Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Simple Times


Simple Times

In the 1950s, at least in the South, women were trained to be servants to their masters. This medieval practice meant any woman was controlled by any man in her life no matter how small he was. Now, I like sharin’and bein’ nahce as well as anyone but, Jesus, it was a long haul getting over that load of programmin’.
It was the good old days--television signed off at midnight to the strains of the National Anthem, all businesses were closed on Sundays (including the drugstores), and the only two flavors of bubblegum you could buy were bubblegum and grape. My flavor of choice was grape, partially because mother hated the smell. 
We were raised on the Southern Heart Attack diet,  which meant everything was laced with bacon fat.  Strawberries and cantaloupes only appeared in markets when they were in season, thank you. Grocery stores were not filled with cardboard tomatoes or South American produce. Broccoli and corn came with worms. The fact that everything was cooked with bacon drippings might have explained the frequent boils.  For those of you who have never expericed the joy of boils, they are basically zits the size of a golf ball. Ha, I became boil free once I moved to California and discovered fresh veggies not cremated in bacon fat.
            There was a mountain of things girls were not supposed to do or be capable of doing.  Frustrated, I longed to be a boy in the worst way.  Was I a mistake? Was there some magic way I could change my sex? Although Christine Jorgensen paved the way for rearranging one’s biological imperative, I had to adjust to being a girl. Still, all the things boys could do looked mightily  enticing.  If did manage to pull something off, I was told I was “pretty good for a girl”. This gave credence to the tiny voice in my head that constantly whispered “girls don’t do that, you must be nice, don’t make waves—blah, blah- fuckady blah”.   It was maddening...
 And, relationships! Every time I got into a relationship with a man, I would slowly lose all sense of self and become a doormat. I did not get the memo on how to be a steel magnolia—thank you.  Obviously, I must have been climbing the walls when that information was handed out.  I missed rulebook for that modus operandi. Actually, I am glad, as it appeared to take mountains of energy to be surreptitious.  Betty Friedan cracked the window.   Phew. There was hope.

Anyway, I tucked this “be a good girl and act like a lady” philosophy away in my subconscious, eventually taking it with me when left home with my suitcase filled with smoldering rebellious rage.  Eventually, the women’s movement gave me knowledge… it took a hell of a sight longer to get over the damn emotional damage.           

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