The White Trash Oprah

When I was a young girl living in a Filipino village on Oahu’s North Shore I used to have this strange thought. I don’t know if it’s a thought all kids have, or just one all military brats have, or perhaps it’s a pattern for the weirdness to come.

But I clearly remember walking the paved road between our home in the cul-de-sac and the little grocery store and thinking “What if everyone else around me is an alien and I’m the only human? Well, Mama and Daddy would be humans, too. Maybe Linda. But Brother John and everybody else are definitely aliens.

“Like that Grandma lady over there, using the water hose to wash up after going to the bathroom in the yard? She’s one for sure. Who goes to the bathroom outside except an alien?”

I would get totally creeped out on that block-and-half walk. I was a paranoid-in-the-making. By the time I’d arrive back home, I didn’t want to do anything except sit on the back stoop and ponder how scary it was living in a land of aliens and flying cockroaches.

Georgia had cockroaches but Oahu had cockroaches with wings. A gal couldn’t walk into the mud room after dark without donning a suit of full-metal armor first for fear of those bombardier roaches. It was all part of the weirdness of living in an alien world. A world where even the roaches are a mutated form of Japanese Kamikaze pilots.

I don’t know when I grew out of the stage where I thought everyone else was an alien. I suspect it happened when we left the island but I can’t be sure because of the chaos that became my life six weeks later when Daddy died. Perhaps I quit thinking everybody else was an alien when we moved into the trailer park. Trailer parks suck the imaginings right out of person. All a gal is left with is the harsh reality of beer can pyramids and nightstand handguns.

I thought I had left the alien life behind me.

Until last night, when the security gal at the Fair started telling me things, remarkably scary things. Right there in front of God, Jack Ingram and half-a-dozen gals from Hermiston High’s Leadership Team.

Tim says I have this uncanny ability to attract people to tell me things. It happens to me wherever I go. People start spilling the beans, telling me their entire life stories, telling me things they wouldn’ t tell a priest in a confessional booth. I missed my calling, I guess. I should have been a therapist. At the very least, I should have been the White Trash Oprah.

The security gal is as wide as she is tall, which is not as bad as it sounds, since the gal is only about 4 ft. 8. She might be five feet in heels. Hard to tell. She wore shorts, a grayish polo and her hair tucked up underneath a dark FBI looking cap. The few wisps of hair that stuck out were neon pink. I thought she had done that for fun, to be in the spirit of Fair week.

Nope. She told me her hair is really long and it’s wild, with lots of pink throughout.

“I own the title for Miz Oregon Fetish,” she said.

I don’t know why I can’t just leave these things alone. If you told Tim you held the title of Mr. Gator, he would not ask you if you won it because of the number of gators you had wrestled from swamp waters or if you won the title by parading around in a gator-skin Speedo and gator-skin boots. He simply would think you are an alien either way. He would not be unkind or speak ill of you but he would never, ever ask you to dine with him. He would keep his distance from then on out. If he saw you in the grocery store, he’d turn his cart and head the other way.

But not me. Oh. No. Tell me that you won the title of Miss Oregon Fetish and the first thing out of my mouth is, “What’s  a person have to do to win a title like that?”

I say it before I even consider that’s a question better left unasked. Blame it on all those years of reporting, I reckon. I always think it’s better to ask questions first and then to shoot ’em.

“Nothing sexual,” she says.

Even in the dusk without the aid of a flash light she could tell I didn’t believe her. Newspapers and TV news shows don’t typically report on the title of Miss Oregon Fetish. There must be a reason why. They report on the fight between Perez Hilton and Miss California’sCarrie Prejean, for goodness sake.

“I belong to the community of leathers,” she continued, unprompted.

“The community of what?” I asked. I’m sorry. I can’t help myself.

“The community of leathers.”

Who knew there was such a thing? Okay. If you knew that already please don’t write and tell me how you knew that.

This squat woman with the soul patch piercings and the multi-colored push pins in her tongue told me that she likes to play dress up and do scenes. She described in some detail how her best scene involves a clown. (In keeping with the fair theme, I reckon.)  

She went on to tell me that she belonged to some play group. Now I knew she didn’t mean like Mothers of Preschoolers, but she could have been talking about some Thespian Club for all I knew. But her play community is so exclusive they are like the military — they go by their acronyms instead of their names.  I had no idea what the acronyms meant so yes, I googled it when I got home. I’m sorry. I can’t help myself. That’s when I began to wonder if that the security guard was telling me all this stuff because she was hitting on me. Ewwweee. Yuk. Grossness.

I had no idea such communities existed. I’m dumb that way and honestly, gladly so. 

At one point, as the security gal kept talking — honestly unprompted — one of the leadership gals put her fingers in her ears and shouted, “Virgin ears, Virgin ears!” and turned and walked away.  I was relieved myself when the security gal stopped telling me her life story.

I mean I know Jesus loves her, leathers and clowns and all. And I know The Marine could have found something affirmative to say, something that would have let this woman know that she had worth and value beyond the clubs and get-ups.

But me? 

I just went to bed thinking how it seems like I’m the sole survivor living among aliens once more.

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