I want to do what everybody else is doing. So, here’s the first installment of 25 things about me:
1) When I was a kid, I was once bitten by a worm. My husband says no way, worms don’t bite. But he wasn’t there, on someone’s front porch in Wichita Falls, Texas, being attacked by a vicious white-and-yellow worm. What does he know?
2) I came of age in the 1970s, when total honesty was all the rage. I hated it, thinking it was too often an excuse to hurt and brutalize other people. The older I get, though, the less tolerance I have for dishonesty. Even so, I still have great respect for those small, benign white lies that prevent unnecessary pain. Why not?
3) Hale-Bopp was my favorite celestial event, especially after that loser comet, Kohoutek, failed to show in the late 1970s. A friend in Charlottesville, Virginia, gave a party for Kohoutek and we all sat in his back yard, waiting to be dazzled. No lights, no dazzle, no thrill. We were forced to get drunk, instead. This may be one reason why I don’t believe in God.
4) Once, I met the woman who started a chain of ice-cream stores in Austin. I was very impressed. But then, I realized, I happen to be an expert of sorts on ice cream, too. I can polish off two pints of Haagen-Dazs when I’m in the mood. My current favorites are Dulce de Leche and Honey Bee. Right now, I don’t have an appetite for Ben & Jerry’s, but I’m sure this will pass.
5) The strangest place I’ve ever been is Albania, a blighted, hopeless country that almost sent me into a nervous breakdown in the 48 hours I was there with my husband and son. That was in 1998. Since then, Albania has become a source of almost-fond memories for us. Also, nobody else has been there, so it’s our travel trump card. So, you’ve been to Bora Bora? Big deal. I almost had a total nervous collapse in Tirana, Albania.
6) Many people we know who are now well off, have early, fairly shameful stories about the depths they sank to when they were broke. One man, whose second wife later wrote an awful bestseller, stole a Christmas tree on Christmas Eve from a local food emporium. Another, now a very successful businesswoman, jumped out of the cab and stiffed the driver as they got to the airport in Edinburgh, Scotland, for her return flight after a semester abroad; “I was broke,” she said. My husband and I, when we were in similar straits, once sold our wedding silver. It was when the Hunt Brothers were trying to corner the market on silver and had driven up the price. Since then, we’ve always had a fond feeling for the Hunts and never missed the silver, since the pattern was dead-ugly. This is what happens when you pick out silver patterns at the age of 23.
7) Some of my favorite novels, including Lonesome Dove and Terms of Endearment, were written by Larry McMurtry. I’m always disappointed to hear what a dick he is in real life, insulting and running off his fans.
8) I read the same paperback copy of Gone With the Wind over and over when I was a teenager. I used to keep count of these readings on the back cover, till it finally fell off. This gives you a very accurate accounting of how exciting my adolescence was.
9) After reading Sharyn McCrumb’s wonderful novels that take place in Appalachia, I’ve taken her argument to heart that the region should be pronounced with a short “a” in the third syllable, instead of a long “a.” However, I still pronounce the country Chile like “Chili” for the same reason I pronounce France with a short “a”: Why mess with a perfectly good English pronunciation?
10) When I was a kid, I once shared a hymnal in church with a woman who later left her husband and their adopted daughter and ran off with a criminal. They robbed banks together and were pictured in “Wanted” posters at the post office. What was she thinking when we were sharing the hymnal and singing, “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee” at tiny St. Mark’s Methodist Church?
11) My husband and I once almost got deported on a ship that sailed from France to England because we were young, badly dressed and broke. The customs official (clearly a rage-aholic) started ranting about how his country spent millions to send American paupers home to their own country. I reminded him of how we bailed them out of World War II and wasn’t he lucky he didn’t have to speak German? This did not go over well; ingrates rarely appreciate the points you are trying to make.
12) You can cry about Alzheimer’s or you can laugh, but the truth is, you will probably intermingle the two. When my father was in the earlier stages of the illness, he was talking to my sister by phone from the facility where he lived. She asked about the dog they had at the home.
“We don’t have a dog,” he said.
“Yes, you do. I saw it,” she said.
“No, we don’t,” he insisted.
She could hear a noise in the background. “What’s that?” she asked.
“Oh, that’s the dog,” he said.
13) On Valentine’s Day 2007, I was by myself in a hotel room in Houston. I thought it wouldn’t be a big deal. However, I ate seven candy bars that evening.
(Copyright 2009 by Ruth Pennebaker)
Ruth, as a fellow FBer and completer of 25 things, you, as usual, put everyone’s lists to shame and make me feel rather embarrassed about my boring and not nearly as well thought out list. Funny and poignant post as always.
Thanks, Paula. I’m now working on the second half of my 25. For some reason, I love doing this stuff. When are we having lunch? Email me.
If you liked Comet Hale-Bopp, you’ll love this photo by photographer Cary Anderson. Its a picture of the comet with the aurora borealis taken in Alaska. (The image was published in a National Geographic book.) Anyway, you’ll see what I mean. Just go to Eagle Eye Pictures at http://www.eagleeyepictures.net and click on the Aurora link.
I, too, loved Hale Bopp and wrote an essay about my aging mother, practicing an Easter cantata in the little Methodist church, hearing the peepers call on an early spring evening ,and watching Hale Bopp move ever so slowly in the sky.
You’ve got a great half list, Ruth.
Ruth, re your #7 and Gone With The Wind” …. reminds me when I was a teenager my very wonderful but very straight-laced father instructed me to not read that book …. I guess he thought it was a tad too risque for his delicate daughter. I’m now 72 years old, still haven’t read it (oh, but have seen the movie – several times).
How funny! Most parents today would be thrilled if their kids were reading something only as risque as GWTW.
It interests me that, though we are about the same age, you consider yourself to have come of age in the 70s. I consider myself to have come of age in the 60s. It may be a Mars-Venus thing; most men, I think, consider themselves to have come of age in the high school teen years. Maybe women consider themselves to have come of age in the college years. There may also be a difference in what the sexes in our culture and age group mean when they consider the notion of “coming of age.” For men of our generation, and perhaps that greatest generation before us, being 18 meant you were draft-eligible. In 1969, that was everything; we came of age while we waited for the selective service lottery number.
I’ll have to ponder this coming of age thing some more….
#10 grabs me and shakes me. I’m a sucker for Bonnie and Clyde stories that include hymnals and kids.
For some odd reason, I also want to go to Albania now.
Great list, Ruth. As always, I enjoyed reading your post very much.