Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Love is Blind...Marriage is an Eye Opener!

Today is a very special day for me. Jerry and I are celebrating eight years of marriage today! Between marriage and motherhood, I have no idea where the time goes. I guess it’s true that life is what happens while you’re busy making plans. Like I keep planning to clean my house. Someday, I’m going to get off my butt and do it. Yes. I see the logic now. It IS true.

I would love to be able to say that I remember my wedding as though it was yesterday, but that wouldn’t be entirely true. It took me 32 years to catch a husband, so by the time it came down to the actual day, I was tired! Wedding planning will take a lot out of a bride, not to mention working overtime to help pay for everything. I do remember that the day started very early, replete with all of the mishaps and disasters that can only happen on the day one is married. However, it was an absolutely glorious South Florida day. The sky was a gorgeous blue, and it was blessedly cool outside (under 90 degrees.) I had dieted down to look svelte in my wedding dress, and had also stuffed myself into the most unforgiving corset ever created, so all things considered, I looked pretty good. At least I think I did. My maid of honor finally caught on after I had taken my 6th Xanax on a very empty but tight stomach, so much of it is a blur.

In spite of the ministrations of my amazing bridesmaids and all of the medication, my nerves were still buzzing like an angry hornet. Jerry, his groomsmen, and our priest were in the sacristy while my bridesmaids and I were in the choir room in the back. Fr. Ralph Evan, our priest, mentioned to Jerry that he wanted to give things a few more minutes, but he was going to check in on me and the girls. Jerry tried to stop him. “Fr. Ralph, you are a brave man. Or a stupid one.” Undeterred, Fr. Ralph came to check in on us.

It was sheer bad timing because one of my flower girls kept pulling the flowers out of her miniature bouquet. Since we aren’t allowed to drop petals in our church, she carried a small-scale replica of my bouquet that actually cost more than my big bouquet. I had asked her several times not to pull the flowers out of it until after we got through the pictures, at which point she could eat it, for all I cared. Still, at the precise moment that Fr. Ralph entered the room, she plucked out the largest flower from the middle of the arrangement and threw it in the floor. And I chose that moment to utter the WORST profanity you can say in the house of The Lord. For our purposes here, I’ll say ‘gosh darn’, and leave it at that. Eight years later, I can still feel the weight of Fr. Ralph’s stare, and I can still remember my bridal party backing away from me to get out of the way of the thunderbolt we all knew was coming. Fr. Evans returned to my groom to be and said, “Jerry, YOU are a brave man. Or a stupid one.”

Things finally got underway. My dad looked so handsome and proud in his tuxedo. Of course he was late to the wedding rehearsal, so he had not practiced walking me down the aisle. He chose the big moment to decide that we should do some triumphant bridal march. I suppose it was triumphant for him in that he was palming me off on Jerry at long last. Coupled with my nerves and the 6 Xanax, we bumped and lurched along like a couple of drunks until I stopped up short and hissed, just WALK Daddy. Apparently, I hiss louder than an angry copperhead, because I heard a ripple of laughter follow me to the altar.

After Jerry and I took communion, we were instructed to sit on two throne-like chairs while the rest of the congregation took communion. I saw a short cut to my throne, and by that time, the Xanax was really working it’s magic, so I turned and went to my throne. Unbeknownst to me, my very long train caught on one of the tall candelabras positioned at the altar. I though the collective gasp was meant for how beautiful my dress looked, but it turns out I nearly knocked the candles over. Fortunately, Jerry and Eileen, my maid of honor, were able to prevent yet another calamity. Once we were finally married, our guests headed to the reception for cocktails while the bridal party and family finished pictures. When our limousine driver showed up, he was very nasty, and Rocky Balboa, er, Daddy had to be physically restrained from beating him up. It was a very exciting morning!

Our reception was divine. Of course, I was being held into my dress with that vulcanized rubber torture device so I couldn’t eat very much food. But wine and champagne went down easily, hence the reason that I don’t quite remember everything that transpired. But I do remember finally leaving and having the chance to be alone with my husband in our hotel suite on the beach. And I must have held up pretty well during the day because Jerry was ready to get that dress off of me and get the honeymoon started. Sadly, there was the corset to contend with.

