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Short Story: A Day in the Life of Mary Smith, Cliche — August 14, 2011

Short Story: A Day in the Life of Mary Smith, Cliche

Three first editions of Barbie dolls from 1959...
Image via Wikipedia Choosing Mary Smith

This is the story of a cliché. Her name is Mary Smith like thousands of other women. She’s in her thirties and lives in a high-rise apartment in New York City, Boston,Chicago, or perhaps in Los Angeles. What does she look like? So many choices. We’re pretty sure she’s white though, the ultimate cliché color. Is she a ginger? No, too uncommon. We want something common in print. Golden strands of blond silk luminescent in the sun? Possibly. Brunette, her hair nearly as dark as her disposition? Also a possibility. Chestnut or mouse brown hair, tied conservatively behind her in a style reminiscent of a school marm?  Depends. Is Mary Smith a savvy professional woman with three or four friends trying to find love and sexual gratification in a city? Or is she the tragic soul who ends up throwing herself from a bridge in utter agony (Oh the demons! The demons of her psyche! Oh lost love!)?  Or is she that woman from whatever romantic comedy is in the theater every  other week, who by happenstance finds her true love? We think Mary Smith resembles the marm the most. But let’s read on, the obligatory scene before the mirror is being written…

Mary Smith stands before the mirror, a figure of brown. Her hair is mouse brown, her skirt tan cotton and slightly jutting away from her skinny frame. Her eyes –brown also- appraise herself with care, bringing her ponytail from her back to spread down to her small bosom.  A heroine.

Mirror spinning out of the way, she begins to sing a ditty:

Today, maybe today. Today!

Not yesterday, maybe today. Today!

Today!

Today could be the day. Maybe today!

Today, please today, something could happen today!

Todayyyy!

I feel it! Can you feel it? I think I feel it!

Maybe today! It didn’t happen yesterday, could be today.

Maybe love today, my destiny today. Today!

My life could change todayyyyyyyyyyyyyy!

 

This song is transcribed here for  inspiration and hope. But  a story needs a hint of pathos or some critic will criticize this as being too one-dimensional. Since Mary Smith is a cliché, we really shouldn’t care, though, should we? She reaches into her medicine cabinet and becomes the face in the latest anti-depressant commercial. I talked to my doctor about my depression and he gave me…

What should we say he gave her? Something easily recognized as an anti-depressant. Prozac? Paxil? Zoloft? Lets say Zoloft. Zoloft for the  so lofty dreams soaring over whatever clichéd demons Mary Smith subscribes to.

It is summertime and NYC, Boston, Chicago, LA, or wherever the hell our cliché lives. It is an oppressively hot day late in July. Mary Smith works in a paperback exchange, but will one day be the editor of a large publishing concern or maybe the romance columnist for a woman’s magazine. Some people are coming in, milling through the narrow aisles, not really interested in the mass market used paperback bonanza around them. Nor is Mary Smith interested in them unless they approach the counter, book in hand.

“Is it hot enough for ya?” is Mary’s attempt at being friendly with a book-clad fat woman in her 40s.

“Yeah. Hot.” A book called Savage Passion is  dropped on the counter. Typical cover in the Indian/White Heaving Breasted Lady genre: An American Indian  who looks like he lifts weights. He’s  wearing a feather, loincloth, and not much else. A lady, poofy blond hair like a 1980s porn star, with lots of green eyeshadow. A bit of tit and leg is showing from her Victorian gown, leaving enough to the imagination to be allowed at a grocery store bookrack. Mary Smith used to read such books, mainly when she was 14, and grew weary of the genre shortly thereafter, for even clichéd characters can only stand so much of the same. Mary Smith prefers the various yarns  spun by Danielle Steele. Now that is literature, is what Mary thinks, and that she need never vary in her choice of author, as Steele releases a new 400 page tome to indefeatable true love every three days or so.

And then he comes in. Mary Smith hears the refrain from that awful song she somehow made up on the spot this morning. Todayyyyy…

 

He’s the one, thinks Mary. He likes to read, he’s handsome, he’s perfect. Will he notice me?

