Saturday, September 7, 2013

Saturday Musings, 07 September 2013

Good morning,

I've yet to venture outside the house further than my nose sniffing the calm morning air.  What little news  appears in our morning paper entertained me over a cup of lime yogurt.  I stopped short, appalled, over the story of a mother assaulting her kindergartner's teacher because the five-year-old came home with a scratch  on his face which he attributed to the teacher.  I would be furious to learn that my child had been scratched by his teacher but would I yank her from a chair and slam her face against a file cabinet?  I don't think so.  And certainly, neither my mother nor y father would have.

My parents did defend our honor.  My father marched me back to school after my fourth grade teacher sent me home, a long mile walk, for raising my hand to her after she dug her red pen into my face "to give [me] a check mark that matched [my] freckles", for poor penmanship.  My father admitted that I should not have slapped the teacher but raged at the principal for the deep gouge  in his daughter's nine-year old face.

My mother organized a picket at the convent after one of the elderly nuns pulled me from the floor of the chapel -- the floor that I was scrubbing -- screeching that I was the sister of hippies and not fit to clean a House of God.  We marched behind my mother, carrying signs she had made with pages torn from magazines, depicting flower children and peace-niks.  We crowed in triumph when the mother superior reinstated my $5.00/week job, though transferred me to the high school to appease the smug nun who had sent me sprawling with a flick of the wrist which held one long, fat braid which she had torn from the pins securing it around my head. The new job required me to sling milk, a process which involved standing on a conveyor belt which  fed into the high school kitchen, hauling crates of milk and juice from the back of the delivery truck.  This entitled me to free lunches.

Images of my parents' faces rise around me.  My mother making a straight  row of coins on the breakfast room table, the purpose of which she did  not disclose.  A long rambling story fell from my mouth, word tumbling over word. My mother periodically slid a coin from the row, closer to her, away from me.  My voice faltered.  I eyed her solemn face, careworn olive skin, brown hair rolled in tight curlers held in place by little plastic pegs.  One coin gone; then two; then three.  I resumed my account, though more slowly, as I scrambled to  find a co-relation between something I had said and my mother's silent subtraction of quarters from the shiny line.  I spoke a few more sentences,  saw her finger raise once more and in a flash I got it:   She removed a coin each time I punctuated my sentence with the useless phrase, "you know".  When my story came to an end, six of ten quarters remained, and my mother gave them to me.  

I learned to read at the age of three sitting on my father's lap.  He held the Post-Dispatch in front of me, with one arm encircling my shoulders. One strong hand kept the page still while the other showed me the words as he intoned them.  The blurs crystallized into recognizable blocks of letters as I strained to follow, evening after evening, in the summer before I turned four.

My father didn't teach me very much.  He left the bulk of his children's upbringing to his wife, while he retreated into a fog of alcohol and what I would now call post-traumatic stress disorder, a lasting legacy of the Second World War.  But he taught me to read, and gave me such wonderful rules as he knew:  Always play the house odds; never draw to an inside straight; don't get caught without zip ties, duct tape, and a spare car key.  All the rest  of what I know came from my mother. I like think I am a credit to them both.

The dog paces around the  dining room, wondering why I haven't fed her.  My son retreated back into his room after showing us how to work the new Google Fiber.  My husband has left to join his tennis group for coffee.  I've lost my taste for the newspaper and it lies idle.  Within its pages linger stories of assault, and rape, and mass murder, tales of people who rise or fall on their parents' teachings.  It is enough to make a grown woman cry.

Mugwumpishly tendered,

Corinne Corley

In Memory:  Richard Adrian Corley, 12/27/22 - 09/07/91.  RIP, Grandpa Sport.

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The Missouri Mugwump™

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I've been many things in my life: A child, a daughter, a friend; a wife, a mother, a lawyer and a pet-owner. I've given my best to many things and my worst to a few. I live in Brookside, in an airplane bungalow. I'm an eternal optimist and a sometime-poet. If I ever got a poem published in The New Yorker, I would die a happy woman. I'm a proud supporter of the Arts in Kansas City. I vote Democrat, fly the American flag, cry at Hallmark commercials, and recycle.