Welcome to my world - The world of Tish

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Anita Bryant is to blame



In 1977, Anita Bryant ruined my life - at least third grade. Every night, it seemed, Anita was on television condemning homosexuality. Since this was before the "V" chip, you could be minding your own business, eating your grill cheese sandwich and slurping tomato soup, an be inundated with the word 'homosexual'. Being eight years old, I didn't even know what heterosexuals were, but after listening to Anita's rants about men with men, I understood the basic concept. Funny, I don't remember lesbians being discussed, but then I was probably playing with my Junior detective Kit*.


Armed with this knowledge, off to school I went.
Third grade was Hell for me. Not only was I lefthanded, but on this particular warm Texas day, my boyfriend of three weeks broke up with me on the kickball field. Are you kidding me? Just as I drew my left leg back for a spectacular bomb over my friend Shelby's head, he yells from the on-deck circle, "I'M BREAKING UP WITH YOU TISHA."

It wasn't until I saw him holding hands with a mutual friend, Joey P., that heartache turned to anger.

"What are you doing?" I demanded in the hallway on our way to lunch.

"Playing Bread and Butter." Seeing as I was a woman-child scorned, I didn't recognize the game's point of mimicry.

"Well, you're just a bunch of homosexuals."

You know that scene in movies where even the birds stop chirping, the wind stands still, and the only sound is the heartbeat of a character? Yea, it was one of those moments.

Besides Mrs. Mayfield (known forever as Hitler's Mistress), we also had a Jehovah Witness Teacher, Mrs. Smith. Her waist length hair and lack of cosmetics intimidated me but I had no real reason for concern as she wasn't my homeroom teacher. I was under the astute guidance of Hitler's Mistress. But Johnny was in Mrs. Smith's room.

Twenty minutes after uttering what would now be considered harrassment, Mrs. Smith pulled me into the hallway and shook her unpolished finger in my face.

"I paddle kids for less than this. Take this note home to your mother and have her sign it."

A paddling? OH NO. For any third grader, the threat of paddling was equal to pulling teeth or public humiliation of urinating in your pants. One boy actually did wet himself after being paddled by Mrs. Smith. So much for being a compassionate Christian.

The note felt like a posterboard on my chest for all to see. Carbon copied for all to see was a large frowning face signaling all to know I was the worst kind of kid and should be ostracized for life.

My mother was a stay at home mom. She waited for me at the door every day for a detailed report on what I learned and who I played with. Today, I hid the note under my shirt and then transferred it to where I knew it would be safe until I could figure out my next move - the sewing machine. As visible as the machine was in the house, it was used twice a year. Just my luck, Mom decided it was time to hem some of my pants so she found the note.

"WAIT UNTIL YOUR FATHER GETS HOME!"

I waited in my room for Dad's arrival. Thoughts of running away and joining the left handed circus or hitchhiking across Texas kept me distracted...and then I heard the door close. The muffled voices, Mom's growing louder, and Dad's footsteps to my door.

I steadied myself for the hardest spanking I'd ever receive in my life. Dad crawled onto the bed with me and patted my hand.

"Heard you had a rough day."

"Yep." Tears threatened to spill down my face.

"Why'd you call those boys homosexual?"

"Well, Daddy, they were holding hands."

He looked at me for a moment, the glass eye penetrating my soul.

"Enough said!"

At my father's instruction, my mother marched into the prinicipal's office the next day and demanded an apology for terrorizing their daughter whose only offense was repeating what Anita Bryant had brought to light.

Mrs. Smith didn't paddle me. Mrs. Mayfield lightened up about my cursive penmanship. Johnny and I never reunited, but that was fine with me. My eyes were set on Joey P. now.
As for 'homosexual', I didn't use the word again for a long time. But when I see Anita Bryant or orange juice, I think about it. Thanks, Anita.

*Fingerprinting an entire house with strange white powder buys your trouble, take my word for it.





2 Comments:

  • I heard recently that Anita Bryant was gay man trapped in a woman's body. It would explain a lot.

    BTW, JWs are not Christians. It changed my world when I realized that.

    Good piece! Funny and poignant

    By Blogger Phil, at 5:07 PM  

  • You are my new drug of choice. And like Phil said "funny and pointy"

    Keeme

    By Anonymous KEEME, at 3:52 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home