What does Mary Smith’s future lover look like?  Hugh Grant ( He’ll look like Hugh Cronin by the time this story is over)?  We think he should look like perfection, the sort manufactured not by nature but by a Mattel factory. He is Ken articulated with the breath of life and perhaps looking for his Barbie in the flesh.

Mary Smith is a Barbie doll, Paperback Exchange Barbie, not manufactured by Mattel, but still ‘swell.’ She fantasizes about this man coming up to her, giving her a lengthy kiss rivaling a 1940s movie scene. I love you, Mary…

He’s  coming to the counter. He’s coming.

“Hi,” Mary Smith says for the first time in a long time without having to fake enthusiasm. 

“Hey,” says Ken, putting one hand in the pocket of his jeans. “You got a public rest room?”

 

 

The day progresses. It is around 3pm. The book store has thinned out and now Mary Smith is alone with a newspaper crossword. A mother comes in dragging her son by the hand. He looks to be about 6,  years-old, brown hair almost the color of Mary’s. Mary Smith thought as a young girl that she would one day have a child of her own. Maybe her phantom child would look somewhat like this little boy.

She goes back to her crossword puzzle. The boy is bored as his mom looks at suspense novels. The  owner of the bookstore likes knickknacks, the kind that have a sticker on the bottom that says, “Made Exclusively for Dollar Tree.” Cherubs, frogs, gnomes, and ceramic Jesus Christs all vie to be noticed on the tops of the bookshelves. One curio, a genuine African Mask (made in China of painted china), has caught the boy’s attention. His mother is oblivious to him though she is roughly 8 feet away. He starts to climb one shelf to get the mask. It would be fun to put over his face and pretend he is a masked superhero , we believe the child thinks.

The shelves only are about eye level to the average adult, so from the first shelf, the boy can reach…just reach. 

Suddenly a crash, the little African Mask now lies on the linoleum floor in several pieces. Mary Smith turns to look at what happened. The boy is still standing on the first shelf, one hand frozen in mid-air, the other clinging to the shelf. Before Mary Smith can reassure the boy’s mother that the mask was of no real consequence, the mother has gone red with rage. “Now what have you done? G—damn IDIOT!”

Don’t look, Mary.  Not your problem, Mary. Mary Smith resumes writing an answer on her puzzle. Her hand is shaking just a bit. She isn’t looking, but she hears. We see that the mother is small, blond, and in her early twenties. She doesn’t look capable of hurting her son, nor does she look capable of keeping him under control. Her frustration and rage is peaking. She grabs the boy off the shelf, but holds him kicking at the air 2 feet below him. Walks far enough away with him to clear the remains of the china African mask before dropping the child to the floor. The sound of the child’s body hitting the floor makes Mary Smith’s pen draw a line off of the paper as her shaking hand drops the pen.

Mary Smith can’t open her mouth. Her lips are stuck together, her tongue sticks to the roof of her mouth. Her voice is paralyzed. A movie of the week scene and she can’t turn the channel or swallow. The woman grabs up her son so that he stands again. He is winded, shocked, and not crying. She grabs his hand and they leave the store as they came.

Mary Smith is alone now. The mask is in the floor in several pieces. One piece containing a hole for an eye and a bit of forehead is on its side. To Mary Smith it looks like the eyeless socket is staring at her.

There was a time when Mary might have said something. How long ago was that? Ten years ago, maybe fifteen? Since before she let life pass her by. Before she began just trying to get on with life. Before her ideals began to shrivel and maturity blotted them out.

Mary Smith begins to pick up the pieces of the china African mask until she feels a sharp pain in her palm. The piece that had pricked her conscience has now cut her hand. This is the high melodrama we hoped Mary Smith, cliché of the great American short story, would  give us. Emotional, physical pain, the kind that will translate well on the silver screen. Keep going,Mary!

Mary Smith drops the offending piece into a plastic bag she is using to collect the debris and then opens her palm. Blood, not  massive, but considerable enough is leaking from a small cut. She stares at the red fluid that pumps through her body as though entranced. Funny the thoughts one thinks. Look, Mary, you’re alive. You’re still a person. Can you feel it? (Mournful reprise of the “Today” song’s music should be placed here in the movie version).

