How I Spent The Second Day of 2008

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It was cold in Houston today. When I woke up here in Westchase, on the Southwest side, it was 30-degrees. I stayed in most of the day, thinking.

That can be dangerous.

I was thinking about life, as I am wont to do…my life, how I got here and why.

Funny, how that whole process works.

In the simplest of terms, if you take the fun out of sex, all we’re talking about is sperm meeting ovum.

They emerge from their respective corners, shake and then the mating ritual begins.

The sperm pummels her cell walls and with the help of some special microscopic enzyme on his battering ram (no euphemism intended) he’s able to finally penetrate. Fertilization happens and then comes morning sickness.

Just think about what’s really happening here.

We start off as nothing more than human tadpoles, really. Then we become a fetus, a baby, we’re born as infants, then morph into toddlers, 1st graders. Then, Jr. High students; High Schoolers turned Collegians. Then we become taxpayers; 30-somethings; angry menopausal crones….you get the picture.

And if we live long enough to be able to use all the discounts afforded us from AARP, we then exit the world, as we came into it. Pink, wrinkled, helpless and unable to walk for many.

And in that time, we’ve probably watched a million hours of “Gunsmoke”.

This full circle aspect makes me think—how can anyone really doubt evolution when you think about the human life span?

From fetus to Festus.

I know what you’re thinking;  what does that last line mean?

I don’t know.

GROWING UP KENDRICK

I can’t think of my life without thinking about growing up in Karnes City, Texas.

I was always one of those kids who had this innate desire to entertain; to make people laugh. As far back as I can remember. My parents have regaled ALL of my boyfriends with stories of how I did this and that. Like the time I memorized parts of John Kennedy’s inaugural address. I was only four at the time. My parents recorded it.

“The toach has been passed to a new gen-uh-way-shun of Am-mare-wee-kuns”.

I heard the recording it for the first time as a twenty something. To be honest, I actually thought it was a recording of me doing a drunken Ted Kennedy.

Then, as fate would have it, I was forced to learn how to do an impersonation of Lyndon Baines Johnson far too soon.

But there I stood, entertaining at my parent’s parties–with my chin pressed down against my chest, someone’s borrowed specs down on my nose with my eyes peering over them in typical LBJ fashion. It was a decent impersonation of the president, I guess–for a five year old anyway. Fueled by adult laughter, I’d stand there, addressing my fellow Americans in my parent’s living room, opining over the incident in the Gulf of Tonkin, my presidential plans for “The Great Society” and of course, my undying paternal love for my semi-beautiful daughters, Lucy Bird and Lynda Bird.

I’m not going to say that I was a brilliant kid; well, precocious maybe, but I had this strong desire to entertain. I would sing and dance in my living room in front of a huge plate glass window with the hopes a Hollywood director would drive by and discover me. I mean, come on! Karnes City, Texas circa 1965 wasn’t exactly a HIVE of hip and happenin’ activity for the Hollywood elite.

I had big dreams for a little small town girl.

Then I grew up, went to college and agonized those first few weeks about declaring major. It was going to be either drama or broadcasting. If I majored in Drama, I’d go to either NYC or Hollywood and be broke and forced to eat rats. If I majored in Broadcast Journalism, I could probably stay in Texas and eat mice. The latter was more appealing.

So, I’m in college and it takes me eight years to graduate. I had to work full time and that made taking full class loads impossible. That made my very proud mother a little crazy. You see, my mother was/is a proper sort. She likes to make sure things “look” a certain way. Propriety. Her children were no exception. That it was taking me seven years to graduate was an embarrassment to her.

I am the youngest of three girls. By the time I arrived, my two older sisters, Karol and Kathy had taught her what she needed to know about mothering.  One would think so, anyway.   She was in some ways, more laxed with me. Not so, in other ways. But I played my role of the youngest to the hilt. Oh yes, make no mistake—I was the “wild child”.

Peace, love, dope.

I did as I wanted, most of the time. I was fearless and wanted to experience everything.

And I usually got caught.

Mother would ground me and I’d stay in solitaire for a day or so and then, she’d get all tied up in other aspects of her life—her clubs, social responsibilities, her marriage and what have you, then she’d forget and I’d go about my merry way. But her memory lapses didn’t keep me from repeated bouts of punishment. It got so bad that she was asked once about her children; Mother said she’d raised two lovely girls and one “After School Special”.

Later, she tried to get me to watch “Scared Straight”. Remember that one, fellow oldsters? I reminded her she was damn lucky I didn’t STAR in “Scared Straight”!!!!!

But I grew up and eventually got my proverbial sheepskin. I graduated “thank you, Laude” with about two thousand other bright-eyed optimists in my particular degree program.

As I’ve stated here before, my first job in TV was for the CBS affiliate in Laredo, Texas, an interesting town of about 175- thousand on the Texas/Mexico border. I was named Executive Producer and Anchor for the six and 10 pm newscast and made a whopping $5.25 an hour, some 25-cents more than the rest of the staff.

I was the Alpha female.

Laredo was truly one of those Dickensian experiences: it was the best of times; it was the worst. I made no money, was broke all the time and went without a phone and electricity sometimes, but had more fun than I’ve ever had in my entire life.

And did living on the border help my Spanish!!!!! I started life in Laredo not really knowing the language at all.

We’d go across the border to Nuevo Laredo (which is now something you can’t do without risking your life) and go to dinner. Lavish meals for five bucks or less. But even though the US is across a narrow body of water, Nuevo Laredo is still Mexico and its food and water are still an American G.I. tract’s arch nemesis. The ubiquitous “they” always say that necessity is the mother of invention. And having the gnawing, debilitating pain of the fabled “Turista Two-Step” or the dreaded, “Montezuma’s Revenge” after drinking the water or literally, eating anything that was grown or raised in Mexico, well THAT will force you learn another language faster than a Berlitz class!

I distinctly remember the afternoon I mastered Spanish.

I was at a Mexican grocery store because I needed to buy a few sundries. I’d gone there after having lunched on a meal at a Nuevo Laredo restaurant. There, I’d feasted on a greasy enchilada and a slab of fillet of guess what.

For dessert, I got intestinal distress.

Severe intestinal distress.

And children, THAT’S how I learned the hard way that “Donde is the casa de ca-ca?” DOES NOT mean “Where is the restroom?” in Spanish.

It was on that fateful, yet educational day, I also learned how the Spanish say, “Clean up in aisle 23”.

7 comments

  1. I met and shook the hand of Festus at a county fair when I was about seven. My grandpa (an avid fan of Gunsmoke) pleaded with me to not wash my right hand.

  2. Kathy and I tried to teach mother a thing or two about mothering before Laurie came! She wasn’t a good pupil and never did her homework. I can say we had a different kind of upbringing. When mother wasn’t happy (and that was a lot of the time, especially towards the end of her marriage), neither were we. I learned much from her as to what NOT to do regarding my children. I am totally not like my mother because I refused to be. Don’t get me wrong. Things weren’t horrible all the time. There were some good times growing up at home, I just can’t think of them right now.

  3. I grew up in Indiana, where all the coaches imitated Bobby Knight. I remember watching “Scared Straight” and thinking – “Being in jail might actually be an improvement over playing on the varsity basketball team.”

  4. David Toma came to my school with his scared straight tough talk, talking about how he witnessed junkies looking for veins, unable to find them in their arms and legs so they turned to their eyes.

    Pretty odd-interesting, but odd.

    With your 100,000 readers I want to sing a song to you.

    Tonight
    I celebrate my love for…wait a minute, i’ll have to work on that.

    hahahaha.

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