Saturday, June 8, 2013

My Fantasy is to Hang Out With Middle Class Whites in the South

A White World of Wonder
You know what I'd really like? To hang out with middle income white families in the south who believe in god and go to football games and go to megachurches and shop at Sam's. They're always in documentaries so we've got a kinship going. So I can say, I know your heart's in the right place despite that I don't agree with your beliefs, and hope you feel the same way about me.

 I would follow them around, but not in a stalking sense. Like an objective observer, like a documentarian, only for no real reason. I can picture it so vividly. They live Little Rock, Arkansas. Let me introduce you to my imagined family:

Name: Walter Moxon
Occupation: Pastor
 Age: 56
Bio: Walter was born and raised on a ranch in Colorado Springs. Eventually moved to Little Rock to run his own church. A self-made, grass roots man. Admires Clint Eastwood and listens to Crosby, Stills and Nash.
Quote: "Pick yourself up by your bootstraps."

Name: Cynthia Moxon
Occupation: Teaches 5th grade
Age: 48
Bio: Born in Tennessee. Moved to be with her love Walter. Secretly resents the fact she's so far away from her relatives. Has a zeal for cupcakes and animals some find alarming. Her lifelong dream of visiting India was crushed upon seeing Slumdog Millionaire.
 Quote: "Life's not about waiting for the storm to pass... It's about learning to dance in the rain."

Name: Jessica Moxon
Occupation: H.S. / Cheerleader
Age: 17
Bio: Youngest of the family. Feels alienated since star QB brother is in the limelight. Once painted her nails black in secret. Occasionally listens to hardcore punk band Yellowcard. Lost her virginity to a janitor she felt sorry for.
Quote: "Hey, I just met you, and this is crazy, but here's my number, so call me maybe."

Name: Henry Moxon
Occupation: H.S. / Quarterback
Age: 18
Bio: The humble and polite star quarterback. Henry has his sights on a scholarship from Notre Dame. Generally a nice fellow, except easily becomes disinterested after copulating with the entire attractive female population of a city. Never returns phonecalls.
Quote: "Let the bodies hit the floor!"

Note: The family also includes a large dog and one small cat.

It would start out with a tour of the local high school. Let's call it Lincoln High, yes that's generic enough. Their team is the Wildcats. Their mascot is an alligator because the principal got a really good discount on the suit. The young'un Jessica is so full of pep and spunk and extroverted need for acceptance she volunteers to show me around the school. We walk the hallways and past the classrooms. Huge cinderblocks make up the walls and they're painted that pale skintone schools are always colored. As her shadow student, I meet her classmates. I experience the teachers in all the glory of their southern etiquette. After school Jessica and I sit on the bleachers and watch her brother Henry practice. She tells me how he gets all the attention in the family, "Just for knowing how to toss a pigskin around." I nod in solidarity and sympathize with her plight.

The following day is Friday, and Henry invites me to watch the Wildcats play. I still haven't met the Moxon family yet, mind you. I watch them battle it out against the neighboring city's Trojans, last year's regional champions. While watching the game a few anti-gay phrases are thrown around for encouragement. "Learn to catcha ball ya fuckin' queeas!" And it's the south, y'know, what can you say. After the game, with the Wildcats victorious of course, I would finally meet up with young Moxon. He has a fresh towel 'round his neck and a Dixie cup full of Gatorade. Then me and the teammates go to an afterparty type of scenario with underage drinking and people doing WhipIts and a rented stripper but it's all in good rural Arkansan fun.

The following day I'm hungover in my hotel room, it's a day of sleeping in. I schedule to meet mother Cynthia Moxon late around 7P.M. to help me cope. We meet on this broken Saturday inside her empty class room. She tells me about the struggles of running a 5th grade operation. I peer at the lousy drawings her students placed on the pin board. I notice she's wearing a blood donation tag. She tells me her family life is all anyone could ask for with a wistful eye and some looming social and sexual repression. I tell her school is backwards in many ways and kills creativity and expect her to disagree. She doesn't, of course she doesn't, everyone secretly agrees and sees through every corruption at least on a subconscious level. Where people disagree is what, if anything, should be done about it. Our bond is cemented in eternity when we realize we're both water signs.