Have you ever opened a roll of biscuits or crescent rolls? You know how you apply pressure and then the whole things pops open “PWUPHTH” and everything spills out? It was like that when I took the corset off. Sort of an explosion. Jerry looked taken aback but I reminded him that it was legal now…no turning back! I sat down on the bed to get out of the crinolines and stockings, and that was it. I was so lit, I was out like a light.

I awoke several hours later with intense hunger pains. Jerry was sleeping, but I woke him up, saying FEED THE CAT! He told me to order room service and went back to sleep. I went all out with a bacon cheeseburger, French fries, a chocolate milkshake and diet coke, naturally. Let’s just say it didn’t sit too well after strenuous dieting and heavy medication, so we spent part of our wedding night at Walgreen’s, buying various stomach remedies.

I look back on all of this and laugh. Sometimes I laugh because I can’t believe that I lived through it. Other times, I laugh because I can’t believe Jerry actually went through with it. I was online looking up anniversary gifts by year, just to see what eight years will get you. I think Jerry is hoping for time off with good behavior. Anyway, the traditional gift is bronze. Nah. The modern gift is appliances. No way will Jerry buy me another appliance. I insisted on a Kitchen Aid mixer one year for Christmas, and Jerry got me one. Little did he know that I wanted it as an art form for my counter. No way was I really going to use it. I would ask for platinum and jewels, but knowing Jerry, he’d bring me L’oreal #120 Platinum Crystal (because I’m worth it!) Sure, blondes may have more fun, but I’m not complaining. I’ve had a great time.

So thinking back on all of this, I am also looking forward to our future, for whatever it holds, and for however long we have. I enjoy the idea of growing old together, and all the funny things that will happen to us along the way. And while I know that Jerry doesn’t always appreciate my lowbrow humor, and I can’t always understand his arch witticisms, we’re in it for the long haul. Til death us do part, and maybe not even then!

As I've said before, we’ve almost got each other trained!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Everything I Need to Know, My Child is Learning in Kindergarten

“The behavior of some children suggests that their parents embarked on the sea of matrimony without a paddle” Earl Warren

It’s great being the mother of a child in school. Aside from the free time that I now have during the day, Jerry and I now really take an active role in Jenda’s education. We do homework together and are teaching her how to read and how to spell, and of course correct word pronunciation. To a large degree we have been successful. She no longer pronounces drink as ‘drank’ and we have eradicated ‘liberry’ from her vocabulary, so I feel like our teaching is paying off. Of course, she has taught us a great deal as well, in fact, we learn something new every day.

After the whole ‘I lost a stick for bad behavior’ trauma, we learned that there are far more horrible things in the life of a kindergartner than losing a stick. Jenda hasn’t lost any more sticks, but she has shared with us what can happen to the kids in school if they really get out of line, literally and figuratively. She told us about one little boy who is just really strange.

There is one in every class. I remember in kindergarten, there was a child in my class, who I am going to call Jackwayne. He was like some perverse Shakespearean prince, in that his name (which I have disguised) was all one name, like Macbeth. At any rate, he was just repugnant. He used to eat crayons, and he also liked to scoop the Elmer’s glue paste out of the big plastic jar and eat it off his fingers. But the worst was the fact that he would pee and poo in his pants and then spend the rest of the day stinking so bad he could knock the buzzards off a shitpile from 50 paces. He said it didn’t bother him, but here I am, 35 years later, so scarred and traumatized that I still have to sit near windows, even on airplanes.

Back to Jenda and her trials and tribulations. She came home recently to announce that one child in her class was very bad. He lost ALL of his sticks and was still being bad, so he was sent to the Hall Adjusters. Being that she is only five, and sometimes has difficulty with big words, I thought she said Hall of Jesters. To me, that sounds like a happy place where teachers send the class clowns. If they’d had one of those at my school, I might have been a better student. Then she said, “No, Mommy. Hall of Justice!” That sounded rather scary to me, but I was hopeful that the ‘kiddie Supreme Court’ had enough women and liberals to keep Jenda from getting too many demerits. Then, finally, she yelled “HALL ADJUSTERS!”

