(Author’s Note: This blog today is raw and unedited. I can’t bring myself to read it. Pardon any errors – grammatical or otherwise – because I won’t fix them even if you point them out. I’m not being lazy. I just can’t do it. You might understand by the end.)
Ruminating On: Muhidity
I live in southeast Alabama, about three-quarters of a mile from Mobile Bay. Today, the air is thick, like trying to breathe through a warm washcloth. An aroma, akin to swamp-ass, floats on the wind, reminding me of the sulfuric-tinged byproduct of a paper mill. Earlier, I sat on my porch, wishing the day away, cussing the torrents of sweat running down my face and back, and a word snuck into my head, snaking its way through my heat-addled brain. The word makes no sense out of context, but I will try to explain where it comes from.
That word is: “Muhidity.”
I’d like to take some time and introduce you to a dead man. A woman named Beulah Blackwood named him Eddie Pete on December 16th, 1942. He had four siblings—Carl, Wanda, Barbara and Janet—who were all older than him. I have no idea if any of these people are still alive. Don’t really care to know, either.
Eddie Pete maintains the title of “Weakest Tough Guy” I have ever known. He hated homosexuals, Asians, Hispanics, Black people and pretty much anyone else that didn’t look like him. He was a quarter Cherokee Indian—looked the part, too—so his hatred for minorities always confused the hell out of me. Eddie Pete fought quite a bit while growing up. He had to defend his intelligence—or the lack thereof—on a daily basis. He could have been a better man, but he chose early on to hate everyone, because everyone seemed to hate him. His poor intelligence was partly his fault, and half the failure of a broken school system. When he was seven, he went swimming in foul, static water. That liquid settled in the bottom of his ears, and an infection took root, leaving him with only ten percent hearing in one ear, and completely deaf in the other. Because of that tragedy, he could no longer hear what his teachers were saying. His instructors grew tired of him, placed him at the back of the class, and forgot about him. He quit school in the fourth grade and went to work cutting grass with his stepfather, Shorty. The man would never achieve a higher station in life. So, he went about finding a woman that would support him.
I don’t know his first wife’s name, but she gave him a daughter named Vicki who he lost track of when the marriage was annulled—the woman was nine months pregnant with Vicki when she married Eddie Pete. After they divorced, he married a woman named Jerri. They had a daughter, also, and named her Tammi. When Jerri could no longer support Eddie Pete, he left her. A right proper charmer, Eddie Pete fooled a beautiful young nurse named Barbara Caringer into marrying him. She brought two children to the table—Tamara and Regina—from a former marriage to a man named Chuck. Barbara struggled to support everyone, even taking up Eddie Pete’s child support payments owed Jerri for Tammi—who would become known as Little Tammi, since everyone called Barbara’s daughter, Tamara, Tammy. Barbara worked doubles, and sometimes triples, to support her family. An LPN didn’t make much in those days—they still don’t—so the credit cards were maxed out and the house they lived in took on a second mortgage. Eddie Pete cut grass on the side, but none of that money reached the family. His cash was used on beer and cigarettes. The man was such a wonderful soul, that when Beulah Blackwood kicked the bucket—leaving him ten grand in the process—Eddie Pete didn’t help Barbara catch up on the bills; the man bought himself a brand new truck.
In 1980, Edde Pete and Barbara, had a son. This son would go on to get married, have two wonderful children, and become a teller of stories. Even though the boy was told constantly by his father that he would never amount to anything, and he would always be just as stupid as his old man, his mother instilled in the child a hope that he could be anyone he damned-well pleased. For that, her son will be forever grateful.
As I have informed you, Eddie Pete was born on the 16th of December, just nine days shy of Christmas. Being born on that day gave Eddie Pete a fierce hatred of the holidays, since his family always ignored his birthday and chose to focus on Thanksgiving and Christmas instead. So, it was only fitting that he would end up dying on November 24th, 2011. That’s right. The heart of the man who despised all things celebrated, stopped on Turkey Day.
I wonder, now, if that man ever loved anyone. “Misery loves company,” has never been more true where Eddie Pete was concerned. He took his ignorance out on everyone around him. Belittled and berated, degraded and hated, his family and friends, all of them, ended up turning their backs on him. Don’t feel sorry for this man. He doesn’t deserve your pity. He wouldn’t have taken it anyway. Eddie Pete would have just laughed at you, called you a pussy, and went back to his baseball game. Eddie Pete, with the social skills of a cinderblock, would have ignored you, because he thought you were just as stupid as he was.
Eddie Pete, the man who pronounced “Humidity” as “Muhidity“, would have told you to fuck off as he cracked open a beer and lit a smoke.
My father was a great man. He taught me everything I ever needed to know about life. How to alienate people. How to turn happy into sad within the blink of an eye. How to look for the bad in people, and ignore the good. How to cry without shedding a tear.
So, while I sat there on my porch, thinking about how high the “Muhidity” had climbed, I thought about Dad. I thought about how he’d started every letter he’d ever written with “iH” because that’s how “Hi” looked to him when he tried to spell it. I thought about Mom—poor over-worked, under-appreciated Mom, who’d taught the old man how to write thirty-plus years after his teachers and parents failed him— and wondered how she ever spent twenty-five years with the lout. I thought about my own children, and how I might be fucking up—just like Dad did with me—by spending all this time in front of a computer like he did in front of his television watching baseball games. I thought about life, and how it all comes back around eventually.
I still have not shed a tear over my father’s death. The last time I saw him was in 2001. He’d called me up, told me he was dying, and I went out to California to say my good-byes. It wasn’t until I stepped off the bus and looked in that healthy man’s eyes, that I saw his lies. I’d just road nineteen hundred miles on a goddamn Greyhound bus, and he was no closer to death than I was. I told him then, that whatever we shared as father and son, was gone. He was dead to me. And I meant every word. So, when he died ten years later, I didn’t mourn. After all, he’d been buried for a decade.
Now, as I sit here writing this, I’m smiling. I know I’m nothing like Eddie Pete—other than the fact that we have about the same first name—and never will be. I am my own man. You want to know why I have such an ego? It’s a safety precaution, folks. Because if I ever doubt myself, if I ever think that failure is an option in life, I’ll hear old Eddie Pete whisper in my ear, “I told you so.”
And that just can’t happen.