Swimming To The Surface

2102_47438731251_2845_nI told you I’d be gone and then back. The “back” part has given me a little trouble. I just spent a long weekend with my honey. I don’t remember the last time we went out of town just the two of us. And this trip was to a magical place with no cellphone reception or internet. It was incredible. And I mean that in the true sense of the word. I actually didn’t believe we were there. It was so amazing, I only complained about bugs like ten times.

We did quite a bit of fishing. By that I mean we sacrificed many yummy worms to tiny baby fish. We only hauled up about three, only one of which was worth heating up the grease for. It was a 22 inch catfish. Yes, I know. I’m supposed to tell you its weight, not its length. We didn’t have anything to weigh it it and I am notoriously bad at estimating anything that requires a number value. “Oh, it’s about a hundred yards from here.” That means nothing to me. A yard, a mile, a hectare? All the same. Oh, and don’t get me started on stones. One stone equals fourteen pounds? You know what else equals fourteen pounds? Fourteen pounds.

But that’s not the point. The point is that I’ve been in a self-imposed news exile for several months. Lookit, I know. I KNOW. You don’t need to give me all the crap about caring what goes on in the world and how we’re all connected and being a clueless American. Suck it. I’ve got enough drama here in the Greater Metropolitan Standard Shed Area. I don’t need yours too. So I’m just going to get it out all in one fell swoop.

Let’s begin, shall we? In no particular order…

  1. SCOTUS knocks down a key piece of Voting Rights Act saying that because it’s worked, we no longer need it. Okay, I see where they’re going with this. Following this logic, The Supremes will ban birth control by ruling, “Hey, you didn’t get knocked up last year, did you? No. It worked. You don’t need it anymore. NEXT!”
  2. Paula Deen’s sons say she’s not a racist! She let us watch Hank Aaron! Y’all, stick some butter in your pie holes and be quiet. But even more? Gentle readers, stop assuming that because she’s a Southern woman of a certain age she doesn’t know any better or doesn’t mean anything by it.
  3. In Texas, according to State Representative Jodie Laubenberg, if you’re raped and report it, you get a complimentary abortion! Apparently, “in the emergency room they have what’s called rape kits, where a woman can get cleaned out.”  To quote my extremely profound husband, “Wow.”
  4. Twenty-three Seven years ago, I was denied admission to Bennington College. Why they chose not to accept my application is beyond me. Who WOULDN’T want me at their school? Who could possibly deny themselves the pleasure of my company? I shall now sue. Some kid gets denied admission to University of Texas and, I can only imagine, is then hounded by some lawyer wanting to make a (literal) federal case that she was denied admission because she was white. So, all I want to say about this is that she WAS admitted to Texas, just not the Austin campus. She then chose to go to LSU. I don’t know the ins and outs of all this, but I do know this: If she’d really wanted to end up on that Austin campus, she could have worked at it. Pull yourself up by your bootstraps and whatnot.
  5. This really isn’t bad news, but I thought I’d include it anyway. Rick Santorum is going to head a “faith-based” movie studio in Dallas. First, moving away from politics is an excellent decision. But. I’m always skeptical of companies who make a big deal that they’re “faith-based” or “Christian”. To me if you’re walking the walk, you don’t need to advertise your talk. I find it in poor taste to use faith and religion in marketing. And by “in poor taste” I mean “desperate”.

As I Was Saying…

tweet yallYeah, so didn’t make it back quite in the time frame I imagined. I’m just not going to get into why because it’s really just not that interesting. I mean, I know I’m not generally interesting anyway, but this is like hearing someone else’s dream not interesting. It’s like listening to someone describe a dress not interesting. Have you ever noticed that when someone describes what she’s going to wear, it never looks like you think it will? There’s a lot of that going on in my world.

And yet here I am. IT’S ALL FOR YOU, INTERWEBZ!

I just want to say that I hate spring. I mean, I hate summer more. Especially August. But summer is at least honest. You know you’re going to be miserable in summer. You know you’ll spend three months peeling your thighs off hot car seats. You know you’re going to shower three times a day because walking out to get the mail makes you sweat through your caftan. And your mailbox isn’t even at the road. You know there are bugs as big as toddlers that are just waiting patiently to suck the life out of you by biting your ankles…just like toddlers with wings, in fact.

