I ask myself at least once a day how the hell I ended up here. Sure, I originally chose to move here for an amazing job opportunity, but I suppose I didn’t think I’d be here this long. But four years later, here I sit on my now slightly larger ass in the land that time has clearly forgotten.
As you might imagine, I stick out like a sore thumb – and it’s not because I’m an almost 6 foot half-Asian girl. I suppose it’s partially because I abandoned my penchant for all things feathers and sequins in about the first grade. Or maybe it’s because heavy make-up to me is mascara, blush, AND lip-gloss. Whatever the reason, my paintspattered industrial-chic t-shirts and vintage pumas have afforded me nothing but weird looks and glances since I’ve moved here. And while I’m perfectly happy to hold up in a large, old house with a martini and my computer, I do feel some sense of responsibility to attempt to socialize my daughter. Therefore, on occasion, we do venture out into the world and enjoy the sunlight on our very pasty skin.
Our weekly Wednesday ritual includes a 25-minute drive to the town near us for a rather average mommy & me class. We sing a few songs, do some sign language, and socialize. Make that SHE socializes. I usually sit, sing, and smile. I used to crack a few jokes here and there, but feeling like a dejected comedian performing for a very sober crowd, I decided it was better (and probably safer) for me just to nod and smile.
After class is over, I attempt to make contact with the other species, but alas, I am generally left to my own devices, namely chasing around my child and eavesdropping. So, from what I can gather (I don’t understand Southernese too well), it seems as though the lovely kiddos (all under the age of ONE mind you) are being naughty. I listen as they describe what neo-toddlers love to do to piss off their parents – spit food out, keep pressing the tv power button- you know crap like that. And then from the mouth of one mother I hear this:
Well, she just spit her food right out at me – and she knew exactly what she was doing. So I just picked her up and popped her right on the butt. Her daddy said I was being mean, and she cried and cried, but she needed to be told that spitting food out is wrong.
Of course, all I heard was this:
Lalalalalalalalalala POPPED HER ON THE BUTT lalalalalalalalalalala
And seriously, her daughter is 9 months old, born 3 months early, and is literally the size of my daughter’s head. And then it happened. They all agreed. I pop him on the butt all the time. Sometimes they just need a butt popping. Nothing makes a point like a good pop on the butt.
Now come on people. Not only does it annoy me that they are using the word POP – like we’re talking about corn, pimples, or farts for crissakes, but are we really still popping or let's just say it SMACKING kids on the butts – especially really tiny infants?
I’m not a spanker – I vowed I never would be. I can honestly say I’ve never popped or bopped my daughter on any part of her body. I got my own fair share of bopping (of the hard, mean, and not-so-erotic kind) and I just felt as though I would never do it to my kids. We send her to the corner or her room. End of story.
But even with all the gumption I could muster, I couldn’t even say a damn thing. Mainly because it would be SO snarky that I would never be able to go back to my stupid her lovely class. And she likes it – and I’m not going to let my crazy shit fuck her up just yet. I figure I’ll wait a few years before I lay that out on the table. So, I'll just have to save my Butts? Hell, we knock her in the back of the head with our shotgunwhile she's chained to her crib comment for some other time. Because I'm pretty sure, this won't be the last time I'll be hearing about Popping Butts or any other such ignorance, for that matter.
**Added: Just so you know, I would have put pictures of parents smacking their children in here, but in most cases, parents do that in private and don't take pictures, so this was the best I could do.
I believe that it's common knowledge that Mississippi is the poorest state in the Union. We have the highest rates of all the bad things, like infant mortality and unemployment, and the lowest rates of all the good things, like intelligence and desire to move quickly from one place to another. Heh. Some people try to rationalize living here by saying "it sure is cheap to live down here." Yes, it is cheap. People are cheap. BUT, I just don't think cheap is very good, unless it's a 75% off sale at Bloomies - and you get a pair of Manolos CHEAP.
Let me just tell you how bad it is down here. Our two MAJOR stores are the two awful Marts. There is no Target. Target would be too HIGH scale for where I live. People buy clothing at Old Navy, McCrae's (one step up over JCPenney's type dept. store), and the Mall <-- which only has JCP and Sears. There are other cheapy stores (surprise surprise) that are even cheaper than the cheap stores in my old malls (you know RAVE...). Even the thrift stores and consignment shops (which should have "designer" duds - but they carry BR and GAP... that's designer down here) have NOTHING of any interest. There is a dollar store every block - which is fine - but not when you are clothing your entire family there. There isn't even a TJMAXX within 60 miles. When TJMAXX is too high scale, you know something is VERY WRONG.
If you have any money in this state, you shop at Boutiques. They carry brands that well, I've never heard of, but the prices are sky high and you are made to feel very fancy and rich when you shop there. The problem is that we live in Mississippi - so I SWEAR to you that everything has a feather, sequin, or faux fur on it. NO JOKE. The purses look like a costume design closet (sorry roo) threw up and made a handbag. The kid's stores are covered in poofy pinafores, those old-fashioned kids orthopedic shoes, and BIG BOWS - lots of BOWS.
So, I have found it nearly impossible to dress my child in any type of stylish, trendy clothing. I always thought that if I had a kid, she would be dressed like a mini rock star or the trendy European kid (you know, with the stripey tights and clunky leather shoes). Granted, I didn't know I'd be living down here, and well, that she would be a kid and refuse to wear anything without POOH on them and get food EVERYWHERE ALL THE TIME. You quickly realize it's not worth paying $100 to dress your child in a cute outfit when they are just going to grow out of it in 2 weeks or yak on it in a matter of minutes. Makes the grabbing for the $3 onesie a bit easier.
That doesn't mean I don't like to get her nice things. And, thus is the POINT of this long rant. The ONE decent store we have is called WALLS. It's definitely a poor girls TJMAXX, but they actually get some great stuff in there - like Lilly Pulitzer and that sort of thing at 50-75% off. So, after gyming it a few days ago, I popped in to find some really cute dresses that would be great on my daughter for her fastly approaching 2nd birthday. She never wears dresses and well, I feel as though it's not a big deal to spend a pretty penny on a dress or 20 pairs of shoes (I will NEVER buy cheap shoes).
So I bring the dress up to the register and the extremely SLOW moving clerk looks at the tag and asks, in her lovely Southern accent, "Dew Yew Know thaaayyt it's HAYLF of $74 dooollleeerrrsss?"
"Yes, I do. It's better than ALL of $74 wouldn't you say?"
And then I realized. ONLY HERE would that have happened. If I was shopping at any boutiques in Philly (where I could actually find rock star chic kid's clothes that I would spend all my money on) or even at TJMAXX, no one would EVER say that to me. BUT down here, no one has any money - and even 50% off $74 (which isn't that bad for a nice designer dress) is WAY too much. This, the land of paying all bills by money orders because no one has a checking account. This, the town of paying for your McDonald's burger with a check because you can't get a check card or credit card. I SHIT YOU NOT.
Needless to say, the dress is adorable and I'm glad I got it. Of course, I would have never paid the full $74 for it.
Don't call me cheap. I've just been living in Mississippi WAY TOO LONG.