I was having a casual conversation with a friend the other day that became rather serious without meaning to. Those are usually the best and when, in grief, you get the most done. We ended up discussing what life has been like since Richard passed away. We talked about financial and family issues. I told him it was like a nuclear explosion had scattered people to the four winds in my life. I made the remark, "It's like they think it's contagious." Jokingly he said "Maybe it is" in a desperate attempt to make me smile through my tears. He then advised that perhaps they were afraid that they would say something wrong and upset me without malice. He basically was trying to make it seem not so bad. That maybe they would come back when they got some distance on Richard's death. But, I am not the kind of person who believes in fair weather friends. If you're not here when it's really bad, don't darken my door when it's really good. If I have learned anything in the aftermath of this, it's to be humble in the face of adversity in other people's lives. I will do anything anyone needs when there is trouble. I'm the one who will help your oblivious daughter with her homework, press your son's shirt for the dance, load the dishwasher, or clean your commode when you're at the hospital with a family member or in bed with the flu. I remember and appreciate each kindness and will repay them in due time.
After our conversation, I mulled it over and accepted that people generally do what makes them comfortable in any given situation regardless of what needs to be done. Case in point are the dreaded "Church People." They would have you believe that everything they do is rooted in "good Christian behavior." The good book says that we are to take care of the orphans and widows. However, the people who adhere to this most tightly aren't the ones that are thumping their bibles and saying "Amen" while looking down at the sea of humanity that surrounds them daily. They are the friends around me that I consider family. They have the tattoos, the strange clothes, the piercings, and the alternative lifestyles that the "church people" wont associate with in public. However, they never fail to call, text or email when I need it most. They ask and actually care how my son and I are doing in this particular season in hell. They offer a sofa when I need to run away for a couple of days to escape my grief. They have a strong shoulder as well as a cold adult beverage and pharmaceutical relief when and if I need any or all of the above. They invite me out to events they enjoy, including pudding wrestling at a lesbian irish pub. They take me as their plus one to the "Redneck Ghetto Wedding from Hell" because they know it will make me laugh. They text me in the Ambienese language when they know I can't sleep and they have already taken a pill. You know who you are and I love you so.
However, today I got a strange phone call that turned my frown into an outright belly laugh. The person who called me had not been in contact since the day of Richard's funeral. She had to have done a little research because my phone number is now private and unless you ask my father in law the pastor, you won't get it from anyone but me. Nevertheless, Sister Bertha Betterthanyou rang my phone today. I call her that because she is so saved that she doesn't need a bath most days. So Sister Bertha first asked the Christian questions, "How are you?" "Are you in church?" "What are you doing for the holidays?" with the obligatory invitation to her place of worship for the Christmas Cantata. Then there was a loud screech as the conversation took a sharp left hand turn into weirdness.
She lowered her voice to almost a whisper as good folk do and said, "Are you seeing anyone?" I believe in that moment that my mandible disengaged and literally hit the floor in true cartoon fashion. She further inquired as to the state of my personal life and did I have any men in mind to "set my cap" toward. While my eyes were doing that Roger Rabbit kind of expulsion from my head, Sister Bertha went on to inform me that she was "sure that all the ladies of the church would have a tight grip on their men folk because I was back on the market." Had I been hit with a baseball bat across the shins by Oompa Loompas running from behind the refrigerator, I would not have been more stunned. It was at that point that I realized that I must have missed the chapter in the Widow's Handbook regarding this subject. She went on and on (never noticing that I was not responding because the entire world revolves around her) about since I was an attractive well-kept woman with such presence and had been such a good wife to Richard, that I surely could have my pick of any number of "Godly Men." It was at this point that I said to myself, "Holy Mother of God, these broads think I am going to slap on some ho-gear and head to the house of God to hunt me a man!" I burst out laughing at which point there was silence on the other end of the line. I then gathered myself and said in my sweetest tone, dripping sarcasm you can bet, "The ladies of the church can relax that death grip and let those men breathe because I am most assuredly am not back on the market." It was at that point that she offered me the services of her brother in law to escort me to any functions that I might want to attend. We shall call him Mr. Notso Wonderful. This fine specimen is of course twice divorced with 4 children by 3 different church ladies. (None of which are the 2 he married.) Mr. Wonderful has never, to my knowledge, held a job in the 15 years that I have been acquainted with him. She also bragged that he has been out of rehab for about three months and she believes the "Lord has delivered him from the demons of addiction this time." Unfortunately he had to have his entire nasal and sinus cavity reconstructed since he snorts anything white and powdery including any residual flour left on the top of his biscuits. I almost had to gnaw my tongue off to keep from saying "Oh, Be still my heart." In my best southern manners I thanked her for the offer as well as declining her bid to pass my phone number on to Mr. Wonderful. With that I wished her a happy holiday season and thanked her for her call. I somehow think that Mr. Notso Wonderful may ring my phone as early as tomorrow. ~Note to self, answer no unidentifiable numbers for the rest of my life.~
The more I thought about the ridiculousness of the situation, the funnier it became to me. How insecure must these "Godly women" be about their men?? When I started dating, my sainted Granny gave me some wisdom. I am what is known as a "full service female." I cook, clean, do laundry, iron, listen, cheer lead, and make a mans home his soft place to land. I can in fact, shave him, trim his sideburns and any related facial hair, as well as square up his neckline between haircuts. I will check his collar when he wears a tie and straighten his "tact line" as my Daddy calls it. There are various other techniques that I employ but this is neither the forum nor the discussion for that subject. But trust me, it's got nothing to do with church. She told me that if I did these things well, my man would look no further for anything if he truly loved me. This is how I have operated my entire life. I never worried about Richard cheating. The man actually called me one night from Atlanta to tell me that the girl who had asked him for $5 about an hour ago had just walked into the men's room to relieve herself standing up at a urinal beside him. Perhaps this is why I don't understand the insecurity of the females is this comedy of errors. I am not now, nor have I ever been insecure regarding a man. If you can take him, congratulations, he's yours!
For the record, I have no idea when I might actually be "back on the market." I have to learn to stand on my own before I can stand with someone else again. I admit that I do get lonely and wish for a strong set of arms to hold me. I also freely admit that I would like those arms to reach up and get the stuff off the high shelves that I can't reach. But trust me ladies, I don't want your man or your insecurities. I actually pity you because that must be a miserable way to live. When I'm ready, I want my man.