Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Your Ass Is Grass, Kid.

This is a very old post from a long-defunct blog I started in Los Angeles, but VOX (the host site) is closing, and I wanted to keep this around because it is important to me. So y'all just pretend like it's March 28, 2007 for a while.

My aunt Linda passed away yesterday. While her later years suffered from ignominy and a strange penchant for avoiding and abandoning her family, up til that point she was a bright light in my life and in those of many others. I don't plan to blather about how terrible it is that she's gone, but I want to share three stories.

One. When she was a child in Sidney, Ohio, Linda decided that it would be a good idea to rush out into traffic and smash a tomato against her chest and then hold an arrow to the tomato as if she'd been shot. She staggered dramatically and then collapsed in front of passing traffic. Of course, this caused quite a commotion.

Two. Linda used to come down to visit us from Chicago every Christmas. It was the high point in everyone's humdrum lives - the big city family member was coming to impart her sophistication and wisdom on those left behind. She had been visiting for a few days when somehow we wound up lost in the seedier part of town - white trash central. Mobile homes teetered on the brink of collapse while inside 19 babies were subsisting on one can of baked beans, cars were piled up on cement blocks, refrigerators doubled as lawn decor. We were driving slowly when Linda stopped the car. We looked over, and there were two gangly, scummy teens chasing a rooster with a cinderblock. The rooster, neck bobbing frantically, was dodging and darting away from those two hooligans, who were laughing hysterically - apparently traumatizing farm animals is big fun in the hillbilly set. My aunt feverishly tried to unbuckle her seatbelt, jostling back and forth in the car , and then finally screamed across the passenger seat, "YOU HURT THAT CHICKEN, KID, AND YOUR ASS IS GRASS!"

Three. She loved Nina Simone. LOVED HER. A friend of hers in Chicago happened to be acquainted with Ms. Simone and, after a performance, took Linda backstage to meet the chanteuse. As Linda stood nervously outside Ms. Simone's dressing room, she heard her friend inside say, "Nina, I have a friend who wants to meet you," to which Dr. Simone replied, "I hope it ain't no HONKY!"

(yes, you are supposed to click on the link below to listen to and reflect upon the following song.)

So, I always idolized her. For some reason, screaming at children, causing panic among the innocent and being the victim of racism at the hands of a superstar always inspires in me a sense of reverence. I will miss her.