Crone, Part II


About That

Notta Louden, Crone


“That was some defense of older women you laid down out there,” Notta observed after class.

I sank into my office chair with a thud. “I should not have lost my temper like that. He’s a kid. And he’s my student. I went too far. I know better.”

“Humph!” Notta sniffed. “I’d say any man of any age who holds opinions about women like that young man voiced out there deserves everything he got and more.” Her bottom’s descent into her chair was less voluble than mine. The sigh from her lips was not. “What do you suppose makes that young man respect his gramma? And it’s not her age. Nor her gray hairs.”

“If memory serves, she raised him.”

“And, like as not, she doesn’t take crap from him. Best parenting in the world means you don’t take crap from your kids or grandkids. You tell them what’s right and what’s wrong. You teach them little lessons about the consequences of both and you try to steer them towards the right. You’re not their friend or their best buddy. You’re the parent. Sometimes church helps out with the right ideas; too many times, it doesn’t. Puts ‘em to sleep or hurts them outright. Parents have to either help out to heal and teach that child or own up to turning another wounded soul out on the world.”

“At some point,” I said, “they have to take responsibility for themselves. Parents can’t be to blame for everything.”

“No, but, if they were bad parents, they have to own it. You do wrong, you have to own it. You don’t lie about it, you don’t cover it up or blame someone else for it. Not if you’re an adult that’s worth a damn.”

“Notta,” I said, “that cherub is almost 21. Most of our students are. That’s above the legal age of consent, except for drinking in this state. I imagine he spends more time with his friends than his grandmother anyway. You know as well as I do that somewhere around 14 or 15 – maybe earlier these days since media seems to want kids to go straight to adulthood as soon as the diapers come off – parents and grandparents aren’t all that influential except for saying ‘no,’ when the child wants to do something stupid that all his friends are doing. A lot of them go ahead and do what their friends are doing anyway.”

“Not enough of them catch hell for doing it,” Notta said. “That’s my point. Somebody told this child that it was OK to think of women using the words he spewed out there. I hope to Heaven it wasn’t his father, especially if I ever have to meet that father. I’ll have more than one piece of my mind to give that father, if I do.”

“But will you have any left?” It was a sorry attempt at humor. Notta did not laugh.

“Listen to yourself. You’re owning your blow-up. You’re taking it too far, but you’re owning it. I don’t know where it was written that teachers in the 21st century can’t have emotions, but it ought to be erased. Teachers in my day had plenty of emotions and we kids paid for it with our hides.”

“I don’t know why I blew up.”

“Yes, you do. You were tired, irritable from teaching all day, and that cherub, as you call them (though God alone knows why), has been a thorn in all our sides from the start. I’ve helped out in this class before. He’s always like this, refusing to work with the class and refusing to work on anything he doesn’t want to. That lady you’re filling in for takes too much crap from him, so he needed to be stopped.”

I shook my head. “But was it my place to stop him?” I held off her answer with a raised hand. “Yes, I know. And I had had enough. I’ve had enough of so much these days.”

“You mean, like people with small minds opening their big mouths and believing every spit-riddled syllable has to be taken as gospel?”

I winced. “That’s the general idea, I suppose. Though I’m no authority on Gospels.”

Notta humphed again. “Don’t start.”

“But I had no business taking it out on him.”

“You think you’re so special? Think about all we see and hear all day, every day now. It’s all talk, talk, talk, and nobody listening until there’s no choice. And then people get mad because ‘nobody told me things are changing.’

“Things are changing (sorry, folks, if you missed your engraved invitation to the\is century) and people are still looking for the ‘way it’s always been.’ When ‘it’ never was that way to begin with, but they’ have to admit to making a mistake in their thinking.”

“I agree, the world is changing. It always has been, always will, but we see it up close now. See the mirages we took to be made of granite as the ephemera they are.”

“Some of us do,” Notta agreed. “Lotta folks are trying to build indestructible walls around those mirages. Make it all permanent, so they don’t have to think about it. If they have to think about it, they may change their ideas, as if there might be something wrong with the ones they’ve always had.”

“So the same illusions that help a few and hurt so many keep living on. I can’t understand why people can’t see that. If a thick-skulled dunderhead like me who hates change and is willing to try change can see it, then everyone can.”

“Oh, everyone can,” Notta said. “But they don’t want to. Means they have to think and maybe realize they’ve been wrong about some things. Maybe they didn’t get all the ‘right and wrong’ lessons they needed, except to prove that they’re always right. God forbid they be wrong about anything. Being wrong equals being a loser.”

I nodded. “‘Loser’ is now the ultimate insult; even cherubs in our morning class believe that. Remember the fellow who got stood up last week? The whole class called him a loser. He went out crying.”

“I thought he wanted a cigarette,” Notta said.

“That, too. Everybody wants to be a ‘winner’ or follow what looks like winners, though I’d think the view from behind would get pretty boring after a while.”

“But at least it’s not different. All the manure their ‘leaders’ shovel at them sounds like more and more of the same old song and they love it. ‘We’re right and they’re wrong. We’re the good guys and they’re just different.’ Those folks don’t do different. They can’t handle it. Or they don’t want to handle it. Like dinosaurs. Probably die out screaming bloody murder and blaming everybody else, too. One can only hope.”

“That’s probably what galls me the most: it’s everyone else’s fault. Parents, teachers, immigrants, people with ideas you don’t understand.” I winked at her. “Older women who don’t take crap from men.”

“Or anybody else,” Notta agreed. “And if these wall-builders would only listen instead of all the hootin’ and hollerin’, they might start using another sense and smell what their mouthpieces are shoveling; it’s rotten and decaying and sure to poison you if you keep on swallowing it over and over.” She sat back. “I say, shove it in the ground and let something worthwhile, something different and healthy grow.”

“Change the substance, change your mind,” I said. “No, don’t waggle that finger; I know you’re right.”

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