Closed Door

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Part 63


Dear Diary, 

Wow … just … just wow.  I had a feeling things were bad but … 

First I should write down for posterity that price controls stink and basically do no good at all.  While the price of some goods might remain affordable, the availability of those goods is next to negligible.  No one is going to produce something and make a loss on it over and over and over again … not without a gun being put to their heads.  Of course rumor has it that a few of the large food producers and oil companies are having just that sort of thing happen to them. 

Dorrie told me that we need to become locavores.  I had absolutely no idea what she was talking about at first but basically a locavore is something that only eats locally available foods; or maybe it is more accurate to say that they eat only what can be grown, hunted, or foraged for from a specific area.  A locavore in south Florida would not be eating the same thing as a locavore from north Florida.  It can even get more specific to saying that a locavore might only eat what can be found within a few miles of their home.  Nice if you can pull it off but even ancient tribes were nomadic because they couldn’t get enough food from just one area. 

But I figure with things being what they are we certainly shouldn’t turn up our nose at using at least some of the concepts of locavorism … or whatever the heck you want to call it.  Certainly more and more people might be forced to go that route for most of their needs.  It will be pretty shocking for them though. 

I got a shock of my own.  The carneceria was gutted.  I’m not sure if it was looted or not … probably given some of the damage … but by whom I’m not sure.  And I don’t have any clue what happened to the family who ran it or any of the people that I saw there on a regular basis.  Dorrie and her mother were sorry to see it but were not exactly emotionally impacted.  Surprisingly enough it was Darryl that pulled me to the side when we reached the Barter Bizarre and told me, “You ain’t said much and them friends of yours being gone.” 

I shrugged.  “What’s to say?  Things pretty much are ugly all over.” 

He gave me a hard look.  “You ain’t stupid.  You know it was done most probably because they were … well … do I need to say it to make you get it?” 

I sighed.  “No Darryl.  Of course not.  It surprised me a little but only because I thought a family that had been around for over fifty years would be left alone to serve their part of the community.  But I’ve seen it before, just not to this extent.  There’s a reason why my family is hypersensitive to that crap you know.” 

He pursed his lips.  “Reckon there might be.  But I want you to stick close, you and the peanut there.  Maybe these folks are all churchy and stuff and maybe they ain’t.  Angry people don’t always make a bunch of sense.  I oughta know.” 

“Yeah, OK.” 

He gave me a look.  “I ain’t messing hear?  You stick close.  I ain’t dealing with that brick wall you done hooked up with if you get hurt ‘cause you ain’t got no sense.” 

Irritably I told him, “I said OK.  I’m not two years old.” 

“Just be sure you don’t act like ya are.  Got enough problems with that Pollyanna I gots for a sister.” 

And then we were off into the bizarre proper.  I did not care for the lecture but it was more how it was delivered than its content.  I would never tell Darryl, or anyone else for that matter, but looking at the shell of a building that I had so many fond memories of had jolted me.  The carneceria had been one of the few places where I could get good gossip, where I could enjoy that part of my heritage, and where I could speak Spanish without anyone getting cross eyed about it.  They had also known my Dad and Papa … and it was just one more tie to my past that was now gone. 

I’ve been mistaken for a lot of things in my life … no bad jokes please … and not all of them were Mexican.  I’ve had Armenians think I was Armenian.  I’ve had a couple of Greek missionaries swear I must have Greek ancestry in me some place.  People have thought I was several different flavors of Middle Eastern.  I’ve been mistaken for being Eastern European.  I’ve had people ask me if I was Native American.  It’s crazy.  In my experience it is that most people seem to want to see themselves in other people, it is only the extremes of any race or culture that seem to want to exclude everyone that isn’t like them. 

And as much as I fussed I do realize that up until today I’ve never really experienced true racial bias, at least not openly.  Oh sure, there’s been some nasty stuff said but the majority of people aren’t like that.  Today has made me wonder.  I had one man take one look at me and write “Whites Only” on his dry erase board.  The church organizers made him take it down but the damage had already been done and a crack had formed. 