Perhaps a potential vampire boyfriend should materialize like a shark smelling blood? You know, a nice pale guy, handsome, opens the door for his lady-love before draining her of her lifeblood. So popular now, but we decide we like this story sans Dracula, and…

Mary Smith bandages her hand in the bathroom, places the last piece in the bag, and makes her way to the wastebasket behind the counter. But for some strange reason she can’t toss the tied bag into the basket. Something, some force has prevented her from throwing the mask away. Perhaps the mask is cursed, right? Not likely. Hello, it came from the wild forest pf The Dollar Tree, not an ancient African tribe. Probably something else. It seems to her that to throw the mask’s remains away after what happened would be wrong…almost bordering on disrespectful for her phantom son’s pain.

It’s time to close. Mary Smith is glad. It’s been a long day. I’ll throw it away when I get home, and with that she stuffs the plastic bag in her purse. The ‘closed’ sign is hung on the door, she sets the alarm, and locks the door . She is out on a generic sidewalk in NYC, Boston, Chicago, or LA.

  The loneliness of a large city is something Mary Smith is used to, but something has happened. The late afternoon sunlight is almost like it’s not there to her. The oppressive heat seems to not bother her. She almost feels cold. The world is gray  like an anti-depressant commercial pre-pill. People are all around her and she feels invisible until she bumps into a man (OK, here must be the meeting of the male romantic lead. FINALLY. Such a tedious read).

“Why don’t you watch where you’re going?” a man in a business suit admonishes.

“Sorry,” Mary Smith replies in the same tone as the gent.

Everything is wrong somehow. People are so unkind and she is tired of it all. Mary Smith is relieved to lock herself safely into her apartment away from everyone. Suddenly she  remembers skimming through the  paper that day, the stories. Along with the daily dose of murder, mayham, and outed gay conservatives, there was the story of a man who lived in an apartment building not far from where  Mary Smith lives. He hung himself in his closet and wasn’t found for a week, not until someone smelled him. What if one day that happens to me?  What if I died one day by natural causes or by dispatching myself  and they only found me because I stunk? Would anyone wonder what happened to me? Would anyone care? Oh, knock it off,  Mary. Someone would call, your employer, your landlady sure would be  on the case if the rent  was late. Maybe a friend sometime.

  My life doesn’t matter.

Eat something, Mary. You’re just tired and hungry.

 

Would anyone remember me for anything? No one would. I’m nothing in this world.

Rinse off your face. Get a grip. Ugh, no wonder no one loves me.The mirror doesn’t lie!

The mask is still in her purse, which she has hung on the coat rack. She takes the bag out of the purse, empties the pieces on a tray, hunts down her super glue, and pieces The Dollar Tree African mask together.

Watch something on the TV.

Canned laughter, fake, beautiful people sitting on couches talking their humorous adventures in love and life. Oh kill me now. I’m going to bed.

“Maybe today? Fuck it. Tomorrow,” she sings as she slips into bed. Mary Smith covers her head with her pillow and drowns the out the world.

The next day she picks up the dried mask from where she glued it together. The mask falls to pieces again.  Mary Smith sweeps the pieces into the plastic bag and throws it away on the way to work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Help Bearman Feed the Poor and Help the Japanese for FREE — May 4, 2011

Help Bearman Feed the Poor and Help the Japanese for FREE

Flag of the Red Cross
Image via Wikipedia

I think most of y’all are familiar with Bearman over at Beartoons, right? The fellow with the green hair that looks like he had it styled at Donald Trump’s salon?  Yeah him. Well, besides being a super artist of  political/pop culture cartoons and commentary, he’s socially conscious too. 

Bearman will give the first $500.00 he gives away to a Cincinnati, OH food bank .  If  he  does more than $500.00, the rest will go to the Red Cross to aid Japanese earthquake victims up to $ 1000.oo. This is his 3rd year sponsoring charities All without you donating a blood red cent or giving personal info. BEARMAN DOES THE DONATING!!! 

