Thursday, May 21, 2015

A Little Bit Country, A Little Bit Crazy

Recently, I had an appointment in a quaint little town called Edgefield, in South Carolina.  The only way to get there from my house was through a series of two-lane county back roads, which made for a scenic drive, despite being a bit longer than I had hoped since I had to spend half my time dodging tractors and riding behind pickup trucks with no license plates going fifteen miles an hour.  However, it was a pretty day, and I was in no real hurry, so I cranked up Missy Elliott and rolled to SC.  I was feeling pretty zen, and all was well.

Until I got lost.

This is the part where I need to make something clear-- I am GREAT with maps.  I grew up watching my Dad map out a careful course for every drive we ever took, and when I turned sixteen and got my first car, Daddy gave me my own, beautiful, brand-new Rand McNally so I would NEVER BE LOST.  And you know what?  I never was.  Until GPS came along.  I can't use a GPS to save my life.  It's always on my phone, and I've been through numerous phones since they started having GPS on them and I've never found one I was remotely able to use.  I just can't follow the directions.  Or I accidentally zoom in somewhere on the screen that is completely unrelated to where I'm going and I can't figure out how to zoom back out.  Or a call or text comes in and I lose the whole thing completely while I'm driving and freak out.  I've been known to pull over and call B and curse him up one side and down the other for texting me when I'm trying to drive somewhere while using my GPS.  And I don't want it to talk to me because I'M NOT AN AUDITORY LEARNER and I get all anxious and stressed and distracted by the robot voice.  It sucks, but that's how it is.  I'M TECHNOLOGICALLY STUNTED, PEOPLE.  I'VE DISCUSSED THIS WITH YOU BEFORE.  Gmail baffles me (I lose conversations ALL THE TIME because of how it groups them), I have no idea how to photo edit anything, and I only recently learned what the hell a hashtag was, at which point I promptly invented two of my own, used them three or four times, got bored, and forgot about them.  What can I say?  I was born in the wrong century.  I blame God.  But, anyway.

Pulling into a parking spot in the lovely little town square, I looked at my GPS (why, oh, why did I bother?), realized I had no idea what the hell it was trying to tell me, and called the vet's office where I had the appointment.  I was already a couple of minutes late, but everything moves slower in the South, so I figured it was fine (even though I despise lateness and usually pride myself on being, if anything, early).  A very, very sweet young lady answered the phone, and reassured me that I was close by.  The following is our conversation, nearly word for word.

ME:  Hi!  This is Haley McPhail, I was supposed to drop my dog off at 8:30, but look, I've gotten a little lost.....

VETERINARY ASSISTANT (to be referred to, from here on out, as VA):  Oh!  No problem.  Where are you at now?

ME:  I think I'm in the town square or something?  It's a giant roundabout with a garden in the middle.  Really pretty.

VA:  Okay.  You are SO CLOSE.  This is what you need to do.  What are you looking at RIGHT NOW?

ME:  (looking up)  A brick building that says "Whiskey" on the front.

VA:  OKAY.  Now, you need to go around and look for the turkey wearing overalls.  Make sure it's not the turkey with the moustache, but the one in overalls.  If you turn at the turkey with the moustache you're gonna go the wrong way.  Then you're going to look for the ice cream sign and turn by some men at some black tables.  You'll go on down the road a ways and you'll know you're going the right way when you pass the church don't nobody go to no more.  Then you'll see a yellow house and we're right past there!  We'll see you soon!

CLICK.  (She hangs up.)


As I mentioned earlier, I was feeling fairly zen that day, which was a good thing since THOSE WERE THE CRAZIEST DAMN DIRECTIONS I HAD EVER HEARD IN MY LIFE.  I wasn't all that concerned about the turkeys because I figured if I saw a turkey in overalls or a moustache, surely I would notice it.  SURELY.  But the church?  How was I supposed to know what church "don't nobody go to no more"?  Was this ice cream sign a billboard?  THERE ARE LOTS OF YELLOW HOUSES IN THE WORLD.  Holy hell.  But I didn't have any other options since I'm GPS handicapped, so I got back into my car and started following directions.

1.  My start point.  At the time, I was parked right in front of the white columns, so I had not gotten far enough down the street to see the turkey in overalls that  is in the right corner of the photo.  Yes.  THE TURKEY IN OVERALLS.

2.  THIS turkey in overalls.

Not to be confused with the turkey with the moustache that was on the OPPOSITE street corner.

3.  Also opposite the ice cream sign, although when I took the photos, the men were no longer at the black tables.  By the way, you can see ANOTHER turkey back there.  This one is called "the barbecue turkey."  I know this, because I went inside and asked.

4.  Then you have the "church don't nobody go to no more" or, as we non-Edgefield folks call it, Edgefield Presbyterian Church.  I only figured out that this was the abandoned church because I found a man walking down the sidewalk, rolled down my window, pointed to it and asked.  I do not know why no one goes there anymore (I did NOT ask THAT).  I suspect it could be because in the South, we are Baptists, damn it, and we all know everybody who is NOT a Baptist is going to burn in hell, so we might as well run all those sinning Presbyterians out of town.  I mean, GOD ONLY KNOWS WHAT THOSE PRESBYTERIANS ARE UP TO.

5.  Then there was the yellow house, that really had more white than yellow on it and was mostly obscured by trees.  I actually went back AFTER I found the vet, looking for the yellow house.

