Thursday, October 05, 2006

Of Jamokes and Poetry

My family is not a family of name callers. My parents only insisted upon a few things when I was little. The most important rule that we had was that we couldn't say, "shut up." To this day, my mother will look at people who aren't even related to us with dismay that they would be so hurtful and disrespectful with their syntax. The second rule of the house was that we weren't allowed to call each other "stupid." The third and final rule that I can remember my parents laying down absolutely was that we had to replace any can of Coke that we took out the fridge with a new one. Everything else was negotiable.

I have distinct memories of my father correcting us when we were very young and called each other "stupid." He made us call each other "silly goose." That was such a rediculous phrase that we just changed our way of fighting altogether. I don't know what we did instead of name-calling. We still yelled but I don't remember using names or hearing one of my brothers or my parents calling me names. In fact, even when I would come home in tears because the kids at school wouldn't let me into their groups, my mother never said, "Those kids are just spoiled brats whose parents don't give them enough attention," which was probably the truth. She just held me and said, "I just can't figure out why they don't see in you what I see in you." Her voice communicated that she was just as hurt and bewildered as I was, which turned out to be all that I really needed.

My father believes that no one is bad or good inherently. He believes that we are all capable of appropriate and inappropriate behavior. This is because no one is irredeemable. Christ died for everyone's sin, which means that everyone can be redeemed. This means that no one's behavior is based upon an inherent good, bad, stupid, or intelligent indentity, only good, bad, stupid, or intelligent choices.

So when my father referred to my ex-husband as a "jamoke" only once and only recently, I knew that Dennis had reached a new height of insensitivity. For my father to resort to name-calling meant that, in that moment, my dad thought that Dennis was incapable of choosing any other behavior than that of a total idiot. It must have seemed to my dad that Dennis was irredeemable. I am astounded at the love of my father for me that would allow him to voice such an inconsistency in what he believes to be true about human nature.

So, today when I was in the County Clerk's office filing the paperwork to sue Dennis for the last $1000 that he owes me because his check bounced, I came out of the heartbreak that I'm feeling and laughed at the five-foot-tall, balding, Italian man in a shiny, olive, pin-striped, double-breasted suit holding a cigar and standing in the middle of a empty part of the floor shouting, "Of course, on the day that I don't have anything to file, you jamokes are just standing around with nothing to do!" But then, the pro se help desk man was finished cutting out the crossword and photocopying it and was ready to help me so I didn't get to see what happened next.

The other entertaining irony about my morning in the Richard J. Daley center was that when they stamp documents pro se, which means "in one's own behalf," it is simply block letters with no space and reads as the word, "prose," which is the opposite of poetry or verse. It's a simple irony but since Dennis was never actually the poet or poetic scholar that he claimed to be, I took what I could get from it.

The best part of the morning, by far?

They are sending a sheriff to the Whole Foods where he and his new wife both work to deliver the summons.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

the description of your parents and their rules is PERFECT! many a look have the drews received from your mother for saying "shut up" and many a reprimand of "that is inappropriate" was dealt to the afformentioned clan for calling each other "stupid". perfect.

love you!