I will let Bearman himself explain his terms on his site. For instance, this post I am writing will make him donate $10.00.

http://beartoons.com/2011/05/01/bearman-cartoons-charity-challenge-2011/

Parade Part II — April 18, 2011

Parade Part II

017

We must be on Miami Vice without the water…or the Florida.

018

“Weee!”

More bike, less brains.

019

What happens if you let your dogs swim near the nuclear plant.

020

Where’s Barbie?

Scan33

Siberian Tiger in its natural habitat.

025

The glamorous life of circus elephants

027

The reality. Look close and you’ll see an elephant snout.

028

Only in the South –Southern Belles and Ronald McDonald

032

Back in the 40s n’ 50s,  our heroine’s mom used to ride the sideboard up the driveway when her father came home.

029

Favorite of the Parade –A youngin’ won an art contest and the reward was a ride in an old car and  be eaten by a “Wild Thing.”

030

Tara… on wheels

031

Beauty Queen Barbie and Little Miss Such-and-Such

034

Teddy Bear a Go! Go! Go!

037

Sometimes you got to throw your weight around to get in this parade.

035

Now that’s a car! Considering people were significantly smaller then (height as well as girth), both the gentleman in the previous picture and myself would’ve been out of luck.

038

It’s not just the cars, it’s the:

A.) Midlife crisis

B.) Erectile dysfunction

C.) The people

D.) All of the above

043

These people train dogs to help disabled folks. They even had a bull dog , but couldn’t get a shot.

046

The photographer hates clowns, but loves Spongebob.

048

The local aquarium’s float scores points for cool.

050

Oh, to be so svelte, so graceful!

051

In this production we have the peasant girl, faeries, a  queen, and the ever popular Lady America Typical (sitting)

056

The photographer has mixed feelings about beauty queens. Nice float though!

057

They’re all waiting for Ashley Wilkes.

060

More gratuitous Southern Belle footage.

063

Black Beauty was one of the photographer’s favorite books as a girl. That’s one gorgeous horse.

064

Juan Valdez  tiene un dia en la ciudad.

068

Mammy bitch slaps that hussy, Scarlett,  helps the Buffalo Soldiers, and marries Rhett Butler…or at least that’s how the photographer would rewrite the manuscript to Gone with the Wind if anyone wants to know.

069

Beautiful faerie resting her wings with a ride.

071

Dora the Explorer is actually smaller in person than you’d think.

072

‘Fishers of Men’ float. They may have took that Bible quote literally, because the guy in front of the photographer appeared to have a hook in his lip Crying face.

074

Beauty queens

076

Awwwww!

078

Old South Volvo!

080

This blog has gotten way too “spidery” of late.

081

Infamous Southern Hospitality

082

Infamous Dog

083

Parade your princess, but…

085

…rush off the queen.

End of Parade. Look for “After the Parade” coming soon!

Teaser – Pics I Took Wednesday Downtown — April 11, 2011

Teaser – Pics I Took Wednesday Downtown

002

Part horse trough, part human and dog water fountain, this 1915 relic is juxtaposed against modern life.

 

003

This is the river. In the background is a World War II battleship and memorial. A few cousins have their names there who were killed in action.

 

PicturesGEDC0836

May we venture to say our perambulation a le promenade ends here?

 

011

Almost Florida

 

006

Margaret Mitchell called and she wants her flag back, Bubba.

 

012

The infamous Seedy China Hot and Sour Soup. The only bizarre happening that day was a wealthy-seeming woman old enough to know better if she was doing what I think she was doing.

Old Enough: You just short changed me $2.00. This is the second time you did it.

Chinese Woman: Next time we count it out for you, yes?

Old Enough: I always only have twenty dollar bills.

(Oh, the crosses some of us have to bear!)

Teaser – Pics I Took Wednesday Downtown —

Teaser – Pics I Took Wednesday Downtown

002

Part horse trough, part human and dog water fountain, this 1915 relic is juxtaposed against modern life.

 

003

This is the river. In the background is a World War II battleship and memorial. A few cousins have their names there who were killed in action.

 

PicturesGEDC0836

May we venture to say our perambulation a le promenade ends here?

 

011

Almost Florida

 

006

Margaret Mitchell called and she wants her flag back, Bubba.

