Saturday, September 10, 2005

Getting to know you...

So I have been watching and listening to Swifty. I'm getting a better idea of what he's like and who he is. Don't think for a minute he's not doing the same with me. I know a sidelines spy when I see one, I've been one all my life. Watching with mild interest to conversations going on around him, offering the odd nod to show he's paying attention, vaguely, while trying to decipher the accent of the news reader. He's becoming a bit more comfortable around us, certainly more with the Hubs than me; they've discovered they can talk about cars together. Isn't that how boys find friends, once you know you can share a common topic, that's it: you're now my friend?

I know he's being that extra bit cautious with me. He must be smart, or have been coached by my Mom. I think he knows I'm comparing him to my Dad. How can I not? My Dad was a very unusual man. Moody, that sums him up. Dynamic one minute, withdrawn the next. Energetic one minute, sullen the next. (This trait in other men drives me absolutely bonkers, and caused me to dump several boyfriends.) He was always seeking for great joy, and would often be sullen when a joy would disappointed him. I miss my Dad a lot; he died five years ago and I still haven't forgotten him. Not that I would forget him, but I still talk about him in present tense, I talk about him with the kids saying how much he loves them and always will. To me, he's not really gone, just not here.

A story from my past: When I was about seven, I was playing out during recess and overheard one of the boys call another boy a nigger. I didn't know why and hadn't heard the name before. Billy was one of four black children in my entire school. All the black children in my school had white parents. Billy just walked away while the other boys continued to play and laugh. Billy didn't seem upset, but he didn't want to play any more. I forgot about the whole incident and went back to playing cat's cradle.

During spring break later that year, my family went on a drive down to S. Carolina to visit some family friends. I think, I must have seen a black person from he car window and said "Is that a nigger, Daddy?" what I do remember is the car pulling over and me being grilled about where I had heard that word, what it meant, how ugly and disgusting it was and that I was never, EVER to say it again. I was suitably terrified to never use it again.

We all went to the local mall in S.C. and I was fascinated by the amount of black people around, and I would watch in silence, invisible as a child is when quiet and not causing a fuss about something. I heard all the black men calling each other this n-word. Don't they know it's an ugly and disgusting thing to say? My Dad just said, they can say what they want, but I was never to say it. I've followed this command ever since.

Now Swifty has not said this word. But he has made comments about how schools should be segregated to stop inter-racial marriages. He's asked about mixed marriages in the UK and what people's opinions are on the subject, and where would we get a black population from. I remember my Mom telling me last year that Swifty still had his deceased wife's clothes in his house. When Mom suggested he give them to the charity shop, he said it would bother him to see black people wearing his wife's old clothes. I'm sensing the tip of the iceberg here.

I'm not going to lie, but I've always had a fear and distrust of the South ever since I heard those black men call each other the n-word in the mall. Don't they know it's wrong? If the rules are expected to be followed and yet ignored by the very one's who find it offensive; I'm just not going to try. My Dad told me I can't change what other people do and say only what I do and say. I don't think I could ever figure out the rules of decorum in the South.

Swifty spoke to me last night about us moving back to the South because Hubs could get a job earning excellent money, and the schools and the land, and the scenery, the favorable weather...yes. I can tell he's very proud of where he's from (Appalachian Tenn.) and I can respect that. My Mom was gritting her teeth, wondering if I was going to offer up my opinions of the South (And you can blame Jerry Springer for the modern interpretations) but I didn't. I was very well behaved.

I have accepted that my prejudices are not found on personal experiences, and therefore are just fear based. I've made some excellent friends here who are from the South, and have softened my previous stance of "Never below the Mason/Dixon shall I go" what a stupid thing to say. I'm sorry.

I know my Mom has tried to change Swifty's beliefs, but they're life long and stuck on like stink. I just wonder; How long will she tolerate it?
Comment made lat night that made me think....

Mom: I'm determined to spend all my money, it's mine and my kids should take care of themselves. My Mom dies and didn't leave me anything, why should I be expected to leave mine on for them (Now, I'm not bothered by this, She worked really hard all her life, and she damn well deserves to be happy and enjoy the benefits of that. Good for her I say!)

Swifty: Well when I die, all of what I have goes to your Mom, and she can them give out to the kids.

Mom: I don't want it. When you die, I'm gone out of there so fast there'll be dust.

Swifty: No, you will stay there, and be happy.

Mom: No I won't. Not for a minute. I'll come here and live with Lyv and Hubs.
(Smiles from me and Hubs: please don't)

evidently, Swifty doesn't believe in wills.
I am still going to give him more of a chance. Mom has to love him for a reason, and I'm sure I'll find it.

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