Hall adjusters? What the…?! Who and what are they adjusting?

According to Jenda, ‘Hall Adjusters’ is a room with a toilet in it and apparently not much else. So I had to ask, what do they do in there, slap the poo out of the kids?

“I don’t know, Mommy. I’m not sure.”

In Jackwayne’s case, it would have been too easy. In Jenda’s case, I never want to find out.

When I was a child, there was corporal punishment in schools, and then again once you got home, after which you were sent to your room. With today’s children, being sent to your room is hardly a punishment since many kids today have better electronics in their rooms than I have in my whole house. Ostensibly, the bad seed is taken out of class and into a small room, much like solitary confinement without Nintendo, and made to sit on a toilet until their parents come to get them…. I’m just going on hearsay, but it sounds pretty crappy, pun intended.

‘Hall Adjusters’ doesn’t seem to be working out TOO well, since I hear every afternoon about this child hitting Jenda and beating up her and her friends. I was ready to go to the school and raise hell but as always, Jerry’s cooler head prevailed and he said he will go speak to her teacher about the matter. That’s great, but while he was out mowing the lawn, I took her out of swimming lessons and am enrolling her in Taekwondo. And I am going to teach her that if any kid messes with her, she needs to just zap that kid right in the buhdoobies. Trust me, that will be much more effective than any hall adjustment!

So everyday brings a lesson in behavior modification and penance. I’m still haunted by the memories of Jackwayne and Elmer’s Glue, but through memory modification by Kendall Jackson, I am doing better. My hope is that Jenda will continue to learn and grow and accept the fact that there are just some strange, ill-mannered people in this world and we just have to deal with that. I want to make sure that she is understanding of others, but I also want her to be able to look out for herself, because if I have to do it, they won’t need the Hall Adjusters. Some kid will need the Hall of Pediatric Reconstructive Surgery. I mean, it does take a village to raise a child. But in my village, we beat, uh, adjust each others’ kids.

With all of my early teaching, when she gets older and starts taking Advanced Literature, ‘Crime and Punishment’ will be an easy read. Why I bet she’ll just breeze right through Dostoyevsky.

Yeah, she’ll be a kick ass student!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Race to the Altar Has a Whole New Meaning!

Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it....
Song of Solomon

It’s really convenient sometimes to have a child. In the case of those people who have something like 19 or 20 kids, it’s obviously the free child labor they’re getting while still claiming a tax write off. In my case, I can blame not watching the news on my daughter. I am behind on current events, and I can easily blame it on the fact that we only watch Noggin and HGTV because of Jenda. The problem with this is that I do still read the news on the internet and days like yesterday, I wish I didn’t.

I actually got the first glimpse of the story on Facebook. One of my friends posted a link to a CNN story about Keith Bardwell, a justice of the peace in Louisiana who denied a marriage license to an interracial couple. I swear at first I thought it was a joke. Then I realized it was
true! And I had to contain myself.

Unfortunately, I have since escaped.

The story begins with a young couple who meet, fall in love, and decide to get married. Isn’t that romantic? Beth Humphrey and Terence McKay wanted to have a wedding and someday start a family. So Beth called Bardwell’s office to ask about getting a marriage license. She was then asked if they she was part of an interracial couple. When she answered, truthfully, yes, she was told that Mr. Bardwell’s office would not issue a marriage license and they would have to go elsewhere.

I was at a loss for words, but only temporarily. See, when I read the part about the bride-to-be being asked if she was part of an interracial couple, my jaw hit the floor, so I couldn’t speak. However, I can still type, so here we are. Since I am still speechless, can someone please yell, ‘Civil Rights Violation!’, oh, and also ‘Noneofyourfreakingbusiness!’