 

012

The infamous Seedy China Hot and Sour Soup. The only bizarre happening that day was a wealthy-seeming woman old enough to know better if she was doing what I think she was doing.

Old Enough: You just short changed me $2.00. This is the second time you did it.

Chinese Woman: Next time we count it out for you, yes?

Old Enough: I always only have twenty dollar bills.

(Oh, the crosses some of us have to bear!)

The Various Trials of Nervous Nelly, from a Visit with her Therapist to Nearly Being Locked in a Cemetary Overnight — April 27, 2010

The Various Trials of Nervous Nelly, from a Visit with her Therapist to Nearly Being Locked in a Cemetary Overnight

(This post was started April 16 and only finished today, the 27th. Segments, Lisa. You must learn to write in small segments. )

Dear most appreciated blog reader,

Regarding my “Can’t Say No” post, I have yet to be hauled away for the crimes of Little Hippie /Fundamentalist  Woman, so perhaps she wasn’t a criminal after all and just  a gal who really needed to write an email or two. I have a vivid, abominable  imagination.  So for now we must file this worry away and send our neurotic heroine Nelly on to other fabulous adventures, like chasing windmills and shit.

It’s Wednesday and I’m late as always to my therapist. I can’t for the life of me be on time for anything. One day I will be late to my own funeral, you just wait and see.  Assuming I don’t die penniless and bereft of friends and family, I will be cleaned and dressed sans my rituals and won’t try to do 3 or 4 things at the same time. Then, since you can’t take it with you when you go, I won’t be searching frantically for whatever the ‘it’ is of the day that I wanted to take. So who knows? I might make it on time for my funeral sometime in the  future (hopefully the distant future), but as it stands I won’t to the therapist. And the ‘it’ that I need to take with me is my fucking purse, which I forget at home, and helpfully  remember 15 minutes down the road. We debate on returning for the purse. I didn’t pay my Medicaid co-pay the last time because it was the end of the month and money was mega tight in March, but to  let the payment go twice in a row is positively horrifying to me, especially since now I can pay for it just fine.

Nervous Nelly here is a dependent personality if ever there was one. I can’t bear the thought of telling the sweet, non-threatening receptionist to ‘put it on my tab.’  I can say hi warmly, flash something akin to  a smile, politely answer questions, set up an appointment, pay, and wish her a good day each time I see her, all the while  avoiding eye contact as much as I can. But the words, “I’m really sorry, but I forgot my purse at home. Could I please pay you next time?” like someone climbing Mt. Everest to me. Not impossible, but who wants to be so high up in the atmosphere you can barely breathe?  Not I. Hellll no.

“If I have to not pay my $3.00 twice in a row, will you please tell her,” I beg my mother.

Ok, seeing this in print is really showing how stupid this is. Oh, man. There is inside this woman, me, a little girl who never grew up and she wants her mommy.  She fights with adult me, who is a bit of an old lady.  So this perhaps is why I don’t ever quite fit in, can’t be 32…I can have the emotional maturity of a 6 year-old and sometimes  I’m 62 (I am so screwed).

What clenches the purse-fetching debate is the gas tank is almost on empty and we will need to get gas pretty soon. I feel my frustration scale about to go through the roof. I hate messing up, hate it. I regard forgetting  my purse as some terrible flaw in my character, a sign that I’m a total fool. How disgusting. How ridiculous. How abnormal. How imperfect! The little things in life get me, as I’ve told you before,  and this little thing has sent me into a rage at myself. I covertly pinch my arm hard trying to get a grip. I tell myself under my breath what exactly I am. “Stupid, worthless piece of shit.”

Ok, let me step back a sec. That’s embarrassing to relate, dear reader. I wouldn’t say that to anyone else or pinch anyone but myself.  I am my own worst enemy.  In situations like these I don’t just dislike myself, I loathe myself. I don’t hate other people and seldom get really mad at others. Guess I save it all for myself. I hope you don’t think I’m crazy. I don’t hear voices, see things, or think I’m Joan of Arc. I know it’s  totally irrational and yet I can’t seem to stop.

Ok, intermission over. Back to the story.

