Friday, August 18, 2006

I've just Landed...

in White Trash Heaven.
That might be a little harsh, but let me just convey a little story here, and you may be inclined to agree.
As you can see by reading this, my wife and I made it safely to KC. The drive was fine as Poozer slept almost the entire way (had to eat at some point). He was incredibly good and even got his parents a free candy bar at a gas station in northern Missouri, though why the woman thought an eight-week-old baby would eat a candy bar...I can't guess. Iowa...flat, boring...moving on.
My in-laws live in a small town just south of Kansas City called Raymore. This town is paired with Belton, and, not unlike Robbinsdale and Crystal, Belton has most of the businesses (a la Crystal), and Raymore is building houses and apartments like crazy (really not unlike Robbinsdale). Because of this, Raymore's property taxes are going through the roof, while Belton is having a nice little renaissance. Seeing the amount of empty houses as well as the poor quality of most of the establishments made me worry about Robbinsdale's future. If the time comes that I want to move, I hope that I won't have a problem selling "The Peach."
Incidentally, if you can stand living in Missouri, you can get a very large house cheap. My wife has a friend in Overland Park, Kansas (or as I call it Yuppie Town. Makes Maple Grove look like North Camden...make sense?) who bought a 2,500 square foot home with an attached two-car garage, two acres of land, and near a lake for...$220,000. My house is about 1,350 square feet with a new kitchen, and I'm just hoping to get around that much. Then's Kansas.
One of the things you notice right away in Raymore is Wal-Mart. It stands out against everything. It is the elephant in the room. Among the houses and super small businesses is this giant, all-encompassing building that all roads literally lead to out here. And what kind of automotive vehicle do we have predominantly out front? If you guessed large, American pickup trucks with stickers of Calvin peeing on Osama Bin Laden (or on his knees praying to a cross) get a cigar. It's a white town. This town is why White Flight was invented. While walking around with my son today, we saw one person who wasn't white. One! Even in Minnesota, I can see at least five....
So why else is this White Trash Heaven? Well, dear reader, I will admit that it's not about my wife's parents. They haven't been bad, though how anyone can watch Fox News for six hours is beyond me.
No, this is about my wife's cousin and her family.
Her cousin, who we'll call Anna, is pregnant, which would be great...if she had finished high school. That's right: Unwed, teenage mother! Just what the world needs.
Back at Christmas time, My wife's family (extended and immediate) gathered at my wife's aunt's house. Now, I had already warned my wife's aunt that her daughter's declining grades and new attitude was probably due to the fact that she was smoking Pot and possibly doing more (Long story short on that one: I was dead on. I don't have a problem with the smoking part, but anything that's a white powder is BAD, so when Coke was apparently done, I was disappointed).
My wife's cousin had to work the day after Christmas at the Waffle Hut. She would be joining us, but late. When she arrived, I saw an incredibly sad sight: a fat, greasy guy smelling of grease and wearing Elmo slippers. This was John, but he wanted everyone to call him...Bravo.
At 25, John is a real winner to be dating a then 17 year old. Seems he was the chef at the Waffle Hut at the time. Anna was a waitress there. They met over a grill, and it was lust. She wanted her mom to meet him. From the moment I laid eyes on him, my "This Guy's a Schmuck" alarm was ringing.
Seeing the two of them together, I could tell they were sleeping together. You can look at two people and watch the way they act and know what's going on. For example, people who are married and having an affair will often try not to look at each other for fear of something spilling out or just plain getting caught. These two, however, were overly touchy for him having just met her mother.

I pulled Sandy (not her real name) aside and warned her: "They're sleeping together."
"How do you know?" she asks me.

