Did I Mash Your Corn?

Well…. Did I?

When actor Chadwick Boseman (of Black Panther fame) died last year, there were tons of tributes that took the form of remembrances by people who knew him and worked with him, and the usual tributes from others who didn’t. These were the ones that used photos of him that were readily found on the internet and were accompanied by the years of his life span and the obligatory expressions of sorrow (and in some cases, shock) at his death. However the more interesting tributes to me were the ones posted by visual artists. While most of them rendered Boseman as himself or as the most notable character he’s played – or both, I was drawn to one that was a reproduction of a particular scene in the Avengers movie. It gave me an idea for something I would have liked to see and I mentioned it to a young artist I know, who actually came up with an additional element to my vision which I absolutely loved. I was all set to receive attribution for my part in the composition when the piece went viral, but it wasn’t ever done – not to my knowledge anyway, and a perusal of images found online these many months later doesn’t show anything like it. However, I understand that most artists worth their salt prefer to create what they’re moved to do and not what they’re told to do.

And because of this, I didn’t feel as we say “a kind of way” about it. It reminded me of one occasion when, having already composed a  piece, I sought to use it in a forum where it would be more widely read. Because it made reference to a particular group of professionals – but no one in particular, I was asked to remove it as it might have offended some in the audience. I have to tell you I felt a kind of way about that! Similarly, when my honest impressions of an unnamed social event that took the form of a mixer became a blog post, I was asked whether I was sure that I wanted to leave it up, because the hosts might not have been too appreciative of the review – should they happen to stumble across it. Again, I couldn’t help but feel “a kind of how” about the comment. But that paled in comparison to the disappointment I felt at being asked to censor what I wrote.

I seldom mention names – in order to protect the innocent – and am not in the habit of speaking negatively about specific persons in this blog. Having said that though, since the blog is mine I also don’t think it necessary to tiptoe around other’s feelings and second guess myself wondering whether someone might feel a little uncomfortable with what I had to say. Because who’s writing this blog anyway? Recently I had a conversation about this blog with a family friend and she remarked that her daughter frequently tells her that she should start one of her own. She said that she had given some thought to what subjects she might pursue but was not yet sold on the idea. I smiled to myself, because while some people have called me a plain speaker (in certain situations), this lady’s talents far surpass mine. And because of that, I look forward to the day when she decides to go for it.

By the way, the perceived objectionable article remains in place these several years later. I can’t say whether anyone involved ever saw it or even recognized it for what it was and felt that I had “mashed her corns” – a term used when we feel that someone has offended us. Had that been the case, I wouldn’t have minded a discussion about it, because it’s a given that we don’t all see things the very same way. And for me, the beauty lies in that very difference.

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What Would They Say?

“She had a great smile… ” – is only one thing I hope they’ll say.

Recently, I learnt of the death of a former classmate. Although I know it’s never been a respecter of persons or their ages, and even though I’m getting up there, the news of her death came as something of a shock. Delivered to me by another classmate who visited my workplace a few weeks ago, it soon became clear that the “news” was actually quite old given that her death had occurred several years ago – and I wondered how I hadn’t heard. Part of the reason might have been because she had migrated – another fact I hadn’t known.

Every so often on that ubiquitous social media platform, class pictures from years ago surface. These are the ones that used to be taken every year with a sign bearing the Grade number in front of you, and if you kept every one of them, you could see the progression of yourself and your classmates – as some people joined and others left. I have a few from my primary school days. My visiting classmate referenced the one that we took in the middle of our secondary school years and which I mentioned in this post written back in 2015. The conversation took a slightly morbid turn when she said that the picture could be used to “check off” the persons who are no longer here – and I thought of their images disappearing in whispers of smoke, like some special effect in a movie.

