Thursday, November 22, 2012

Pappy Turkadee

Yesterday Brad and Charley went shopping for our Thanksgiving dinner. I could have gone, but I have more sense than to get between the two of them in a store. Somewhere in the midst of their shopping spree, Brad’s phone rang, and he turned his back to answer it.

You know those phones that will time out on you, or loose your connection when you are in a building? Yep, that best describes our phones. So, we walk around waving the phone in the air until we get an extra bar that means we might just keep the connection, please, just a minute more. Brad did that. He waved, and talked, and waved, and then the phone call was over.

He turned back around to Charley, and good luck with that, because Charley was gone. Proof that some people are not as thrilled that you’ve gotten a call, which can be interpreted as “Let the marathon begin.”

Meanwhile, Brad set out on his own marathon to find Charley, canvassing the store, yelling his name. Looking, searching, around this corner, around that. But Charley was nowhere to be found. Panic set in and he called me. “I can’t find Charley,” he said.

“Keep looking,” I said.

Sure enough, when he caught up with him, Charley had a basket overflowing with items we never use.

“I done, Dad,” he said.

Well, not exactly. He’d forgotten the potatoes, the green beans, and the cherry pie.

Brad looked through the basket. “Where’s the turkey?”

“I want kicken bones,” Charley said.

“We are NOT having Kentucky Fried Chicken, Son.”

“Yes I are, Daddy.”

“What’s all this stuff?” Brad said.

“I helpin’ you, Dad.”

He sure did. He helped fill the cart with shrimp (keep em’). Oysters (Put em’ back). Cherries, chips, (or “ships,” as Charley calls them), fried fish sticks ala Mrs. Paul’s, sardines (no thank you), a variety of cereals, pot-pies, bleach, you name it, it was there. Even the celery and the onions (keep em’). Later we learned that he’d participated in cooking Thanksgiving dinner as a class project for school, and that his part was to help make the stuffing.

Brad and Charley arrived home with the goods. Charley was proud of himself for his excursion, and on the way in the door, he put his arms around our necks. “Gwoop hug,” he said, “Misgibbing.”

Brad and I hugged him and exchanged glances over his head. “What?” It’s the look we give each other when we aren’t sure what he’s tying to say. “Say it again, Son,” Brad said.



Speaking CharleyEase is a way of life in our house, but I have to admit, he had us stumped.

“Pappy Turkadee,” he said to Brad.


“Yeah. Misgibbing.”

Oh. I get it. Happy Thanksgiving.

And when we look at his face, how could we celebrate anything else?

From the Palmer family, and in CharleyEase, Pappy Turkadee everyone!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Voting Matters

Charley took this picture
of himself with my iPad - pre-shave, of course

It’s election night. I’m writing this half-asleep, which explains the typos. And I’d fix them for you, but well, it’s election night.

In our house the word “election” is synonymous with “up all night.” This means the TV stays on twenty-four hours while the votes come in and the states are announced. 

And even when it’s over and the electoral votes are counted, we still stay up because it’s not over. Surely there will be a miscount. Surely we didn’t hear it right. Surely there’s more to come. It means someone better have remembered to buy popcorn because it’s going to be a long night. It means we root for our pick. 

Brad and I don’t always agree on “our pick.”  Sometimes we cancel out each other’s votes, although I’m the only one who knows when this happens. Brad is a party-voter. I’m for the man whoever that happens to be. 

I never tell Brad who I vote for, because not only would it take the fun out of the election for me, but because sometimes fessing up causes a reaction from Brad where shoes start to fly in the direction of the TV, but at least he has yet to throw the cat, and you can’t buy entertainment like that.

Brad looks forward to election night. And why not? He’s spent the last year in bed with the commentators. In bed? Yes, I did say that. With Rachel Maddow. With Chris Matthews. When there’s an election coming up he stays up night after night in the living room, glued to the TV until he falls asleep with the clicker in his hand. 

I usually leave him alone. That way the snore drowns out the roar of the commentators who talk over each other and shout into the camera as if anyone can hear a thing they say. Chris Matthews is the primary culprit of whom I speak. I like Chris but my eardrums don’t, which makes me sorry to say that ear wax can actually be a good thing.

Somewhere along the line I end up dragging my fanny to the living room and nudging Brad and ordering him to bed (It's a sad day indeed, when reality hits that you have to order someone to bed), until he eventually comes into the bedroom where it would appear there’s enough of the night left to get some serious zzz’s, but this lasts 30 seconds or so until he turns the TV on and he gets his second wind and you can kiss the sand man goodbye.

So I watch the returns and try to learn as much as I can about swing states and electoral votes until it’s inevitable that the voice of Chris Matthews is the insomnia filibuster making it mandatory for me to sneak off to the work room where I can type on my computer which is what I am doing now. 

