People are awful

Seeing all these hateful notes left on doors and car windshields, makes me think of something that happened to my family.

My dad was one of two doctors in town. The other one was a real son of a bitch. Black mail, handing out pain meds like candy, was the mayor for awhile and tried to do away with Martin Luther King day, called it Martin Luther Coon day. Drove a big car, and people said they were afraid for us kids to be walking down the shoulder of the road alone. Thought this guy would just take us out on a whim because he seemed capable of that. My 14-year old brother wrote a letter to the editor in protest about MLK Day and the mayor cornered him at a high school basketball game and said “Nice letter, kid. I hope your first wife is as black as the ace of spades.” So anyway, a sizable chunk of the town was loyal to or somehow beholden to THAT guy. My mom used to say, “I don’t want him to die, I just wish he would move to Mexico and never come back.”

A man came into our 8th grade health class to talk about living with HIV, and afterward he pulled me aside. He had been friends with my uncle, who’d died of AIDS four years earlier. This guy said he’d gone into that other doctor’s office when he first got to town, and he was told to “get the fuck out and never come back.” It was around that time that the bottles showed up. They were all Snapple bottles, with the lids on, and slips of paper inside that said “Doctor Wood has AIDS” meaning my dad, and “Doctor Wood is a fag.” My dad had kicked up quite a stir around that time when The Other Woman found out about Yet Another Woman, and had blown the lid off a whole small-town sex scandal. There was enough uncertainty that I thought, “Maybe he *is* HIV positive, for all I know.” My brother and I picked bottles up off the beach by our house. We thought we saw more out in the water, so we took the skiff out and collected the ones we could find.

The thing that struck me about it was that it was’t just kids. I saw three different types of handwriting on the slips of paper. It looked like a grown man, a grown woman, and a child. So somebody thought this was a good family activity.

Telling this story now, I think I’m a real idiot for being shocked that Trump won. People are awful.

2 thoughts on “People are awful

  1. That is so horrendous that I would find it unbelievable if it were anyone except you telling the story. I get all the small-town (is it rude to say mutual masturbation) love fest stuff that goes on about the kindness shared during a tragedy, but it’s equally important to remember the up close cruelty and insanity. I’m sorry. Luckily you are not awful.

    1. Of course you KNOW I find the “awful” stuff to also be a bit masturbatory, like a game of oneupmanship — oh you think YOUR little town was creepy and off the wall?? Wait till you hear about MY little town.

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