Back at the apartment, I grab my purse, all the time berating myself.  I pop an ativan (those are only for emergencies and I deem this fit an emergency) and back out I go.  At the therapist’s, I go in with extra apprehension for being almost 15 minutes late.  I am supposed to meet the eyes of my therapist, but I’m ashamed for being late, and ever since my antidepressants  seemed to start failing me ( a couple of months now), I can’t make the effort for her or anyone. I’m ashamed and afraid for being.

I have an implicit trust in my therapist and can tell her anything. I knew her when I was 15 and in a group for teens with various problems. I saw another therapist one on one in those days, but my current therapist was one of the leaders of the group, and to be honest, I liked her much more than him.  My male therapist, besides the fact he was a man  and I distrust men, I felt was too critical of me. He wanted to change my personality and I felt he secretly didn’t like me much. But I can thank him for many things, one is I knew where to go when I needed help again, my current therapist. Another, is I met my best friend of 17 years there and half the time she’s more neurotic than I am, though hers is more from her life experiences and not an anxiety disorder. Yet another is that I learned that no matter how bad things are, there’s someone who is in a far worse situation than I am. You never know what someone is going through or what made someone become who she/he is , and it is vital to realize and be compassionate. I wonder what happened to those kids. Did that girl who kept a knife under her bed for when she decided to make another suicide attempt live to adulthood? I hope she is alive and well, the poor thing was only 14, and no child deserves such unhappiness. My best friend and I were the poster girls for good mental health compared to the overwhelming majority of those kids.  So awful.

But anyway….

My therapist says I must stop beating myself up for simple mistakes. NO ONE IS PERFECT. FORGETTING STUFF IS NORMAL. It’s hard for me to not try to do things just right, though, because I’ve done this in one form or another since about the age of 6.  She tells me to continue going for walks everyday. Besides being good excercise, she thinks if I’m out among people I will become less nervous around others. I’m just so afraid of making an ass out of myself , of committing the great social blunder of 2010, and I feel they’re thinking about how I look.

Lastly, my therapist tells me to remember to do more stuff that will make me more independent. I am peaceful as I hand my money over to the receptionist. She tries to schedule my next appointment still in April, but I say best make it May since it’s getting toward the end of the month and money is tight. To which the receptionist answered, “If you ever need to see her, it’s ok to wait until later to pay.”

Note to self: Lisa Ann B., you’re an idiot.


It is Thursday, a beautiful spring day in the southeastern coastal town where I live. The flowers have burst forth. Spring’s trademark is stamped everywhere. Dogwoods, other flowering trees, and  azaleas are exploding with color. There is no more beautiful time of the year as when the azaleas pop out, but don’t blink too much because within two weeks they will have wilted away until the next year. All this renewal of life freed from the clutches of  winter by Mother Nature makes me want to…..makes me want to plant a garden? No! ……Makes me want to go to the cemetary!

Well, this is not just any cemetary. This one goes back to antebellum days. I don’t actually like to think about those times (except for the beautiful Scarlet O’Hara dresses)  because I hate to think of the atrocities done to slaves . But I mega dig Victoriana. And anyway it’s  not so much the graves that  attract one to the cemetary, it’s the azaleas. The azaleas are everywhere  in the background of the monument-like graves of  the élite families of our town.

In fact, this cemetary, and the two others next to it, give a glimpse of society from around the Civil War to the present. The azalea-ridden cemetary with its monumental graves is a  memorial to what wealth will buy. It’s rich, white, and prestigious. Filled with people with interesting lives and even more interesting deaths.  Just a few:

The Sea Captain’s daughter who gave up the ghost while far away from home, so they nailed a chair down inside a barrel.  Then they tied her mortal remains to the chair and filled the barrel with liquor. When back home, they buried her still in the barrel. If that keg is made of wood, I bet she is no longer pickled. If it is metal, maybe she’s down there still sitting in her chair if it hasn’t rusted away (which somehow is even more creepy to me than her just being bones).  And to add to the sorrowful tale is that 4 months after his daughter died, the sea captain’s  son washed overboard and drowned. Now talk about your bad luck!

