Saturday, October 6, 2007

Brave Thing Number One

Started out as "take off down an unfamiliar road, get lost and get found". I left the highway somewhere around Rice Texas and started east then picked up what I thought was a section line road, but nothing is ever straight in Texas. After a while I had even lost north/south and I actually experienced a bit of vertigo. I'm pretty sure I saw where the Texas Chainsaw Massacre was filmed, and I got a glimpse of a road runner. Cool.

I pulled out my compass to stop the vertigo and headed north (towards home) but the road kept curving back east, so I decided to follow the road until I came to a town. Knowing north/south stopped the vertigo but it was very disconcerting not knowing exactly WHERE I was or where I was headed, or worse where I would end up. Omigosh, kinda like real life, huh?

I ended up in Gun Barrel City at a gas station with a potty and a map. It was amazing how much confidence returned by just knowing where HERE was. So, I decided to up the ante.

While traveling the byways I listend to country and western music and I suddenly thought of a hat that Sue and I both despise. It's a straw hat that bends down on either side and it causes us irrational anger every time we see someone in it. I decided that I would stop in Anna Texas, where I had seen those hats on sale (during the purchase of the cubicle) and not only would I buy one, I would wear it home.

The odd thing, is that even thought of wearing on of those really really bothered me, and I almost chickened out. My stomach did hurt, I truly did puke in Anna Texas, but I bought the hat, and not outlandish pink one that screams NOT ME, but a straw one, one that fit, one that could be me. I took it to the truck, sighed and mumbled "stay with it stay with it" and put it on my head. And thus, to the world, I became one of THOSE people who wear those stupid hats.

I headed out again, and another person in an awful cowboy hat let me cut in line to get on the road. I nodded my hatted head and lifted my fingers (two of them) in a country wave. I sat up straight and was determined to be one with this new me.

Then I upped the ante. In Ardmore I stopped to pee at Starbucks, haven of the cool and uber-hip, and I walked into that Starbucks wearing that awful hat. After a whiz, I ordered a steamer from the cool lady in the mowhawk and had to fight the urge to declare "this is not my hat. This isn't ME....it's an experiment."

Steamer in tow, I wave a country wave as I drove off. I mumbled "stay with it stay with it".

Hats do not make us ignorant, prejudiced or stupid, but the truth is, not liking someone because of their hat, or avoiding speaking to someone because of their hat, is. And I have been guilty of that. Assuming when I saw one of those hats in Cancun it was a poor dumb Okie who saved up for 6 years for this one blow out weekend. So now, who is ignorant, dumb and stupid?

I upped the ante one last time. I stopped by my folks house with some fresh veggies and left the hat on. "Where'd you get that hat" my Mom asked. "Love's Country Store in Anna, Tx" I said. "Oh", she said.

Silence. I would not be Judas and deny the awful hat. For that moment, it was my hat, I was a wearer of a country hat, no explanations.

"We might get some rain tomorrow." offered Mom. Could it be that my uptight Mother had fewer hat hangups than I did?

The road trip/hat thing really challenged my need to believe I know who I am and where I'm going. At first it sounded superficial to me, but coming face to face with your own superficial prejudices is a brave thing. And it brought home to me the fact that even with a hat on, or not knowing where exactly I was, I was still, essentially me. And that things that I think are really awful, no one really notices. Maybe, just maybe, that extends to other flaws that make me self conscious.

Lots to ponder.

5 comments:

kj said...

ok debra kay!!!

i especially love the whole thing with the hat.

i'm braving the airport tomorrow. i hope i fare as well as you!

Michele said...

OK, you are so much more exciting with this brave thing and I am. I was simply going to go to synagogue today and start-up a conversation with someone I'd like to be friends with but they never would even consider talking to me first. But it rained and I used that as my excuse to stay home. I'm so proud of you for kicking butt in the brave challenge. You rocketh.

Debra Kay said...

I'm glad you guys liked it-I thought at first it was pretty superficial, but it did get my mind to go down a few uncomfortable roads.

And, I seem to be more comfortable just being myself now-so that's a good thing.

Amy Stuart Taylor said...

This is VERY inspirational! I have noticed that I let myself smile like a lunatic at everyone now instead of worrying that I'll look stupid. Maybe my next step will be headgear. Thanks!

Debra Kay said...

Amy, when I was on my country tour-I pulled over to let a funeral pass. I remembered my "country" manners at the last moment and I think the car behind me was annoyed. I am so glad I did though, because the driver of the car behind the hearse nodded and waved and I smiled back at them. That person appreciated and acknowledged a stranger's gesture of respect.

Apparently the deceased was someone of import in that part of the country, because the procession was a couple of miles long. I got a little chilled when I realized that this was my last chance to be courteous to this person and I might have sent him or her off to the hereafter with a gesture of rudeness.

You'd better believe I'll be smiling and waving a lot more than I used to.