Humility, Day 1:
I can’t help but wonder if the folks of central Indiana are keeping their Trump/Pence love on the down low.
We camped this past weekend at Turkey Run State Park and I had some mixed feelings about the trip. On the one hand, I love to go hiking and the terrain of Turkey Run is totally my jam; it has numerous sandstone canyons that are gorgeous and muddy and fun as heck. However, I was expecting to see a bunch of fucking MAGA hats and Trump/Pence bumper stickers on the RVs and trucks. I was all ready to be spouting off some self-righteous muttering along the lines of, “Yo boy is going to be impeached soon, dummies. Winter is coming. And so is Robert Mueller.”
Instead, I had to bite my mental tongue and acknowledge that not a single person in the campground had any political tokens on display. And, to be fair, I kept my social justice lantern under the bushel this weekend too. I didn’t wear any of my fabulous liberal lady shirts for two reasons: I didn’t want to get any camping gick on them and and I didn’t want to get into any fights on our family mini-vacay. The ex-husband and children would all be like, “Moooooooom, please, can’t you just save the world when we get back?”
And so it was that I got an unexpected dose in humility about what I *expected* from the folks of central Indiana. They may have all voted from Trump/Pence, but their big manly pickup trucks weren’t advertising it. Alrighty then. Go ahead and be all down low and discreet, y’all.
WWJT, Day 2:
In other news, the Christian lights were all burning brightly. I saw plenty of folks wearing shirts affiliated with Christian summer camps and vacation Bible schools. While we were hiking, we passed a college-aged gentleman who was wearing a t-shirt that said My Game His Glory. Naturally, I needed to text Jesus about this.
- So that shirt…?
- I know, I saw it too
- Are You really concerned about that guy’s basketball game?
- Not really
- So why is the shirt a thing??
- Do we need to talk about this right now??
- Are you busy?
- Um, hello?
- Okay, right.
You need to wake up the Apostles.
They’re always staying up too late.
The poker games
They need to be helping You with all of that stuff.
And then You’ll have time to talk to me.
- It makes those guys feel better about their game, I guess.
- Are You going to talk to them about it?
It’s like when folks are all “I’m so blessed”
And I’m all “I had nothing to do with that”
“You just figured your shit out”
If you want to give me the credit
- Can we talk about this one too?
Yeah, so we had a miscommunication..
- I had suggested that they go with “”Social Justice for the Lord”
- No you didn’t.
- Okay, I didn’t
But I thought maybe telling you that might make you let it go.
Their final choices also included “Crafting for the Lord” and “RVing for the Lord."
It was all kind of out of hand by the time I got involved.
They didn’t want to hear my perspective.
- So what would You have wanted the sign to say?
- Girl, I am literally the son of God.
I don’t need some cheesed-out sign on an RV.
- Totally agree.
- And you need to step back here a little bit too.
- I heard.
What you were thinking about her.
- Hold up
They were bright orange
And matched that tacky flea market blouse she had on.
- We’ve talked about this.
- The judging.
- Let’s go back to talking about the sign then.
You need to reflect on the judging.
“Judge not lest you be judged.”
- It’s kind of weird that You’re quoting Yourself.
- I should have never encouraged you to speak.
Weapon of Choice, Day 2:
During our second evening at the campground, the boys were playing touch football in a field near the bathroom building. I walked over to check on them and saw that they were playing with three other boys. (Nice!) One of the boys was older than the other two, and had the look of the typical, beefy white fourteen-year-old guy who loves to play sports. The two other boys were younger and smaller. One was about eleven and African-American. The other looked to be about the same age and was Caucasian.
I called over to the boys, “Hey, boys! Having fun?”
Mike waved back, “Hey, Mom!”
Joe ran over to me and said, “Did you need for us to come back to our site?”
I shrugged. “Um, no, you guys can go ahead and keep playing. No rush.”
Joe said, “Oh, okay. I thought maybe you needed us.”
I shook my head. “Nope. Enjoy your time with these kids. Daddy and I will see you in a bit.”
I walked back to our site and was surprised when Mike and Joe returned about ten minutes later.
“Oh, that was quick! Did the other guys have to go back to their sites for dinner?"
Mike and Joe shook their heads.
“No, we decided to stop playing.”
Steven and I made eye contact. Something felt weird.
“So, how come you guys stopped?”
Joe finally said, “I wanted to come back when we saw you by the bathroom, but you didn’t get my hint.”
“Oh no! I totally didn’t get your hint. What happened?”
Mike said, “There was a problem with one of the kids.”
Steven and I looked at each other again. Eyebrows were up now.
“Was someone mean to you?”
Mike said quietly, “Not mean to us, but mean to one of the other kids.”
“Wait – what? What happened?”
“The big kid was calling one of the younger kids a bad word.”
Oh no...oh no...please tell me this isn’t going to be what I think it is.
“What did he say?”
“Was it racist? Was it the n-word?”
Friends, I need to take a break here with all of you for a moment.
If this were a Choose Your Own Adventure Story, this would be the perfect moment for us to review the following options:
Behind Door #1:
Would you like to see Dr. Miss try to explain to her somewhat socially “woke” oldest son that these are the moments when we need to stand up and say something? That this is what we marched for with BLM Chicago last weekend? And that this is when it is so hard – and so necessary – to be courageous?