No, I hate spring because it’s too damned optimistic. Spring is all about promise, but it’s like the promise of that pub with the sign “Free Beer Tomorrow”. And now we’re into June and it’s going to be 95° this week with 876% humidity. You know what that means? There’s nowhere for the sweat to go. So you spend a little time outside and you turn into a Syracuse salt potato but without the creamy interior. Spring is crafty like a ninja. One day you’re sweating your bippy off and the next day you’re digging for wool socks. One day everything’s all green and fluffy and the next day it’s like Colonel Kilgore decided he wanted to smell victory so everything’s charred.

Also in Memphis, as in much of this part of the world, the hotter it gets, the more we all start sounding like Blanche DuBois. The heat turns our brains syrupy and ridiculous memories start oozing out our ears so then we’re like Blanche DuBois at the end of the play. And we start using the term “branch water” too much.

I’m going to be writing more regularly this summer, although I’ll just tell you up front I’ve got some obligations that might make that more difficult in the immediate future. BUT DO NOT CRY, GENTLE READER. For just like bangs and STDs, you’re pretty much stuck with me from here on out.

I Know You’re There Because I Can Hear Your Little Brother Crying

School’s out for most kids. I know this because of the increase in posts about drinking from my Facebook friends who are mothers of school-aged children. I generally liked summer as a kid. My birthday’s in summer, I could sleep late, go to the beach. But come the end of July, my anxious brain would click into school mode and I would spend weeks obsessing over every detail of school life from where to sit in the cafeteria to being asked to explain covalent bonds in chemistry to whether or not jelly shoes were still the thing.

I don’t know if I was a popular kid or not. My schools were always so small that I never thought in terms of popularity because we all knew each other. Well, pretty much. My best friend senior year began dating this guy she seemed to have known since first grade, but I’d never seen until then. I was certainly aware there were The Kids For Whom Everything Was Easy and there was me. It’s just how you think until you’re, oh, 32. How WONDERFUL your life would be if you could turn perfect cartwheels like Judy, had the perfect amount of freckles like Monica, were still shopping in the children’s department in high school like Dana, and dated the cutest guy in the class like Molly. It’s not until you’re an adult you realize Judy threw up four times a day to stay small enough to be on the top of the pyramid, Monica spent five nights a week covered in lemon juice to fade her freckles, Dana was 40 before she got undressed with the lights on, and Molly spent most of junior year with a raging case of clap her asshole boyfriend gave her. Yes, there were some genuinely well-adjusted kids who were really smart, funny, cute, and had no anxiety about PE, but they are not the adults you want to hang out with now.

I have always been The Sarcastic One. At some point I became The Funny One, but I don’t think that happened until after high school. Actually, I can pinpoint when that happened. I became good friends with a girl I was not friends with in high school. The story she told about me was that I’d given her a ride home with another friend. She thanked me for the ride and I apparently said something like it wasn’t out of my way or somehow led her to believe if it had been a hardship on me to take her home, I wouldn’t have. She then thought I was a raving bitch until a few years later when we bonded over a case of Miller. That was when I realized the inflections I used in my head were not always articulated so clearly once I opened my mouth. Funny is a great way to mask sarcasm brought on by severe social anxiety. So I kept it.

There is an episode of 30 Rock in which Liz goes to her high school reunion thinking she was the one who was always picked on, but it turns out she was the total bitch. I have this fear. It’s not like I couldn’t have my moments. Sometime in junior high–this was when call waiting and three-way calling were becoming popular–I got a call from a guy friend. I believe he was “dating” (I use quotes because in 7th or 8th grade, what exactly does it mean to date?) a friend of mine. She and I were approaching critical mass. That is to say, she’d developed giant boobs. The only thing I’d developed was a unibrow, so clearly we weren’t going to be close much longer. He called and started asking all these questions about her. What did I think of her, really? What drove me crazy about her? After avoiding the questions as best I could, I heard the unmistakable sound of a small child wailing about something in the background. There were no small children in the guy’s house, but wait! My friend did have a significantly younger brother. The old Three Way Trap sprung by enterprising young sociopaths who are able to get boys to do their bidding. I mean, I was like 13 and saw through that one. So I did what anyone would do. I said, “You know, it’s so much easier to think of things we don’t like about people than things we do. I don’t really know how much longer we can be friends. She’s, well, you know how it is.” Obviously he didn’t. I was ready to throw something out about not being the kind of girl other girls like–totally untrue, by the way, but was fortunately saved from my own black heart when she finally spoke up with something about how she was glad she knew exactly how I felt about her. She smartly moved on from being friends with me, and I never said anything about making sure your little brother isn’t screaming about losing a G. I. Joe when trying to trap a friend into saying something nasty about you.

