuals in the South: the truthful-like statement of their mother’s cousin’s hairdresser will do just fine) I am becoming mistrustful and somewhat suspicious of … well, anyone I haven’t seen naked. Some of those I’m not entirely sure about either.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining here. About anything. I’m not. I’m a southerner: we don’t complain. We summarize our tribulations. Then, we assure ourselves that things could be worse and we keep plodding on. Of course, I’m a woman. So, I’m expected to plod three times faster and shoulder twice the burden while wearing high heels and deep-frying something beer-battered and all without messing up my hairdo.
I’m actually handling most of these challenges – the job loss, illness, grief, goodbyes, new phases, new neighbors, financial inability to buy myself pretty new shoes whenever I want them – quite well. There is an upside to facing so much turmoil in a short period of time – at least you aren’t shocked by much of anything anymore. For instance, when the kid’s got a tennis ball stuck in the toilet, I didn’t yell. It seemed like small stuff to me. Likewise, when the TV blew up… eh, hell, I kind of expected it. I did, however, mope for a few days when the the new television required a rearrangement of the living room furniture. Hey, at this point, there are very few things in life that I can count on to remain constant: the position of the couch was one of them. I figure if I’m going to have a middle-age meltdown wherein I try to wrap my head around the fact that I cannot be a rock star, probably won’t marry Steve Perry or Rick Springfield – for all I know one or both of them might be dead – I haven’t set the world on fire – shit, I haven’t t even made it smoke a little – AND I might have to take care of parents and two kids, who don’t like me as much as they did when they were two – and this is my life because it’s too late for do overs – I wanted to do this in my usual sittin’ spot by the window.
Ah, but I can’t. That’s that. I’ll adjust…
And as long no one moves the refrigerator or shuffles the beer around, I think I’ll be fine.