Behind Door #2:
OR would you like to see Dr. Miss take the Aim ‘n’ Flame from the picnic table and march through the campground until she finds that child and his white trash, bigoted, probably-voted-for-Trump, piece of shit family? And then see her utilize the aforementioned Aim ‘n’ Flame to set their campsite on fire?
Give it some thought. I’ll wait.
I know, friends...I know....My heart was with Team Fuego too. I could have just brought the Aim ‘N’ Flame to the bigots’ campsite and had a little fiery chat with them about...well, about fire. Because it’s pretty damn clear that bigoted parents use bigoted language in front of their impressionable future-bigot children. And, really, there is no point in reasoning with stupid. But fire? Fire’s pretty persuasive.
But as my eyes traveled to the Aim ‘N’ Flame on the picnic table, I knew that this confrontation could possibly – maybe – have some negative repercussions. For one thing, I would probably end up being on the news and, truly, I had envisioned my media debut1 as being under different circumstances. Plus, getting thrown in jail for burning down another person’s campsite would definitely make me late for work on Tuesday, which I did not want. (My students had projects due on Tuesday! I needed to be there!) And then, of course, there was the whole business of probably getting my ass kicked by all of these undercover Trump supporters in their VBS t-shirts.
So yeah. I wanted to bring the Aim ‘n’ Flame to a BLM gunfight, but I had to walk away from the opportunity.
I'm feeling the sting of regret already.
I took a deep breath and used my scary-calm mom voice and asked the boys how they had reacted when the beefy white kid used the n-word with the other boy. They said they were too shocked to say anything.
They said that the African-American boy had replied, “Hey, you can’t say that to me!” and the white kid responded, “Hey, I don’t mean anything by it. There are *insert n-word*s on my football team. It’s not a big deal.”
I asked the boys what they had said to that and Mike looked ashamed and said, “I kind of said ‘Dude, don’t’” but....well, I wasn’t super strong about it.”
Joe jumped in and said, “And that’s when we kind of wanted to leave. But we didn’t. But then we saw you and how you had gone back to the campsite, so we decided to come back too.”
I closed my eyes and wondered how I had missed all of that. I had just been glad that my kids were playing nicely – ha ha – with a few other kids at the campground. But, truly, I *knew* that the ugliness was there in this area, just below the surface. I had still wanted to hope that it would be okay for my kids to play with the other kids - even though I was pretty damn sure I knew something about their parents’ values. Aargh.
Steven and I talked to Mike and Joe about the need for courage when people say terrible things. I tried to explain to them that not strongly sticking up for the African-American boy implied that we, as white people, were okay with what the beefy white kid had said. That when we don’t fight back against bad white people, we are saying that those words are okay.
Mike and Joe both looked sad and lost. I looked longingly at the Aim ‘n’ Flame for a moment, but then redirected my gaze at them. “You weren’t ready today, but you will be the next time. You have to say something when it happens. Right at that moment. It’s super hard, but you can do it. You have to do it. We all have to do it.”
They nodded. I knew that they would be thinking about this for a long time to come, so I let it drop. Gave the Aim ‘n’ Flame a little extra burst when I lit the gas under the stove. Hoped that I had given them the right advice.
1 Someday – SOMEDAY, friends – I am going to be on The Rachel Maddow Show and she will lean over and flutter her pretty eyelashes at me and say, “Now, Lor, tell me again about your early days in your journey as a social justice resistor.”
And I, of course, will reply, “Well, Rachel, it all started when our country elected a president who, among many other offenses, bragged about sexually assaulting women. That was my gasoline-and-a-match moment. That was when I knew that we were fucked and that I needed to start fighting back.”
And Rachel would smile and say, “Oh, how very cool. Now let’s go ahead and talk about this amazing new book that you just published...”
Turkey Run State Park is located in central Indiana near the town of Marshall. Steven and I camped there twenty years ago and I returned last March with the Boy Scouts. It’s a beautiful state park and the campground is adequate. I had to book it on the day that the reservations opened, 03/01/17, and within a few hours, half of the sites were grabbed up. On a whim, I picked a spot that was in a little loop off to the side of the campground and it was a lucky guess. We were in a wooded alcove that still had the sites close to one another, but there were trees and bushes in between. Much nicer. For the holiday weekend, it cost $110 for three nights and we had a electrical hook-up. (Of course, I forgot that we had electricity until our last night when I was suddenly like, “Oh hey, I can charge my e-reader here!” We never have electricity when we camp with the Scouts and I’ve set up my kit so that I never need it.)
There were probably less than ten families camping in tents in the entire 200-spot campground. Everywhere we looked, we saw huge L350 trucks and RV trailers. We were the Luddites of Silicon Valley. Oh well.
The hiking was spectacular. Sass is big enough that he can handle rough hiking now and we had a great time climbing in and out of the canyons for two days.
In spite of the fact that *everything* I do is viewed as super uncool by the twelve and fifteen year olds in my life, I think that Mike, Joe and, of course, Sass had a good time. They love climbing and getting dirty and this place was perfect.
If you’re ever looking for a good place to camp in central Indiana (and that has its share of undercover bigots), I do recommend this place. But I’ll be keeping my Aim ‘n’ Flame in its pocket holster from here on out. Best be ready.
Here it is, friends: the best bumper sticker ever.
Stand back, ladies. This fella, this absolute gem, is aaaaalllllllll mine.
As always, thanks for reading, friends. It is truly appreciated.