Dawww the kittehs missed us. http://t.co/zFsnR0nVlW
Dawww the kittehs missed us. http://t.co/zFsnR0nVlW
One day sometime during the mid-eighties I was dressing my Barbies for a killer expedition in their red Corvette on the front driveway. All of a sudden, my grandmother stomped up to me with a genuinely distraught expression on her ordinarily cheerful face.
“I want you to promise me that you will never marry a black man,” she ordered with an intensity that adults usually reserved for statements like “Go to bed,” “Eat your Brussels sprouts,” and “If you do that one more time I’m going to pull this car over right now and you’re going to be sorry.”
I have a vivid recollection of this incident because it was so completely unexpected. My thoughts were of frustration. I was kind of in the middle of something. But she was my elder and I had to respond to her.
I had only one word to say: “Why?”
“Because it ain’t right,” Grandma said.
I was genuinely confused. What wasn’t right? Me getting married to a black man or me getting married because I was seriously underage? Or both? What was happening here? I looked down at Barbie and realized that she and Skipper were going to be late for their outing.
“But . . . what if I loved him?” I said.
The question was strange enough but it was made even stranger because my grandma seemed so angry. We weren’t even talking about a real fiancé here — just some hypothetical black dude leaning into my house like the sheriff from Blazing Saddles asking where the white women were at.
“It doesn’t matter. It ain’t right,” Grandma informed me.
“W . . . w . . . hyyyyy?” I said very slowly. I was not sassing her. This was seriously the most confusing conversation I had ever had. The most complicated issue I ever had to discuss with her before was chocolate or vanilla, and by chocolate or vanilla I mean ice cream, not people.
“Because it just ain’t right,” she said even more firmly. “Now I want you to promise me.”
There was only one way out of this. “Okay,” I told her, doing my very best not to sound like I was blowing her off because I much preferred the imaginary conversation I had been having with an inanimate object.
I lucked out. Grandma seemed satisfied with my answer so she finally went away and let me go back to what I really wanted to do, which was to find the ideal fashion ensemble for Barbie’s cruise in her convertible. I can remember with absolute clarity that my thoughts at that time were the childhood equivalent of What the hell was that? Who cares? Why do I want to talk about marriage? I’m eight years old for crying out loud. Who cares?
My grandmother was a wonderful woman. She had a vivacity that made me love her with absolute devotion. This incident is highly uncharacteristic of virtually every other interaction I ever had with her. All of my other memories are of a woman who taught me to crochet, cooked delicious food for me, lavished attention and gifts on me, and made my childhood absolutely wonderful. But standing there in the corner of my mind is this one embarrassing, painful memory like a stubborn little stain on an otherwise beautiful piece of cloth.
I don’t share this memory because I wish to slander the legacy of someone who I love and who is such a major part of who I am today. I share it because it’s important because I see a lot of people making this exact same mistake today, and a few decades from now their children and grandchildren will experience the same confusion and regret when they think of a dear loved one who, despite being an overwhelmingly positive influence on their lives, exhibited the ugliness of bigotry against those they did not understand. I share this story because incidents exactly like this one are being played out again all over this country, except instead of an adult extracting a promise against interracial marriage, the indoctrination is taking place against homosexual unions.
This week the Supreme Court heard arguments regarding California’s anti-gay constitutional amendment and the federal Defense of Marriage Act. I hope that both of these horrible laws will be struck down. Even if they are not in this court action, eventually they will be. That’s what gives me hope. I know I’m on the right side of history. If you don’t agree, I’d just like to spell out the following facts:
If you are opposed to the recognition of gay and lesbian families, you have the right to be wrong. And you are oh so very wrong. But your opposition will leave an embarrassing mark on the memories of your descendants in exactly the same way that my grandmother’s bigotry against interracial marriage did for me. You will be loved and remembered fondly, but with an asterisk marking a crucial character flaw.
But it isn’t too late. You can change. Lots of other people have. Do it now. You won’t regret it, and neither will your grandchildren.
