We're Just Like You Only Prettier: Confessions of a Tarnished Southern Belle

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Today I spent four hours in a beer cooler (there's a sentence I bet you don't read very often in blog entries . . . or anywhere for that matter). My Mother is sick and so I filled in for her at work (at the grocery store my parents own), and my job for the day was refilling the beer cooler. I haven't done that job since high school when I briefly (very briefly) worked there. It only took me five minutes in the beer cooler to remember why I quit that job in the first place. Oh sure, climbing over the huge stacks of 18 packs to get to the back of the cooler where the correct brand is wedged so far down that I have to shimmy down into a two inch wide space and then try to figure out how to wedge myself back out while also lugging the case of beer is fun for a minute or two, but after the third minute it really starts to wear on a person. And then to add to the fun, I got to do it all in a cooler that was set at 32 degrees. I spent the whole afternoon feeling irritated that I forgot to bring a scarf.

I woke up earlier than usual today so I could read for a little while before going to the store, and then I raced home and got right back to reading. . . after I finished reading the newest copy of US Magazine (hey can you blame me, I wanted to read about how Kate Gosselin fired a nanny for washing her hands in the kitchen sink instead of the bathroom one).

Today's book, "Rivenbark has penned a new-and equally sidesplitting-collection of essays, offering Northern and Southern sisters alike a woman's "take on those irksome little yuks in daily life." Although she warns certain readers (Yankees, namely) that they may need a Southern lexicon to decipher her folksy, down-home prose style, Rivenbark's focus on familiar topics like family, relationships and child rearing should appeal to most females, regardless of geography or age. Marked by a feisty, sarcastic tone."

I was too lazy to copy the description from the back of the book so I just used one I found on a book site, and I'm seriously regretting that because if I only had the above description to go on I never would have read this book. First of all, I never trust any book description that promises the book will be sidesplitting - that's pretty much a guarantee that I won't be amused even once (which turned out to be the case). Secondly, I could just gag that whoever wrote that description expects women everywhere to find a book about family and child rearing appealing. Was that book description written in 1952?

I picked today's book because my sister is visiting a friend in Charleston and they wanted me to read a Southern book. I had several options set aside but I had to go with the one that was the
shortest since I knew I would be pressed for time today (after all, I didn't just have to work and read a book, I had to fit in time to read a tabloid too and that takes strategic planning).

I enjoyed today's book, although I did not find it funny at all despite the author's many attempts at humor. I got the feeling all throughout the book that I'm supposed to find the book endlessly amusing, but it didn't even produce one laugh. The book was sort of like an old sitcom, like Leave it to Beaver or The Brady Bunch, that's meant to be funny and yet never is, but I still like them anyway despite the lack of humor. Having said that, I think I'd be disappointed in this book if I had to spend more than one day reading it, it's good for a one-day-fluffy-I-don't-want-to-have-to-think kind of book and nothing more.

My favorite part of the book was when the author described one of her families oddities, ". . . the conversation almost always starts with a recitation of the near or recently dead and disintegrates into sputtering frustration when it's obvious I have no idea who they're talking about. 'You know Pearlie and don't say you don't! Remember how he used to live down from Cousin Maynard's house and everybody always said he wouldn't amount to much because he had a crazy eye." - I enjoyed that passage, although I didn't find it funny, perhaps because I've taken one too many trips to White Trash Junction with my mother as she tells long and windy stories filled with people I don't remember. The sad part is that the stories don't just begin and end with that one person as the author of today's book describes with her family. My Mother's stories like to jump all over town, from one white trash family to the next, and go a little something like this:

Mom: You know Peggy, she was the one who married my other friend Tricia's brother, you know the one who was that stock car driver who crashed his car into the wall that one time.

Me: Mom, I wasn't alive when any of that happened, and it doesn't help to connect Peggy to two other people I don't know.

Mom: You know who the brother is. Jeff was the one who lived next door to that friend of my Mother's whose daughter had that baby when she was twelve.

Me: I have no idea who the girl is, so that doesn't help either.

Mom: Oh sure you do, she was friends with Sheila the one who came from that family that had two kids in one year, one in January and one in December. I remember they had to have their dinning room table specially built because they had 14 kids.

Me: I have no idea who any of those people are.

Mom: You know who Sheila is, she was the one who married that guy that used to date her ex-boyfriend's mother before they met. Well actually no, I think she met him while he was still dating the mother.

This is the point where I usually put myself out of my misery and pretend like I know who all of those people are. You know Mom, on second thought I remember all of those people with perfect clarity. If I was smart I would pretend to know who they are right from the beginning, but sometimes curiosity gets the better of me and I like to play a little game called "Guess how many white trash memories my Mother can cram into one conversation." There was even a time when I decided to let her go for as long as she could keep the story going just to see how long it would last, but I cracked after 45 minutes because I just couldn't take it anymore.

Please join me tomorrow dear readers, where I'm going to play a fun new game called "See if Angie can get her blog entry up before 11 o'clock."