For years I’ve had a character that’s gotten me out of many uncomfortable silences (and caused a few): Gay redneck, loves NASCAR and dick with equal fervor.
Ronnie Sproles, Gay Redneck’s Christian name, drives a Ford truck with a sticker of a boy pissing on a Chevy right next to a rainbow flag decal. Today I got behind a guy in a Ford pick-up with a NASCAR decal affixed aside an equality sticker.
“I don’t give a shit what anyone says I do what I want to …”
I was probably 5 or 6 when I received my first doctor’s kit but was disappointed with the thermometer. Always the resourceful tot, I turned to most trusted accessory.
No one got more use out of crayons. I used to mash up the gold, silver and bronze ones into a fine powder, passing out portions of the waxy dust to girls I fancied. The gold dust went to the A-listers, silver to the B-listers, and so on. Most were fooled.
I was emboldened.
Now I trust everyone remembers the freezing jolt of the anal thermometer, a most peculiar rite of passage. A stickler for accuracy even as a child, I insisted on administering the Crayola thermometer rectally. My patients were the two little girls who lived on the same cul-de-sac. Fevers got a red crayon; otherwise, blue. Out if respect for Mother Earth, I recycled (but only for future temperature-taking).
Again, I was 6. The phrase “unwanted advance” meant nothing to me.
So why share this precious anecdote, ATLmalcontent?
WISC-TV, the CBS affiliate in Madison, reports that Grant County, Wisconsin, District Attorney Lisa Riniker, who charged a 6-year-old boy with first-degree sexual assault becaused he played doctor with a 5-year-old girl, has obtained a gag order that prohibits his parents, who have sued Riniker and two other county officials, from talking about the case. Iowa County Judge Bill Dyke issued the order last Monday, forcing the boy’s parents to cancel a planned interview with WISC. The station spoke instead with their lawyers, who are not covered by the order:
“That behavior by a prosecutor is outrageous,” said Christopher Cooper, an attorney for the boy’s parents. …
“She [Riniker] bypassed the parents and sent a 6-year-old boy a summons, on which is a threat that the 6-year-old will go to jail for failure to appear,” Cooper said.
The attorneys said they have sought the opinion of many experts who said that children “playing doctor” is not a sex crime.
I hope the 6-year-old destroyed his crayons before D.A. Lisa Riniker could dust for prints.
I’ve written about my paternal grandfather (not to be confused with my infamous step-grandfather) before. Pop Pop Boone was a master storyteller with incredibly bad judgment and questionable character. Not surprisingly, we were close.
Most Thanksgivings were spent in Toomsboro, where my dad grew up. It wasn’t even a one-stoplight town, and even natives like my grandfather refused to rise to its defense. He once told me he’d rather cut my hands off than have me take over the family newspaper, as a great-uncle hoped I would: “There’s nothing to do in Toomsboro but die.”
He was dying a slow death married to his second wife Zelma, proudly humorless and pussel-guted. My dad barely hid his contempt for his father or “Pretzel,” whom Pop Pop ”courted” while my grandmother lay dying of cancer.
Zelma made a heckuva coffee roast but otherwise she was a lousy cook. One Thanksgiving she prepared a chocolate pie doused with bourbon. Had I been 10 years older I would’ve welcomed it, but it was a bit strong for my adolescent palate. Her daughter, Sarah Ann, a chain-smoking Dixie Carter wannabe, and butch granddaughter English, who had what my grandfather called mill-post legs, always made fun of Zelma’s cooking.
My mom, however, is a fantastic cook, but that didn’t stop my grandfather and Pretzel, at her behest, from stopping at Davis Bros. Cafeteria every time they came up for a holiday dinner. “Oooh, we’re just so full,” she’d say, then ask for a little plate which she’d pile with food. Zelma was quite charming.
There was lots of talking behind backs at those family gatherings. “She could plow a mule straight to death,” said Pop Pop of his step-granddaughter, but only when she was out of earshot. We were all amused when English showed up one Thanksgiving with a fiance who weighed about 120 pounds. He acted quite nervous, which was understandable. A rhino would’ve been shaky around English.
