Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Your Fifteen Minutes Have Expired

My mother finally remembered to tell me that the first guy to whom I was engaged recently appeared on Jeopardy!. The paper in the tiny Eastern Kentucky town where he lives did a puff piece on it, and mentioned his wife and six year-old son in passing. When I read it, a rather unkind thought flitted through my mind: "I wonder if he allowed her to go back and get an education degree now that the kid is old enough to be in school."

See, that was the point of departure between us. He informed me, did not ask, but informed, me during the fall semester of our sophomore year of college that I'd be dropping out after the spring semester so we could get married. I'd move in with his parents in Eastern Kentucky, have babies, and then get my elementary education degree at the local Presbyterian college when the children had all started school. We were both pre-law, and I had the larger scholarship...and that was the end of that.

My life was in disarray of the worst kind then; my younger sister had been in a near-fatal car accident two months before, and I was running my parents' household from a hundred miles away. On top of everything else, I had no car and was literally trapped at school. My parents were so afraid to leave my sister's side that I ended up begging our lawyer's son, who was in law school at the time, for a ride home for Thanksgiving. There weren't many people from my hometown going to college there, so I was pretty much trapped. Things didn't improve by spring, either, and I had to bum a ride with a distant cousin to my mother's hometown for Easter with my aunt and uncle. By the end of the year, I was simply grateful that my mother remembered to collect me in May.

Greg and I ran into each other once while I was in grad school and he was in law school. One of my classes was in a building near there, and he happened to be walking to lunch as I was leaving. He marched up and asked me to have lunch with him, which I declined; then he started telling me all about his new church. When he finished, I told him I was happy that he'd found a church that he liked, and then added, "I do hope that you aren't planning to jump up and witness about me." He went totally scarlet, and I knew that he already had. I didn't have lunch with him.

Yes, I've been the subject of a public confession in a Baptist church, not that there was a lot to confess. One of our friends recently floored me with the information that she, along with her husband and several of our college friends, were pretty sure I'd slept with Greg. I hadn't, although it somewhat clarified why another boy in our circle seemed upset that I wouldn't sleep with him when we dated two years later. Funny how you can get 'a reputation' when you never earned it, scarlet woman that I am...oh, and that's not taking into account the rumor started by Nemesis, one of my high school bullies who happened to be in school up there at the same time. Wow. Hot stuff. Pardon me for not laughing.

I still have the little engagement ring that Greg gave me, because he wouldn't take it back. It's in a closet at my house. I actually have both of my rings, and although I don't often look at them, they're a constant reminder that things don't always work out as we'd initially planned. Even though life sometimes takes us down a completely different path, we have to accept that it's frequently for the best. Greg wanted children and a stay-at-home wife, the latter I wouldn't provide and the former, as it turns out, I couldn't, although I didn't know that then. If he's happy, I'm happy for him. Our lives are what they are, and in the end, at least he had the arrogance or the guts (or both) to go on Jeopardy!. I know I don't.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Festive Flaming Upholstery

I'm a University of Kentucky alumna. I'm happy that we won the men's NCAA DI basketball championship. What I don't understand, though, is this need to overturn cars and set sofas (or anything that will burn, for that matter) on fire in celebration of our victory.

The semifinal against Louisville was personal. Rick Pitino bailed on Kentucky and ended up at Louisville after his failed seasons with the Boston Celtics- and ask anyone in the state, they'll tell you: that was his wife's idea, or at least everybody wants to blame her. To a degree, women forgive her a little teensy bit; after all, her youngest child died in Lexington, and that's enough to turn any mother bitter. (Just trust me, he is not a nice man, and that's from having personally witnessed his behavior a few times while I was a student.)

That's neither here nor there, except that even after we beat Louisville, Kentucky fans bared their behinds to the world by turning over a car and setting fire to numerous couches across Lexington. I guess that because fans couldn't burn Pitino in effigy, they just set the furniture on fire instead.

We didn't do that back in the day. They sure as hell didn't do that when my parents were up there- my mother says that in the House of Rupp, you didn't breathe funny during a game or Adolph Rupp himself would have you thrown out into the street. That held over until the Pitino Era, when he remarked on how quiet the fans were...the reason teams hated to play us at Rupp Arena was because the crowd would sit so perfectly still and utterly quiet (almost 25,000 people) that you could hear the shoes squeaking on the court. Pitino thought it showed a lack of support, and said so...thus began the Era of Loud Misbehavior by Kentucky Fans.

Most people know that upholstered furniture of recent vintage is constructed with flame-retardant materials. Ergo, it's kind of difficult to keep a couch burning after you set fire to it, so there's generally an accelerant involved somewhere in the equation. In other words, burning a couch in the street takes effort.

Why is it that people put so much effort into stupid things when they could be feeding the poor, or finding a cure for cancer? Why is it that they don't realize that the rest of the world had some very deep-seated negative stereotypes about Southerners in general, and Kentuckians in particular? "Whoo-hoo, lookit this here flaming couch I done set on fahr! YEE HAW!!!" should about cover what most of the world was thinking when our postgame revelries were broadcast on television.

Then again, this is an old, old stereotype to fight. Back when almost everybody who'd crossed the mountains to come here after the Revolutionary War was a squatter, Kentucky was legendary for its lawlessness and despotism. We've been trying to shake it off ever since, and this kind of behavior isn't helping. Leave the couch in the living room where it belongs, folks, and have your bonfires in trash barrels and fire pits like normal people...stop trying to prove we're as backward as the rest of the world already believes.