Deep Southern Exposure

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“For good head, call 205-555-5555. Whites only.”

This was exactly the sort of graffiti I was expecting to see on the bathroom stall, because I was in a gas station in Alabama and Alabama was not going to shirk its duty. There were certain stereotypes that needed to be filled.

The advertisement’s racial disclaimer supported every bad thing you’ve ever heard about the Deep South, but the sexual politics left me confused. I was in a women’s stall, and the script looked feminine. So why advertise to an audience of women? My knowledge of sexual slang is meager, but “good head” is the sort of thing that gentlemen receive. Right? Or has the definition broadened to include acts for the ladies? If so, why is our female good-head-giver willing to service females but not blacks? I suppose she could be a racist lesbian.

I ought to have jotted down the phone number — this was several weeks ago, and I’m still beset with questions — but it’s not worth it to me to drive back through Alabama. My Memorial Day travels took me through Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Texas. That’s enough southern exposure for now.

The trip to Dallas is but one of the excuses I offer for not having written lately. For being as doggedly unemployed as I am, I remain busy. Within the last few weeks I have traveled, I have moved, I have met new people, I have reconnected with old people, I have suffered illness, I have buried a cat. Anyone trying to give me a tarot reading a month ago would have struck gold. Damn near any of the cards would have applied.

So: my apologies for not having written lately, and I promise I’ll be better about posting here. A few notable points, though:

  • I moved in with my boyfriend. As has been the case with relationships throughout most of human history, the primary motivations were financial and practical. We’re saving both saving money and it’s just easier. Which is not very romantic. I would not have considered the move, however, if things weren’t going well.
  • Now I live in a lovely townhouse within easy walking distance of downtown Asheville. Except for not knowing where to put my clothes and my shoes, I am nicely settled in, and so are the girls.
  • I’m back to referring to my cats as “the girls,” now that Bubby’s gone. He was fine one day, and the next he couldn’t walk. His legs kept buckling under him, and he collapsed in his own litterbox — which made it very, very easy for me to know what to do. I had already taken him to the emergency vet that morning (the emergency vet, not the regular vet, because it was a Saturday. Pets have an instinct for getting sick at inconvenient times) and then, after surrendering my key to my former landlady, I took Bubby straight back to the vet. Here’s a picture taken the last day of his life:


Beelzebub was the sweetest cat you could imagine, apart from how he decided to cost me nearly $500 that last day. Bad cat.

I miss him terribly. I will say this, though: it was nice to have such a clean grief. So many unpleasant things have happened these past few years — bad relationships, financial problems, unemployment, violence, depressive episodes — that it was a relief to have a straightforward death. There was no guilt or remorse or loathing or envy. There was just sadness.

On Monday I am supposed to start a temp job. This is the same temp job I was supposed to start back in February. I will believe it when it actually happens. If it does actually happen, I won’t expect it to last. This is a job at a plant that is going to close. It may not close for another year or two… or it may close next week. The plant manufactures CDs and DVDs. Fifteen years ago it was thriving. Nowadays it is struggling to stay open.

The job search will continue. I’ll take whatever income I can from this temp assignment — I don’t even know what I’ll be doing, and that’s okay, because it’s money — but I have to keep looking for work. At this point I have lost all faith in being able to find a job. Even this temp position is due to my mother’s influence. Disheartened and pessimistic though I am, however, I have to keep looking. It’s like playing the lottery: it probably won’t do any good, but I definitely won’t get a job offer if I don’t play the game.

And I definitely won’t have health insurance unless I find a job with benefits again. I could have used some health insurance a few weeks ago, when I decided to become sicker than I’ve ever been in my life. You wouldn’t think that tonsillitis would be such a big deal, but it got to the point where I wondered if a person could die from it.

The act of swallowing was excruciating. It got to the point where I couldn’t talk, couldn’t eat, and couldn’t drink. When I finally dragged myself to the free clinic, I cried when the doctor inspected my mouth. Then he called in another doctor to see how awful it was.

They gave me some antibiotics and some pain meds, though swallowing the pills was indescribably painful. Eating a little 4-oz. cup of yogurt took more than an hour, even with my boyfriend making airplane noises as the spoon approached my mouth.

For a day and a half I saw no improvement. I despaired. I did not want to die of an infected tonsil. But I woke on a Saturday morning and discovered I could speak again. My voice was croaky for the rest of the day, but by that point the pain was manageable.

It seems so trivial, to be laid so low by one inflamed tonsil, but I have never been so ill. If you’re wondering where you might direct some charitable donations, I might recommend the Asheville Buncombe Community Christian Ministry.

Now then. I think that brings us up to speed. I promise to start writing faithfully again, unless I get another infected tonsil and die, in which case all bets are off.


2 responses »

  1. What about Louisiana?

  2. Tonsillitis once made me sicker than I ever have been in my life, I feel your pain! Or I felt it…


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