Friday, February 10, 2017

Classical Gas

One summer back in Fort Wayne's east end when I was about six my sister and I had the rare opportunity to attend a rigorous class that was to last a full week.  By the end of the training we would have the skill set to mingle in society as young ladies.  Our neighborhood was eclectic complete with drunks, crazies and poor but generally good folks mixed in with real dregs of society and evil doers as Bush would say.  In that bunch on the next block lived the Resendez family.  A thick book could be written on that household alone.  So many siblings that I lost count and only concentrated on the ones closest to me in age.  But there was a bunch of boys in a row so I think one of the older sisters took Rach and I under her wing for a summer and decided to make descent girls out of us.   I remember she touted her upcoming Manners School hardcore and we got really excited to be part of it.  The subjects were broken down and we'd concentrate on such things as farting in public, how to walk properly, hold our silverware, how to conduct ourselves as ladies. Lots I can't recall. I do know that we were to graduate at a Chinese Restaurant where we could show off our new prowess and it would be a night to remember with fancy dresses and real table clothes.  If we were good I think a trip to Jack and Jill's was promised, the nearby Amusement Park that was more like a dark circus in my memory.  They had a real baby in a jar but I wasn't allowed in that tent. Just the thought of it would haunt me at night.  But that didn't stop me from wanting to go.

Anyway, we still talk about this and will never forget the year that we learned if you feel the pressure to pass gas, excuse yourself immediately and run to the bathroom as fast as you can as taught by Diane Resendez.  But there were scenarios.  This was advanced etiquette. She acknowledged this is not always possible.  So you responded in relation to the urgency.  If it was coming on fast, you stayed seated and pulled your muscles tight on your buttocks and pushed into the seat cushion.  If you had to let it go, NEVER own it.  The smelt it dealt it thesis.   You go on about your business and conduct yourself always as a lady.  We walked with books on our heads and learned about posture.  It was a huge to do.  This was a much simpler time.
(this is not the day of the incident but about the right age)
When we arrived at the closing ceremonies in our new dresses and I think she curled our hair for us, I started to get the feeling we were elaborate props used so she could go on a real date with a boy as her focus shifted a bit to this new mystery guy and she seemed less enamored with us. Unfortunately for everyone involved I started to unravel emotionally as I tended to do from time to time.  She assured me several times that I would love Egg Drop Soup but when the dishes started to come to the table all I could do was stare into my bowl feeling the gag reflex coming on.  I wanted to please her, make her proud. I just remember all the excitement, the foreign smells, the lighting in that place and the site of that damn soup - I wasn't ready for this!  This was high end adult shit, with really hot tea. No one gave credit while I silently lost all the feeling in my tongue never having drank hot tea before. This was trial by fire! My head was spinning.  She clearly overestimated my abilities. Before I knew it I just starting crying, first quiet and soft and then I think I just lost it.  Seeing I had made a spectacle of myself, one of the no no's I was taught made it much worse.  She took me aside and we had 'a talk'. I was to pull it together, take everything I learned and apply it here, right now.  This was show time.  She bent down and grabbed my shoulders and looked me straight in the eyes.  I didn't want to let her down, she was the only person that ever seemed to take any interest in us.  I tried to hold on to that strength as we walked back to that table.  I took one look at that soup and puked all over the side of my seat. After that everything goes a little hazy in my memory.  I couldn't even look at Rachel but I'm sure she was completely humiliated and disappointed.  I believe the car ride home was pretty quiet.
If Diane is out there I would like to thank her teaching us so many lessons that year.  I want her to know that I love Chinese food now and even try my hand at making dishes from time to time like this Shrimp & Snow Pea with ginger and garlic.
And even though I have a side that curses like a sailor and delights in doing disgusting nasty things, I can also pull it together when needed and have several times acted like a real lady.

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