This started out as an admission, but has festered into something more like a confession. A way to absolve myself mentally and spiritually of impure thoughts. I consider myself an open-minded, accepting individual. No, "I pride myself", would be more accurate. Hell, I was a sociology major with a minor in psychology. How much more dare I say? I like to read and watch about other cultures, lifestyles, belief systems; a mental, cultural anthropologist of sorts, digging away to uncover the truths of humanbeing'ness'. What factors in to the who we are and how we interact on a daily basis makes us us. Yes, that's what keeps the gerbils spinning in this rattle-trap, third voice mind of mine. It's almost a sport. I challange myself with the, "I know what and why you're thinking" imagined sixth sense. A spirituality of sorts. Really, and most probably, it's just a basic voyeuristic obssesion I have that provides the stimulation needed to sustain myself. Me. An average being.
But-it doesn't matter (I'm begining to discover) how much worldy experience you've attained, no amount of education (be it formal or organic) people are prone to develop stereotypes. Even if you [they] are trained not to. Sometimes my dad would say, "We've bought you too much education." when I would come home from school spouting my ideas and new-found worldliness. I was testing the waters; checking to see if I could still touch the bottom before removing the floaties and remain buoyant in my pool of new found philosophies of life. My superfluvious state of mind churning away (believing my rationalizations were more solid than gasious thanks to note cards and rote memorization). He would say something like, "Well, that may work for them, but it's not how it is here." As a parent, he could see my ideas for what they were, sanctimonious attempts at relating to others with no real-world experience to back it up. A mirage I was staggering towards, just in my line of sight, but never reachable. I dismissed his opinions as closed-minded and resumed my life as an observer and student of others.
Four nights ago, I premade my coffee and set it to brew at exactly 7:00am. I also set the alarm clock for 7:00am (a function I had hoped to express from memory after many, too many mornings waking at 5:00am). But it was the eminate news I was needing. The others' point of view uninterupted by cries and diaper changes, food for thought for the gerbils I had created, spinning tirelessly in my melon. The voyeur craving subject matter (and some time alone-an oxymoron-Planned Liesure).
I sipped in silence, as the rest of my family lay in slumber. My caffiene giving me the jolt needed to comprhend the images and auditory production considered newsworthy. I would satiate the gerbils and they could take the day off as I went through the remainder of my day, swim class, the video store, scheduling well checks and so on... But then, a human interest story stops the gerbils in mid spin. A woman, Michelle and her husband, Jim Bob, have just given birth to their seventeenth child. Jim Bob, I say to myself, Hmff...I bet they're from the South ; I bet they have missing teeth and their children are raggamuffins".
My GOSH! Was it the double first name or the number 17 that triggered it?
I am more educated than that. STOP IT RIGHT NOW MARCY! You can not make sweeping generalizations based on a few. I couldn't stand the fact that I let this aphorism take hold and give me this feeling of superiority as I sat there, smuggly clenching my mug. Afterall, I was in no place to judge. Have I forgot to mention that my coffee was made with store bought water?
A mere three days before, we had to shut it off. Thanks to a leaky hot water heater. My ever observent four year old had noticed the melting wall above the closet door, oohing and aahing with amazement at the bubbly paint. "It's BEE-U-TI-FUL!!!" she exclaimed in a breathy voice. "How did you do that?"
After one day of cold-water-only baths, and washing dishes in lazy suds, the leak became irrational. It now spewed like a geyser even with the hot water shut off. At this point we had no choice but to turn off all of the water.
The Husband took at as a personal challange to remove the unreliable, fifty-gallon monstrosity himself; reasoning that it would reduce the amount the plumber would charge on Moday (if that day ever came). Armed with a Curious George flashlight, he twisted, bangged and cussed the contraption free and hoisted it down the attic stairs.
"Put FLASHLIGHT on the list for the next trip to Home Depot" he grunted, in a slightly emasculated snarl. "But you look so cute with that one... and there's a whistle on the end in case you get into trouble up there" I quipped. He responded with a look of seriousness and slight contempt.
Over the next two and 3/4 days we took the kids to 'Adventure Bathe' Thanks to the kindness of The Husband's big family. We took turns polar-speed-bathing while one kept vigil up in the attic, holding the make-shift bucket (trashcan) that would catch the eventual spews. I began to feel like a squatter, a second-class citizen in my own home. I wore my hair in ponytail and spared the makeup-the longer I could forego the artic bath-the better- I decided.
By the third day I broke a self emposed fashion rule and bought a hat. I know women who can wear a hat and come off as smashing...I, am not one of those women. One girflriend of mine can plop a pink Mercedec Benz emblem cap on, thread her silky blonde hair through the back of it, and look as if she's just finished an effortless private tennis lesson at the club. Others can sport a woven sun hat with a sheer sundress and appear to have wondered out of a lemonade commercial. Something like a Monet painting. I, on the otherhand, look like a disguise gone bad. My pinheadedness (the term coined by a past hairdresser) accentuated and my anemic ponytail framed in its' lifeless state for all those who view from behind. More of a Picasso.
The seventeen children sat, quietly, groomed to perfection, not a dried-up booger smear or dirty knee in sight through the entire interview. They were from the South, Arkansas, to be exact. My precept had been regionally accurate but was by no means precise. The family seemed to be more than comfortable with their station in life. The children were well rounded, gracious, articulate and accomplished, I learned, as I sat watching them as they all, (except for the newborn) played their violins. They were clean, happy, well-attended to children.
The gerbils began to spin again, slowly at first, easing me into the cognition of my daily life. The third person voice waggeled her admonishing finger at me, "Don't judge others!" it seemed to say.
Lessons in humbleness never seem to be convienient, otherwise they would lack the force needed to impact or sway stereotypes- especially those that remain unacknowledged.
On a side note, Michelle, the Super Fertile Mama... she should've worn a hat.