There’s little conversation to recount since there was little conversation. Eventually my grandfather would hold court telling stories we’d all heard before (but I still enjoyed). My father would typically offer some barbed critique that my grandfather would pretend not to hear. Then we’d watch football though only Pop Pop and English showed much interest.
Pop Pop especially enjoyed ripping on Atlanta teams, which wasn’t hard. He was just jealous, trapped in Toomsboro and consumed by regret. He wished he had a crappy team to root for.
He found some happiness in his 80s when Zelma, about 15 years his junior, died unexpectedly from a heart attack. Her body was barely cold when Sarah Ann called. “So what are we gonna do about Boonie?” “What do you mean,” replied my dad. Sarah Ann was under the impression that Zelma owned the house in Toomsboro but the real landlords were my dad and aunt. My wise grandmother, who owned the title, passed it down to her children because she feared my grandfather would somehow piss it away, which he would have.
Turns out Zelma married my grandfather thinking he was as rich as his brothers, who were all quite wealthy. He was not. Zelma had managed to marry the one poor Boone brother, which probably explains her bitterness.
With Pretzel gone my grandfather finally had the freedom he’d craved for 81 years. Of course he was too old to enjoy it to its fullest but he seemed relatively happy. At least he could flirt, and we no longer had to have Thanksgiving in Toomsboro. Pop Pop was all too happy to drive to Atlanta. By himself, without stopping at Davis Bros.
For now, we have another miscalculation in a bloodless film about a monster more pathetic than dangerous, with an odd, rambling screenplay by Oscar-winning writer Dustin Lance Black (Milk) that meanders all over the place unable to tell a story with any kind of narrative coherence.
A new biography on the life of Walter Payton alleges that the NFL Hall of Famer numbed his maladies by robotically ingesting the painkiller Darvon during his playing days, was involved in extramarital dalliances and fell into a depressed state that included heavy self-medication after his NFL career ended in 1987.
After he kept me waiting for an hour, I was finally summoned. Ascending the steps of his customized trailer, I was shaken by the sound of crushing glass, or, in this case, sunglasses. Payton informed me they cost him $275. He sounded as if he expected to be reimbursed.
The interview went even worse. No matter how benign the query, Payton responded with, “Yes, no or I don’t want to talk about that.”
I tried to engage him on some training camp controversy involving ex-teammate Jim McMahon, but that just made him more agitated. “What the hell do you think I’ve got to say about that?” or words to that effect.
As if it wasn’t obvious enough how little regard he held for me, “Sweetness” lifted his leg to emit a loud stream of flatulence. He repeated, twice.
(originally posted 6/10/08) I found out my step-grandfather died tonight. No sympathy required — it’s sort of a funny story. Dark humor, you know. I’ve written about Ralph before, but … Continue reading Remembering Ralph
When my older sister married her husband, families from opposite ends of the good fortune chain uncomfortably merged. His was born into old money; hers (mine) born in holes, equipped with shovels. … Continue reading My sister’s rehearsal dinner
Roughly 12 years ago today my friend Ms. Ellie was expecting a very special visitor. What started as an outlandish joke evolved into a false promise that she would be paid a birthday visit from Richard Simmons. In her office. It was mostly persistence, as I recall. I kept selling and, finally, she bought, even letting others in on her birthday “surprise” that wasn’t.
“I should’ve known better,” she told me today, “being the victim of the coffee table Bible hoax.”
I was the first of my friends to purchase a PC, a massive Compaq that set me back nearly $2,000. I was freelancing at the time, typing stories on a word processor, which I would save to a floppy disc then drive to whatever publication was paying, where they would upload it. Not very efficient.
The ‘net was a virtual clean slate back then, a godsend for budding entrepreneurs. Unfortunately, I lack the money-making gene. I am, however, quite skilled at making mischief out of nothing.
The social networks back then were Prodigy, CompuServe and AOL. Soon I discovered the M4M chat rooms, fertile ground for a troublemaker.
I created a schizophrenic profile in the guise of one of the many voices in my head, disgraced six-time local Emmy Award weatherman Levon Dukes, 62: 39, Sunday school teacher, aggressive top, six-pack abs, Boy Scout leader, bear, bourbon drinker, etc.
