Friday, March 13, 2015

Big Mama Pulls the Plug

Big Mama Pulls the Plug
By Cappy Hall Rearick
Hello! Thank you for calling UAM, Universal Answering Machine, the official replacement for a human. Press 1 to leave a message. Press 2 to leave a callback number. With a little luck, a machine will get back to you before you die.
(Sigh) "Okay, listen up, people. This here is Big Mama Nature calling and I’m sick and tired of leaving messages for you. This will be the last time you will ever hear my voice but I've got plenty to say and times a'wasting.
"I'm not going to be Big Mama Nature any more 'cause y'all have done wore me plum out. I am so outta here.
"Just so you’ll know, I plan to gather up a few of my things to take with me when I leave. They were always mine, never, ever yours. You took it for granted that my things belonged to you, but you were dead wrong! They were on loan. Consider today as your personal Chapter Eleven Day.
"I'm talking about all of the birds, every last one of them. Sparrows, ducks, egrets, gulls, especially the egrets and gulls. OMG! What you’ve done to my seabirds is unacceptable. And to make matters worse, you went and gave my little chickies and piglets the Flu. Well, you won't get any more chances to hurt my babies 'cause Big Mama Nature takes care of her own.
"I'm reclaiming the rain forests and all of its inhabitants. You never "got" their simple logic no matter how many times it was explained, so just forget about the rain forests. They'll be well protected under my personal supervision and I won't need to worry about them anymore.
"The Mississippi River is high on my list of retrievables. How can I not take back the Mighty Mississip after the way you've treated her? She's been crying out for my healing touch for years. The Great Lakes, the Colorado River and the Pacific Ocean will be coming with me as well. You can have all of New Yawk City and every drop of water surrounding it; it's way too far gone for me to fix.
"Originally, I’d planned to leave the Gulf of Mexico because I figured you learned your lesson after my Katrina wake-up call. Something so devastating should have gotten a big blip on your unconscious radar, but that didn’t happen. Instead of helping with the clean up, you whined and carried-on like a bunch of wussies and then let BP come in and turn the entire Gulf into a deep fat fryer. I'm taking the Gulf. You don't deserve one drop of it.
"The beaches along the east coast of the United States are mine, mine, mine. It'll be another millennium before even I can get them clean again, but they don't call me Big Mama for nothing.
"There are a few mountain ranges I'll collect on my way out, at least the ones you haven't gotten around to leveling. You won't miss them since you stripped away their natural resources long ago. I intend to rescue what’s left of them before your bulldozers turn them into corn meal mush.
"I am also taking back the air you've been polluting for the last century. I need what little is left so that my birds can keep flying and my rain forests can flourish again. Chances are, even I won't be able to undo much of the damage you've done, but I'll give it a shot.
"I should remind you that the minute I take back the air, clouds will vanish before you can say Boo Hoo! That's a fact, Jack. There will be no more clouds in the sky, but you won't miss them because you never bothered to look up anyway.
"I'm willing to leave the moon for now, but the sun goes with me. Don't even think about giving me any lip on this. I created sunrises to wake you up and get you going every morning. Those out-of-this-world gorgeous sunsets? They were there for you to reflect on the beauty surrounding you. But you blew it, Bubba, when you took me and my gifts for granted. I am so not happy.
"You figured the sun would come up and the sun would go down forever, didn't you? Well, you figured wrong. Now you'll have to remember what that lucky old sun looked like and how your skin tingled from its warmth. It won't replace the real deal but you can text the memory of it to your grandkids.
"I'll be back for some other things later, but you won't realize they're gone until you need them. That's when you'll be shocked to discover that they are no longer available for you to abuse. If history is any indication, you'll be more inconvenienced than sad. (sigh)

"I loved you from the beginning of time, loved you with all my heart. For eons, I forgave you your negligence and overlooked your ignorance. I even chalked up your indifference to human evolutionary learning deficiencies. I'm ashamed to say I forgave you over and over for your folly.

"But I will not forgive you for the shambles you've made of my beautiful earth. I trusted you to love, nurture and protect it and I didn't think for a nano-second that you would destroy it. You have broken my heart. (Sigh)
"No doubt, the human blueprint needs tweaking and I wish I had it in me to take you back to the drawing board, but you have drained me bone dry.
"Don't bother trying to get in touch with me. (Sigh) You couldn't be bothered to acknowledge my many calls, so we are so done.
Like the Big Guy says, "It's not nice to fool Big Mama Nature."


Friday, March 6, 2015

Cliché —Touché

I learned the backbone of American language from my mother, aka the Queen of Cliché. While other parents charged their kids with, “Be home by eleven o’clock sharp,” my mother said, “If you’re not early you’re late.”

Language was always a painting to Mama. Words and phrases, the catchier the better, were the brush strokes of finished sentences. While other families played Tiddly Winks and Monopoly, we played word games like Scrabble and Perquacky. Mama invented the Cliché Game, however, and it was our favorite. She always started it off with a well-worn phrase. 
On Mondays, it might be something like, “Well, if the sun is shining and the creek don’t rise, we might go shopping today.”
Then she would look at one of us, eyebrows raised in expectation.
My brother, who would eventually grow up to be an engineer, would quit trying to figure out why Rice Krispies went Snap! Crackle! Pop! Long enough to say, “With any kind of luck, Mama, you just might find those new curtains you’ve been looking for.”
Two pairs of eyes would then look in my direction. My turn to come up with something equally clever like, “Don’t y’all take any wooden nickels.”
Daddy’s mind was never too far away from the family budget. As soon as he heard the word nickels, he would invariably pipe up with, “My pocket is not a bottomless pit, you know.” More often, he would quip, “Don’t y’all forget that money does not grow on trees.”
“Hurry up kids and clean your plates!” Mama would say as she scraped her chair back from the table. “We have to make hay while the sun shines.”
Nothing I have ever learned in an English class allows me to write a blank check by using clichés when I write. Just the opposite, in fact. Yet, just the other day, I read that those same tried and true expressions, the ones that rolled off my family’s tongues back in the day, are being seriously considered with regard to their significance in the preservation of our culture. Some researchers think the cliché may be the backbone of our communication system.
Mama would be thrilled.
As a creator, a very small architect of prose, I have the privilege of typing a distinctive breath of life into one-dimensional men, women, children and animals. It is always my hope that the characters I create leave a lasting impression on a reader. I’m pretty sure my characters (and their creator) will be forever grateful.
In any event, by writing in what is known as Southern Voice, means (at least to me) that I write about things and people I can see, hear and touch. I don’t necessarily need to dig deep into my unconscious to find characters with delightful dialogue. I can easily discover them right here at home, the place where dog-eared expressions are as natural as eating grits for breakfast.
My made-up characters are not always credible, nor are they always believable. Most often I take a little from one character and something else from another. What (or who) I end up with then becomes an amalgam of people with all sorts of characteristics. After that, I sit back and let them go wild, insisting that they do whatever they want to do.
Mama taught me that creativity can be a bottomless pit and that clichés are diamonds in the rough, always blessings in disguise. With that in mind, I will try to keep up the good work and not let it drive me stark raving crazy. I will turn off my computer before I become blind as a bat or worn to a frazzle. I will grab that bright idea before it vanishes into thin air and leaves me sadder, but wiser.