Monday, October 27, 2008

No harm done?

The people of the Ozarks can be as gracious as the rise and fall of those old mountains.

Two middle-aged couples set up chairs near the finish line of the Outhouse Races and went to buy lemonade. When they returned, two older women and two young women were sitting in their chairs. The younger women stood and walked away and the middle-aged women sat down. The older women started to rise, and one of the men called out, "Tell her to sit down."

One older woman stood and turned to face him, "I only wanted to rest a minute," she said. "I didn't mean no harm."

"None done," he replied. "You sit yourself down. I'm fine where I am." He turned to his companion and said, "I'd crawl across this square naked before I'd ask an old lady to stand up so I could sit down."

They also can be as unyielding as the rock that forms the mountains.

"The hay bales are there for your protection," the announcer blared from his position on a flatbed truck parked at the edge of the raceway, dead center of a blocked-off street. "These outhouses don't have no brakes and some of the drivers are of the female persuasion. Do not sit on the hay bales."


"Young woman in the orange, I'm talking specifically to you. Get off that hay bale."

9,999 people turned to see who was defying the big voice from the sky.

"What's a matter? Don't you speak A-merican?" he blasted.

The girl, 10 or 12 I'd guess, rose slowly. Her father picked up the purple plastic stool she was sitting on and waved it toward the announcer and then around at the crowd. He put it back on the ground and the scarlet-faced girl sat back down— behind the hay bale—where she'd been all along. From half a block away, I could see the glisten of tears on her cheeks. She mopped them up with her long, blonde ponytail.

Silence from the big man on the back of the big black truck. No acknowledgment. No apology. Just on to the next order of business.

One of the outhouses had a political theme, "The Race to the White Out House." In the parade, it was pushed by a man wearing a rubber John McCain mask and another wearing an Obama mask. The rubber Obama face was the only black face in the entire town and it did not match the white hands extending from the suit sleeves.

Come race time, "Obama" was driving the outhouse, which suddenly had a flat tire. The pushers did not even run, and it lost its heat by half the length of the raceway to the loudest applause of the day.

Politics aside, it was a great day and a grand adventure. More (and prettier) stories to come.


Nancy said...

Oh my...that certainly makes my home state look bad.
You must have been around Harrison or Zinc. Both are well known for being racist and intolerant. I could never live there.
That might explain why I've never been to the out house races either.
I hope you still had a good time and enjoyed a lovely fall in northern Arkansas. I now live in northern Kentucky and it is so pretty here right now.
Love reading of your adventures!

Jerri said...

Politics aside, I did have a wonderful time, Nancy. It's a beautiful area.

I plan to tell some other stories that reflect very differently on the area, but these were on my mind this morning.

Jerri said...

One more thing--like everything and everyone, Arkansas is a mixture of many things. Some are less appealing than others, but they don't cancel out the good stuff.

Michelle O'Neil said...

Sadly, those pockets of Arkansas do not have a monoploy on ignorance or racism (or sexism).

Luckily, they also don't have a monopoly on the kindness of offering a person one's chair.

Nothing is black or white.

Deb said...

I absolutely love the stories you tell, ugly or pretty, you always have me right in the stink or pleasure of things. Looking forward to more of your adventures. Much love to you.

Terry said...

Ditto Deb!

kario said...

Sounds as if the people of the Ozarks are a lot like people everywhere.

Thanks for the colorful description of your adventures!