It Couldn’t be Helped Part 12

Now for the poop part of the story, Once Mother gets a notion in her head, she can not be side-tracked. Mother and I stopped in at the grocery store one morning. As we made our way back to my vehicle, I spotted a dignified elderly gentleman hurriedly making his way back to his own car parked adjacent to mine. He seemed to be in some distress, so I slowed my place to stay out of his way. As he sidled past me, I got a whiff and realized the reason for his scurrying. I slowed my pace and acted distracted to give him time to get to his car and save his dignity.

Meanwhile, Mother was right behind me. She didn’t notice his predicament, only that an oldster was getting ahead of her. She is vain about being spry for her age and was determined not to be left in his dust. She picked up her pace, catching up to him. Getting into my car as the wind changed, she got a foul whiff of feces. They were standing back to back, almost touching as she inspected her shoe and announced. “Something smells awful. There must have been a dog running loose doing his business. Better check your shoe. I don’t have anything on my shoe.” Just in case I hadn’t heard, she repeated, just like I was five years old. “You’d better check your shoe! Something smells awful! Don’t you smell it!” By this time, the poor man was sitting in his car with the window open.

“No, Mother. I don’t smell a thing. Get in. Let’s go.” By this time, the whole town had to know what the problem was.

It seemed like an eternity before we got away. “Mother, that man had messed up his clothes and was trying to slip into his car. Of course, I smelled him. Dead people smelled him. I was just trying to avoid embarrassing him. You were just about backing into him.”

She was horrified. “Oh, My Lord! Did I get anything on me? Oh well. It couldn’t be helped!”

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Crazy Charlsie Part 13

I started this serial months ago and finally got back to it.

It starts with Charley’s birth.  https://nutsrok.wordpress.com/2017/04/11/charleys-tale/

It continues with Charley’s coming of age.  https://nutsrok.wordpress.com/2017/06/03/crazy-charlsie/

 

Charley had never been invited to Marzell’s home or called her on the phone, so he went by to let her know he was going to spend the summer at the farm.  Stepfather Melvin met him at the door.  “What do you want?  You ain’t lost nothin’ here.”

“I just wanted to let Marzell know I’m going to my farm for the summer.”

“Oh, so you’re the morphodite that little tramp’s been running around with.  She ain’t having nothing else to do with you.  Get lost!” As the hateful man turned to slam the door, he shoved Marzell roughly to the floor.

Enraged, but mindless of his recent surgery, Charley tried to shove his way in to Marzell, Melvin burst out, pummeling him with his beefy fists.  A few well-placed blows reduced Charles to a crumpled heap on the porch.  “I’ll kill you if I ever see you close to her again, you freaky dyke!”  With a final kick to the ribs, Charles landed on the bottom step.

It took Charles several humiliating minutes to work his way to his feet as the pain in his left side held him in its twisted grip.  With one eye swollen shut and front teeth loose, his battered nose dripped blood down his shirt.  Charles’s first challenge to his manhood had left him suffering the second and most cruel emasculation of his young life.

As he struggled homeward, the sordid scene played over and over in his head. His surgical wound had eviscerated, leaking blood and serum.  He barely made it to his front porch before collapsing.  Thankfully, the dog’s barking alerted his father.

Grandma and the Wardrobe from Hell

Since we had such a big family, Grandma did her best to help out when she could. Sometimes I still hate her for it. Once she went to the Goodwill Store and bought me the ugliest coat in the world. I didn’t have a problem with Goodwill. It was ugly that bothered me. It was a knee-length brown hounds-tooth wool dress coat of the style not seen since movies from the 1940’s, trimmed with brown velvet cuffs and collar and huge brown buttons with big rhinestones in the middle. I had hoped for a parka with fake fur collar like the high-society girls in my class. I turned to Mother, hoping for salvation, but she stabbed me in the heart. Mother was ecstatic, probably because she’d wanted that very coat when she was little back in the 1930’s. She made me try it on then and there. Mother was even more thrilled. It had plenty of growing room!

Mother wasn’t faking her ecstasy. As soon as we were out of earshot, I started whining that I despised that ugly coat and wasn’t going to wear it. She shut me down before I got too far and told me it was a beautiful coat, and I was wearing it as long as it fit. Truer words were never spoken. I was stuck with it. I slipped out without it whenever possible, and if caught, I took it off as soon as I got out of sight of the house. I sat down and flipped it over the back of my desk and a kid pointed out a large rip in the lining. This coat humiliated me even when I wasn’t wearing it!! I tried to lose it, but Mother was ahead of me. I was stuck. I drug that abomination around for two years, until the cuffs were far above my wrists.

