Monday, April 18, 2005

Adventures with the Gout-Ridden Reverend

My poor dad has one leg that goes straight down from his calf into a huge, puffy foot that ends in five swollen toes that each seem to be straining away from each other. They look like they might pop right off. This doesn't slow him down, much, though. He's just hobbling around and ordering anyone within hearing distance to meet his needs. We drove down to Decatur, Alabama to give the smallest nephew to his dad, who he's not seen in half a year. The smallest nephew was thrilled to see his dad. He locked himself in his dad's car, he was so anxious to go home with him. He wants to see his brother and all his brother's family. Earlier, the littlest nephew went right up to the biggest, scariest biker you've ever seen and said, "Is that your motorcycle?" and this big grizzly guy broke into a big grin. "You wear a helmet?" the littlest nephew asked and the guy said yes and stood there and answered his questions, as best as he could make them out. Then, he got on his motorcycle, revved it loudly, and, when the littlest nephew cheered, he waved and drove off. He's a little heathen--not in the religious sense, but in the social sense--but he's not my kid, so I find it impossible not to be charmed by behavior that probably would drive me insane if he were my kid. He's ordering the waiter to bring us our bill. He's yelling, "Bring it on" and running at you to play fight, in the middle of the store. He's always talking to everyone. And he says stuff that about breaks me in two, like "Are the cops coming? Are they going to shoot me? Are they going to take you to jail? Are they going to kill some babies?" "No, no," I say, "Cops don't shoot little boys. They help little boys. If you have a problem, if something scary happens, you can count on the police to help you." The Reverend is playing cribbage with the Butcher and the Redheaded Kid, so the most common noise from my childhood--sixteen two, sixteen four, sixteen three and two are eight--is filling my house. It makes me happy. My dad is asking me to tell you guys that the more money y'all give to Methodist ministers, the more your personal income will increase. But it must go to the ministers, not to the church, and it doesn't matter if you're Methodist. I'm not sure this is the ideal way to raise money for his retirement, but it beats whatever the Methodist church has conned him into participating in. Ha. Don't tell him I said that.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you sure it's wise to tell your nephyew that he can always count on the cops to help him?

4/19/2005 04:44:00 AM  
Blogger Aunt B said...

No, I'm not sure. But, of everybody I know, he's most likely to have very bad shit happen to him and I'm afraid for him, and I want him to feel like he has some resources.

I mean, really, is it better to tell a three-year-old that the cops might shoot him?

Shall I sit down with him and teach him about moral ambiguity and uncertainty and not being able to count on authority figures?

Even if he has a 50/50 shot of the cops being unhelpful, those are better odds than he has with most of the adults in his life.

4/19/2005 09:07:00 AM  
Blogger Peggasus said...

He sounds like a pretty happy little guy nonetheless, friendly and curious, as all 3-year-olds should be.

I LOVE cribbage. Many a boring afternoon when I was bartending was occupied by playing countless games of cribbage. I haven't played in years. I should take it up again.

I don't think the new pope would take kindly to me giving my money to Methodists, however. They prefer to keep it in the family.

4/19/2005 04:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course you're right. Wouldn't it be nice if there were someone he could count on. Your posts about those boys break my heart.

By the way don't they need cool fake blog names. Having a fake blog name isn't as cool as having a fake punk-rock name (spelled with anarchy a' Mark N. once said, "Anybody with an A in their name should be required to write it that way EVERY TIME!"), but you do what you can with what you got.

Eli(anarchy sign)s

4/19/2005 04:35:00 PM  
Blogger Aunt B said...

He is so friendly and cheerful it just about kills me. I start grinning the moment he shows up and don't stop until he leaves. He's got very mad at my dad because my dad "spanked" Mrs. Wigglebottom (for some reason, the dog loves it if you smack her on the butt) and he put his little finger right in my dad's face and shook it and said, "No hitting."

I laughed so hard I thought I was going to wet my pants.

They do deserve cool fake blog names. I'm going to call the littlest one Mosaic, since most people in my dad's church pronounce his name like it rhymes with mosaic (how I wish I were kidding!), and the biggest one can be Deuteronomy, in keeping with the Old Testament naming tradition in that part of the family.

Peggasus, unfortunately for my dad, your refusal to give him money is pretty much the retirement "plan" the Methodist church is offering him.

I never learned to play cribbage, because I can't add, but my favorite card game is euchre, which must be a midwest thing, because I can't find anyone down here who's even heard of it.

4/19/2005 05:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I shouldn't keep beating this cop thing, but I keep dwelling on that line "Cops don't shoot little boys," cause a cop in my town shot a 13 year old retarded boy.

Mosaic is white though, so he's got that going for him.

4/19/2005 07:28:00 PM  
Blogger Aunt B said...

Well, of course cops shoot kids. You know that and I know that. But this is a preoccupation of his--that the cops or firefighters are coming to shoot him--and it clearly frightens him.

And, while it might appear that his fears are well-founded, how can they be? He's only three. He runs around saying "To infinity and beyond," but he doesn't know what infinity means.

He's got a very adult vocabulary and parrots back many very adult concerns, but he doesn't have the... knowledge base behind it. It's something that takes a little while to get, that he has a huge vocabulary, but that all those words aren't yet linked to concepts.

I mean, it's very reasonable for 10 to 25 year old boys to be emminently cautious around the police. It's something you have to figure out how to teach your pre-teen without turning them off to the police completely (because they're going to interact with them at some point, and not acting like a total spazz will go a long way to keeping the situation from escalating into something tragic).

But I know that's not something Mosaic can wrap his little mind around. And when the cops show up in his life--and they will, inevitably--I don't want him to think that something very bad is about to happen to him.

It's not like I reassured him, in any case. He still believes that everyone in a uniform is going to kill him and take the adults to jail. So, your worry about me giving him an overly positive picture is unfounded. He remains as fearful as ever.

4/19/2005 09:26:00 PM  

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