Wednesday, November 20, 2013
You Will Know Them By Their Fruits
First hand historical accounts are the best way to learn of attitudes of people of past generations. This is an interesting tale from an auto-biography that takes place c. 1935, Texas. There are so many narratives and examples from literature that would easily disprove the claim the pit bull advocacy makes that the pit bull has always been a popular dog, treasured by even the best of society as a beloved pet.
This is a chapter from "A Struggle Through the Twentieth Century" by Jim Holden (1999 Green Street Press, Alexander City, Alabama, pages 118 -122). This book, as described in the back of this charming book, paints vividly, an American life spanning the majority of the 20th century. This great generation witnessed so many amazing things, and just about every aspect of life has been so transfigured, you may not recognize it. Or, you will, in this case.....you will meet a crazy fur momma, circa 1935.
"You know what happened to day, and maybe yesterday. But do you know what happened 65 or 75 years ago? Jim Holding takes you on a journey down memory lane, looking through the rear-view window. He has written about World War II, the Depression, good times and bad times. Some have been pathetic,some even funny. He writes only about the things he has seen or witnessed through the twentieth century.
The book is:
2% Other Stuff
With a smidge of hyperbole.
My First Blind Date
When I was much younger, I got a lot of "friendly advice" about which girls I should and shouldn't date. I was never told about the birds and the bees, but my mother had a way of controlling me indirectly by talking to other people in my presence, or "semi-presence." She wanted me to hear the conversation, but pretended she didn't know I was listening. She gave me such high reputation that I couldn't afford not to live up to it. She even had me believing it.
We had a neighbor named Elsie, who was a few years older than I. She was the type of girl who smoked cigarettes and drank homebrew, the kind of girl the mothers in the neighborhood called
"fast." She already had a boyfriend --in fact, she had several boyfriends--and I wasn't one of them.
She thought I was too young to be dating. However, she did have a friend who would like to meet me. When I asked questions about the girl, I never got straight answers.
"How old is she?" I asked her, "
Elsie assured me. "Oh, I don't know exactly, she might be a little older than you, but you
will like her, I'm sure."
"Well, how tall is she?"
"I really don't know, but you will like her, just wait till you meet her," Elsie assured me.
"Is she slim or heavy?"
"She is sort of full-figured."
"What's her name?"
"Her name is Hattie, and she saw you somewhere, and she really likes you. She is a lot of fun,
especially after she's had a few drinks."
That should have raised a red flag. I think Elsie was trying to get rid of me.
"Anyway," Elsie said, "I've already made a date for you for tomorrow night at eight o' clock.
She will be expecting you."
She made it sound like a draft notice or a subpoena -- an order that you don't ignore.
I was always taught that you are supposed to listen and obey any order that comes down from anyone who is older or superior in any way. Elsie was a few years older than I, and I was inferior to her in the "pecking" order.
I was ambivalent about the "order" from Elsie, but I didn't want to disappoint anyone, so I decided to go. I had only one day to get ready. The first thing I did was take my new suit and have it pressed. Then I had to wash, starch and iron my shirt. I bought a can of shoe polish and shined my shoes until I could have used them for a mirror to shave by. I bought a new bottle of hair oil -- the very best. That set me back another twenty-nine cents.
I didn't sleep much the night before the big event. I was anxious and curious. At eight 'clock on that hot steamy August night, I arrived at Hattie's house. It was small with weeds growing all around it. I had to wait a few minutes in the dusk until exactly eight. I took a deep breath and knocked on the door. The first thing I heard was a dog. The whole house shook and I thought the door would break open any minute. I heard the rattle of chains being taken off the door and a voice said, "Now you be quiet, Baby."
I've always been scared to death of dogs. I'd been bitten twice by rabid dogs and had to take the Pasteur shots in the belly one time.
When Hattie finally got the door open, the first thing I saw was the most vicious dog I'd ever seen. He must have been a combination of a Pit Bull and a Doberman. He was black with mean eyes that shone like diamonds, and a mouthful of teeth that he bared when he looked at me.
