Friday, July 25, 2008

Tales Of My Mother, The Brown Recluse...

Before moving to Aspen, we lived in Oklahoma City for a time, although we constantly moved from one school district to another. There are lots of Oklahoma City School Districts within their school system. We managed to chalk up 5 just in Okie City,within three years.

TBR could never understand why I made such bad grades and constantly called me stupid because of it. Hmmm... Let's see. We were constantly moving, even in the middle of a semester and she never once even tried to help me with homework. TBR, who has a BA from Tulsa University. My brother The Prince apparently didn't need any help because his grades were outstanding. It was entirely evident that I did need some help outside of the home, which was ultimately one of the reasons she sent me off to boarding school. I thank God every day that she did send me off, since I probably would have otherwise turned out just like her. Still, it was many years before I learned that most kids my age grew up in loving, caring families where their lives were carefully planned out with parents that cared about the future of their children.

My brother and I both knew how to play every card game known to Americans and could both mix a mean Bloody Mary by the time we were each eight years old. We were also often sent to the neighborhood grocery on foot, to buy her Vogue cigarettes. We honestly had no idea that all other children in our world... were not doing these things. Neither one of us ever stayed anywhere long enough to have really close friends, so we didn't see how a lot of other people lived. Except, of course, the TBR's constantly changing array of friends.

Her friends consisted mostly of people of questionable professions, bookies, hit men, Oklahoma Senators, restaurant/bar owners, sports writers, oil men, pro golfers, stockbrokers, Jr. Leaguers, hairdressers, lawyers, pro football players and the list goes on. Mostly, they were people who liked The Night Life with Martinis and Jazz, like TBR. These people really went to Vegas a lot, and I had plenty of silver dollars that she'd brought back to us after her trips. As long as the friends were fun, they stayed around. Otherwise TBR dumped them and moved on to more entertaining new friends. No one else was allowed to have as much drama in their lives as she did, so she needed lots of good listeners. Sort of like how I always felt. She wished she could have moved on to another daughter when I turned out to be such a disappointment. Can you imagine? How can anyone wind up so completely shallow?

Anyway, she and her friends had lots of after hours places they haunted as well, so we were often awakened to come out of our rooms to meet so-and-so at the oddest hours... into the wee hours of the morning. This was also totally condusive to to all those excellent grades I wasn't making. I didn't realize it at the time I went off to Ursuline, but those nuns saved my life. They taught me so many more of the important things in life that I would never have learned at home.

Back in the 1960's in Oklahoma, gambling was illegal. It might still be illegal, I don't have a clue. Anyway, it was hot as a firecracker back then and I know there were many times when her friends were running numbers out of our house. They had to move around a lot. You know, when I saw the movie Casino with DeNiro and Sharon Stone, it reminded me a lot of those days.

One of the guys that used to drive me to school was a Harvard educated lawyer and another was a hit man (actually, I believe that he wore many hats in his business) for certain organizations. TBR always liked to make sure that we met a wide variety of people from a colorful array of professions. Maybe she thought it made us more well rounded than Sunday School. In a way, it did have an impact on us both. I'm a very cautious gambler to this day. I also hate sloppy drunks who insist on telling tasteless jokes. I can spot a *tell* or a *con* a mile away. I can usually tell when a person is lying. I learned to never give a sucker an even break and to never play the numbers. Unfortunately, during all of this education I was receiving at home, I have a funny feeling I was supposed to be learning fractions and how to conjugate verbs at school.

When we lived in Tulsa briefly, I did make the swim team, but we moved away before I could ever get to compete. Until Aspen, we had never lived long enough in any one place that I was ever able to learn a sport, so I always thought I was not a sporty girl. Until I was introduced to skiing, at any rate. Snow skiing remains the love (sport) of my life (with water skiing coming in at a red hot second) and will be until I take my last breath. It still makes me feel so free when I'm screaming down the slopes like a teenager.

I realize that some of the tales of TBR are difficult to believe by those of you who grew up in *normal* families, but I assure you that every bit of it is true. Some of it is so bizarre that I won't even be able to tell you. However, I will shock and amaze you from time to time with some of the more interesting stories about her. She was always a real piece of work. At least I can't say that I didn't have an interesting life.


Pam said...

I also grew up in Oklahoma during th sixties but never knew the gambling stuff, I just was well acquainted with my dad's bootlegger! He seemed like a nice enough guy, made home deliveries and all. Jim Beam was Dad's drink of choice. I guess he could get his beer at the store...I don't remember any beer deliveries.

I'm thankful with you for the nuns at the boarding school. Normal, as you know, is in the eye or mind of the beholder! Sometimes it seems pretty weird. As my sister is wont to say, "We grew up in the most functional dysfunctional family!"

