Thursday, October 29, 2009

Rural American Values

Even though I’m not on any kind of enforced bedrest, I’m finding myself spending a lot of time in a semi-reclined position on the couch. Reading, writing, napping, and watching Grey’s Anatomy (I close my eyes during the gross surgical parts) are the only activities I can sustain for longer than a half hour these days. I’m a little bored and cabin-feverish, but every time I venture out into the world for too long, my head starts to spin and my knees sort of buckle, and all I want to do is hurry home to read or write or nap or watch Grey’s Anatomy on the couch.

At the moment I’m reading Rhoda Janzen’s Mennonite in a Little Black Dress, the memoir of a 43 year-old woman who returns to the land of the Mennonites (i.e. her parents’ house) after she has a hysterectomy, gets in a really bad car accident, and her husband leaves her for a man he met on It’s completely hilarious and has me reminiscing about the many Mennonite moments of my own childhood, what with that Mennonite minister’s daughter best friend of mine. I’d forgotten how glorious the dichotomies are… The girl with the tightly braided hair and hand-sewn blouse and calf-length skirt showing off her enviable-sized Smurf collection. The mom with the sensible sandals and daily homemade cookie-making habit ensuring the permanency of the household stash of high-quality candy bars, never once running out of Snickers or Milky Ways.

The Mennonites of my youth were pretty progressive—for Mennonites. No bun-covers or outright bans on dancing or secular music. My best friend’s dad was not so much scornful as curious about a record I’d brought over one junior high day—an album that featured a stubbly shirtless man in a black leather jacket and large cross earring with the title Faith. I frantically grabbed it out of his hands before he could read that the roster of songs included one called, “I Want Your Sex.”

Our family hairdresser—a recommendation from the Mennonite best friend—even did the hair for a movie cast once. Granted, it was a movie about Amish people, but still, it was a pretty worldly endeavor, and the hairdresser herself is sufficiently worldly that she suggested yesterday to my mom that one way to go about getting a swine flu shot (something my mom has been worrying about for many months on my behalf) is to find a neighboring county—a rural one without any giant hospitals full of vaccine-hogging medical personnel—and get one there.

Mennonite or not, hairdressers know their shit!

And because the idea came from a Mennonite, I feel confident that I won’t burn in hell for crossing county lines to get a vaccine this weekend. I’m sure the good people of rural Washington would not want me or my offspring to die of something named after pigs. Even if I once encouraged a young Mennonite girl to partake of the music of George Michael.

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