Mr. Bardwell was very quick to point out that he is NOT a racist (cough, sputter, puke!) He said that he will marry blacks, but only to each other. He went on to say that he was just thinking of their children. As far as I have been able to research, they don’t have any children. I can only assume that he means any children they might have. I am still trying to figure out the logic in that statement. Maybe they can’t have children. Maybe they just want to adopt a baby from, say, China. I bet this idiot isn’t asking any other prospective married couples, “Are you abusive? Are you a pedophile? Are you a flaming racist idiot like me?” No one stopped John and Kate from having a busload of kids that they exploit for television ratings, but this yahoo is worried that these two seemingly normal, moral people might want to have children, who, yes, will be bi-racial? What is he afraid of, that one of them might someday become president? No fear, it’s happened already and it seems to be working out pretty well.

By definition, a Justice of the Peace, (or in Bardwell’s case, a piece of shit), is appointed or elected to maintain the peace and deal with administrative issues that might arise in their jurisdiction. I have researched several definitions of this and none of them mention the ability to deny people their basic civil rights. Does he give any thought at all to all of the white trash he has married over the years who then go on to raise future generations of hood-wearing, cross-burning yehaws who have little to offer society other than hate crime, date rape and AIDS jokes?

Bardwell also pointed out that this has always been his practice and no one has ever complained. That’s sad. However, I would assume that if you are African American living in a small town and an appointed official does this kind of thing, you might be afraid to speak up. If I thought he and his cronies might seek their revenge, I would probably be scared, too. But that fear, in his case, has been deemed as acceptance that what he is doing is okay. Many elected officials have come forward demanding his resignation. Surely someone, somewhere, has the authority to remove this loser from his post. He needs to go. He went on to say that he has “piles and piles of black friends. They come to [his] home, they use [his] bathroom.” I think the reality of that statement is that any black people who get near him and have to listen to his racist bullshit are suddenly afflicted with bleeding piles and have to run to the nearest bathroom. That makes more sense to me. I know he makes ME sick to my stomach!

While there is really nothing funny about this situation, I am amused that he considers himself a good Christian. Someone should send him a new Bible and highlight ‘The Song of Solomon.’ It makes for some great reading, and in fact, Jerry and I had verses of it read at our wedding. In case you’re wondering, it is the story of an interracial couple. And the Bible is God’s word. He wrote it. I don’t have to do anything but read it and try to live by it. (Of course, that’s just my choice. I’m not trying to convert anyone here.) Choice being what it is, if you don’t support interracial relationships, by all means, don’t become involved in one. If you believe that it’s okay to violate the civil rights of others, by all means, leave the United States and move to some banana republic where you can be ruled over by some despotic, sanctimonious little piss-pot, like Mr. Bardwell, but let the rest of us live, get married, and have children in peace.

Kick Keith Bardwell out of office. He’ll be just fine. I imagine he’ll open his own bridal boutique, complete with robes and pointy hoods for the wedding party, and instead of a unity candle for the ceremony, maybe a large burning cross for the altar.

Sadly, it wouldn’t surprise me.

Good luck to you, Beth and Terence, and to your unborn children. Help them to be tolerant. Raise them to be well loved, loving and accepting of others. And God help us all.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Where the Wild Moms Are

I consider myself very blessed to have been raised in an atmosphere of acceptance and tolerance: religious tolerance, acceptance of different sexual orientations, and an open-mindedness of other races and cultures. These things were taught to me at home. I am pretty sure that I didn’t learn them in school. Of course, I can’t be entirely sure. Elementary school was a very long time ago, and mostly I remember recess and snack time. Since my darling Jenda has recently started kindergarten, I am reaching back into the deep cobwebs of childhood memories to share my learning with her. Of course, some lessons have to be learned on the job as a mother, and I won’t be able to make Jenda understand them until she is older. Nonetheless, she is the recipient of my constant attempts at training. Allow me to explain.