Darryl took one look at me and said, “Let’s get out o’ here.”

“We don’t need to do that, I’ll tow the line; just don’t expect me not to make a face or laugh at people that are acting foolish.  If I run now they’ll think the way they are acting will get them what they want next time.  I’m done being an intimidated mouse.  I took that route with Daniel … don’t cause a fight, don’t set him off, give him space, all of it … and the situation didn’t do anything but get worse.  I’m not going to turn into Brunhilde the Viking Maiden but appeasement doesn’t work; never has, never will.” 

“Big words,” he said shaking his head.  “Just don’t go picking a fight.  People are strange these days.  Some that used to be nice are showin’ it was just skin deep.  Some people you wouldn’t have given the time of day to before have turned out to be good allies.”  We both smiled at each other briefly.  Darryl will likely never be my favorite person in the world – he likes to pick on me in a way I have a hard time handling – but he isn’t really the loser I pegged him for in the beginning.   

The primary reason I had said I would hang around actually wasn’t my pride but because I could tell Dorrie and her mother didn’t want to leave so I just kept my mouth shut and kept “shopping.”  Some people were nice and some people not so much.  What surprised me the most I suppose is some of the people that I’d gone to church with as a kid – and all of my family before me – treated me like I was an interloper or were just blatantly racist.  How crazy is that?  People that had known me most of my life were suddenly treating me like they’d never met me and didn’t want to have anything to do with me. 

I tried not to let it get to me.  It did, but at least I didn’t let it show that much.  My family had needs and I decided I could suck it up and deal with it if it meant doing my best to meet those needs.  I managed to pick up some tropical fruit; velvet apple, black sapote, tropical apricot, macadamia, avocado, canistel, ambarella, citrus, pineapple orange, pummelo, ruby red grapefruit, dancy tangerine, honeybell tangerine, calamondin, and lemon.  But unfortunately no seed which meant trying to convince Darryl to stop by the hardware store to see if they had anything that I could make use of. 

Luckily Dorrie and her mother wanted to go to the thrift store that was at the other end of the plaza so between the three of us we beat down Darryl’s resistance.  When I asked if anyone wanted to go in with me they shook their heads.  Dorrie’s mother, ever clueless said, “Don’t take this the wrong way Honey, but I think we’d likely get some better deals if there weren’t so many of us in the store.  Ever’ time we added you and Feena we lost out to someone else.” 

I glanced briefly at Dorrie and she couldn’t meet my eyes.  Of all the things that I have felt today, that right there hurt the most.  Maybe I misjudged things but I’m kinda thinking I didn’t.  She was embarrassed but she didn’t ask me to come with them anyway.  I’m trying not to say anything about it but I don’t think I’ll go on any more shopping trips with them.  If I give my real reasons why to Cal he might say something to Josh.  If … anyway, I just don’t want to get in the center of that potential drama, I’ve had enough drama of my own to last a lifetime.  And in a way not having them around allowed me to get some business taken care of at the hardware store. 

There was no one else in the store when I walked in and only two employees, both of them – according to their name tags – store managers.  I won’t go through the whole conversation but they were happy to sell me a bunch of different seed packets once they found out I had cash to spend.  They also were happy to share that their sister’s place – three doors down – was closing and she’d be happy to accept my ration points on her “Florida specialty foods” that she had made the mistake in stocking in her gift and craft store. 

I had decided to bring my big back pack – the sturdy one with the internal frame – to carry my purchases in so that I could keep my hands free.  I looked like a pack mule after I left both stores.  The pack was full of cans and packages.  The sling was full of Feena who had fallen asleep in boredom.  And in one hand I carried a canvas tote with my purchases from the hardware store. 

Darryl grumped at all three of us women, “Are you three done yet?  I got work to do even if you don’t.” 