Finally, finally, it was time for a new coat. I was heartsick when Mother read us Grandma’s letter saying that she’d been back to Goodwill and gotten me a another “beautiful coat.” “I believe it’s prettier that the last one.” were her exact words. It would be hard to be uglier. I managed to put it out of my mind.

We loved getting boxes from Grandma. They were always full of wonderful things: animal shaped erasers, pencils with our names on them, wind-up toys, cars driven by cartoon characters, jumping beans, sticker books. She sewed well and always included something made especially for each of us. Grandma always packed the best at the bottom to build suspense. This box was no different. Mother unpacked it dramatically, examining each article fully before passing it around to be admired. I knew she had to be at the bottom when she held her breath and said, “Oh…this is just gorgeous!!!” When she finally pulled it out, it took my breath, too. Grandma had somehow managed to find the exact replica of the nightmare I had abhorred for two years, but if anything, it was worse, was green hound’s tooth, “with plenty of room to grow!” That was when I realized that even though Grandma looked and acted like a sweet little old lady, she was the devil incarnate.

imageThat wasn’t the worst of Grandma’s Goodwill gifts. When I was in the eighth grade and anxious to fit in, she hit the mother lode and stopped by Goodwill just after Shirley Temple cleaned out her closet. Grandma sent me several party dresses. Mother was overjoyed. They were exquisite and probably just what she had wanted twenty years earlier. Mother held up the worst of the worst, and reminded me, just in case I had gone into a coma and forgotten, I had a band concert coming up and had to have a new dress. I had been praying for a miracle, a box pleated wool skirt with a pullover sweater. Hope died. She held up a disaster in sheer lavender with a wide satin cummerbund. Mother made me try it on right then. It was so sheer, my ugly cotton slip, which Grandma had thoughtfully provided earlier, was perfectly showcased. (All the other girls had lacy nylon ones) It looked like a horrible joke. Better yet, its low cut back showcased off my pimply back perfectly. image However, as sheer as it was, a high back wouldn’t have hidden anything. It was a good three inches too long. Mother explained it was tea-length, just what I needed in a fancy dress, and cut me off when I suggested hemming it. It would ruin all that beautiful embroidery around the tail of the skirt. I was heartsick. “Mother, I can’t wear this. It’s embarrassing. Nobody wears stuff like this!”

Mother went straight for the big guns…guilt. “Well, I’d wear it if I could. I’ve never had anything this nice. I haven’t even had a new dress since…” She got teary-eyed, suffering the dual pain of an ungrateful brat of a daughter and not having a new dress since the forties. I knew when I was whipped and slunk off to ponder my upcoming humiliation.

I decided the best plan was to be sick. On Thursday before the concert on Friday, the band director shot me down. Anybody missing the concert without a doctor’s excuse would fail band that grading period. Fat chance of getting a doctor’s excuse. We only went to the doctor for resuscitation. I prayed for a miracle. I got a nightmare. I tried to getting out in another dress, but Mother caught me and sent me back to put the lavender nightmare on. “It was so beautiful.” As I turned for her inspection, my ugly cotton slip looked especially stunning under sheer lavender. Every pimple on my back pulsed with excitement at its chance to shine. Mother was enchanted.

“Oh, don’t worry about your slip. Those little bumps aren’t that bad. Let’s just put a band aid on this big one.” I realized she didn’t lack fashion sense. She was just insane.

Ignoring the fact that it was a hot May night, I considered wearing the UGLY coat over it. Instead, I grabbed a heavy pink sweater, need taking precedence over temperature. When I got to school, I rushed to the bathroom and tied a string around my waist, pulling the draggle-tailed skirt up and bunching it under the cummerbund. It might have looked a little better. My pink sweater hid the sheer bodice, ugly, old cotton slip, and my pimply back. I buttoned the sweater from neck to the waist, so it looked like I had bad taste in skirts as well confusion over what season it was. It was so bad, for a moment, I thought of trying to drown myself in the toilet, but it’s hard to get privacy in a school bathroom.

