Friday, February 10, 2006

Return of the Native

I am not a native of Virginia. I was born in Red Bank, N.J., and grew up 10 minutes from the beach (Exit 82b, if you must know) in south central Jersey (better know at “the shaw.”)

Dirtman is a native of Virginia. He will always be a native of Virginia because I will never, ever get him to move anywhere else. I doubt I’ll ever get him out of the Shenandoah Valley. Oh, he listens patiently to me going on about my dreams of a tiny cottage on Ocracoke in North Carolina, but we both know that, should it ever come to pass, I’ll be sitting there with the dogs and no one else.

I’ll admit there is a certain amount of safety in never moving more than an hour from where you were born. It’s nice that wherever you go, you know that you won’t be a total stranger because you’re bound to know someone there. On the other hand, everyone who knows you also grew up with you and remembers every awkward moment of your life. These are the things I listen for at functions. The dirt on Dirtman.

For me, coming to a small southern town from the Pavement Garden State was a culture cardiac. I had been brought up to not make eye contact with strangers on the street and, here in this new state, everyone was a stranger. But they still insisted on stopping me to have a long conversation about how everyone in the family was. Oh, we may have been introduced at one point, but I had a whole town to memorize while they just had Dirtman’s “Eye-talian” new wife.*

So I suppose I got the reputation for being “standoffish,” which I wasn’t. I just didn’t know who the hell they were.

After over 20 years in this area, certain incidents still amaze me. Last year Heir 2 went to a state convention down in Richmond for a computer competition. He was to be gone three days, the winner being announced on the last day before they left for home. That afternoon I got a phone call from someone:

“Congratulations! Aren’t you excited! It’s absolutely amazing! I’m going to call (insert name of someone) and tell her. Bye!”

I hadn’t the foggiest idea who the phone call was from, what the phone call was about or who Insert Name of Someone was.

The next call started out like the previous call.

“Congratulations! I’ll bet you’re excited!”

Recognizing her voice as that of one of Heir 2’s friend’s mother, I assured her I was really excited, this having been the second time in 10 minutes someone has asked me that, but would she be so kind as to tell what I was so excited about?

“You mean you don’t know? No one told you?”

Finally…finally…she informed me Heir 2 had won first place in the state and a prize of $100 (which he celebrated by promptly losing the check). It seems one of the local attendees called her mother who called someone else’s mother who finally called the mother who called me but assumed Heir 2 had already called. (They don’t know Heir 2. When he won, his thoughts went something like this: “Oh, jeese. Now everyone’s going to be expecting me to be smart or something. Wait! I’ll do some really stupid trick involving a skate board, the roof of the bus and a shopping cart. I wonder if there’s anything to eat…”)

Now all this friendliness is all well and good. But sometimes…Well, why is it that on the day I need to just run into the drug store and get a box of tampons, the person in front of me just got her photos of Disney World back and wants to share it with everyone in the store?

Why don’t I just stand on the counter and announce, “Everyone! As much as I’m enjoying reliving Matilda’s vacation, I’m currently menstruating and, since I’m buying my tampons here instead of the less costly warehouse store, this is obviously an emergency. For all those of you keeping track, my period began yesterday, so you can all start counting from then.”

I’m sure in 25 days or so I’ll get a phone call from a helpful neighbor reminding me to pick up tampons.

* I found out later, there was talk over whether I was “Eye-talian” or Jewish, but since someone told someone who heard from someone at the church where we were going to be married that I had asked if I could wear my mother’s crucifix at my wedding, they decided I must be one of those “Cat-lic Eye-talians.” I’m not sure what led them to think I was either since I am of only half Italian extraction and my full Italian relatives think I look Germanic (whatever that means).


Jagosaurus said...

Nice mustache.

sisiggy said...

Ja wol!

Dark Garden said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Dark Garden said...

Ich bin von herausnehmen 82 außerdem. Ich bilde spezielle Würste aus italienischen Frauen und Kindern heraus! Phasen sehnen sich unser Mutterland!!!

sisiggy said...

Err...Ja wol?

Uh...Dunka Shein?

Ummm...Komm ere, Loompy?

Spicy McHaggis said...

You're wierd mom

And no, there wasn't anything to eat

And there were no injuries, basically because I promptly lost my skateboard as well

mrhaney said...

i come from a small town in ma.some times it is a good idea to get away and stay away.

Mrs Lifecruiser said...

Wonderful post.

Sounds really interesting, think about it, you could be anything, you just don't know it!

No one have told you, but all the others have been told :-)

Dark Garden said...

You could be poo on back floor-board carpet of someone's vehicle!

Just think of it!