"Gawd, Granny. Everyone has a Facebook page." My granddaughter Ivylee says this, popping her gum and flicking the little hoop in her navel.
"Here, let me set you up." And she jumps up from the couch and leads me like a child to the computer. Five minutes later and there is my face, in my 2001 New Year's Eve Commemorative Eyewear, next to a box asking me, "How are feeling today, Lurlene?"
My corns are acting up, I type.
I never was one to beat around the bush.
"Lurleeeeene! I cain't believe you are on the Facebook!" It's that cow Angela from down the street. She's cornered me on the cereal aisle at the Piggly Wiggly. The cereal aisle always gets me, there's just so many choices and, even though I know I'm going to get the same two cereals I've been getting since 1976 (Rice Krispies and Raisin Bran), I get taken in by the clever marketing ploys. Lose 10 pounds in two weeks! Win a trip to Paris! Prize INSIDE THE BOX! I'm in this cereal haze when Angela grabs hold of my arm and invades my personal space with her big weepy cow eyes and her peanut butter breath.
"Facebook! I didn't know you were such a social media maven!" She giggles. What fifty year old woman giggles? Angela does.
"Ivylee set it up. You're in my personal space, Angela."
She giggles again and backs up. "See you online, Lurlene! We'll have some LOLs!"
Licks of lard? Lots of liquor? If it's the last one, I might like this whole Facebook thing.
It's nearly five before I get home, close enough to supper to fix myself a bowl of Raisin Bran and watch Wheel of Fortune. Vanna White is nearly as old as me, and she's up there sashaying around like her face isn't held together with spackle and a prayer. She probably has her navel pierced, too. I remember when Ivylee came home with that ring in her belly, her mama about threw a fit. She called me up and ranted and raved about kids and respect and the body is a temple and home to the spirit of Jesus.
I reminded her that she got drunked up on her twenty-first birthday and got a dolphin tattooed on her titty. I don't think Jesus is hanging around Ivylee's bellybutton anymore than he's on your teat, Mandy. I said it nice, but she still hung up on me. I swear, that girl found Jesus and completely lost her sense of humor.
I finished my Raisin Bran and Wheel was over and it was still just six o'clock. Too early to go to bed, too late to go out. It was either crawl up in bed with my heating pad and Miss Marple, or check out the Facebook.
What the hell, I needed to shake things up.
I had thirty-six people who wanted to be my friends. Earl the pharmacist and Jenny the cashier at the Piggly Wiggly and Jeremy, Mandy's no good ex-husband. Ivylee and her boyfriend Jesse, Jesse's mama Taylor, her boyfriend and their "surprise" baby, Maxon (they pronounce it 'Mason'. Do not ask me why they didn't just spell it Mason.) I always said if you are having the sex and you are too dumb to do anything to prevent a baby, then it shouldn't be a surprise when that's what you get. Maxon was 16 now, and a bagger at the Piggly Wiggly after school.
The older I get, the larger the role the Piggly Wiggly seems to play in my life.
And Angela, of course. She'd taken a picture of herself in black and white, with her cow eyes at half-mast and the left side of her face covered by her hair. She looked almost attractive. She looked nothing like herself.
I clicked 'accept' on all their pictures, even the ones I didn't really like. This might be a darned fine way of keeping up with everyone. Even in a small town, it's sometimes hard to remember who's kin to who. I started looking at their pages, their pictures, their words. It was strange, how these folks felt so comfortable putting the details of their life out there for everyone to see. And some of it was just dumb. Maxon wrote, 'Gonna go to work now! Piggly Wiggly!', four times in four days. That boy don't have anything more interesting going on in his life? Wait, five days back it was 'Gonna shower then go to work! Piggly Wiggly!' Really mixing things up there, son.
Finally, I got to Angela's page. There were lots of pictures of Angela getting her nails done and Angela on a four wheeler and Angela's plates of dinner, which all seemed to be beige food. Another masterpiece! She'd caption it, and it'd be a picture of some potatoes and corn and macaroni and breaded chicken. Beige, beige, beige, beige. The woman was allergic to green.
And then, a picture of a man and a woman in blackface. The man I didn't recognize, but under the woman's makeup and do-rag I saw those big stupid cow eyes of Angela's.
Now, I am an old woman and I have seen things that would make your hair curl. I once watched a man being beaten for no transgression other than the color of his skin. I have seen Asian-Americans hauled off to camps and held prisoner by their fellow citizens. I have seen women, I have been the woman, grabbed at and catcalled and reduced to tears for the mere possession of my sex. But I have lived a long time and even in a small town, I believed, truly believed, that there no longer existed that level of ignorance.
Angela and her stupid face proved me wrong.
Guess who's winning the costume contest this year! Read the caption.
I sat on my hands. I stood and paced and sat on my hands some more. I thought about calling Mandy, then thought better of it. Mandy would say something like what would Jesus do?, and I would say something like Jesus would slap that dumb bitch, then Mandy would hang up on me again. What I should have done was turn off the computer and gone and watched The Golden Girls. But I am old, and I do not have many opportunities left to put someone in their place.
That is a racist costume, I typed.
I stared at the screen and half hoped she wouldn't reply and I could go on about my evening, feeling like I had said my peace. Then -
Lurlene! It is just a joke!
It ain't no joke, it's racist.
Well I am sorry u feel that way, but you know I am not a racist. You know some of my very best friends are black. What about Jerry?
Oh, hell no she didn't.
Angela, Jerry Thompson sold you some shoes. He is not your friend.
He is my Facebook friend!
Maxon is my Facebook friend, do you see me and him hanging out after school? Playing video games and talking about girls?
I am sorry you feel that way, Lurlene. maybe you are just too liberal to be my friend.
And you are too stupid to be mine, Amanda.
Then I sat back for a minute and, because I am old and cannot help myself, added - Also, you have the face of a bovine.
I clicked the little button that said, 'Unfriend', and turned off the computer. Turns out, I'm not such the social media maven, afterall.