It is Monday morning as I type this. Last night was a typical Sunday night at Casa Kendrick. I was flipping through the channels–by the way, I have access to more than 300 channels….even more if I include religious and home shopping what-nots…and I STILL find there’s nothing on.
But I must take a moment to convey just how excited I am about the upcoming premier of “The Riches”. This will mark the beginning of season two of the series on F/X . Minnie Driver and British stand-up comedian, Eddie Izzard play the parental heads of this itinerate family of Irish Travelers which, essentially, are a roving band of grifters of Irish ancestry. Contemporary gypsies. Not unlike the ones our grandparents used as topics of cautionary tales in order to scare the hell out of us.
Your grandparents didn’t do that kind of stuff? Oh, that’s right–I come from dysfunction!
OK, everyone gather ’round and I’ll explain.
My paternal grandmother was born in 1900 so I guess the stories she’d convey to my sisters and me, had some basis in truth. She always told us never to sleep near an open window. Why? Because those..and I quote…”thievin’, lyin’, devil worshippin’, gypsy heathens” would come by, steal us in the middle of the night–-as they were want to do I suppose–then sell us to the one group that gypsies could feel superior to: Insurance Salesman.
My mother also contributed her share of what my generation has called “Mommy Lies”. Mine attempted to seek protection from all evils with the fear of worms.
As in Pin or Tape.
We were told repeatedly, don’t eat raw cookie dough or you’ll get worms. Don’t eat raw weenies or you’ll get worms. Don’t bite your fingernails or you’ll get worms.
There was also her ditch water fear factor. If we played in ditches, especially containing rainwater, tuberculosis would ensue.
Polio came from eating apples that weren’t washed first-–bet Jonas Salk didn’t know that–-and we were also forewarned about diphtheria and how that disease, eradicated for a century or more, was live and well and teeming en mass on strange toilets seats.
Especially toilet seats in Mexico.
When south of the border, my mother would always insist that my sisters and I go void our bladders and bowels in the fields. THAT’S how much she distrusted Mexican toilets. We always prayed for a nice, tall corn crop to be handy…you know, to ensure privacy, but that wasn’t always the case.
Now, I’ve always thought this fear was completely irrational. But mind you, this came from a woman who’d clean the house before our cleaning lady would come clean our house.
Appearances were everything to her.
But for some odd reason, my mother, this maven of propriety and arbiter of taste and breeding, had no problem with her three little girls squatting, trou dropped–legs akimbo–while making stinkies in a strange field in a foreign country.
I remember one time my sisters and I had to go badly. We were just outside Monterrey in a rural area. The field my father chose was silly with lettuce. Heads of lettuce everywhere…as far as your eye could see. Apparently, we had no choice; that was the only cash crop growing in that particular locale. My mother defended this by saying that our soiling the soil in this field was perfectly acceptable since Mexican farmers often fertilized their crops with raw sewage. As she saw it, we were just contributing to the agricultural economy of the country.
Maybe, but believe me, this wacky belief system of my mother’s made life tough. It wasn’t always easy finding a field in the heart of downtown Monterrey, Mexico.
We dropped panties and “produced” in the field of lettuce, then got back in the car. And for those of your wondering about hygiene, well, we weren’t Barbarians for God’s sake!!! Mother always kept a spare role of Charmin in the glove compartment.
Mother insisted that toilet paper was good for crops, too. This toilet paper, she said, was made differently. It referred to this new ecology friendly word she read about in “Redbook”…something called biodegradable.
It wasn’t. I feel sure that an entire housing project now sits upon a wad of TP still bearing traces of my sister’s urine. I’ve often wondered lo these many years later, what, if anything, we Kendrick girls did to the lettuce crop that year.
Anyway, a few months later, some friends and their church group went to Monterrey for a two week Spanish course that involved total immersion of the language, culture…etc. They were staying with members of a sister church–hence, the full immersion of Spanish. They lived and breathed and ate Spanish and apparently, that was a problem. I’d heard that most got sicker than dogs…the dreaded “Turista Two-Step and Diarrhea Fest”… after eating the food. I asked them what they ate. They responded, “Salads mostly”.