Who You Spozed to Be?

I’m white, and my parents are white. My Dad and I both have freckles and super white skin – he’s a redhead, even – and we are just darn white. Where we used to live, where I grew up, in University City, MO, the population slowly changed during my childhood until, by the time I was in high school, there were more black people than white people in our neighborhood and in my school. We were the “weird” university professor whites who didn’t hold with white flight and who sent their kid to the public school when other white folks preferred the private one even if they did maintain their funky house in the changing neighborhood. I got a better education than those kids did.


My Dad has always been a runner. He has always run in sweatpants and a sweatshirt and I am talking about the rattiest, torn-up, crappiest clothes you can imagine. He also wears a hat: don’t ask. One time during those white flight years, he was running in a nearby park, frequented by mostly black homeless people, drunk people, drug dealers, to whom, I’m sure, my father either said “hello” in his good-ol’-Iowa-boy fashion or ignored. This particular day, an inebriated black guy started running next to him as he pounded by in all his glory.


“Hey!” this guy shouted, a look of great curiosity and confusion on his face. “HEY!”


“Yes?” said my Dad, perhaps slowing just a bit but not stopping. “What is it?”


“I got a question for you!”


“All right.”


“My question is: WHO YOU SPOZED TO BE?!”


And no matter how my father tried to answer, nothing would satisfy, until he finally just ran out of the park, while the guy kept shouting, “HEY! WHO YOU SPOZED TO BE? WHO YOU SPOZED TO BE?”


Today I got home from therapy to an email from my mother saying my Dad had been peeing blood all night. I wrote back asking her to get the urology records from where they used to live, and I spoke with his new doctor’s office to let them know. Fortuitously, he has an appointment with the urologist this week. It took me about half an hour, which I recorded on my timesheet, something their estate lawyer has recommended I do (You Better Werk!).


The other day, I told Tex I’m going to get a lock of my hair dyed blue. Other older gals do it, and I am longing to splash my femme sexiness around the burbs a bit. I was so inspired by the Saint Harridan fashion show – all shapes, all sizes, all ages strutting their stuff in those fine, fine suits – and I want to share the love. Here, in the middle of the fecund jungle of middle age with teenagers and old parents and old pets, here in the thickly settled suburban life where we stick out like sore thumbs, this is where I am, femme soccer Mom, queering the minivan, neither one thing nor another, fucking with folks’ little (ageist, homophobic, misogynistic, classist, racist, ablest, dumb-ass) minds.


A neighbor just gave us some eggplants and we have a fridge full of other summer bounty produce. I’m going to cook a lot today, for friends and family. I have other housework to do, also. My work, my writing, my organizing, my relationships with family and friends, are as rich and juicy as all the ripe produce coming into the house.


Just fleetingly, I feel it: how I’m right here, being who I’m supposed to be.