Have you ever had
'ringworm'? I did once, and it was on my left elbow...and considering that I
used to work at an animal shelter and an animal clinic, it amazes me that I
didn't have it more than once. But did it make you feel weird about
yourself?...you know, like you were now up in the ranks of 'white trash'....?
I know that 'ringworm' is
only a fungus...but, it's the 'feeling' I had when I had it on my elbow....and
I'll never forget it.
It was poor people's
disease...red-neck funk...'trailer-park fungus'....and not just any trailer
park, WHITE TRASH TRAILER PARK FUNGUS. When I was growing up there were always
those kids in the class room that had ringworm, and it was a pattern...those
certain kids were the only ones that seemed to get it. So, that forever
changed my thoughts on ringworm. And I have seen every walk of life have
it...it knows no financial boundaries. But it left that 'stigma'....the
stereotype that will be forever in my brain.
I should have just moved
on to one of the 'classic' trailer havens, like in Sugar Tit, Una, or
Fingerville....maybe Possum Kingdom....(yes, these are real places in South
Carolina! I kid you not! ) Maybe start dreaming of the day I get one of them
'double wides'.....put it on a plot of land...
I might as well have had
'scabies'...head lice...or crabs. It made me feel cheap and dirty. What was
in my kitchen? (I had to write that small....I HATE those things).
I felt like I was drawn
to chain a dog up in the front yard so he could wear all the grass down and
have ticks the size of grapes on his face. He would be a chow / Lab cross,
named Bear, with a red nylon collar. I felt the urge to roll an
appliance on the front porch...past the broken and missing floor boards...past
the white plastic K-mart patio furniture, and park it right beside eight huge
transparent garbage bags containing my aluminum can collection.
Then, the landscaping bug
bit me.....ahhhh...four old truck tires. And they would all be cut around the
top...sort of like they were cut with a pair of huge pinking shears....they
would be placed strategically around the yard, and painted white...and in the
centers would be a bunch of pansies...and another aluminum can collection. I
would also have the assortment of plastic lawn ornaments....the
'mother-hen-with-chicks', Canadian geese, brown bunnies, and at least a half
dozen of those tall plastic flowers with the spinning petals...the yellow and
red ones. There would also be the abandoned small blue child's swimming pool
with green water, and a broken play pen with headless baby dolls and a car
battery. The dog would be hungry and out of water...again.
I felt like I should
start wearing that tacky blue eye shadow...'pool chalk blue'...and thick,
black eye-liner. I could wear skin tight stretch pants and polyester
shirts...the ones with the little 'pills' worked up all over it and grease
stains from when I used to work at the diner. I could let my hair go and put
off dying my roots for three or four months and have it cut in un-even layers,
perhaps a Mullet...not wash it for days, and put my bangs back with black 'bobby pins'.
Maybe should have started smoking again, only this time it would have been
Pall Mall® cigarettes, unfiltered. Perhaps then I could have bought a big red
rubber hot water bottle and hung it behind the bathroom door and kept large
boxes of maxi-pads behind the toilet....and leave hair on the soap. And
absolutely every product in the entire place would be 'store brand'....that
way I could afford those 'name brand' cigarettes....and Tuesday night Bingo.
Then I could have covered
all my living room furniture with old bedspreads and put a sheet on the
kitchen table. And who could forget plastic curtains? And my coffee table
would be a massive wooden cable spool with a cereal bowl of sticky 'Sugar
Smacks' sitting on it....next to the roll of toilet paper (ran out of Kleenex®).
I should have took up
baby-sitting children with dirty faces, chipped pink fingernail polish and
stringy hair. I could have an impressive gathering of broken Fisher Price®
toys all around the yard and a rusted swing set beside the old powder -blue
Ford Galaxy 500....and another collection of aluminum cans.
I could have had a
plethora of unvaccinated cats....and let 'em breed...and not worm 'em or name
'em. I could install indoor / outdoor carpet...gray, and get some bad bedroom
furniture...you know the kind...miss-matched 1960's style blonde-wood
furniture....and it would have cigarette burns on the edges and coffee cup
rings that ate away the finish. I'd have those tall, discontinued pastel
plastic tumblers from Tupperware®. The green tumbler would have old milk in
it, the yellow one would be on the front porch with rain water and two
cigarette butts in it, the blue one would be in the bathtub, and the pink one
would be brown on the inside...as it's my favorite iced-tea tumbler. Of
course, that's when I'm not drinking diet sodas or Black Label®
beer....adding to that can collection.
My evenings would be
spent gathering with my buddies on the front steps and gossiping about the
'uppity' neighbors because they cleaned up their front yard. We'd talk about
what we'd do if we hit the lottery and who will sit with Glenna all day, on
Monday, at the free clinic, and what's on sale at Big Lots and Dollar General.
But, eventually, the
ringworm cleared up and I moved out of my 'imaginary trailer park'. I began to
feel better about myself....but I still go to Big Lots and Dollar General, on
occasion. There's just no class in having ringworm!
Oh, and if you see
yourself in this story, and you're offended....don't complain to me about
it....I just write it as I have seen it, it's your choice to live it.