I convinced myself it was an improvement over that lavender humiliation. I sweltered through the concert in embarrassment and moderate anxiety, instead of total the social annihilation I had dreaded. As we filed out after the concert, I could feel the fabric bunched up under the cummerbund in back slipping free of the string, but I got to the bathroom before the entire skirt attained tea length. Only the back of the skirt trailed unevenly below my knees. All in all, the evening was a success. No one saw my ugly, old slip or pimply back. They only laughed as I walked off and I was used to people talking about me behind my back. Two out of three wasn’t that bad.

Grandma, I hope God forgave you for getting me that awful stuff. I’m still working on it.

Home Perms Run Amuk

Five kidsI have enjoyed blogging so much this past year and a half.  I have met so many friends and enjoyed incredible writing.  Following Bunkarydo’s example, I am reposting my first post. Pictured above:  upper left Linda Swain Bethea holding Connie Swain Miller’s hands, Billy Swain, Phyllis Swain Barrington holding Marilyn Swain Grisham.

To curly-haired people Mother might have seemed mild-mannered enough, but beneath her calm exterior she nursed a sadistic streak, committing home permanents with malice aforethought, ignoring her helpless daughters’ protests that “I like my hair this way.” and “nobody but old ladies have THAT kind of hair.” squashing arguments with a terrifying directive, “Don’t dispute my word.” “Disputing my word” assured swift and terrible punishment, followed by a furious lecture about how great we had it and ending tearfully with, “and I would have given anything to have a permanent wave like Margaret Lucille, but I had to wear my hair chopped off straight around.” Had I met Margaret Lucille, the author of my misery, I would have gladly pulled out every permanently-waved hair on her despicable head. I hated her than Mother.

Around July 4th every summer, Mother would casually start to dangle the threat that she had to give us a permanent before school started. We’d protest vainly against her response that “She wasn’t going to look at that long, stringy hair all year.” A procrastinator, Mother didn’t get to the evil deed right away. Just before Labor Day, when the humiliation of last year’s perm had grown out enough to be approaching normalcy, Mother would stretch her budget to include a home permanent for each of us. I would have been grateful for cyanide when she dragged out those hateful pink and white “Lilt” boxes. After a long night of dreading the inevitable, Mother got us up early to clean the house so she could start the long perming process. I dragged over to borrow the pink curlers from Miss Joyce, the next door neighbor, hoping to be hit by a truck. When I got back home, defeated, I surrendered to my frizzy fate. Mother seated me on a kitchen chair and cut my hair, using her time-honored secret for a perfect hairdo. She methodically divided my luscious locks (my description, not hers)into sections, started at the bottom, and held up about fifty hairs at a time, measured them against a mark she’d made on a rat-tail comb, and cut. My mood became increasingly glum as she measured and cut, measured and cut.

After an interminable period, I was ready for the next step. Mother opened the home permanent kit and mixed the deadly chemicals, assaulting the senses with the sulfurous scent of rotten eggs and a healthy touch of essence of pee. Dividing what remained of my hair into tiny sections, wetting it with putrid permanent solution, she wrapped it in papers, and wound it as tight as possible on the hard pink plastic curlers. If my eyes weren’t popping out enough, she’d rewind. Once this misery was accomplished, she sent me on to enjoy the rest of the day, anticipating the frizzy mess I could expect tomorrow, and got to work on my sister’s hair. I tried to stay out of sight to avoid being ridiculed by the neighbor kids.

After trouble and expense of inflicting a perm on us, Mother made us leave the hard plastic curlers in overnight, fearing an early release might let the curl “fall out.” My fine hair was no match for the perm solution, and I was never fortunate enough for my curl to “fall out.” I was glad to get the curlers out the next morning, but dreaded the reveal of the “fried, frizzy, old lady hairdo.” I was never disappointed. Mother took the perm curlers out and we all looked like Brillo Pads. When we complained about how horrible it looked, Mother assured us it would be fine after we rolled it. That just postponed the disaster. When the brush rollers and hair pens came out at the end of the day, it was always even worse than I remembered from the year before. I wanted to die. Mother always tried to cheer us up by saying, “The frizz will wear off in about a week.” When we weren’t cheered by that, she offered the cold comfort, “Well, it will always grow back. Now, dry up.I’ve heard enough!”  I still don’t think she’s heard nearly enough.  There should not be a statute of limitations on those who abuse helpless children with home-perms.