P said...

I cannot tell you how many times I walked myself to the grocery store to buy "Winston Hedges Menthol Lites" for my mom! Gosh, I haven't thought about that in 25 years or more!

Keeper Of All Things said...

Wow.....that which doesn't kill you can only make you stronger.
Thats one of my favorite sayings......befor they put it in a song!!!
Probably made you a better wife and mother in the long run!!!

Meg said...

Snooty, you never cease to amaze me. To have grown up with such a difficult ( I am being nice because, after all she DID give birth to you...but that is the only reason) woman to call mother! You are so incredible in so many ways and I am PROUD to call you my friend, you have enriched my life immensely and I thank the blogging world for having found you..or you finding me whatever the case was, I am a better person for it. Your stories although sad at times keep me grounded and I need reality checks from time to time...thanks for being my reality check. You went through so much and look how great you turned out!

Okay,you drink some..but so do I..just teasin'! It's the weekend hon, let's go have some Tequila and lighten your load today..want to?


Pearls To Hide My Neck said...

Seriously, you should write a book. It could become a best seller and then a hit movie. Let's see....Who could be the actresses. Maybe a young Kathleen Turner for the mom and how about Scarlett Johanson for you. Maybe Dakota Fanning for the early scenes. I can think of a ton of great guys who could play the various men...Is there a place for a Danny Devito type? This would be such winner!!! All your blogger friends could invest!
How great you turned out in spite of your upbringing!

Pearls To Hide My Neck said...

Guess I should read before I hit send. I left an "a" out in one of those sentences. It's early you know.

Kathie Truitt said...

Yes, I grew up in one of those normal families. But I still believe you because so many of these stories sound just like the ones my mother used to tell. So sad. But, my mother became the mother she always wanted to have, so I am so blessed.

Treasia said...

Snooty it's hard for me to imagine having grown up this way but you became a wonderful person. You are a wonderful person and one whom I am proud as punch to call a friend. Your childhood sounds like a lifetime movie with a happy ending.

Krysta said...

I used to have to get beers for my mom and open them for her and it was okay if i took a drink or two. I was 9. You had an interesting life, I'm glad you made it out okay.

Anonymous said...

okay, blogger ate my comment, let's try again. Hopped over from Meg's funny blogroll post.

I grew up in a very Ozzie and Harriet home. It amazes me when children who grew up in a house such as yours overcome it and move on and survive.

I read you things I wonder about post below this one. Loved it. Really good questions! *g

philly said...

It's amazing you turned out so normal and raised a wonderful family !!


Mental P Mama said...

You are an inspiration. I cannot believe these stories...Just like that Novel "Anywhere but Here." Did you ever read that one?? But, after al is said and done, you know how well your life has worked out. And that is all that matters.

Flea said...

I had a vaguely interesting life, but I wholeheartedly believe you. My MIL is a borderline personality and, while not prone to all that your mother was, would give her a run for her money in the parenting and personality departments. No fiction is ever as fascinating as real life. I'm with those who encourage you to write a book.

Mamahut said...

Oh, I had forgotten about running for cigerettes and opening beers for her!

Janie said...

Wow. It's amazing, what you've been through.

You ought to write a book. Seriously!!

Anonymous said...

I always find that stories of you mother make me sad. Mostly because I enjoyed some borderline parenting from my own mother.
But I'm really grateful to your mom for sending you to the nuns. Whether she meant to do you a favor or not, clearly they were a big contribution to the person you became.
On a side note, I remember my grammy teaching me how to make her mai tais when I was about 9 or 10. And sending me to the store for smokes. I wonder if it was just that time frame (late 60's) as I can't imagine most parents or grands doing that now!

Thanks for sharing your story Ms. Snooty!

noble pig said...

I can't even believe crazy...she had some serious screws loose but mostly sounds selfish. Lucky for you with the nuns. This is why you are who you are today.

imbeingheldhostage said...

But I do believe your stories! You tell such a great tale. I try to come by when it's quiet so that I can absorb them. There are some similarities in our childhood (ok, yours are way more extreme), my mother was not cruel, but detached, and my dad brought in people from the bar. I've resented it from time to time and have tried to give my kids that other home you describe, but since I've been reading so many other accounts of the sixties, I am beginning to think we may not have been so "abnormal" (or maybe all of us grew up needing to write so we've gathered out here).
Happy weekend! (hot sauce update: not here yet, but that's the norm for our post. I'll email as soon as it arrives!)

sista #2 said...

I am so proud of you :)
You turned out wonderful, you have a great family, a great sense of humor, you curse ..... and you are the total opposite of TBR.



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