While I am a Christian, I accept the fact that there are some cultures and religions who believe that we have ‘Spirit Guides.’ In my religion, I guess they could be called angels. In other religions, people feel that they have animal guides. If I were part of any of these religions, I would probably be a sloth. Anyway, I have long heard tales about how some mothers in the wild devour their young. Okay, so Mary didn’t eat Jesus, although she probably took communion…wait, now I am confused. The fact is that while I love and adore my daughter, there are times when I feel like I could channel my inner wild animal and eat her up. Take, for example, the time I took her with me to Kohl’s department store. There we were in the fitting room and I was pretending to be a size 8. Okay, a 14. Anyway, Jenda said, loudly, “Mommy, we can’t buy ice cream anymore.”

Why on earth not?

“’Cause you got chunky butt!”

Then, from the other fitting rooms, I heard ‘giggle, giggle, giggle!’


Then, I channeled my inner lioness and imagined myself, all fur and fangs, eating my own child. CHOMP, SMACK, BURP!

Many times since then I have imagined my inner lioness. I have chosen the lioness because she is the huntress, and being the female, the keeper of the pride. For all you unguided spirits, a group of lions is called a pride. So anyway, I have decided that my inner animal spirit guide is a lioness. Can’t you just see it now? Two baby lion cubs prancing around in the veldt behind their mother, who, frankly, has had enough crap from the kids.

“Look. Mommy shouldn’t have killed that wildebeest. She has chunky butt!”

Without a sound, with no warning, CHOMP, SMACK, BURP!

No more stupid butt jokes! It’s very effective. I love my inner lioness! Yum!

Of course there are times when, as a mother (maybe as a father, I’m not sure), you have to reexamine your spiritual side. In my case, it happened innocently enough. It always does. At any rate, I was laying on the couch after a hard day of hunting, gathering, and growling at the rest of the herd, uh, pride. I needed a break, so I let Jerry and Jenda have free reign of the jungle that we call the living room. Since I am still on an HGTV moratorium, I let the other lions decide what to watch. Big mistake on my part, as they found some show on Animal Planet about the various creatures who inhabit the various continents and their lives and animal habits. In truth, I was ignoring it until they got to Africa and the pride of lions. It’s all fun and games until someone decides it’s time to eat.

The people at Animal Planet filmed a pride of lions doing their thing. Basically, in the pride, the male, Mr. Lion, sits on his lazy ass roaring every once in a while, while the females, the lionesses, hunt, gather, raise the kids, kind of like how it is with some human families. (Mine.) So a herd of elephants go thundering by, and the lionesses stop gossiping about their husbands long enough to realize that one of the elephants isn’t lumbering quite so fast as the rest of the herd. And that’s when they seized their opportunity.

As the lionesses were taking down this poor, hapless elephant, I mentioned to Jerry that maybe it wasn’t such a good idea for Jenda to see this. It actually wasn’t a good idea for ME to see it, as it was rather disturbing. And that’s when Jenda piped up, “It’s nature, Mommy. That elephant is old and slow, and the lions have to eat!”

Oh, Jeebus, old and slow! There’s my cue to leave!! I appreciate the fact that Jenda is okay with nature and the food chain and cross pollination and other nature grodiness, but I just can’t take it. In that instant, my inner lioness changed into a domesticated feline card carrying vegan.
“Hey, lioness….we’re taking down a wildebeest. Want to join us for some raw meat?”

No, thanks. I’m having the jungle salad bar with a side of tall grass. I need the fiber.

At that point, I left the room, ignoring the sounds of the TV, Jerry, and Jenda. After it was over, Jenda came into the office to fill me in on what I had missed. “Mommy, they were all eating, and then they went and sat on this big rock, and all the lions had on pink lipstick. Jerry was going to tell her it was elephant blood. I just told her yes it was lipstick and they were a gay pride. At any rate, I am happy that Jenda understands the circle of life and can deal with it in a mature way. But I still remind her that mothers in the wild don’t put up with any nonsense and won’t hesitate to eat their own offspring if they act ugly in Walmart.

Why do you think a group of crows is called a murder?