We’d been putting things into the trunk of the car in a segregated fashion but they filled up the last of the space with what they’d gotten at the thrift store so I wound up squished up next to Feena’s car seat with some of my bags at my feet and the heavy back pack in my lap.  It was a miserable ride home in more ways than one.  In addition to everything else, I had to listen to Dorrie and her mom chortle about what good deals they got at the thrift store and that it was providential I hadn’t been with them or they might not have. 

Even Darryl was looking uncomfortable by the time we got home.  Cal and Josh had obviously had a good day.  They had scavenged up and down the shoreline and done a little fishing; seemed like they might have had a couple of beers while they were at it. 
 

Cal and I unloaded the stuff I had bought while Josh had to listen to Dorrie and her mother brag on their purchases.  I came back to get the car seat but Darryl was bringing it for me.  “They ain’t really like that,” he said irritably. 

I chuckled because the look of reluctant apology on his face.  “Relax Darryl.  I’ve faced a lot worse in this life.  I really don’t think your sister even gets what is going on.” 

He shook his head.  “Oh she knows, she just doesn’t want to believe it.  Got her head so deep in the sand her butt’s barely above ground.  Surprised me about Dorrie though.” 

“Well, don’t let it.  Things happen.  Maybe she’s changed, maybe she hasn’t.  She just needs to decide if that’s the way she feels to stop being embarrassed by it.  It would be more honest to just deal with her feelings than try and pretend she doesn’t have them.” 

“So your feelings are hurt.  Thought they might be.” 

“My feelings are my problem and business, not yours, not anyone else’s.”  Trying to bring it back down a couple of notches I told him, “Look, I really appreciate you taking the time to go with us.  If you hadn’t Cal would have made all kinds of noise and I would have wound up not going rather than worry him.  Just if it comes up again, try and discourage the idea.  None of us needs a mess on our hands to make life more difficult than it already is.” 

He nodded and I turned and took the car seat in side while everyone left.  When Cal followed me in I wound up berating him for not putting sunscreen in his hair.  “You know, if you’re going to insist on practically going around with a bald head you need to learn to either wear a hat or sunscreen or both.” 

“Yeah, yeah, yeah.  Now show me what you got.  Dorrie and her mom seemed pretty excited over what they did.” 

I showed him after I put the fish he’d caught and cleaned to broil. 

“You didn’t get anything for yourself or Feena?” 

I snorted, “Everything here is for us.” 

“You know what I mean.” 

I shrugged.  “Still the same answer.  I got what I went after.  I’m focusing on needs, not wants.  I took care of our clothing needs back in the beginning when things started getting bad.  I’ve got plenty of material and patterns for Feena when she outgrows what she has and I’ve spent my whole life making over clothes for myself.  You have what you need because we stocked up on that stuff too. Buying what we don’t need – frivolous stuff – would make us stand out too much and just give us more to lose.” 

“That’s a cheerful thought,” he said right before belching. 

“Ewwww, what have you been into?” 

“Just a couple of beers is all.” 

“Gag … let’s open the door and air the kitchen out.” 

“It ain’t that bad,” he yelped. 

“Well you just didn’t get a face full of what you claim is beer breath either.” 

Night came on fast after that, with enough cool breeze that it kept the mosquitos away.  We sat on the lanai making out like a couple of goofy teenagers until Cal got a call on his phone that he is to report to work first thing in the morning.  No warning, no nothing. 

Play time was over after that.  Regretfully we both turned in but I wasn’t able to sleep despite hearing the snores from down the hall.  I’ve got a lot on my mind.  It isn’t just what I’ve seen today, what I’ve experienced today that worries me.  Christmas is coming as is the New Year and I’m not sure I feel like celebrating either one.  It hasn’t been cold enough to slaughter any of the pigs and we need to cull them before they clean us out of feed for the rest of the animals.  And Cal goes to work tomorrow but we don’t have a clue whether he’s really going to work or just what. 

I don’t suppose it is going to do anyone any good for me to sit around worrying but telling myself that and actually getting to sleep may be two different things no matter how tired I’m feeling both in body and soul.

 

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