Monday, January 25, 2010

Mama Told Me

Having a dead mother is incredibly different than having a live one. When a mother dies, the lessons don’t cease; they continue to resonate and repeat themselves like a beautiful mantra from the sky. For some reason, the mantra ran strong today and I thought I would share the five most important and memorable things my mother ever said.

  • “Show some leg”

Now, having been raised in very traditional Baptist Church, these instructions didn’t fly well with the missionaries, but it was Mother’s belief that mine and my sisters’ skirts should go no lower than the top of our knees. My sisters and I have legs like our mother – long, shapely, muscular, and thick. They are truly a work of art, and of course my Mommy wanted us to be as proud of them as she was of hers. What I have come to realize is that each woman has a special body part that she needs to show without fear or hesitation. Not every woman will have a small waist, dainty toes, and a coke bottle figure. But you got something, now show it.

  • “Nothing on your face”

She believed that bangs were for ugly people to hide their faces. I will never forget how hard she tripped when I came home from the salon with a side swept bang. So face tattoos, piercings, blemishes, and makeup were a no go for my Mommy. She wanted us to take care of our faces, rather than hide its imperfection. She also wanted us to understand that though your face is not the first thing people see, it is probably the most important and communicative part of our body. Its where all the expressions are, and people should see them.

  • “No scars on your body”

My mother wanted my sisters and I to be careful outside so as not to scar, and from then I realized that I would be stuck with this body for the rest of my life, so I should take care of it. Don’t put any and everything in your body – that goes for food, chemicals, medications, penises, anything. Your body isn’t a pair of shoes. You don’t buy new ones once the old pair is worn out. Don’t abuse your body.

  • “You can’t keep a man if you can’t cook”

I know this isn’t an absolute rule, especially if your non-cooking ass were married to a chef. But I have come to interpret that even if you get a man, you still have to keep him. You heard the saying that pussy comes a dime a dozen, and looks fade. What do you have that will make a man stay? Are you honest and loving? Can you cook his dick into submission? Do you have a serious understanding of money that will keep your house afloat through any economic tide? Whatever you got, use it, because we all know that men have roaming eyes.

  • Separate bank accounts

My Mommy never said separate bank accounts, but I think she would have if she lived long enough to see me date boys. By the time I turned eleven, we had lived three months without electricity. My father was unemployed and couldn’t afford to pay the bill. We sat our food on ice in picnic coolers and shat and showered by candlelight. I had, of course, given up on the hope of a birthday. But on September 16th my mother bought me an art set complete with oil pastels and acrylic paints. The irony is that I had to paint by short stem prayer candles that we’d bought from the corner store. No matter, this birthday went down in history as one of my favorite birthdays in the history of my life. I learned that with separate monies, you can achieve separate goals. I got my birthday and a couple weeks later, the electric bill was paid. Everybody wins.

I hope that you appreciate the fact that I shared my Mommy with you. She was a beautiful woman and she was cool and tempestuous like the ocean. But that woman managed to make six beautifully confident kids.

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