Indian Hawthorn. Native to Japan, China, and Korea. Shrub grows up to 15 feet tall and can be pruned into a tree. They do have very pretty pink flowers in spring and make a charming shrub. I may keep one, but more than one will be too many. Now that I’m settled in a little more, I’m taking stock of what I’ve got in my yard.
Kaffir Lily. Native to South Africa. Non-invasive, low growing lily that does well under trees. I think I’ll keep these to plant under the palms where we hang our hammock.
Native to tropical regions of the Americas and Africa. Poisonous and invasive. Irritates skin and creates toxicity in animals who eat it. Kill it with fire.
Paper bark tree. I have three of these ugly buggers out front. Native to Papua New Guinea, it is considered noxious and invasive in several US states. I’d like them GONE and replaced with something less messy.
New Zealand Flax. Native to New Zealand. I have four in my yard. They are striking and attractive, but four feels like too many. It may be nice to keep one as a show piece but I’d rather have a little more space in my yard.
Japanese Mock orange. Native to Japan, Korea, and China. Shrub can grow up to 10 feet and be pruned into a tree or grown into a hedge. Incredibly boring. They’re gonna go.
There are quite a few Queen Palms. They’re slender and provide nice dappled shade, so they’ll stay.
Giant Bird of Paradise. Native to South Africa. Two clumps of these are growing absolutely out of control. They need to go.
Yeah so like I just rode my bike over to the health food store, although it was a pain before I left because I couldn’t find my flip flops and I really didn’t want to wear shoes that required socks. But luckily I found them over by where I keep the hammock. So like I cruised down Ponderosa and it was all good but then like this guy was coming along on a longboard and he was going the wrong way in the bike lane. I wanted to be like “Dude, Thou Shalt Not Drop In on a Wave, Nor Shalt Thou Skateboard the Wrong Way in the Bike Lane,” but I was too busy dodging this other dude’s pickup truck. I was kinda P.O.ed but then I was like, whatever. I almost got fully smashed but at least the truck had sweet rims and a bitchin’ paint job.
So I got to the health food store and they were all out of organic buckwheat groats, except then I remembered that they keep those over in the bulk bins. Duh! So like the chick ringing me up was all “Hey, that’s a sweet bike,” and I was like “Thanks. I only paid like $100 for it.” And then she was all “No way?” and I was like, “Sheah. Best money I ever spent.” And then she was like, “Seriously, dude, I gotta get a beach cruiser.” And I was all “You’d have so much fun,” and then she went “Enjoy your buckwheat. It’s like super good if you simmer it and then top it off with some local wildflower honey.” I was blown away so I was all, “That’s a rad idea. Thanks!”
And then when I was biking home I saw this sign for the farmer’s market, which I should check out because I totally need some fresher avocados because seriously the avocados at the supermarket had to have been picked like at least three days ago. So gross. Anyway I made it home all good, but I realized that I’m gonna have to go back tomorrow because I only got one pound of organic buckwheat groats when I really should have got like a pound and a half. Bummer.
Last night I celebrated St. Patrick’s Day properly — with good food, good drink, and most importantly, good company. The conversation drifted to the American education of my British spouse. He’s never seen Gilligan’s Island or Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, so we had to ruminate for quite a while on why these shows are so important to so many Americans. If you’re American and you don’t know the lyrics to the theme songs of these two TV shows, most people would find you very odd indeed. I proved this by rattling off the first half of lines from “The Ballad of Gilligan’s Island,” which the others were able to complete without hesitation.
Another question all Americans eventually consider is Gilligan and Ginger or Gilligan and Mary Ann. While I was explaining that this issue is a cause for heated debate at many a bar table, my neighbor Stan said he always settles it by saying “Ginger and Mary Ann.” Well played, sir. Well played.
If my husband is going to live here, he eventually needs to see some of these shows. So help me, dear readers. What were the best episodes of Gilligan’s Island? What were your favorite things about Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood? The American Education of my British Spouse has begun.
Corned Beef Brisket, slow cooked in the Crock Pot with Beef Broth and Guinness
Chocolate Guinness Cake
Guess what day it is?