September 13, 2019
I grew up in an era where children were seen and not heard. However, just because we were not heard doesn’t mean we couldn't hear. So it was that even though I was sent out of the room or outdoors to play when my mom and her girlfriends got together, I would place myself within earshot of hearing their conversations. After watching “Search for Tomorrow” or “Guiding Light” on television, they would bring out the “home brew” or Iron City beer. Then, the trash talk would begin. They would predict what was going to happen on the “stories,” discuss who in the neighborhood was going with whom, whose son had gotten into trouble and was being sent to the Army (because that’s what happened back then when boys got into trouble), and whatever the latest uproar was in the neighborhood. Some days Mrs. Franklin, the lady who lived two doors down, would send homemade yeast rolls fresh from the oven. I would sit on the stoop, eat rolls, and drink kool-aid while the ladies were inside just “shooting the breeze” and talking trash.
Fast forward 60+ years. I’m sitting on the bottom step in front of my mom’s front porch not because I had been relegated there, but because she was having work done outside her house. I was perched near the workmen to be sure they had access to everything they needed. My mom and one of her girlfriends were sitting on the porch when a friend of theirs drove past the house. She blew her horn, pulled over, and joined them on the porch. The three of them went through the usual pleasantries – what was going on in their churches, who had died, who had moved in with their kids or vice versa. Much to my astonishment, after about a half hour or so, they descended into trash talk and they went deep. I could hardly believe it and even at my “advanced” age, I realized that their experiences far outranked mine. They were out of my league and I could contribute nothing to the conversation and I didn’t dare try. So, as I had done in yesteryear, I sat quietly and listened in amazement. This went on for about 20 minutes with their promising to get together really soon to continue the talk. “I’ll bring the wine,” one said. “I’ll have the beer here,” my mom added. “You know I’ll take a beer,” the third woman interjected.
“I’ll bring the ice,” I tried to jokingly interject as they passed by me while walking their friend to her car. They totally ignored me. Didn’t even hear me.
Seen but not heard feels the same.