My Aunt Babs gave me that invaluable piece of advice as a youngster, totally in character. I talk about her a lot; not that we were close, but she gave great anecdote. Just last night I was telling Babs stories, as is my wont.
Sadly, Babs is about to be defeated by a life lived hard. Married six times, she drank heavily and smoked a couple of packs a day — even after being diagnosed with cancer. Babs, a retired forklift driver, thought she had the disease beat, but today we found out it’s beaten her. She’s in hospice care now, with only a few weeks — at most — left.
She’ll remain a dependable muse. Whenever I run short of material, I turn to Babs. Like the time she led a (successful) walkout at her local VFW after they banned smoking during bingo. Or the night she met the former owner of the Atlanta Falcons; “Babs, this is Rankin Smith, he owns the Falcons.” “I don’t give a shit what he owns. What am I supposed to do, kiss his feet?” (They ended up drunk, launching fireworks in the backyard. It was not the Fourth of July.)
Then there was the day she showed up at our subdivision pool, wearing a black Van Halen T-shirt and white lycra shorts. We assumed — incorrectly — she had a bathing suit on underneath. My mom urged her not to get wet, lest she expose her, uh, genitalia, but Babs would not be dissuaded.
“I don’t give a shit what these country club fuckers think,” she said, just loud enough so all the “country club fuckers” could hear her. Might I add that she was holding a lit cigarette aloft as she jumped into the pool.
Babs had few redeeming qualities, but I’m a sucker for the colorful. I’ll never meet another like her.