I don’t think I’ve ever tried to pretend to be something I’m not or considered myself above anyone. I grew up in a textbook middle-class family in the ’70s and ’80s in our one-story, brick, ranch-style house. My brother and I weren’t handed everything, but we had more than our parents — the son of two mill workers and the daughter of a shirt factory seamstress and former gas station owner.
I suppose seeing our parents’ families kept me grounded, but my parents wanted me to do more and be more, so they sent me to college. I was the first to graduate with a four-year degree on either side of the family, but it didn’t make me feel any more special. My mother and father both went to some sort of school after getting their high school diploma.
Actually, my grandmother graduated from high school during the 1940s — when many parents pulled their kids out of school to work the fields. I think that’s more awesome. So me going to college? Pfffft… that was just sort of expected.
All that considered, knowing that people think I act like I’m above them bugs me. I know it shouldn’t, but it does. On Saturday night, I was at a bar with Cinlach for one of his friend’s 40th birthday. We’re usually not bar people; Cinlach’s dad had a fondness for alcohol and weed, so we usually don’t gravitate anywhere that resembles a place where his dad might hang out. He lives by WWMDD? “What would my dad do?” And then he does the opposite.
The party attendees were not our usual crowd either — lots of cigarettes, lots of tattoos, lots of drunken yelling. I probably sound like I’m passing judgement, but I’m really not. To each his or her own, just don’t expect me to jump right in the middle of it all.
I suppose one of the female guests thought I was supposed to be livelier during this soirée, because I kept getting this stare down as if to say, “You are not better than me, bitch.” And I thought to myself, Really? You’re gonna single me out when you’ve got all your people right here? Just because I wasn’t talking to anyone there (Hello? The only people I knew were my husband and the birthday dude.) or puffing away on a cigarette or doing shots I apparently thought myself better than the other patrons.
I did go to the bar and order two drinks throughout the evening, but I asked for Firefly vodka — which is apparently a snooty liquor because I got similar looks from the bartenders.
I didn’t tell Cinlach about it because I knew his reaction: “Well, f*ck ’em…” And on the one hand I do feel that way, but on the other, I know my upbringing, and I know I don’t consider myself “above my raisin'” — mainly because the universe has a way of creating a great equalizer. For me, that equalizer comes in the form of tripping over my own feet and breaking an ankle or splitting a toilet tank in two at dark-thirty in the morning.
I’m not above drinking a beer if I like the taste of it. I accompanied my cousin last year when she got her second tattoo. Cigarette smoke cruds up my sinuses and scratches my throat, so I do try to avoid that. While I like to wear makeup when I go out, I’m not afraid to hit the grocery store on Saturday morning with a fresh face (something my mother blames on that women’s college education).
Most of all, I’m not above unladylike gestures — and that includes waving a middle finger in the air to anyone who insists on accusing me being all hoity-toity with a stupid stare down.
Because I will flip that bird with a sweet southern smile — and that’s not something I learned from my mother.