Sunday comes and it's MegaChurch day! I've always wanted to witness the spectacle. It's no Medieval Times, but it's got the word Mega in it, and that's exciting enough for me. I get to see all the fat ladies with short, shaggy hair and the skinny ones with tacky, oversized jewelery. I get to witness the silent man in glasses, happy with a bible on his lap. I get to see a sea of receding hairlines and acne'd youth who have no clue what this is really all about. The people would get up on stage and do their voodoo schtick and I'd remain respectful. I'm not above it or below it, but hey, indifference and skepticism is what I feel in my heart. Eventually father Walter makes the stage and inflames the audience's passion for the Holy Word. It's a Jesus education concert and everyone's invited. I imagine there's strobe-lights at some point. A collection plate. Maybe a pamphlet at the end with some Subway coupons so it's not a total bust.

Monday rides along and everyone's at school, the teacher, brother and daughter. I'm finally invited to the home to speak with the pastor at around noon. The house is nice. The yard is big and there's a shed and a rider lawn mower and a swingset bordering on fancy. We tour the home. The dog is big, brown, and likes me as pets often do. The master bathroom has a TV built in the wall, you know why? This is my fantasy, and well-off folk have shower TVs, that's why. I picture the old man naked and watching Fox News just as god intended. Later we drink a couple K-cups from a Keurig and talk about yesterdays service, religion, and touch up on politics. We disagree a lot, but neither of us are stupid, and neither of us are wrong.

Eventually the other members of the Moxon family unit join us. We have dinner together and it's exquisite because a family like this wants to impress their guests. They feed me homemade mashed potatoes and grass fed black angus whatever. The father tells me about his days on the cattle ranch, they light up to retell stories of road trips across the open plains of the good country, South Dakota, to Wyoming, to New Mexico, Arizona, Vegas, Utah, they've seen it all. They're probably conservative, and that's okay. Their love of America is infectious. They ask about my life with genuine interest and I engage them. You know how rare it is for people to want to hear your life story? So rare I only feel comfortable putting it within this fictionalized account of reality. I manage to make it through dinner without a bestiality joke because I'm a respectful human being when the situation warrants it. Before calling it a night we'd watch a movie together and I would fix the settings on their PS3 because that's my contribution to this scenario. Boy, I'd get that good feeling of value and purpose and belonging after that.

The depressing mostly empty mall

The kids live on the outskirts of Little Rock, I failed to mention. This is important, because rural rules, inner city drools, alright. Rural settings that that tinge of humility and melancholy that's so warm and inviting. On Tuesday, my final night, I'm invited by the kids to the movie theater. I drive them to Walmart, first. Through they're middle class, that doesn't mean there's no Walmart involved. Walmart is the gathering ground, the cultural epicenter of little towns, no 5-mile trip is complete without a pitstop at Walmart. For fun, we take the long route to the theater, through the small and rundown mall, you know, where 30% of the stores are vacant with the gates down and dark curtains behind them. We see some movie with action or a comic book character involved.

It was an interesting experiment. It's Tuesday and I leave tomorrow. We loiter in the lobby of the theater where there's always that ostentatious carpeting and an arcade nearby. The kids relay that the mother likes me, because the mother always does. The kids are friendly but still offset and befuddled by our cultural differences. There's an air of mutual respect, although Henry is busy with his smartphone modifying the rotation of his Girlfriend Playlist, removing the brunettes, etc. They relay their dad sized me up as a bit of ungrateful, disaffected youth, and hey that's gotta be half true, but I also remind him of himself. I tell 'em I doubt we'll meet again, but we'll always be friends. As different as we are, we're a lot more alike.

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