Screen name MrDukes would enter a gay room with guns blazing, admonishing chatters for their “degenerate lifestyles” while IM’ing crude come-ons. I had an accomplice, Levon’s nephew Tiny, who would “accidentally” stumble into the lobby: “Mr. Dukes, is that you?” MrDukes would then rip into Tiny with a torrent of merciless, unprovoked insults. On cue, the rest of the room would rush to Tiny’s defense, blowing the whistle on Mr. Dukes’ closet-bound hypocrisy.
Would gay pride parades be more effective if participants wore suits and street clothes, instead of leather thongs and ass-less pants? Cord Jefferson at The Root says yes. Just as African Americans took extra pains to dress conservatively—with crisp shirts tucked in to dress slacks and skirts—during the civil rights marches of the ’50s and ’60s, perhaps the LGBT community would inspire more empathy if they did the same.
I’m inspired to engage in this linguistic activity because the annual “Pride Week” for usgays and lesbians is soon at hand, and I’m particularly interested in knowing what it is, exactly, that I’m supposed to be proud of.
“If you can lie, you can act,” Brando told Jod Kaftan, a writer for Rolling Stone and one of the few people to have viewed the footage. “Are you good at lying?” asked Kaftan. “Jesus,” said Brando, “I’m fabulous at it.”
My best deceptions:
The coffee table Bible
Victim: Ms. Ellie
Source: Wedding gift from the in-laws
As her marriage to Bobby Bubbles drew nigh, I convinced Ms. Ellie that Bobby’s parents would be handing down the oversized family Bible. Believable, in that Bobby hails from strongly religious stock, just like the Malcontent. I let that one fester for about two months until Ms. Ellie threatened to confront her fiance.
The stripper, the gossip and the drunk
Victim: Al Kosa (unintended)
Source: Too much booze
This one’s a bit more complex, but it demonstrates my uncanny ability to lie on my feet. There’s this gal Al and I know — let’s call her Trace — who is not our biggest fan. (She accused me of pretending to be queer just so I could make fun of gay people). Said prudish female had previously accused Al of being a gossip — far from the truth.
So I’m a party where I find myself chatting with Trace. An opening presents itself and I just can’t resist: “Al tells me you used to do some stripping on the side.” Predictably, modest Trace blew up like a bullfrog, turned and left. I never had a chance to tell her I was only kidding — not that I tried.
Flash forward a couple of hours. I had passed out. Al arrives solo at the soiree, all happy-go-lucky, until he’s confronted by Trace’s boyfriend: “Why are you telling everyone my girlfriend is a stripper?” Al had no idea what he was talking about.
I could’ve cleared everything up but, as mentioned, I had retired to the boudoir. I haven’t seen Trace since — last I heard, she was plotting my demise — but the anecdote survives.
Despite accepting the “invitation to receive Christ” on more than one occasion, I wasn’t convinced of my salvation. I was only 11, after all — unprepared to handle the implications of eternal damnation.
My family’s 1981 summer vacation was preceded by a Southern Baptist revival. For those of you lucky enough not to be raised Southern Baptist, revivals feature out-of-town pastors imported to scare the hell out of congregants. I remember a ruddy-faced man with fat cheeks and a bad toupee painting a vivid portrait of life on Earth following the Rapture. I would’ve gone forward again had my parents not stopped me.
It was nearing sunset on Seagrove Beach when I experienced what I thought was the Rapture, complete with swarms of locusts descending from a fiery sky. Or so it seemed to my vivid imagination, which veered into overdrive when I couldn’t find my parents. I went down to the beach. Nothing. I called their names inside and outside the house. Nothing. After about five minutes my worst fears were realized. They’d been “raptured” while I was left behind to deal with the Apocalypse.
Naturally, I went into hysterics, circling the perimeter of the house repeatedly, my arms flailing, screaming for mommy and daddy. Neighbors ventured outside to watch, unsure of how to handle an 11-year-old raving lunatic. They kept their distance.
Finally, my parents emerged from the basement I didn’t know existed. They were clearly disturbed but I couldn’t tell them what had caused my nervous breakdown. I can’t recall my story but know that I’ve always been a gifted liar.
That evening they took me to Panama City to see “Cannonball Run.” I welcomed the distraction though I couldn’t help but wonder: would Burt Reynolds be left behind like me?