Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Anglophobia and Other Terrors

Four-year-olds take everything literally. And they have no sense of time whatsoever. If you tell them, "We'll do it tomorrow," they'll spend all day asking you if it's tomorrow yet. That's why I don't understand whose bright idea it was to put cartoons about the British Invasion on the television for preschool viewers.

I spent much of my young life in mortal fear of Redcoats. I just knew that, any day now, British soldiers were going to show up at the front door, grab me and take me away to parts unknown. What use I thought they'd have with a 4-year-old, I don't know.

I lost a lot of sleep over that particular worry.

Other worries that kept me awake at night were the fate of poor old Don Gato and his solar plexus, and whether I was murdering countles Whos by stepping on dust specks.

Friday, February 9, 2007

The Second Coming of Shirley Temple

When I was very small, I hated Shirley Temple. I didn't just hate her a little bit. My baby-anger was powerful. I'm not sure it has completely left me, as every time I have the opportunity to try the drink named after her, I react as though someone were trying to get me to drink calf's blood.

It's because of the little old ladies. One of my first memories is of little old ladies towering over me like monsters in a Winnie the Pooh cartoon saying, “You look just like Shirley Temple. Can I take you home with me?”

That question always followed the declaration that I was the second coming of the curly-haired one. It also freaked my four-year-old sh**.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Grandma Murray

My Grandma Murray was a devout Christian woman who never, ever cut her hair. Except when my Aunt Linnie took it down to comb it, she kept it in a tight bun at the nape of her neck. My Grandma Murray wore homemade print dresses and hummed hymns to herself while rocking and gave up dipping snuff because she was convinced it would keep her out of heaven. Her greatest dream was to live to be taken up in the Rapture. One day, when my mother was young, she overheard Grandma singing this song:

“Beefsteak, beefsteak, make a little gravy...
“Your thang, my thang, make a little baby.”

My mama nearly choked on her tea.