>Apparently I live in the buckle of the Bible Belt. I say ‘apparently’ because I have not verified this yet. I’m too scared that it’s true. When we moved here from DC we were naive in the way that people from big cities often are: we assumed that where ever we went would be diverse –politically, socially, ethnically, culinarily. Yes, we knew we were moving to The South. We knew some areas might be a bit more conservative. There might be a few more churches. And a few more republicans. But we’ll be fine, right?
Um, not so much. We landed ourselves in a place that still allowed smoking indoors (at the time). A place that doesn’t have curb side recycling. A place where people routinely knock on your door and suggest that you are going to hell because you don’t belong to their church. A place where ‘meat-n-three’ is as ethnic as it gets. A place of confederate flags. A place where kids were told not to ring our bell on Halloween because of the Obama stickers on our car.
I’m all for people being religious and political. Except for when it starts to infringe on my rights and the rights of others. Except for when it’s homophobic. Or racist. Or misogynist. Then you and I are going to have a problem*.
Our house has always been a safe place for us to truly be ourselves. To be democratic, heathen, pro-gay-marriage-ers who have strong (negative) feelings about the confederate flag, watch the McNeil Lehrer news hour, and who deeply miss Indian food. But this past weekend The South crept a little too close to our house for my comfort. And I had to defend our safe place. From my liberal, yankee HUSBAND.
It was early evening and Demetri and I were out on the back porch with Zoey. It was an impromptu let’s-hang-out-on-the-porch moment — I was eating an ice cream cone, Demetri was sipping a beer. Zoey decided she wanted to play in her kiddie pool. Instead of going inside (while Zoey protested), taking off her clothes (while she cried), putting on a swim diaper (while she screamed), putting on a swim shirt and ruffle-butted swim bottoms (while she attempted to bite us), we decided to let her swim starkers. She’s one — nakedness should be OK, right? I mean, it’s not like it was me frolicking around out there with nothing on but swim sandals.
The back of our house faces woods so it’s pretty private. We do have neighbors on either side and a walking trail from the woods comes out right between our houses. So, in theory, someone could walk by at any second. So my dear husband (who we should all know by now is the ‘nice’ one in the relationship and has had considerably less difficultly adjusting to The South than I have) says, “You know we should try and be aware that there might be people coming down the path that may not want to see a naked baby.” I asked him to explain. Actually, I think my exact words may have been What the hell are you talking about? but, you know, semantics. Demetri went on to say, “I just think we should be sensitive to the fact that a Bible Beater may come down the path with her son and the son may be all ‘What’s that, mommy?‘ and then the mom would have to explain The Parts.” After laughing, realizing he wasn’t kidding, mocking him for the use of ‘The Parts’, I said, “Well, tough s-h-i-t. That mom will have to explain about penises and vaginas. The world will go on. We’re in OUR YARD. I refuse to change our whole lives because someone may come down the path. This is OUR SPACE.” I think I may also have added a few subtle threats and outright commands like, “AND YOU BETTER AGREE WITH ME”.
Demetri said he did agree AND that we could be sensitive (what a novel idea!). So while I sat spewing off all the things I don’t like about The South and begrudgingly admitted some of the things I do like (biscuits . . . mmmmm), Demetri constructed a ‘modesty shield’. That’s right, my kind and handsome husband saved the church goers from seeing our baby’s va-jayjay, and thus saved them from hell. What a man! Could I have been more attracted to him than at that moment? Well, maybe if he had frolicked naked in the pool while yelling ‘Overturn Prop 8!’. Now that, that would have been damn sexy.
*To be clear, we have some neighbors here who are pretty much polar opposites of us politically. But I love them. They are great neighbors. We get along and do all the neighborly stuff — chat over the fence, wave to the kids, borrow ladders, etc. We respect our differences, go about our business, and know that we can rely on each other for help whenever needed.