When I looked up at Hattie, I realized why Elsie was hesitant to give me a description of her. She was obviously much older than I. Elsie did tell me she was full figured, but if I had to describe her, I would have used a three-letter f-word, instead of "full figured." She was heavy enough to play tackle for the Green Bay Packers. Her hair was straight. She was slovenly dressed and a front tooth was missing. Other than that, she looked pretty good to me at the time.
She said, "Elsie told me all about you, but I didn't think you would come." She pointed to the couch and said, "Sit down." Then she went into the kitchen.
I sat down on the end of the short divan or loveseat --WOW--a broken spring. I moved a little to the left and toward the middle of the seat.
Hattie returned form the kitchen, with a six-pack of beer in her hand. Baby followed her.
She said, "Elsie told me you don't drink, so I won't offer you a beer."
She plopped down on the other end of the loveseat, and the dog jumped up on the couch between us, I was forced to move back to my end of the couch, and sit on that broken spring that gouged my gluteus maximus. I asked Hattie if we could possible get the dog off the couch.
"Baby," she said, "Why don't you get off the couch?" baby growled, showed his teeth, and stayed on the couch.
A little while later, I tried again to have the dog removed. Every time I said "dog," he growled and stayed put. I don't think he liked being called a "dog."
Hattie said, "Yeah, he's the boss around here." She opened a bottle of beer and began what would become a four-hour monologue. She rambled on and on, not making much sense. After about two hours had passed, I jumped right in with a witty question. "What's your sign?" But the dog growled me out, and she kept talking.
A small light bulb hung from the ceiling on a chord, and in the corner of the room, a double-barreled shotgun leaned against the wall. No other furniture was in the room.
With no fan and the windows closed, it must have been ninety degrees. My hair oil was running down into my ears and the perspiration had soaked through my coat. The dog had his rear end toward Hattie and the saliva dripped off the end of his tongue onto my left knee and thigh. I could feel his hot breath in my left ear. It smelled like something he dug up from the backyard and eaten it. He needed Scope.
I could look to the right at a blank wall, or I could look straight ahead at a blank wall. If I looked to the left, toward Hattie, I looked down the dog's throat. When I looked straight ahead and rolled my eyeballs to the left, if my "eyeballs clicked," the dog growled. When I managed to sneak a peak, I saw Hattie's bare feet flat on the slab floor bordering the six-pack, which was slowly emptying.
Hattie told me, among other things, that she was married once, but her husband was no damn good and she had to get rid of him. I didn't dare ask how she had to get rid of him. She told me the kind of wedding she wanted for her next marriage. I don't know why she was telling me all about her personal life. I tried to keep count of the bottles of beer she had drunk and wondered when she would have to go to the bathroom. She never did.
About midnight, I got up enough courage to say, I think it's time for me to go home.
"Do you have to go now?" she asked.
"I have to get up early tomorrow for Sunday School, " I said.
"Tomorrow is Saturday," she told me.
She was right! When I finally managed to get on my feet to leave, I could see why Hattie didn't have to go to the bathroom after drinking six bottles of beer. It had come out through the pores of her skin. Her clothes were wet and her straight hair was dripping.
I hadn't seen her face for four hours, but she belched, and looked down at me. "What did you say your name was?"
I knew I had made a big hit with her--a lasting impression. As I maneuvered toward the door, the dog was still between us, but he was wagging his tail. I, too, was happy to be leaving. So, while the dog wagged his tail, I was wagging my tail right out the front door into the dark steamy night. I felt like a bird just released from a cage. I wanted to fly.
The next day, at work, I wanted to tell the other guys about a "hot date" I had last night, but I didn't dare.
A few weeks later, I overheard a conversation about Hattie and learned that she did, indeed, shoot her husband, and spent time in prison and later in a mental institution. Whether she killed him or not, I never found out. I was afraid to ask any questions. And I certainly didn't mention anything about my date to Elsie. I was afraid she'd set me up with another one of her friends.