Needless to say, I found the vet.  Eventually.  And they were super nice about me being late, and all was well.  And it was a nice reminder of where I came from, as directions in my hometown (and most country towns, I suspect) were given similarly when I was young (although it was more along the lines of "turn at the red light by the Bi-Lo" rather than "turn by the turkey in the overalls").  In Suffolk, or Richmond, or RDU, people don't give directions that way.  They use street names (like freakin' normal people), which is how I give directions now too, after being out of "the south" for the past sixteen years.  But now things are different.  Maybe some deep South will rub off on me.  Let's hope so, or I may never be able to get where I'm trying so hard to go.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Sea Creatures. And Vaginas.

B and I have always tried to impress upon our kids that YOU SHOULD NOT BELIEVE EVERYTHING YOU HEAR, SEE, READ, ETC.  We feel that, as parents, it is our duty to make sure that our children question the validity of pretty much everything, especially in this day and age when you see crazy-ass shit on television and the Internet every day.  So we tell them IF SOMEONE TELLS YOU SOMETHING, OR YOU READ SOMETHING THAT HAS BEEN WRITTEN, THAT DOES NOT MAKE IT A FACT.  FIND A REPUTABLE SOURCE AND LOOK THAT SHIT UP SO YOU DON'T REPEAT IT AND LOOK LIKE AN IDIOT (Mom, are you reading this?  Are you retaining it?  For the sake of all your Facebook friends, I sure as hell hope so.)

Back to the kids.

To impress this nugget of knowledge upon our children, I find it necessary to tell them things occasionally that are SHAMELESS, OUTRIGHT LIES just to see if they will believe me.  I don't ENJOY lying to my kids, but I do it for their own good.  (Yeah, right.  Who are we kidding?  It's strictly for my own entertainment and will likely lead to them eventually never believing a word I say AND needing extensive therapy, but at this point in their childhood I feel like they OWE ME A LITTLE FUN.  So this is how their asses are paying up.)  At nearly 12, Belly has caught on to the game.  Unless something sounds totally feasible, she seems to usually have a pretty good idea when I'm fucking with her.  Poor Sutt however, being a 9-year-old boy, and a very gullible one at that, has no idea.  Which is why the following story is so damn funny.

A couple of weeks ago, I made a Low Country Boil for dinner.  You take shrimp, mussels, corn on the cob, and smoked sausage (you are also supposed to add baby potatoes, but none of us really eat potatoes, so I left them out), put it all in a big pot, and boil it with Old Bay seasoning.  Then you drain the water, spread newspapers on the table, and dump the pot out onto the newspapers.  Everybody eats with their hands and dips everything in melted butter and cocktail sauce and has a big time.  The kids love it.  They have also eaten it a few times, and were enthusiastically chowing down when Sutt suddenly asked, "What ARE mussels anyway?"  while holding the little black mussel shell up for inspection.

Without missing a beat, I answered "Shrimp vaginas."

Everybody froze.  Belly looked at me like I had lost my mind.

Sutt said, "WHAT?"

B and I made carefully stealthy, parental eye-contact.  This was gonna be good, and it was on.

I said, "Shrimp vaginas.  It's like this."  I held up a big shrimp by the tail and held the mussel beneath it (mind you that the mussel was still approximately a third the size of the shrimp), with the hinge pressed against the shrimp's legs.  "Shrimp are all girls, you see.  And they have giant black vaginas.  They swim around the ocean floor with their vaginas opening and closing like this" -- I made the mussel shell open and close--"releasing little baby shrimps until they are old.  That's when their vaginas fall off onto the ocean floor where the vaginas start to be called mussels. People catch the old shrimp with no vaginas in nets so we can eat them and then use other nets to collect the mussels to eat as well."

Blaker opened and closed a mussel shell, making a soft, wet, "pop pop" sound that allowed one to totally envision shrimps languidly floating through the sea, gently releasing streams of baby shrimps through the repeated opening of their hard, giant, black vaginas.

Belly buried her head in her hands.  Though she WILL participate in this game when we are messing with Sutt, she also doesn't necessary support it, as she realizes that she, too, is occasionally on the receiving end.  I could see her frustration building.

Sutt sat there, mulling all this over.  Then he asked, "What's a vagina?"

Belly snapped.  She was clearly not only aware that Mommy was making shit up, but also completely disgusted with her younger brother's lack of anatomical knowledge for his age. "It's GIRL PARTS, SUTT.  LIKE YOUR YODA, but GIRL parts not BOY parts.  AND YOU'RE EATING THEM.  You should KNOW what a VAGINA is, SUTT.  YOU'RE NINE!"

He went pale, those already-giant blue eyes went as round as saucers, and I saw him involuntary start to heave.  IT WAS EPIC.

Unfortunately, it was SO epic, that finally, after a solid ten minutes of everyone at the table keeping a straight face, B, Belly and I all burst out laughing.  We just couldn't keep up the act any longer.  But those ten minutes?  PRICELESS.

Endgame--Poor Sutt will never touch a mussel again, most likely, nor will he ever be able to think of a vagina without a subconscious correlation to shrimp and his mother.  So from a birth control standpoint, it was probably a big win (until he's married to a lovely young lady of my choosing whose womb I will allow to be graced with my offspring's prodigy).  But, you know, until then, IT WAS WORTH IT.  And maybe Sutt finally learned that the world is a big wide place full of magical COMPLETELY FALSE SHIT that should be verified (preferably on a source with more credibility than Wikipedia, as I have expressed to Bell).  But I doubt it.  In the meantime, at least I'll be entertained.