Tuesday, April 17, 2012

'Raisin' Hell in the Library

Since moving to this little slice of heaven known as rural America, we’ve had some difficulties in the adjustment arena.  Between my  predominately black wardrobe, the Turk’s accent and the Midget’s funny name, we seem to have achieved ‘sore thumb’ status about town.  Don’t get me wrong, people are nice enough.  Nearly every tractor that we pass yields a friendly wave and all the neighbors on our street offer jovial nods as we pass their gigantic GMCs in our tiny Hyundai.  Yet, a stiffness remains.  We’ve tried to blend, donning the local team colors, calling the Midget “Herb” in the presence of locals (we are in the birthplace of Herb Hoover afterall), and putting a muzzle on the Turk, but it seems our attempts are mostly in vain.  I’d given up blending and decided to keep my family on the down low but then it hit me.  As I assisted the Midget in a covert emergency potty break behind a tree in Herbert Hoover park,(I know what you’re thinking, no wonder no one likes us – we pee in the park, but rest assured, it was a one shot deal and it was an emergency) I had a flashback from our first week here in Hooverville and realized perhaps something else had given us our near-pariah status.

Back in August we had what has been consistently referred to merely as “The Incident,” at the Public Library.  An incident that I now fear may be the reason that the Welcome Wagon never bothered to knock on our door and why no one has ever invited us over for a neighborhood barbeque.   While many families might first secure a good pizza joint or neighborhood pub, for nerds like us, our first step in a new location is finding the library.  We needed to secure library cards and befriend the local librarian as the power of the librarian is often underestimated and I personally believe that a good librarian will one day save the universe.   

Before the boxes were even unpacked, the Midget and I chatted up Frannie the Librarian (note: names have been changed to protect the innocent) and had her rapt in titillating conversation.  While dully charmed by my city ways and midget sidekick, she cut no corners in the processing  of our card, forcing us to give over our full names, address, birthdates, phone numbers (all of them) and proof of residency in the form of a letter from our bank .  In other words, should anything go wrong – as it did- our new friendly librarian would know who we were, where to find us and which bank to go to in order to freeze our assets.
With the deal cut and the cards still warm from the laminating machine, I felt like we were now productive members of our new community.  

As I sat amid the picture books, the Midget ran up and down the aisles getting the lay of the land.  It was somewhere around lap number 4 that I noticed raisins on the floor near where he had recently traveled.  I didn’t remember him bringing a box of raisins to the library.  As I began to chase him toward the magazine section, I noticed the raisins getting larger and larger.  

Clumps of raisins?  


Or no. 

Not raisins. 

The Midget was not dropping raisins, but rather… 

Oh God, he’s dropping… little pieces of himself!

As I tried to b-line to the restroom, Librarian Frannie intercepted us dying to know more about the Free Library of Philadelphia.  

Yes Frannie, there are many books there.  
Yes Frannie, there are numerous branches.  
Yes Frannie, Ben Franklin was the founder.  
For the love of God Frannie do you now see what is happening here!?  
Raisins Frannie!  
Those are not raisins!

Rest assured when I tell you that it is virtually impossible for one to maintain coherent conversation with a librarian while simultaneously scanning the floor for runaway turds and trying to inconspicuously pick-up said turds and shove them into a pocket.  After finally making our way to the bathroom and unloading both pants and pockets, I made one final scan of the children’s section for any stray raisins.  God forbid they call CSI and DNA results link the tiny turds rolling across the Dr. Suess shelf back to us.  They had all our vital stats and knew where to find us should they choose to return the ‘raisins’ to their rightful owners.

I was unclear as we departed with arms full of books, if Frannie had caught on to the mayhem in the stacks caused by my fiber-filled Midget and his slow to develop potty habits.  But now, after eight months of the stank-eye from the people of Hooverville, I believe Frannie knew.  Not only did Frannie know, but she fingered us – the newbies – the Turd Family.  And who in their right mind would invite the Turd Family to a neighborhood barbeque?  God forbid they bring raisins.   

