Must have been a Southern thang

After finishing a morning of church, after clearing the dinner table and washing all the dishes, my two brothers and I saw Sunday afternoons as free time. Our parents saw it differently. Sunday afternoons, they said, was when people went calling. None of them were invited. They just showed up. This meant all the toys and games had to be hidden away in closets and drawers because whover dropped by was like a bootcamp drill instructor who would inspect the house–or so we were told.

So, we sat around in the freshly vacuumed living room waiting for the doorbell to ring. We read approved books that would look good if they were suddenly set down on the coffee table when guests arrived. No comic books. No dime novels. Nothing that had been banned in Boston.

Free Family Basic Cliparts, Download Free Family Basic Cliparts png images,  Free ClipArts on Clipart LibraryDing. “Oh Christ. it’s the Bakers and they brought their daughter Chrissy with them.” Every time the Bakers came over, Chrissy’s attitude was, “I don’t want to be here.” “The feeling was mutual,” I wanted to say, in fact did say it by pretending she wasn’t in the room.

Mr. Baker (George) asked me the same question every time he brought his rich Episcopalian family into our humble Presbyterian home while his wife Prissy made eye contact with any dust bunny she located.

“How’s school, Malcolm?”

What I said: “Fine.”

What he said: “Good, good, Chrissy’s going to be the valedictorian, lead cheerleader, the May queen, the student council vice president, and the apple of every teacher’s eye.”

What I I wanted to say when Mr. Baker asked about school: “Well, George, I don’t know because I got expelled several weeks ago after getting all the cheerleaders pregnant.” Then he would shout, “Hey, half pint, you didn’t miss your last period did you?”

I smiled just imagining the scene playing out that way. My smile faded when I contemplated a shotgun wedding and subsequently joining the Episcopal Church. Yet, it might have been worth it had it caused all the right people to shun us on Sunday afternoons so we could get on with our lives instead of sitting around pretending we were reading Faulkner and Shakespeare.

I never got lucky, either with Chrissy or stopping people from calling and ruining what could have been a wondrous Sunday afternoon of cowboys and and Indians or Monopoly. I hear that the good Lord rested on Sunday, but we were never allowed that option. The Bakers might ring the doorbell at any moment afterwhich we would lose an hour of our lives while they discussed ships and sealing wax with our parents. Or, if the Rays came over, it was cabbages and kings

Years later I read in the newspaper that Chrissy went to prison for proteting the Vietnam War in an unsavory fashion. The Bakers, bless their hearts, never mentioned it.

Malcolm

Day of Rest

“Every person needs to take one day away.  A day in which one consciously separates the past from the future.  Jobs, family, employers, and friends can exist one day without any one of us, and if our egos permit us to confess, they could exist eternally in our absence.  Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for.  Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us.” –  Maya Angelou  (Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now)

relaxationWhen I saw this quotation on Terri Windling’s Myth and Moor blog, I started thinking that while a writer’s life must appear serene to those who work in more active jobs, it’s very hard to allow oneself to get that day of rest.

If one is actively writing a story, the characters seldom take a day off. They’re always jabbering away inside the writer’s head. Or, s/he is thinking of facts to check or scenes that require another look. If one is not actively writing a story, then it’s easy to feel the need to be posting something on a blog like this one or on a Facebook page.

Case in point: before I saw that quote about taking a day off, I was thinking of writing a post in response to a writer/reviewer who doesn’t think Rowling’s adult books are all that good. I don’t agree and was going to say why–not that it matters one way or another in the scheme of things what I think about Rowling’s books.

But in thinking about a day of rest–after I’ve already gone to the store and cleaned out the gutters over the front door—going through that reviewer’s negative Rowling points one by one, seemed very in-restful. So, I’m letting that go in favor of reading more of her latest “Robert Galbraith” detective story The Silkworm.

Growing up, I never looked forward to Sunday because–in that era and in that town–Sunday afternoons were reserved for calling on other people. My two brothers and I were ordered to stay in our Sunday clothes, keep our rooms clean, and not to get involved in any games that messed up the house. It was not a day of rest.

Traditionally, I think of Sunday as a day of rest even though a fair number of people are working at the restaurants, movie theaters, malls and other places where many people go to rest. Folks are still working their yards, though possibly not starting up their lawn mowers quite as early as they do on Saturday.

There’s always football and beer, and whether one slumps on the couch with a six pack or has friends over for grilling, that’s probably better than heading off to the office to catch up on paperwork or clearing the thicket of privet out of the backyard. There’s always taking a nap. For some, there are hobbies that provide some of the best relaxation on the planet. Perhaps one can also call it rest.

We need more than we’re getting even if we have to trick ourselves into resting rather than thinking of all the stuff we ought to be doing. Thank goodness, the era of people dropping by to call on Sunday afternoons is long gone. For a kid or a writer, boring conversation is hell rather than rest.

Now, time to pick up my copy of The Silkworm in spite of what that reviewer said about it, and get some well-deserved rest after yesterday afternoon’s yard work. Later this afternoon, there’s a U. S. Open Tennis game I want to watch, er, with a glass of wine rather than a six pack of anything

–Malcolm

P.S. Thank you, Mel Mathews for your kind words about The Sun Singer in ‘The Sun Singer’ – The Hero’s Journey par Excellence