Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Insomnia = Memories

I can't sleep. So I'm going to tell you a story. And because I could really use it right now, it's going to be a funny story. See how this works? This is another excerpt from my Papa James' autobiography. It's a tale he told on his father, who we all called Big Daddy.

Again, I've corrected bits where it was important to make the meaning clear.

I remember well something funny about Big Daddy: Once in Crowley, LA, Big Daddy went to a bait dealer that a lady ran out of her home. She also sold goldfish & puppies from her female dogs. After counting out our gold fish, Big Daddy gave her a $20.00 bill. She told him to come into the house so she could get his change. He followed her in and she went in the bedroom to get her purse for change. She had a mama chihuahua with young puppies in her bedroom. She asked Daddy if he would like to come into the bedroom and see her little chewawa [sic]. Big Daddy had never heard of a Chihuahua and thought she was offering him sexual concessions! He declined the offer! Later he found out what a chihuahua was. Ha. I can still hear him laughing and telling this on himself, even years later.

And because turnabout is fair play, a memory of me being unsophisticated...

I was about 7 years old the first time I stayed by myself at my grandparents' house. I hadn't really gotten to play like I was an only child since my middle sister was born when I was 13 months old. So, like, never. About that time in my life, I was fighting with my mom about my hair a lot. Maybe all the time, because I seem to recall that by the next school year old ladies at church were telling my mom what a fine priest I would make some day. I knew all the words and had the clean-cut look! Anyway, at this point, my mom was still trying to let me wear my hair long, but it was a daily war zone with crying, wailing, chemical weaponry, blood, entrenched positions, the works. Mom kept us on a pretty tight schedule as kids, mostly for her own sanity, but suddenly I found myself in the bizarre position of being the (extremely spoiled) grandchild in a house by myself with my grandparents' undivided attention. I lapped it up like a cat does cream, and was slinking into the kitchen about 3 days into my visit in my pajamas to see if anybody wanted to make me pancakes. I was only 7, I was entitled to that level of self-centeredness and, in fact, my grandmother DID want to make me pancakes. She had gotten a jar of sourdough starter going pretty good and wanted to use some of it, so logically, pancakes ensued. And as I sidled into the kitchen all barefoot and rumpled and bedheaded, Granny Jessalyn looked up from where she was reading in the green morning light of her kitchen window, and she laughed a deep happy laugh and remarked to Papa James, "Yes, sir! When you're at grandmother's house you can really let your hair down!" Serious and literal and 100% sincere, I responded, "That's right! You don't even have to brush it if you don't want to!" She laughed so hard, and then hugged me so tight, the memory is chipped into the rock of my soul the way it smelled and felt and sounded. She explained about women having to wear their hair put up all the time, back in the old days, and how it was a real treat to be where you could relax and let it down. And ever since, I've associated the Gibson girl with my Granny Jessalyn's kitchen. Then she pulled out the sourdough starter from her icebox and we got down to some pancakes.

1 comment:

the Mom said...

Isn't it funny, I don't remember you having wild hair at all. All I remember about you from childhood is how insanely tall you were, that you had a great laugh, your mom's giant car, and how much I wished I could have a horse too!