The Catt Box

 

'Ringworm'

 

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 next...roaches 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.

 

 July 21, 1998 and April 25, 2000  Copyright © Cathy Palmer-Scruggs / Catt Alexander