Librarian Frannie Before "The Incident"

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Making of a Redneck Midget

“So Mom, the black guy is bad and the white guys all just work for him?”  

The Midget was wrapped in an intense display of heavy construction equipment strewn across the whole of our living room when he chirped out the above phrase.  I did a quick survey of the room hoping he was talking about something on television – but alas it was off.  


Exasperated, he looked up from his wealth of new birthday booty and said, “I said, the black guy is bad and the white guys all work for him.  Is that right?”

My heart sank.  It was an R&B-loving, Soul-Train-watching mother’s worst nightmare coming true.  My son was a racial profiler.  I was sick with both dread and disbelief.   I feared that life in a tiny white town could spawn this, but I thought I’d put enough work in during the early years to combat it.  Apparently not.  

 My immediate reaction was to blame his preschool.   Spending day in and day out with nothing but a bunch of white kids and a little too much camouflage can take a toll.  I’d like the record to state that from the onset, I wasn’t comfortable with the set-up.  I told the Turk we needed to get him into the nearby city to a good liberal and diverse preschool, but no.  He thought our community preschool was just fine.  The same preschool where my blue-eyed blond, half breed Midget is flaunted as the token diversity!  Back in Philadelphia, he was just another white kid with a funny name and a dad with an accent but here, he is the go-to guy for all things cultural.  One fine day, a teacher asked, “We were wondering if your family could tell us a little bit about how they celebrate Thanksgiving in Turkey.”   Seriously?  Yes, seriously.   Following my brief explanation regarding the hows and whys of the Mayflower ‘s failure to yet arrive in Istanbul, I was determined that we find a new school.  But the Turk said, “No we stay here.  We teach them.”  Or maybe it was, “Why we drive him 15 miles each way - to preschool when this one is right next to our house and gas is expensive.”  Regardless, he won.  He knows I’m a frugal lass and saving a dollar is the fastest way into my heart.  But now I see the money saved will have to be spent on sending the Midget into some type of Deprogramming!    

I was certain that this racial profiling was only a gateway drug.  He was on the precipice of full-on redneckism.  If the affliction took hold, he would be dressed in head to toe camouflage, sporting a wiry beard and using duct tape as a wonder tool in mere months.   How did this happen?  Was this even possible?  After all, he wasn’t really an American by redneck standards- he wasn’t born in the US – he didn’t get citizenship until later and who ever heard of a foreign redneck?   How could he be a redneck when our friends and family circle looks like the freakin’ league of nations – black, white, latino, Asian, Arab, Middle Eastern, gays, lesbians, trannys – he knows ‘em all!   His mother doesn’t let him wear camo or play with guns.  He can’t be a redneck, he has a gay, black godfather!  He can’t be a redneck, we have a library card!  For godssake, he can’t be a redneck, we drive a Hyundai!

Was this my fault?  Was the redneck gene recessive and somehow, the same gene that turned my brother into a redneck had resurfaced in the Midget?  Did his father let him watch Swamp People when I wasn’t home?   Was the monster truck I’d bought him for his birthday to blame?   What was next?  Would he begin handfishing?  Would he ask me to build a duckblind and paint his bike helmet with camo spray paint?  Oh god no, would he ask me to vote for Santorum?  

As my chest began to tighten, he looked up at me and said,  

"So Mom, I’m trying to understand.   The black guy is bad and the white guys all just work for him.  And the hairy guy is nice but he can’t talk.  Right?   But he can fight the white guys.  What are they called – Stormtrackers?”   

As he batted those sweet blue eyes, it became clear.  The black guy – Darth Vader, is in fact bad and yes, the white Stormtrackers – when they are not searching out tornadoes – do work for him and no, the hairy guy – Chewbacca- can’t talk but he is a good guy.

Racism thwarted.  Just a recap of Return of the Jedi. 

May the Force be With You little buddy.