06 May 2014

"Girls"?? "Ladies"?? Did the 70's not happen?

Something my partner and I noticed when we moved from California to the East Coast: Women here call themselves "girls" or "ladies." They don't use "women." It's still a difficult linguistic and political difference for us to grasp.

For someone to call a woman a "girl" or a "lady," sounds insulting to my West Coast-tuned ears. But here it seems almost normal. "Almost normal," I say, because I detect the slightest moment of hesitation before they choose which term they'll use. But they seem unaware of the politics of second- or third-wave feminism, only vaguely aware that choosing terminology might have implications.

Raised from college on in California, I would no more say, "Come along, ladies, and we'll hike this trail" than I would say, "Come along, wenches, and we'll struggle up this hill." 

I think this is big. I think it's sad. It's a backwards turn in women's history. I want all women in North America today to honor Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem, and all the powerful fucking women who tried to make a difference in how we ourselves live, and how we characterize ourselves in the general context of the culture and society. Can't we, by this point, honor and carry on that ideal? Remember it? It was Women's Equality. It was the EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT!

22 April 2014

Meat Tales

My dad was a butcher.  Eventually he ran a whole grocery store around his meat counter, but he was Master Butcher. My dad could really cut you some fine Del Monacos, you know what I'm saying!

I grew up working at different jobs in my dad's grocery. I did check-out and carry-out, stocked items from baby food to Campho-Phenique, sorted and maintained produce, made doughnuts and wrote big, loopy Happy Birthdays on cakes.

I didn't work in the meat department, though. I think my dad didn't want me running the machines there. Particularly because we had witnessed the Freakiest and Most Screamingly Horrifying Injury in All History, there in our meat department. 

It was fairly early in my childhood grocery career when my Aunt Margaret, who had been working in the meat department for some time, got her hand pulled down into the meat tenderizer. 

Do you know what a meat tenderizer is, exactly? Here's like our store's meat grinder, top-down view. Think Swiss Steak. How it works: Steaks go between those blades and come out the bottom . . . "Swissed."  

So, okay, my Aunt Margaret's fingers went in between the blades and the machine kept pulling and pulling. Someone shut it off. (There must be safety mechanisms now.) When the machine stopped, poor Aunt Margaret was screaming. The blades had already cut clear up into her knuckles and a ways into the palm.

For this post, I looked at images of meat tenderizer injuries and decided not to post one. If you want to see, though, those are the search terms: meat tenderizer injuries.

My aunt had good movement and sensation in her hand (considering) within a few years of the injury. I have an image memory of her hands right after hospital:  swollen and with the fingers and palms riddled through with black stitches.

This may have influenced me in not becoming a butcher like the old man.

Like this, but dozens of these, all through her hand.

06 November 2013

Is that still on?

When I told my son I had seen the pilot episode of SNL in 1979--when it was first broadcast "Live from New York!"--he looked at me like I'd said I had run with dinosaurs.

14 October 2013

Squirrel Story (Warning: Graphic)

We had squirrels in our attic once. We hired a wildlife guy to get rid of them humanely. He hung cages off the eaves with the openings going into whatever tunnel squirrels run in up there. 

All went well at first. A squirrel would get caught in the cage and the guy would come speeding over in his truck and remove it to... well, to wherever. This went on for quite a few squirrels.

Then came an icy rain. That night, a squirrel got trapped in the cage, and huge icy water drops were falling fast and landing right on its head. <plink, plink, plink...>

The squirrel went through many mental and physical changes in the hours before the guy came. It wasn't quite dead when he removed it.

I looked around the neighborhood and people were standing at their windows, watching the squirrel deteriorate, there in the early morning hours. We sensed their strained attitudes toward us long after that.