As I was paying a bill a few weeks ago, the woman across the counter asked me if my wallet was sheepskin. Yes, it was, I said.
“I used to have a belt made of sheepskin,” she told me, smiling. “My kids hated it when I beat them with it.”
Even though I didn’t say a word to encourage her, she warmed to her tale of child abuse. “My mother asked me why I didn’t just use a regular belt, but I told her that the sheepskin whistled through the air slower. It really hurt when it smacked their butts!”
“Ah,” I said, as I concluded my business. She didn’t notice my lack of response; she was lost in her own private amusement at the memory she had conjured up.
I realized a long time ago that there is just something about me which seems to invite such confidences from people I know only casually, if at all. Suddenly, out of nowhere, someone will reveal a deep-seated - and yet casual - racial or religious bigotry, and yet another might reveal a deep contempt for women, or “educated idiots” or indeed, anyone who doesn’t live in their little treehouse.
They preach “freedom of association” as if it were one of the mythic Missing Amendments to the Constitution.
And if they take off their masks to me, a stranger, what do they reveal to the people they trust most in the world?
Or do they even make any distinction? In many cases, I suspect not; there are folks who chafe at the restraints put upon them by polite society, or the “Politically Correct,” as they like to sneer.
On Facebook - the farcical world in which folks either debate daily with the same crowd of folk, or else hang out with those from their own treehouse - I will engage with such bigots, but in the Real World I generally don’t.
I collect their stories, their mannerisms, their facial expressions, and I use them in my own writing. I collect their bigotries, petty and great, and write about them, and use them to try and make sense of the world we live in.
Sadly, I can never make much sense out the people who feel compelled to tell me their stories, or reveal to me the dark side of their natures.
Quote of the Day
No memory is ever alone; it’s at the end of a trail of memories, a dozen trails that each have their own associations. - Louis L’Amour