"I've worked with high school kids long enough to know. Just trust me."
She didn't. I warned her, and she didn't listen.
The reason this is important is because John got Anna pregnant. Then we started learning more about the whole thing. Some fun details:
1. John, though only 25, has been married...and divorced. She killed his dog.
2. John left a 32 year old sugar momma to be with Anna.
3. John has no ambition. He got fired from Waffle Hut...and is now a cook at Ruby Tuesday's. He feels that's good enough to get by....
4. They were each sleeping with other people, but also sleeping with each other without saying anything. Think Bob, Carol, Ted, and Alice.
With her due date only a month away, my wife's cousin has done NOTHING to prepare for the birth.
So, before leaving Minnesota, Mrs. Leab and I made a plan: we would sit them down and explain everything. The birth, the breathing, breastfeeding....The Works!
Yesterday, she came over with her mother in a foul mood. The second she saw my son, however, she lightened up.
She sat down and started talking to us for few minutes. We learned she's still smoking (I grabbed the cigarette out of her mouth and went into teacher mode, explaining to her how that hurts the kid), that she drinks five Pepsi's a day (even my sister, who is a Coca-Cola fiend, limited herself to maybe one a day), and she still hadn't looked into any classes. She is supposed to give birth in three weeks and has no idea what to do, which hospital she's going to, and if she wants to breast or bottle feed.
After throwing out the cigarette, I was banned from being near her by my wife ("I'll handle it," she says.), so I get two choices:
1. Go and setup my in-laws webcam
2. Watch Fox News and listen to my father-in-law, his brother-in-law, and friend talk about how the failing Missouri education system is the fault of the liberals. Sigh.
I set up the camera.
Anna's sister, Catie, shows up (Do I even need to say not her real name?). Catie has a crush on me. I don't know why. Maybe it's because I've never talked down to her, maybe it's because I just actually paid attention to her. I really don't know, but now that she's 15 (soon to be 16), she's a little...grabby. I had to hug her almost constantly. I'm not family. That would be like me hugging my cousin's wife...which I would do if choking were a form of hugging, and we were near a lake.
So now I have 15 year old grafted on to my side. We talk about school, about getting ready for college, and such, and then Catie's boyfriend shows up.
This is what I like about high school boys: Most of them are posers, and most of them aren't smart enough to fight back verbally.
Catie's boyfriend is named (and this is too good to fake) Qyntrel (pronounced Quinn-trail). He's a white, skater-boy who wants to be black (calls himself...a Wigger), and says things like, "You best be steppin' off my girl, G." I should mention that he drove a Trans-Am, had a pencil thin mustasche, and wore his pants almost at his knees.
I don't think he was prepared for me to laugh in his face. His eyes got big.
Catie hugged him...and then returned to me. Q, as he likes to be known, got mad. After saying something about how I "best not be trying to (something I didn't hear) his girl," he literally stepped up to me and stared in my eyes. Again, I laughed at him.
"Umm....Am I supposed to be intimidated or something?" I asked. "Are you trying to make me feel threatened? If you are, you have to understand: I've been threatened by bigger."
"Whatever..." comes the response.
I decided I would go outside and get some air. I peeled Catie off and left. I couldn't get to my son because his grandmother, mother, and cousin once (or is it twice?) removed were all over him. I wasn't going to fight.
Though sometimes slightly uncouth, my in-laws are not hicks. They take pride in their home and work hard to make it look nice. The same cannot be said of some of their neighbors. At the end of their cul-de-sac is a house with a car on cement blocks. Beyond the car, that guy was blasting Toby Keith from his garage, had a barking Rottweiler, and his car on wheels had a Confederate Flag on the rear windshield. I went back inside instead of listening to how Toby Keith loved America so much he'd screw a terrorist with a guitar...or whatever the song was about.
The sight upon my return was not pleasant. My wife's cousin was holding my son, but she was doing it absent-mindedly...and he was tipping over off her shoulder.
"Grab his head! Grab his head," I repeated frantically. A vision of my son falling over the railing and down a flight of stairs was becoming real.
"Huh?" Anna responded.
"Support his head so he doesn't fall or hurt himself!"
"Ooooh...." she says and then leans back rather than grab him. My son's face bounces right off her shoulder, which was not pleasant. He gets fussy.
Thankfully they leave, which is when my wife clues me in on everything:
1. Anna is still smoking, won't quit...we can't make her.
2. She and John will move in together in an apartment, but his mother, who is dying of Cancer, will need to move in as well as a friend of Anna's who (and I'm not kidding here) was kicked out of her house for seducing and sleeping with her stepfather.
3. When my wife attempted to explain what to expect at the hospital, Anna tuned it out, then stopped Mrs. Leab so she could complain about how her sister was stealing her fan (which is actually Catie's fan). Needless to say, my wife was in shock.
4. Anna didn't finish high school. She gave up. The problem is that without the degree, she can't really find work, and without the school, she'll have no insurance. From what I'm told, you NEED insurance to have a kid.
5. John says that he's not sure if he'll stick around, but Anna's dad has said he has his shotgun ready. The sad part is that he isn't kidding. He shotgun is sitting on his gun rack in his truck.
Oh, and my father-in-law, while talking to John about marriage, made a comment about how he couldn't believe his daughter would marry into a Liberal family. The problem is that my parents...not Liberals...not even close.
I swear I could turn this is into a great movie or book.
Though it is nice that my mother-in-law is helping with the baby. She won't let my wife nap (just talks her ear off), but the help is appreciated.
Again, I like my in-laws, but their extended family is nuts.
Then again, what do I know? I'm just the schmuck who married for love, not for family. I could be wrong.


Admin Worm said...

If not a movie or book, at least a passable episode of "According to Jim."

I'm speechless, G. My dad's family lived in West Virginia and I never saw anything remotely approaching this.

There is so much very sad and very wrong about all this.

The breeding...well, it goes without saying that the breeding is the saddest part. So many married couples I know struggle with the emotional and financial decisions involved in determining if "now is the time." Then many of them have physical problems that complicate it or make it impossible.

Meanwhile, some people walk past a sperm bank and WHAMMO: Pregnant. There must be some direct correlation between having zero career stress and zero functional brain cells and the body's capacity for childbearing.

The other sad part is just the despair characterized by the folks in your story. Waffle House cook...Ruby Tuesday cook...and the sadness is compounded by the fact that I'm the one who feels sad, not them. Natural selection does her best to weed out the useless, but we just keep bringing them into the world and bragging how we created jobs for them. Wonderful, dead-end jobs that pay $6 per hour.

Good luck, Leab.

Joshua said...

I've been unable to find single word in my vocabulary to express my ________.

Wow. Maybe what I feel is thankfulness - thankfulness for my parents facilitating an enviornment for healthy growth, thankfulness that I found helpful friends, and thankfulness that I have one single ounce of wisdom.

What a sad, twisted story.
I laugh and then feel bad about laughing - things like this really are not funny.

Sister1 said...

Oh Marcus.

Solidarity bro. We love you and it will be ok. Man you paint a vivid picture of life in KC- and it ain't pretty.

We love your wife and the Poozer too. Sorry about the extended family. (But we feel your pain. Remember, the hub's auntie sharon said in front of me that it was good that Maddie had her father's nose instead of my large, ugly Jewish one. Hello- half-Jewish and on the wrong side and baptized. Sheesh.)

Your picture of life there is vivid- and the Toby Keith line caused a spit take because I couldnt hold the laughter back.

I love you

A. (the coca cola fiend)