Cousins

When I was little my best friends were Louella, Liz and Mike, my cousins. Actually they were my only friends. When Liz was seven, I was six and Mike was five we caught a giant catfish named Big Willie. We didn’t know what to do with him so we dragged him back to my condo and put the bastard  in the bathtub. We let that 10 pound monster swim between ournaked legs until Louella, our friend and maid, walked in and started screaming. Then we all got spanked.

I was jealous because Liz and Mike had a pet pig named Charlie Brown. he was a really big pig, not one of these hot dog size pygmie things. Liz would climb on board the 300 pound beast, Mike would pull his tail and off they would go. Both Liz and Charlie Brown screaming across the pasture.

Mike was a tiny kid who looked like a redneck made man in the mafia. And we would fight, I mean really fight, like midget wrestlers, all the time. Once, when were were five and six, we climbed the tree in front of Mike’s house. Then we started arguing. What could we argue about in a tree? I don’t remember but something got us going.

Eventually, we started throwing punches and trying to choke each other, on a branch… in a tree. We were screaming and our teenaged brothers, Ricky, Bimbo, Granger and Jack came out to see what we were doing.

They started laughing at the Arkansas spider monkeys fighting in a tree. Then Mike threw a haymaker and we both fell, ten or twelve fee,t onto our backs. The fall knocked the wind out of us both and we lay there, under the tree, thinking we would die. Gasping, flopping and clutching our bony chests. Of course that only made the brothers laugh harder. (I’m pretty sure there was beer involved)

Cousins, we all grew up in the same, insane universe. We understood everything about each other without speaking, because we were all born and cut from the same rough, misshapen fabric. We were family. We had the same blood and nothing is more profound. Time and history doen’t matter if you are cousins because you share the same DNA and history, they are woven together, like an Indian braid, inseparable and unbreakable.

Twenty or thirty years passed and I hadn’t seen or spoken to Mikey and Lizzy but the moment we were together again, the moment our voices touched, we were bonded, thick as thieves, intertwined by a blood line so powerful and unique no one else could understand or interfere. If Mikey or Liz called me today and asked me to drive 3,000 miles to pick them up in a truck stop there is nothing that could stop me. Because it’s been so long I might not recognize them when I got there but we would find each other and do what needed to be done.

 We are family and together we will walk to the magnificent , golden gates of Heaven or the torterous  fiery gates of Hell… together. Our past is the same and our future will be too. Because we are family, we are  cousins and we will always be together. Always.

hampoland@gmail.com

Culture vs Cowbells….Hear that Bell Ringing?

No, I don’t want a lovely glass of Merlot, instead I think I slug down this warm paper cup full of Gatorade.

That’s my life right now.

I’m too busy with happy redneck/family stuff and never have time to take my kids to any of the brilliant, quality, cultural events in my hometown.

Hot Springs, Arkansas is a magnificent spa city with music, art even hot air balloon festivals, galleries and countless affordable cultural events. I read about them, I drive past them and I think how wonderful it would be to take the kids to the Friday Night Gallery Walks. They would have fun and learn about fine art.

But there’s not a snowballs chance in hell we can do that on a Friday night. We’re not missing the Fountain Lake football games. I even have a purple cow bell to ring violently when we make a few yards. And more importantly, I’m not missing the amazing Cobra marching band at half time show or the chance to win a smoked pork butt, courtesy of the FFA.

This weekend Hot Springs hosts the 20th Annual Documentary Film Festival. film makers arrive from all over the planet and a day pass to watch all sorts of stunning and fascinating films is just $20. But we have to work the PTO Carnival ring toss booth and Sandor has his third grade football games on Saturday. Around four I have to start the “laundry train”. Every weekend I do at least ten loads of laundry to get us all caught up, because there’s no time during the week.

After church on Sunday morning I really wanted to take a hike with the National Park rangers. They were going to teach us how to find arrow heads, but that’s when I have to do the two hour killer “Wal-Mart/Kroger, get some more Little Debbie Snack Cakes” shopping run, then take Lexie to do her knee workouts.

Sometimes, I feel as though I’m missing life as it whoooshes past. But that’s not true. This is my beautiful cowbell ringing, Hot Pocket eating “Mom can you help me get my cup in my pants” life. Good thing I kind of like warm Gatorade.

Mean People Suck and Be Nice!

I was going to write about my daughter Mary, who taught her cat to poop in the toilet. I’ll do that later.

Tonight my husband,  was cleaning his office, and he suddenly held up a bumper sticker. BE NICE!

It was my BE NICE! bumper sticker. Oh my lord. Twenty years ago when Alex and I were dating I somehow convinced him we could be bumper sticker moguls. I thought if we printed 5000 BE NICE and MEAN PEOPLE SUCK bumper stickers we would become crazy rich. He still thought I was hot and brilliant so he paid for the first printing.

Silly man. The MEAN PEOPLE SUCK stickers sold pretty well but nobody wanted the BE NICE ones. Apparently there were a lot more sarcastic bitter people in Hot Springs, Arkansas than hippies. I was crushed.

But those bumper stickers have become an important part of our marriage, they represent something I can’t explain. BE NICE explains Hampoland, the way we’ve raised our children and what we try to do every day. When one of the kids acts like a little puke, we say BE NICE. When Mary gets really really frustrated with jack, she says, BE NICE.

Those two words can end any argument or snarky situation in our house. Cause what do you say after somebody simply tells you to Be Nice?

“You look like a rino today.”

“Be Nice.”

“Your dog smells like a dead monkey.”
“Be Nice.”

‘Your mother is as sharp as a bowling ball.”

“Omg Be Nice.”

See, it works every time.

 I think this all started with my brother Granger. I believe he’s the one that gave me the idea.

So, I still have almost two thousand bumper stickers if anybody wants one. And tomorrow, no matter what happens, remember to BE NICE.