My takeaway from high school was one thing and one thing only: Boys are assholes. Proof? My brother had been tutored briefly by the very intelligent son of a friend of my mother’s. We’ll call him Mark. He was a couple years older than me and also very easy on the eyes. Within a couple of weeks of starting as a freshman in high school I got a call from a friend of the guy’s. We’ll call him Dick–for several reasons. Dick called to tell me he knew I was totally hot for Mark. I was not. Not that I would have admitted it if I was, understand. Mark was really cute and seemed like he’d one day make an awesome accountant, and Rules very clearly state you NEVER date the child of a parent’s friend. Never. Nothing good can come from that in high school. One little false positive pregnancy test and it’s Awkward City at the country club, right? Anyway, Dick was certain that I rilly, rilly super liked Mark. Yes, I said. I like him fine. He’s a nice guy. Is there a point? Well, as a matter of fact, Dick says, there is. “He likes you.”

Okay, first? Do 16-year-old guys really do stuff like that? That seemed a little weird to me even then. Second? Really? Couldn’t your after-school time have been better used by trolling your dad’s closet for porn? I thought that’s what guys did after school if there wasn’t soccer practice. I said, “Mark does not know me. He doesn’t. How does he know if he likes me and WHY would he have said anything to you? YOU don’t know me. I don’t know YOU.” I have to say Adult Me still high-fives Teenage Me for that one. The experience of my sociopath friend on the phone also alerted me to the fact that Mark was very likely either on the phone or in the room. Because I was not a total bitch, I also did not say anything like EWWWW! Like him? He smells like cheese! 

Unfortunately, it set a precedent in my world that boys were only to be admired silently from afar. Except for that one friend you tell everything to and who would never betray you even if you didn’t still have the pictures from that time in Panama City. You know the time I mean. It didn’t matter that your entire interest in a guy was the fact that he could rock a pair of 501s and was smart enough to tutor algebra, say nussing. NUSSING! For you and your unibrow will be humiliated and you will assume everyone in school knows about it. Which in this case was probably true. Although I’m sure the story he told probably sounded more like the plotline from Heathers and I was Martha Dumptruck. Because I’m a highly evolved individual with an amazing amount of therapy behind me, I hope that Dick is no longer, you know, a dick. The great thing about growing up is you don’t have to be the person you were in high school. THANK. GOD.

My stepchildren are 21 and 17 and the advice I’ve given to them is simple: Anyone who tells you these are the best years of your life is full of shit. Your high school and college years serve only as an object lesson in how not to be a raving asshat as an adult and how to hold your liquor.  It is inconceivable for a teenager to understand that as an adult NO ONE CARES what you made on your ACT or if you only got into your safety school. It is nigh impossible to believe as a 16-year-old drama nerd that, yes, there is actually a guy or two who thinks you’re the bees knees. Does it suck you don’t find this out until you’re 45 and married up to your eyeballs? Yes. Yes, it does. But face it, he’s probably a really nice, funny guy and you had your eye on Dumbass. You know, the one who called you the wrong name most of the time and never had money for gas or the movie he invited you to? When you got to college you had your eye on Sensitive Ponytail Man who wept for baby seals and also had his eye on Dumbass. So at least you had that in common.

I know I started out talking about summer and ended up with a bummer.  See what I did there? I just really hate summer. Also, I figure I wasn’t the only one who dreaded summer just because it meant school would start all over again in a couple of months.