I’m hiding from the noise and the potential meltdown if my husband’s candidate doesn’t win which means it will be All over but the shoutin’ as Rick Bragg says.

All these years I’ve told myself that at least I have Charley. He’s on my side. He doesn’t scream and holler at the TV. After all, he’s a Beauty and the Beast buff. A Cher fan. A John Travolta grease monkey. Election night means Charley and I watch Free Willy

Until tonight. Tonight he has defected to the other side.

What does Charley know of politics? Quite a lot, actually. He knows that voting matters. And this means he matters.

He knows who his pick is. He knows he’s voting for Obama because he listens to Rush Limbaugh every day on the radio. When Rush dishes on Obama, and he does this a lot, Charley thinks he’s listening to Obama.

“See? Bama,” he says, “Dat guy said so.”

He knows that voting is such a big deal that it requires him to have a picture I.D. card. This involved getting an original notarized birth certificate, two pieces of mail to present with his current address, a trip to the Dr. to obtain a document that states that he has Down syndrome as if you can’t tell by looking at his face, a copy of his social security card, and a trip to the Department of Motor Vehicles and Homeland Security to have his picture taken. 

But first, a trip to the barber shop because the beard and the muscle shirt had to go.

The privilege of having a picture I.D. is a right of passage, and the right to have an I.D. meant Bye Bye Beardie, Hello Mr. Clean.

The right to vote means standing in line while holding his tote bag full of CDs with his headphones on, and waiting his turn with the rest of the voters and knowing that for this one moment, he is one of them. He gets to be in their club.

We early-bird voted because Brad and I couldn’t envision Charley waiting for hours just to 
push a button.

I can't help thinking though, that voting is a remarkable thing because its one of the occasions when we are all on equal ground. And I couldn't help being reminded of all the times when Charley hasn't had a say.

He didn't get to vote on whether or not he would have Down syndrome.

He didn't get to vote on all the times he's wanted to date some girl who might have dated him if only he wasn't different.

And what about the kids in the neighborhood who wouldn't give him a nod or toss him the basketball because they were afraid his Downs might rub off on them? He didn't get to vote on that.

He didn't get to vote on where he would live all these years, every time Brad had to move us from church to church. All the goodbyes. All the lost toys stacked in boxes in the garage every time we had to start over. He never had a say in that either.

But this time is different. This time he's old enough to have a say in who he wants as President. 

He was so excited at the prospect of voting, and especially proud of the picture on his first official I.D.

“Look Son, you’ve got your own I.D. Isn’t’ that great? Now all you have to do is show it to us and we’ll know who you are,” I said.

“Stop it, Mom,” he said. He knew I was yanking his chain and his lips curled into a Popeye grin.

Soon, it was his turn to approach the table where he would sign his name.

“See? I got me one,” he said to a lady who looked at his I.D. and directed him to the voting booth. “Nice picture,” she said. “Very handsome.”

“Yep, I am,” he said, waving the I.D. in the air. “I got a girlfwent,” he said to the lady. “I love girls.”

Mayday. Inappropriate comment alert.

“Son, this is a precinct, not a pick-up joint.”

He shot me a look, like, Knock it off, Mom. “My girlfwent love me,” he told the lady.

“That’s nice,” she said, pointing to the booth, smiling at me.

And with that, Brad and Charley stepped into the booth where Brad would help Charley cast his ballot.

I could hear Brad reading the instructions to him, and showing Charley how to turn the wheel and which buttons to push for his choices.

“I done, Mommy,” he said, as he walked away from the booth. “I boated.”

“We’re proud of you,” Brad said, as we headed out the door and straight to the Fountain City Diner to celebrate. It is on these rare four-year occasions when we get to have pie. No one diets on voting day. Oh the beauty of it.

Well, that’s that. At least I thought that was that.

Tonight I was at the library and took a peek at my cell phone. There were three missed calls from Charley, so on my break I gave him a quick call.

 “Hi Mom, gonna win.”  He sounded excited.

“How do you know?” I said. “It’s still too early to call.”

“Nuh uh,” he said, “I call you.”

“Not that kind of call, honey.”

“See? I got me phone,” he said.

Oh, forget it.

“Are you watching the election returns with Dad?”

“Yep, I am.”


“Son, we may or may not win, but at least you got to vote which means you got to have your say,” I said.


And then, I got to have my say.

“Listen, Son, would you do me a favor?”


“Would you hide Dad’s shoes?”


“Just put them somewhere out of reach.”


“Because I still want a TV that works when this is all over.”

"Okay, Mom."

"By the way, Charley, I meant to thank you."

"You welcome."

"Well, don't you want to know why?"

"Oh. Yes I do."

"I want to thank you for reminding me that voting matters because it means we all have a say, which means we all matter."

"Dat awesome, Mom."

It certainly is.