Sunday, October 28, 2012

#ROW80 POST 19 – MA DEAREST




What a pair; Ma looks drunk and I look stoned; yes, I'm wearing opera gloves... on the viola.

It has been some time since I’ve written just a pure rant-style post, and now that I’ve finished it, this isn’t it. So, the rest of this paragraph is pure bullshit. Except for the last 11 sentences. The primary reason, is that it is harder for me to just punch it right up into rant-gear. My typing speed has slowed somewhat and I no longer type at the speed of thought. That sucks. I also use the backspace key far more often and that is a huge fucking pain in the ass, because my fingers are getting stiffer. I make more typos because my brain is in scramble mode; an example of this: “stiffer” was originally “stigger.” Time to turn on auto-correct, I guess. I’ve never used, it. Handy-capable! Shit; Carlin was right. Or This, which I can’t add to auto-correct; imagine the chaos. Maybe I’ll do it anyway; I’m getting my hate on.

This past few months have been spell-bindingly (Binders full?) full of hate. It has run the gamut from A to Z and to imaginary letters, rather like math where you plot imaginary numbers; -i , -25, and so on. But, through our political discourse, we have discovered that in the 21st century, it is still open season on people who are “other.” Yes, you can just bully the living daylights out of anyone who is “different,” than you and get away with you. In most cases, no one knows, because the bully-ee, goes off and quietly wonders what their particular lack is and then, has a nervous breakdown. Some end up in mental institutions, some in therapy. Hopefully, these folks get the help they need.

What victims of bullying REALLY need is affirmation that the bully-er is a giant suckhole of mean, cruelty and bag of dicks, and the victims also need to know that they are NOT alone. There is someone who will hold their hand and talk to them and assure them, that yes, they are fine, decent people. They are people who enrich the souls around them and who really mean something to the people in their lives, even if those people are a half a world away.

People are bullied for all sorts of reasons. If you haven’t seen this video by the anchor woman Jennifer Livingston, you should. She handles a very cruel email from a viewer beautifully and answers some questions that have been raised regarding how cruel bullying is and what can be done. You can view it here.  

Bullying has been around for a long time. When I was a kid, I was fresh meat for bullies. I have red hair. I wore glasses and carried a violin case. Bully trifecta, right there. I wore my hair in braids. Every day, I came home from school, glasses scratched or busted, ribbons yanked out of my hair, bloody nose and bloody knuckles. I usually had skinned knees and was filthy from rolling around in the playground.

My father, ever the corny historian, must have been reading some medieval text on monarchies, or something. He said to me once, after some spectacular battle I’d had, “I dub thee, Red Knees Wallace,” an appellation I wore for years. One teacher, in exasperation, yanked one of the ribbons from my hair, when I punched a boy in the nose. She yelled in my face, “Your mother put this in your hair, so you’d act like a girl! Be one!” I was probably thinking, “Bullshit, this is camouflage.” I punched her in the nose.

I can’t remember her name; she was my 3rd grade teacher; she had one of those blond complicated braided bee-hive hairdos that looked so fake and it looked the same every day, so you knew it was fake. She wore tight, 2-piece suits, had long painted, red fingernails and lipstick to match. Me, and another kid drove her crazy. His name was Dale Binix. The only reason I remember this cat’s name is because my father thought “Binix” was the funniest thing he ever heard. Him thinking that was the funniest thing he ever heard, is the funniest thing I ever heard. The Wallaces are truly batshit insane.

Our stupid teacher had given us an assignment that must have been genuinely asinine, because he wrote his answers in Sanskrit or Elvish or something and I signed mine “Louise.” No first or last name. I guess I was running undercover that day. Up until then, I had forgotten the second part of my name. Not a middle name, per se. I’m MaryLouise. A couple of other kids in the class performed some kind of Civil Disobedience, but I forget what they did, in the hurly-burly of our transgressions, Binix and I. I think she put us in equivalent of the schoolyard square stocks and let the 4th-graders throw rocks at us. Yes, I went to school in the Middle Ages.

Anyway, Teach didn’t appreciate Sanskrit Boy and she didn’t like my undercover gig. I hated her, and pretty much let her know in any way possible. When I hit her, She backed off. She did not tell my parents, because, when I would go home after the school boxing matches, we all put on this dumb show: Ma would patch me up and say loudly, “Mary, I’ve told you a million times, not to fight. Oh, and also, not to exaggerate.” Then she’d whisper, “Did you start it?” I’d shake my head. “No, Ma.” It’s the one time I wouldn’t lie to her. “Good. Did you win?” “Yeah, Ma, I did.” She congratulated me. Shook my hand. Then, we went through the same routine with Daddy. My parents taught me that if provoked, you fought back, and you made them pay. If they came back for the refresher course, it was worse. 

So, maybe I’m well suited to be an advocate in the here and now for people who are bullied. It’s stunning to me that people bully. Part of me was a sad thing for a long time. The same person who taught me to fight if I was attacked verbally or physically, was herself verbally abused as a girl and in turn, heaped tons of scorn and capricious cruelties on me. She thought I needed protecting and tried to guide me in a way I did not want to go. I knew what I wanted, but it made for a very bitter household for a number of years. I understand that know and the fact that we were so very close when she died we can both count as a triumph. She never really understood me until the last years of her life and when she did, then she knew who I was and loved me for me; not as some construct, she had made in her head. The sad fact is, my father always knew who I was and love me for me. 

She sensed it and was jealous and thought I loved him better. I didn't. I just knew in my child-like way, that he understood me and she didn't.  I can truly look past all that and thank God I could when she was alive. She so deserved to be loved for herself. Gallant and brave, caring and passionate; she lost that jealousy and I saw person I always knew my mother to be. Mommy issues? No, not at all. She was just the best.


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