Thursday, January 22, 2009

Pre-Victory Dances

When my sister Beth and I were very young, we'd tuck our nightgowns into our underwear and wrestle each other. These were quite the productions; my dad would put on music and we'd stand in opposite corners, doing pre-victory dances. I'd call myself Phoebe Buns and Beth would call herself Bebe Buns. Even though Beth was younger, she was bigger than I was and my mother would panic midway through our bouts, yelling, "Don't hurt her Beth. She's going to snap." But the young and dumb are protected a lot of the time; I am no exception. I remember those times as lovely in the Vaseline-smeared frame that is the past -- my parents alive, the world as wondrous as it ever would be, framed by a sunken living room with avocado green shag carpet.

These days I find myself and a lot of people I know a little beaten down. Make no mistake; we keep going, we retain our humor, we try to love each other. But as I referenced in my last post, the past exacts a cost. In my review of The Wrestler, a commenter took offense at my characterization of certain jobs. All I can say to that is, Brother, I have had all those jobs, the ones where some people are kind and some people treat you as if you have just finished learning the alphabet with the blown-up Letter People we used to have in kindergarten. Once I worked as a receptionist for minimum wage after I received my doctorate. I enjoyed the work and was good at it, but I still remember the day that a man who I assumed was my friend said, You sure would have made something of yourself if you'd just gone to college. I said nothing, just nodded. The days were filled with endless forms, with Tupperware lunches, with sticky school day minutes in the dementia clinic downstairs where aides tried to keep their patients calm until five when the families came to collect them. This place remains a part of me, as does the slaughterhouse I worked at, as does every place I have taught. Maybe I would have been good at professional wrestling -- if I choose to pursue it, at least I already have a stage name.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"As the arteries grow hard, the heart grows soft." H. L. Mencken

Cocktail Hour
Drinking movie suggestion: Gran Torino (See the scenes of Detroit and weep for the beauty.)

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Thursday!


Anonymous said...

They were a rough crowd.--MB

Anonymous said...

I will not drink Merlot!!!!--Miles

chris said...

The past exacts a cost. It sort of directs the future as well.

Is it not fun having people judge you based puerly on your looks or the job you my be doing.

While I still had my Federal Agent creds,I needed a jump start for the old car I was driving so I ask the first person who came along. He looked me up and down,tattoos on the arms and flannel shirt. He had the look of a business man in suit and tie nothing fancy but more nicely dressed than I was at the time. With the look of discust on his face and a snoby attitude he rudely said NO. Today I would bitch slap that person into next week.

I once worked above a meat packing plant doing construction work. Oh my God, I don't know what valves they opened around noon but the stench was ungodly. I have been around a lot but I could not take that place.

Tim said...

Hey Phoebe,
Your description of your wrestling matches had me laughing. Bet your parents got a kick out of them.
I too think that everything we do is a part of us and shapes our life in some way - in a tiny manner we don't even see or in a profound, life altering way.
I love that picture... but then, have you ever taken a bad picture in your whole life?....I didn't think so. :)

jodi said...

Hiya Lovey, I too, have been accused of rose colored glasses or vaseline lens. But they are my memories, and they can't take that away. I also have had "those" job, an amalgamation of who I am today. xoxo

Scott said...


I loved your description of your wrestling matches. They must have been fun. I once thought that I would have made a good wrestler...I would have either Dimmu Borgir's 'Progenies of the Great Apocalypse'or Motorhead's 'Orgasmatron' as my entrance music...but I'm not big enough and I refuse to take steriods, LOL.

I noticed that the rather long-winded person who took offense at your earlier post didn't even do it under his own name....funny how that works.

I've had jobs that people looked down upon me at...retail comes to mind. I swear, I could've gone on a tri-state killing spree some days, LOL.

I thought of you today at the grocery store...I saw a bottle of Moet in the cooler!

Take care, keep healing up, and have a great weekend, darlin'!

the walking man said...

No matter what the job I've had, be it fixing cars or scrubbing toilets, there was always something to allow me some personal enjoyment from doing it despite what them who received my services thought of the one delivering them.

I find it hard to fathom why education in some allows them to develop ever larger egocentric thinking simply via more alphabet behind the name.

The biggest assholes I have ever met had MS or MFA or PhD. hung on their name but at the same time two of the kindest had some initials hung behind their name as well. Mom had MSW and Phoebe Buns PhD.

Go figure.

I suppose the real education is in cleaning shit.

The Professor said...

I once saw myself as suffering through those jobs when I was in college, now they feel like badges of honor. It wasn't that they were beneath me, they just broke your back somedays. And now teaching in a community college (the same one that Michelle once blessed), I find having worked those jobs helps me to relate to my students.

It strikes me how some of my fellow faculty look down on the campus where I teach (a very blue collar neighborhood) and its students because they aren't as "polished" as the other campus (read "lower socioeconomic"). In fact one of the faculty in my dept has said as much, stating the students just weren't up to her standards. Some of these students work and achieve despite being single moms, working parents, students struggling to make bills and try to follow road to improve their lives. I admire their achievements, I had to work to get here (though not necessarily as hard as they do).

I did have to laugh at the mention of the "Letter People" from grade school. I loved Super "S" and "M" Munchy Mouth. Those were the best. And if you like Moet, try Mawby (from Leelanau in Michigan, with all Leelanau grapes) Blanc de Blanc.

Dave Kowalczyk said...

Nice shot Dr. Brooks!

Charles Gramlich said...

"She's going to snap!" Could be taken a couple of different ways.

I was always pretty small in school but mostly nobody troubled me because they pretty much knew if it came to a fight I wouldn't quit until one of us was badly hurt.

Anonymous said...


Laura Benedict said...

You have such a quality of disappearing, sweetie. But you are always more present than any of us. xoxo

Anonymous said...

Thank you.--JLCGULL

tui said...

You write so beautifully Michelle.