Measured Extravagance

20 May 2003 - 12:58 p.m.

Campaign season for Nashville's Metro Council is officially underway, so I've started a file folder to track who (not) to vote for come August. The district question was settled long ago - the Beautiful Young Man serves on a board with Mike Jameson and is working for his campaign. Of the at-large candidates up for re-election, David Briley and Adam Dread both deserve to retain their seats (for all of Dread's clowning, he's actually displayed a fair amount of sense), but I'd really like to see Carolyn Tucker Baldwin get voted out of there. She's homophobic and obnoxious (she's the councilwoman described near the end of the entry) and I'd like to protect the children she keeps invoking from her.

(Let's be clear: I won't dismiss a candidate out of hand for voting against the ordinance - it was a problematic piece of legislation and there were legitimate reasons to oppose it. I do object to people who hysterically paint visions of gay teachers eager to bring out their leather and drag and corrupt our young the instant any pro-GLBT legislation gets passed.)

It's simply coincidence, but at my church, the Director of Religious Education happens to be a gay man and the Youth Coordinator is a lesbian. He wed his partner (a lay minister and a physician) at the church last year, and she and her fiancee are getting married there next spring. They're both enrolled at Vanderbilt Div and fantastic people - and, he's one of the most conservatively dressed people at the church. (She went straight from Smith to Vanderbilt, so her wardrobe's still student casual - which is what one would wear to ride herd on the kids in any case.)

We ate last night in "The Pope's Room" at Buca di Beppo. The food was quite good, but I found the decor to be a trifle disconcerting - specifically the painted plaster bust of John Paul II in a big glass box in the middle of the lazy susan, spinning around as we circulated the chicken marsala and beef cacciatore and spumoni and cannoli. . .

When you travel, you experience, in a very practical way, the act of rebirth. You confront completely new situations, the day passes more slowly, and on most journeys you don't even understand the language the people speak. . .and you accept any small favour from the gods with great delight, as if it were an episode you would remember for the rest of your life.

    - Paulo Coehlo, The Pilgrimage (quoted in Sarah Hopper's To Be A Pilgrim: The Medieval Pilgrimage Experience)

My father called me Bubbles, a name he had chosen, he told me, because I seemed to enjoy so many things. Captured by this image he held of me, I began to feel responsible to it. I refused to let my enthusiasm wane, even when I grew tired or grumpy. Excitement about things became a habit, and the expectation that I should enjoy new experiences no doubt engendered the enjoyment itself.

    - Doris Kearns Goodwin, Wait Till Next Year: Summer Afternoons With My Father and Baseball

On the topic of names: When we were at The Waltz, I spent a fair amount of time chatting with the rallymaster's wife, a cheerful matron affectionately known as "The War Department." (Her sister and prospective brother-in-law go by "Squirrel" and "Moose.") She mentioned that she was a GRIT - Girl Raised in Texas - an acronym I hadn't heard before, but this morning I saw an article promoting The Grits (Girls Raised in the South) Guide to Life. Hm!

I've actually been paying more attention to Southern names of late, after explaining to a Midwestern friend that it isn't at all unusual for men down here to retain "-ee" endings beyond childhood - Jimmy Carter, for instance. In addition to the traditional triple-surnamed matrons (e.g. "Elizabeth Graham Robinson Read"), as well as men called "Billy" and women named "Billie," the obituary listings have recently yielded the following:

Lula Mai "Bom-Bom" Cunningham
Wayman "Big Wine" Alsup Jr.
Charles Gregory "Big Greg" Doughten Jr.
John T. "Montana" Gilbert
Martha Grace "Pee-Wee" Wright
George "Boy" "Kitty" Matthews
Frances Hammond "Frankie" "GaGa" Armstrong
William Thomas "Big Tom" Vaughn

It's been said (by Pat Conroy's mother) that the whole of Southern literature could be summed up in this one sentence: "The night the hogs ate Willie, Mama died when she heard what Daddy did to Sister." You know that, just down the road, Bubba was resting his head against Big Fred's knee while Annie Lee sat upstairs and stared unseeingly at her grandmother's copy of Gone With the Wind. . .

(Here's more on Southern naming conventions, second half of the page.)

One year ago: "I now have a vision of a crisp white parachute. . ."

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