Meetings Everywhere & The Squaredance Skirt Creature

The grownups liked to have meetings. Everywhere. At the gate, at the house, at the barn, at the white offices, everywhere we went, there was meetings.
They would sit in a big circle to talk and pass around doobies. They loved smoking doobies and talking. Us kids would play or sit quietly. If I sat in the circle the grownup next to me might not notice I was a kid and pass me the doobie then I would pass it to the next grownup. Kids were not allowed to smoke. They would hold it with their thumb and finger and suck, suck, suck it in and hold it then blow the smoke out. My mom would hold it in really deep and really long to not waste any. She would close her eyes while she sucked it in and then if she talked while holding it, she sounded funny. The grownups got happy and nice when they smoked. They called it “Uncle Roy”. “Have you seen Uncle Roy”? “We’re going to hang out with Uncle Roy”. They also called “10:13”. 10:13 meant it was time to hang out with Uncle Roy.
Most meetings were pretty boring, I wondered how the grownups could stand to be so boring. Some of them talked slow and drawn out, extra boring. They had meetings about stuff that we needed, stuff that needed to be done and a lot of meetings to talk about someone in particular. People they thought didn’t have “good vibes” or who were being “into the juice”. They wanted to talk to them and tell them what they were doing wrong until the person “copped”. They wanted everyone to cop. “Hey man, you really need to cop to being into the juice, man. Like, that ain’t cool, ya dig, man?”, a grownup would say slowly, and partially out of their nose it sounded like. I wondered why so many people talked partially out of their noses, as if they were holding their breath when they talked and were pushing some of the vocal sound through their nose. Was that the cool way to talk to show you were “tuned in” while telling people to stop being into the juice or while saying what Stephen thinks? Nose talking was annoying, I didn’t “dig” it’s “vibe”, it was bland and dry and boring and annoying and judgmental sounding. Blah blah blah it sounded like.
They had a big meeting about my mom once that she didn’t like at all. About how she was into the juice for using big words. I heard about it for years, her saying; “and then I laughed and said “he averted his eyes”. That was the phrase she spoke that spawned a meeting to be called to tell her she was into the juice for speaking with words like “averted”. They wanted her to sound more like them with the slow, droned out, stony sayings and words like “ain’t”. Deborah hated the word “ain’t” as much as she hated chewing gum and sucking your snot instead of blowing your nose. Everyone said “ain’t”, it was hard not to say it because it seemed like such a normal word used by everyone, but Deborah corrected me every time. Putting my “me’s’ and I’s in the correct places, unlike everyone else, was also extremely important to her.
I think she was very upset and crying in our bus after finding out that people didn’t like her using “big” words, she loved words and had gone to college for English and we had a hardcover Highlights that she had a story published in when she lived in New York about a dog she helped raise and train to be a service dog. I think she was a mixture of sad and mad. She was spittin’ mad that they didn’t like it that she saved her sugar rations and wouldn’t share them after everyone had used theirs. She couldn’t believe they didn’t see what a great thing it was that she hid hers and wouldn’t let them have it so she could save the day when someone needed a birthday cake.
It must have been a long meeting, because I don’t think she ever copped.
But we also had fun meetings, party meetings. The grownups liked to square dance. I didn’t know why they called it square dancing because they always went in circles, not squares.ImageImage
They started having square dance parties at our house. The grownups would get really excited about it. Neighborhood people would come over and they’d move the dinner table off to the side to dance and dance on the bare plywood floor around in a big, fast circle. I stayed pressed up against the wall to not get trampled, in awe of their lively festivities. They went so fast stomping and spinning and skipping around in a big circle and they were so happy! This one lady from down the street wore a long skirt that blew out when she spun. From my viewpoint, sitting on the floor pressed against the wall, each time she passed me, I could see under her skirt. I could see all her hair at the top of her legs. I couldn’t believe she had so much hair. Each time she came by, it was still there, shocking me with it’s dark bushy character, like it was it’s own hairy entity, yelling “BOO!” with every pass impelling my eyeballs to spring forth staring agape at the incredible monstrosity, the creature made of hair under the skirt.
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One thought on “Meetings Everywhere & The Squaredance Skirt Creature

  1. I visited the Farm often, because I had family who lived there. It was fun to visit because of the beauty and the community. I liked the spiritual midwifery. I liked the vow of poverty. I liked how meetings were held to “work things out.” I liked the books and the superb food.

    Sometimes there were excellent reasons to hold meetings to share with a person that they were not being kind or honest, or that their actions were geared toward getting undeserved attention. It was a bit like what is now called an intervention.

    Nevertheless, there was sometimes a bullying quality of holding meetings to gang up on someone who didn’t conform to the Farm’s way of speaking or behaving. “Working things out,” was sometimes a euphemism for badgering someone until they relented to group pressure.

    Leo Tolstoy said, “Wrong does not cease to be wrong because the majority share in it.” It appears to me that your mother was simply using words that she was accustomed to using, and that those who judged her for “being into the juice” for speaking intelligently, and not saying “ain’t” were unaccustomed to hearing someone who is educated and articulate. In short, they were showing their ignorance and their tendency to conform to the Farm status quo, while thinking of themselves as non-conformists because they lived on the Farm. Taking a vow of poverty is a good thing, but it doesn’t necessitate taking a vow not to exhibit ones intelligence and education. It buys into the stereotype that the poor are not educated, a mistaken notion.

    In addition, because they ate up all their sugar rations, and then wanted hers, when she was trying to stretch it out in a more rational, and (might I say) healthful way, they were in the wrong, not she. They simply wanted her sugar, and tried to make her feel guilty for conserving it. It reminds me of the story of The Little Red Hen. She has the foresight and planning, and they want the fruit of her labor. Silly.

    I commend Deborah for standing her ground. In both cases, she was in the right, and her critics were being bullies by ganging up on her, using the Farm’s commendable techniques to “work things out” just to show their conformist superiority and to get her family’s sugar.

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