She worked herself into a self-righteous frenzy of pity when we refused to be grateful for the torture she’d inflicted on us just to ensure we’d be social outcasts for another year. We always went back to school with a frizzy mess, looking we’d escaped from an insane granny cult. The fact that my sisters shared my fate did nothing to cheer me. Who wants to look like that bunch of freaks?

Some Things Need To Change

The first, longest lasting, and most redundant misery my was frizzy, old lady perms.  Mother did this so my sister and I would be social outcasts.  Vastly overestimating our sexual attractiveness, from the time we went into puberty until we got old enough to fight her off, she maliciously inflicted home perms on us.

She bought our underwear at the Dollar Store or the cheapest thrift store or fire sale around, should Grandma lag in keeping us rigged out in home-made torture underwear.  Long after pointy bras were unavailable in normal circulation, Mother managed to ferret out pointy padded bras in the cheapest stores known to mankind, never mind the fact that the stiff cups caved in if they were bumped.  I’d have loved some not-too badly-worn cast-offs from the lucky, poor kids down the street, but they laughed when they caught me going through their trash. I tried to hide when changing in gym to keep anyone from seeing my Grandma’s home-made drawers.  They were made without benefit of elastic in the waist and tended to lengthen your legs by several inches as the day went on.  Grandma didn’t worry a lot about soft, cotton fabric.  Coarse, woven prints were good for the soul.
I was stuck in saddle-shoes for years because they were durable and Mother had loved them in high school.  Never-mind the fact that no other kid would have been caught dead in saddle shoes.  Best of all, I was a total slob, not the kind of kid who would ever voluntarily polish a shoe.  Most of the time, I didn’t even remember I had shoes till the school bus driver was honking the horn outside our door and I was simultaneously looking for my books, trying to get a note signed (bad news) and looking for lost shoes.  My shoes were inevitably, wet, filthy, and most likely stinking from ripping through the barnyard.  Not a good look for black and white shoes.  A more forward-thinking mother would have dressed me every day in a slicker and rain boots, so she could have hosed me off.

Though I tell these stories in jest, the following story still angers me.
I think my greatest  humiliation stems Bullyfrom the fact that Mother tortured me by hooking a ride for me with a boy I despised and was mutually despised by, not informing me until it was time for me to go.  The boy’s mother was a friend of my mother’s.  He was a bully, tormenting me daily.  I’d never confided this humiliation to my mother.  I was forbidden to register more than a minor protest, cancel my plans, or refuse to go since that would first, “embarrass her.”   Had I pressed further “disputing her word,” I would have committed the worst possible sin a kid could commit.  Ashamed to voice the humiliating truth, I was enraged and ashamed as I got into the car with the equally furious bully, riding unspeaking and miserably in the back seat as he rode in the front with his mother.  I asked her to let me out on the opposite parking lot, so we wouldn’t have to walk together.   My feelings for him have not changed all these years later, though I do believe I may share this story with him.  Perhaps he doesn’t know this is important to someone.

Facebook!!!! Wah Wah Wah!

discretion3-1024x765I hate the crybaby stuff people put on Facebook!  An acquaintance (not friend)put a post saying her husband wouldn’t by her beer anymore since she lost her nursing license!  I wonder why?  That’s mortifying.  Facebook should have a some of those buttons you have to push to prove you’re sober before you can post. Continue reading

Not a Small Matter!

Grandma young adult0007dentures by mail 1gum diseasefamily6Grandma was born in 1896. Very progressive, she employed higher standards of hygiene I do today, possibly because she’d barely survived typhoid in her mid-forties. Like me, washed her hands frequently as she cooked, but she scalded instead of merely rinsing her dishes, and boiled her whites, linens, and towels when doing her laundry with home-made lye soap in a huge cast-iron washpot outdoors until she got a washing machine. Continue reading

Boo Hoo to You, Too

Bah!

I wrote this in response to Trish’s post yesterday on Ten Years a Single on Mom about crying about a broken washing machine.  I’ve done worse.

Here’s the whole sorry story.  Daddy had died after sudden illness days before.  I was a mess, but making a great effort to keep my emotions in check, knowing my mother was in Continue reading

Instrument of Torture

I grew up way back in the 1950s and 1960s before the days of “Time Outs.”  I think I would have loved time out.  My parents had five wild kids.  They were partial to the time-   honored switch and belt system.  If Mother wasn’t too serious about the point she was making, she was fairly likely to pull the plastic fly swat off the nail by the stove and give us Continue reading