Tuesday, November 07, 2006


Why is that when a woman looks a certain way, a little too heavy on the eye makeup or bad hair-dye job, folks just automatically assume … “oooh girl, look at her, she’s so trashy.”

Or a risqué song comes on the radio and your momma says, “Turn that nasty song off … it’s trashy.”

And then, according to my dad, there’s “trashy TV.” Desperate Housewives, (my mom’s favorite that she thinks we don’t know about) COPS, most reality shows … Dad just lumps them all into one big trash heap.

How about my neighbors across the street. It’s a rental house. These folks haul loads and loads of trash out every week to the side of the road. Where do they get this stuff? And it’s always the DAY AFTER the trash trucks pick up. Therefore, we have to look at their trash for a whole WEEK before pickup. I’ve called the City. All they do is whine that there’s nothing they can do. “It’s not their jurisdiction!” Better yet, they don’t even try. They’re not proactive enough to even think about giving me a name or phone number of anybody I can call who might be able to do something about it. They’re clueless. And we have to put up with trashy neighbors … all week.

But then, I remember a time in the distant past… those dark corners of my remembrance, about a instance I'd just as soon forget. A memory that sometimes comes back to me in my dreams. In those days, I walked in a dream world as if trudging through waist-high mud toward a shore I knew was there but could not see. Searching for some rocky substance I could grab hold of and pull myself out of the tar pit.

I faintly remember one cold, gray winter day from my long-ago past. A moment when I walked out of work to go to my car. My coat was old, tattered. My hair, in need of a good cut and combing. My shoes (funny how I remember the shoes) were worn down. And my countenance, I’m sure, as gray as the sky and tired. I walked past two young girls in the lobby of the building where I worked. I believe they were waiting in line to get into an expensive downtown restaurant. I remember being hungry, having no money until payday, and dreading going out into the cold to get in a car I had no idea would start or if I had enough gas to get home.

These trendy, hip, young girls, their world seemed rosy and sweet to me. In their early 20s, their hair beautifully done, pretty faces, nice smart clothes, I knew they worked in some law firm on the 14th floor. As I walked past, the one young girl said to the other …”She’s either poor as dirt or plain trashy.”

I suppose I was both. I recall thinking that if I ever saw a woman who looked like me; I would never think of her like that. I would never judge a woman by the color of her skin, the shape of her body, the newness of her clothes, or the countenance of her expression. I would assume she was in need, and that quite possibly, she’d just hoed a long row of sorrow. Maybe of her own doing, but who cares. I would know she was hurting, and nobody, not within my earshot would ever call her trashy.

The word stuck to me like glue for a long time … trashy. It’s a funny word … comedians use it a lot. It’s moved into a universal definition … for one who is a lesser human because they cannot afford the best food, clothes, cars, and homes. I think everyone should experience a little bit of “trashy” in their lifetime.

Maybe I should go across the street and ask my trashy neighbors if they need some help carrying it to the curb, think?

Blessings to you and yours.


Dena said...

What a great entry Pam! A real thinker. It also ties in to what I blogged about yesterday about how "Johnny Can't Brand." The authors talk briefly about how when we see someone, our mind goes into computer filing mode and in a nanosecond we've "slotted" that person in what we think is the appropriate category for them. Doing this is how people function in the world without becoming overwhelmed.

Don't get me wrong...I think you're 100% right that we need to look beyond our initial prejudices to what may lie beneath. Wouldn't it be nice if our default mode switched from "trash" to "needs a hug?" =)


Dena said...
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