Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Seriously, Ya'll Still Calling Names?

Behind the microwave in my kitchen are all sorts of diet books. Name a diet---any diet and I have that book. Because you see, for years, I always applauded myself for taking step one of weight control. And we all know that step one of any diet is to go out and buy the book. Step One. Yeah. Step One. But then I'd reshelve the book--behind the microwave. I don't think that was exactly step two, but that was my amended step two. And, then to actually follow the diet, well, that must have been about step 15 because I almost never got that far down the line. I like to read about stuff more than I like to actually do stuff----I mean hard stuff---anything that requires my getting out of my comfort zone and digging deep. Give me the book about it, let me watch the video, isn't there an infomercial for that by now....Just let me do the workshop on it. But, please don't make me plunge in and get soaking wet with the reality of it all.

Several weeks ago five women, loosely connected, ended up having coffee together. We have known each other on various levels all of our lives but have criss-crossed the country and gone our own ways. One of the women, Jayne, is what you might call a blue-blood. Her family tree links back to one of those Mayflower-type ships, and has maintained its wealth and status for generations. Anyway, she has found herself at this point in her life as a newcomer and the only "liberal" in a small southern town in a neighboring state. I guess my face gave away my reaction when she defined herself as a liberal. Yes,I was surprised. But Jayne quickly clarified the definition by saying, "Oh, yes, I'm a liberal, but I'm not a communist like you, Marianne."

What? How far down was that floor I fell on? I know what a communist is. At least I think I do. And anyway, I've been afraid of communists since I was in fourth grade. We were taught that the communists were the absolute worst people ever when I was growing up. I never wanted somebody like Nikita Khrushchev to come to my town and hurt my mama and daddy. Seriously, I had nightmares about the communists. And, here Jayne was calling me one.
"What exactly do you mean by that, Jayne?" were the words that somehow found their way up from the kick-in- my- gut and out of my mouth.
"Well, you just want everybody to have the same. You want everybody to have what you have. Life doesn't work like that, Marianne. You're a liberal communist."
She meant it in a nice way. Sort of like somebody giving you cholera in a nice way.
Maybe Jayne was right. Maybe I do want everybody to have the same. But the same what? I am going to tell you right this minute that I am pretty generous---but only to a point. Like you, I want people to have the same but not if it's going to take away from me and what's mine. (Are you agreeing with me or judging me--or both?) Oh Lord, this is a hard one for me. Where does need stop and greed begin?
How much of my Merrill Lynch (or is it Bank of America?) stock do I really have to share? I really would rather not answer that question. But from the way my stomach has tightened, I can tell you that I'm probably not a died-in-the-wool communist. I don't want anybody living in my upstairs like in Dr. Zhivago. Honestly, I really don't like to share much at all if it costs me much. Do you? (For real now.)
But! But, maybe this is what Jayne was referring to. If Taylor gets Medicaid, all handicapped people should receive Medicaid. I have great insurance. All of our U.S. citizens should have access to insurance. Everybody should have enough to eat. Everybody should have a bed to sleep in. Seriously, do we still think only we who are entitled should have all the goods? Is there not enough to go around?
Gosh, come to think of it, Jayne could have called me so many things. She went for the easy one. It's like calling somebody a racist today. When we're all out of arguments, we always go to that place. It's the last stop on the argument bus line.
But, seriously, do we really believe poor people want to be poor?
It's complicated, isn't' it? I've taught school for 52 thousand years, and all I can come up with is that education may be the answer. But, even that is complex and a boon-doggle. I guess that's one reason I am not a cabinet member--I don't have any perfect answers.
Here's what this here communist liberal retarded mother does know: We're in this boat together. You can move to the back or you can move to the side. You can put up a screen around your little boat area. You can hoard life preservers and eat all the fish by yourself. But it's one boat. And we're all in it--together. What happens in steerage and in the boiler room will eventually make its way up to the whatever deck we're on.
Bottom line: I like to think I care. And about caring: I really and truly would rather do the real thing than attend the workshop. Workshops are for beginners, novices, people just learning the trade. But those of us like you and me....we should be pretty good at this caring thing by now.
Communist? Whatever.
Caring? Gosh, I sure hope so.
Choose door #1.
The donuts are better.
The prizes are real.