As Kath, Leann, & I shared a plate of chili cheese fries,
the legend of Johnny Lingo was the star of the conversation,
& I realized how different I had been raised to see the world,
for where they saw a sweet story about true love,
I saw a story that reeked of sexism,
& antiquated ways of thinking,
for Mahana had allowed the first man in her life,
to diminish her,
even as she allowed another man,
who had a hypothesis in which she was the experiment,
to restore her.
For me, a woman’s worth was unrelated
to how a mortal man measured it
but how the immortal One,
a warlock whose spell had cast a wide net
& made fishers of men,
But when I examined this thinking further,
I realized that Jesus,
genderless or not,
had come in the form of a man.
The patriarchy was alive & well.
Kath’s grandmother was of the Pentecostal Holiness faith
& spent all day watching the Trinity Broadcasting Network.
When her Bibi beheld my bare shoulders,
I could see,
reflected in the eyes that were like limpid pools,
the stones that had been raised to Mary Magdalene
for letting her shoulders be touched,
even as I was letting mine be seen.
The sister missionaries had convinced us
that because Tony was allowed in Church
wearing his loud Rush Limbaugh ties,
I could show up with the braided hair
that made me look like a white-faced Cleopatra.
Sister Kyle loved the idea of the Mission President
flipping his wig (or toupée),
when he learned that Leann & I had attended church
in matching dos.
How ironic it was that the Church would celebrate Kath
wearing her hair like mine,
when it was more natural for me to wear it like hers,
without the chemical straighteners
that flattened the curves that comprised her integumentary identity.
As I gazed at myself in the hand mirror,
feeling like a movie star
& a bit like the Wicked Queen,
I knew this what it was like to have girlfriends—
except instead of a slumber party,
it was a sleepover;
instead of Truth or Dare,
it was Truth only;
& instead of romantic comedies,
it was unromantic dramas
produced by the Church.
Mother & David were getting baptized;
David & I with the water,
Mother with the Spirit.
“My greatest wish was that you would be baptized, David,”
& Mother mouthed the last word:
Logline for Because of Mindy Wiley: An Irish-Catholic girl coming of age in the Deep South during the New Millennium finds her family splintered when two Mormon missionaries come to her door, their presence and promise unearthing long-buried family secrets, which lead to her excommunication and exile.
When the Club Sandwich met at Pensacola Vice for drinks,
they played the one-upmanship game while
taking potshots at one another (or rather, marijuana hits).
They knew better than to play hardball in the house,
so they painted the town a psychedelic red
(a pigment also known as beating heart liberal).
While Mike & Carol (with Bob, Ted, & even Alice)
tripped through the Astroturf wonderland,
this Gang of 6,
more scrambled than a 3-animal omelet,
needed no chaperone,
for they entertained themselves & others—
Greg, Peter, Bobby, Jan, & Cindy in front of the cameras
& Marcia in front of the mirrors.
Jill, Kelly, & Sabrina—
Charlie’s braless angels &
Bosley’s femme fatales—
found themselves 40 years in the future
where they were doubly appreciated,
for everything old had become new again.
When each gal spotted the man they believed
to be the enigmatic Charlie,
they scattered to follow him,
tagging themselves on Facebook
& checking themselves in at random places
to find one another again.
When they reconnected,
they found not the time machine
that had brought them there
the time capsule they were.
I saw myself as the Sunday school girl
who focused on the “Happy Texts,”
because it helped me “keep the faith.”
In A Tree Grows in Brooklyn,
I saw myself in Francie Nolan—
that lies weren’t lies if they were written as stories.
In The Wizard of Oz,
I saw myself as Dorothy—
who fell asleep to dreams
In The Sound of Music,
I saw myself as Liesl von Trapp,
who saw the greatness of her country
In Kitty Foyle,
I saw myself as “that sassy Mick”—
once in love with an unattainable man.
In Elmer Gantry,
I saw myself as Sister Sharon Falconer—
whose faith was strong,
even as her love for a man made her weak.
In Seven Brides for Seven Brothers,
I saw myself as Milly,
who tried to smooth out a rough-hewn man.
In Gone with the Wind,
I saw myself as Scarlett O’Hara—
who proved that strength and tenacity
could save it all.
Classic movies have always been
my happy distraction,
for in them,
I saw the parallels of my own life,
and though their pain wasn’t my pain,
their joys were my joys.
Back in the day, when I wanted to rent a movie, I had to physically drive to Blockbuster and peruse the VHS synopses. Seemed like there were better movies then, but they had to be more selective with their shelf space than these streaming services, with their endless virtual space. Though I was always kind enough to rewind, I was often tardy.
