Saturday, February 5, 2011
My mother, always on her mission to keep us protected from the dregs of the life the White Trash, set certain rules. An obvious one was that we were forbidden from trailer parks. In her mind, the "other side of the tracks" no longer was a true line of distinction, she actually pointed out neighborhoods where families who were "not our kind of people" lived. I never could get her to explain who these people were, she would just say, "One day, you will understand, and thank me."
My brother and I were enrolled in a small private school both for academic purposes and to assure my mother that we were ensconced in this social cocoon and with "our kind of people". For some reason, she assumed that only "our kind of people" would pay tuition to attend school. Oddly enough, this wasn't a racial issue . So my brother and I rocked along in our little world (our very small world). Mom and Dad knew most of the parents of our friends, except for the kids who drove in from the surrounding small towns.
At 12 or 13, there's only so much a girl can do, since we weren't old enough to drive. Mom liked that because it gave her a certain amount of control over my life and my friends. One friend, she and Dad particularly liked was Marni with her warm smile and her quick wit. I particularly liked Marni's older sister who would pretty much take us any where we wanted to go - an incredibly valuable commodity for a 12 year old.
One Saturday afternoon, when I came home, Mom asked me what I had done. I told her we had gone to see a move at the theatre downtown. "But, we dont' go there," she said slowly. "I know, I never had. It was pretty neat."
The next time I wanted to go to Marni's, Mom insisted on taking me instead of Marni's sister picking me up. As I gave her directions to her house, I could see the countenance on her face change as we crossed that line. Marni lived in the forbidden land. Marni was not "our kind of people" (according to my mother's definition.)
As she pulled up in front of Marni's house, I looked at her and said, "Why do you look so surprised? You don't recognize 'not our kind of people' when you see them?" For once, my mother didn't quite know what to say. I jumped out of the car with my overnight bag and reminded her to pick me up the next morning. As she drove off, it dawned on me she had never been in this part of our very small town, I wondered if we should have left bread crumbs for her to find her way out of the dark forest.