The Confederate spy who  put her bag of  gold  coins (royalties from her memoir) around her neck so she wouldn’t lose them when the boat she was on capsized. Unfortunately she didn’t lose her gold when her lifeboat flipped and she was weighed down and finis.

The volunteer fireman who was buried with his dog. The man and dog died together when he was pinned down in a fire and rather than leaving his master, the dog remained with him  and perished too while trying to drag his master to safety.


Next to Rich White Cemetery is the  African-American Cemetery, historical in its own merit because people were buried there since the days of slavery too. In the Black Cemetery, the socio-economic barriers that permeate the Rich White Cemetery do not seem to exist much. The poor people are differentiated by the quality, flourish, and size of stone on their graves. The Black Cemetery is kept up in a minimal way, the grass cut almost everywhere, the dirt path bumpy and hard to pass through but passable.  The edges of the cemetery are what screams lack of care. These parts of the cemetery have grown up with grass and brambles, with stones just peaking out showing someone is buried there. These are the people gone and long since forgotten. Shame on our city, when this graveyard is a part of our history as vital as Rich White Cemetery! I consider our coastal southern town fairly progressive, but some things are hidden just underneath the surface in our turbulent past. The city that I live in had a violent race riot in the  1970s and even a coup d’état in 1890s by overthrowing the majority black government in our city.

The third cemetery,  separated by the African-American Cemetery from its richer peer, is Poor to Middle Class White Cemetery. Well kept, small but dignified, it’s better cared for than her black neighbor, but not nearly as interesting.

Now, after that impromptu treatise on race relations, back to the story!

So we’re looking at the flowers and eerie beauty of Rich White Cemetery and getting a tad lost, because this cemetery has planted folks here for around 160 years and some of them have huge monuments, mausoleums,  and whatever it took to be funereal chic  in the Victorian era. Apparently, the good people of Rich White Cemetery in their good sense, believe a decent cemetery should expel all living patrons by 5pm sharp regardless of time of year.  But the fun part is locking the gates without a glimpse for suckers who failed to read closing time upon entering. I wasn’t too concerned, though, since I  had my cell phone, not to say that would be too fun a call to make to the cops. I suggest we walk around, that surely somewhere remained unlocked, especially since I saw a not-so-paranormal-looking couple  just a few minutes ago walking.

Two gates locked, we’re padlocked in Perdition. We  keep walking until a third gate. This one looks a tad different and I walk up to it, a side entrance and the damn thing opens like the pearly gates to Glory.  Mama walks back to our ghetto fabulous classic 1994 Mazda MPV, me waiting so no one locks this gate on us.  I look at this gorgeous azalea I remember from last year, a dark red-purple flower about the size of a common magenta azalea but much darker, so awesome. I take a peep at the graves near the gate, all the while keeping my eye on said gate. No one, not St. Peter, not the devil, not a grounds keeper, is gonna lock that damn gate without me at least screaming loud enough to wake the dead.

Safely delivered from captivity, we go downtown to have a look at the teabagger rally, I mean the Tea Party,  that has gone on all day. We listen to Sean Hannity on the radio waxing rhapsodic about the noble Tea Party activists nationwide and Reagan this, Reagan that. Every time I listen to Hannity, I tend to think if he could dig up Reagan and marry him he would, anti-gay marriage or no.

So the noble tea folk are down at the federal courthouse at the river. Good for them, I suppose, since the joy of being American is the ability to protest for what you believe.  It’s WASP Party 2010 downtown and rather fun to look at as long as you recall everyone is entitled to believe as they like, that is until I see this one woman and I have my What the Flying Fuck?! moment of the day. She has this sign, “Obama, Go Back to Kenya. I Will Buy the Plane Ticket!”  Now, I could be wrong, but to me it sounds like some racist saying no more than “Go back to Africa.”  Sure, I get the whole Birther rumor popular among some people. But honestly? Honestly. Could Obama be from Kenya and a closet Muslim? Could I be an Ethiopian albino  and  a closet Hare Krishna? Anything is possible, but probable? Um no.  She has a right to her opinion and I have the right to think she’s plumb ignorant with a limited touch on reality.

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