Of course, my dad tried to do one better—he tried to rewind these suspicious-looking discs called DVDs when they first came out.
Today, it’s no longer an event to go to the video store, to write a letter to someone, to listen to a professor in person. It’s all done via a screen. Even buttons are becoming a thing of the past.
When she gave birth to the daughter
who would cause her screams,
she did not know she was giving birth
to her own death 20 years later-
a death that would silence those screams.
She lived a life without regrets,
but then, she had no memory.
It was bliss.
For if only he’d known she’d asked for him,
he would’ve never left Tara,
with Ashley alone & aggrieved—
Ashley, a milquetoast remnant of The Old South.
This Old South,
burnt & faded from Bonnie Blue
to bleached denim,
was now ashes that were
gone with the wind.
She was sorry she ever lied,
for because of her lie,
the lie became a truth.
For she’d wanted 7 children
& 1 husband,
but ended up with 7 husbands
& 1 child–
all because she had put
her husbands before the 1.
- A Tree Grows in Brooklyn: Written lies can be stories. (Just don’t print them as truth.)
- To Kill a Mockingbird: Sometimes there are consequences for doing the right thing.
- Gone with the Wind: You might lose your soul-mate by pining for someone else’s.
- Clash by Night: “It’s who I am” is not an excuse for being a jerk.
- Johnny Belinda: Sometimes you say it best when you say nothing at all.
- 9-5: If you want good office morale, treat your employees right.
- Office Space: “Humans weren’t meant to sit in a cubicle all day.”
- 12 Angry Men: “Not guilty” isn’t the same thing as “innocent”.
- The Night of the Hunter: Religion can wound, and it can heal; it depends upon the application.
- It’s a Wonderful Life: Your life matters more than you realize.
- Miracle on 34th Street: Let children be children.
- Seven Brides for Seven Brothers: Never stop wooing your wife.
- Meet Me in St. Louis: A love of home and a sense of belonging is more important than more money.
- The Sound of Music: Even in the darkest of times, music can be one’s salvation.
- Sullivan’s Travels: Making people laugh has intrinsic value.
I was ten years old when I saw “Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus”, around a quarter of a century ago, and I never forgot it. I’m not even sure if it’s a Hallmark movie (if it is, I can say, “They sure don’t make ’em like they use to”). That said, for some reason, I never believed in Santa Claus (my parents tried, but I was like little Susan Walker on “Miracle on 34th Street”); I don’t know why that was–I suppose, being a very imaginative child, I thought everything that wasn’t Biblical or historical was simply a story, and that it was fun to pretend.
For years, I’ve tried to find a copy of “Virginia”, to no avail. Yesterday, I looked it up on YouTube, and there it was. I caught many things as an adult that I did not as a child, such as how all the immigrants (from different countries, no less) looked out for each other. It made me think of when my mom was in the military overseas and all the Americans were close-knit (so different than in the States).
I used to think I wanted to be a reporter (even though I was terribly shy, having not matured into an introvert yet), but I decided I wanted to write stories where I wouldn’t have to depend upon other people to provide the information. I also wanted to write stories that would be remembered. This was further confirmed when my English Comp II professor said, “Most people can name at least one book that’s changed their life, but not a newspaper article.” When Franklin P. Church (the man who answers Virginia O’Hanlon’s question about whether or not there is a Santa Claus) says no one remembers a news story after 24 hours, I agreed. It’s why I’m not majoring in journalism–because I want what I write to stand the test of time (though journalism can be a much more exciting and lucrative career).
When I read a biography of Aimee Semple McPherson (female evangelist who founded The Church of the Foursquare Gospel), it changed my mind on women pastors. When I read D. James Kennedy’s, “What if Jesus Had Never Been Born?”, it opened my eyes to how the gospel of Jesus Christ not only affected those who chose Him, but also bettered the lives of those who did not who lived with those who had. When I read “The Happy Room” by Catherine Palmer, it showed how Christians sometimes neglect their children in the name of being “called” to do missionary work, for what profits a person to save a village, but lose their own children? “Many Moons” by James Thurber showed that children have simple wisdom. Dr. Seuss’s “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” showed that the Christmas spirit cannot be found in a store, but comes from within.
I’d love to write such a book, but perhaps, I will someday write such a story (or editorial) like Franklin P. Church’s, even though newspapers are dying as blogs are being born. Perhaps I will even write that story somewhere online, for words on a screen can be just as powerful as on paper (once they’re internalized) and they will live on in cyberspace, long after my soul has returned to the firmament.
The editorial: http://www.nysun.com/editorials/yes-virginia/68502/
What is your story?