As she continued to reminisce about the individual, one of the things she mentioned was that they had been rivals for the top spot in class – with both of them exchanging places over the years. I have to admit that I didn’t quite remember the rivalry as well as she did – but then again, I wasn’t in the running. However, it led me to think about what else could be said of her. Or of anyone really, when one looks back at his or her life. That’s what eulogies are for I suppose you’d say. But what I think would be more interesting is what each person who ever met her would have to say. While my messenger remembers their rivalry, I remember her for her thick lips, her pretty smile and her ramrod straight back when she walked. She wasn’t what you’d call good looking, and when she got upset she wasn’t afraid to let you know it, but she was easy to get along with. As she travelled through life other persons would likely be able to add their descriptions of her as well.

Let’s face it. Some eulogies can almost make you want to join the departed one, so an interactive format like this might be a better option. Like the toast at a wedding, consideration can be given to inviting persons who knew the departed, to offer a sentence or two, complete with a moderator – because you know there is bound to be a somebody who doesn’t know what “a few words” means. And a somebody who can’t find the paper he wrote it on. And a somebody who decides she wants to sing instead. But I see these tidbits as infinitely more interesting than the general pronouncements that most everybody already knows. Of course, this exercise can only happen after Covid restrictions have been lifted because funerals are now mainly family affairs with hardly any friends, never mind acquaintances, in attendance.

On second thought, maybe that’s what the wake is for. Unfortunately right now, we can’t have any of those either. But it makes me wonder – besides the obvious, what people I’ve met in my life would say about me. Don’t you?

Run!

“I am running fastly!”

Kindergarten student at my primary school (years ago)

Did you ever try to run away from home? Personally, at the young age when these things would be considered, I never did. Young as I was, that action seemed like something only the children on TV could get away with. It’s possible though, that I knew what I’d be missing out on if I left the comforts of home, and I was not about that life. My sister on the other hand, headstrong girl that she is, probably wasn’t too concerned about what awaited up the road where she headed with her favourite stuffed animal and a few items of clothing that she threw into a carrier of some sort. To hear her tell it – she wasn’t never coming back. Our mother’s weekend “clean out” with a ghastly tasting laxative galvanized her into taking this most rash of actions. Apparently, she had had just about enough. She admits that she didn’t really know where she was going – just putting one foot in front of the other and trying to put as much distance as she could between herself and the place that held her bed and the meals she wasn’t yet missing. The “adventure” ended soon enough when she discovered our father driving alongside her. He told her to get into the car. All resolve to strike out on her own disappeared, and she found herself climbing into the car, after which he drove  the few yards she had managed to travel – back to the house. Had she planned a little better, maybe she would have considered leaving the way she came back. On wheels, since those would have taken her farther a whole lot faster.

When I was a child, it was a treat to be able to spend the day with a godparent. If there were children your age it was even better. You were able to play endlessly on a day that if you were at home, would likely be filled with household chores. On a few Saturdays during the year, I would visit mine. My godmother had a yard full of fruit trees. It was HUGE – or at least it looked that way back then. It was on one of those visits that I recall overdosing on her delicious banana fritters, so much so that it was years before I could stomach them again – but I never remembered wanting to leave – never mind running away. Sadly not all godparents realized that fun was the purpose of the exercise. In a case of running away in the opposite direction, I’m reminded of a story someone told me about her visit to a godparent that was apparently so miserable, she gathered the belongings she had been dropped off with, and prepared to make her way home. She was likely older than my sister was at the time of her escapade, so she knew that some form of transportation would be necessary. Luckily for her, the house’s location was in close proximity to a bus stop, so I gather that she waited for one to come along. The fact that she didn’t have bus fare was probably the farthest thing from her mind at the time. I’m not too sure how long she would have waited, but she was likely gone long enough to be missed, because just as she boarded the bus she felt someone pulling her back. The hand belonged, not to her godmother, but to the solitary child who either lived there or visited regularly – I can’t remember which. Her motivation probably stemmed from the shock that her companion for the day was trying to leave without letting her know – and the knowledge that she’d be in trouble if the runner had succeeded.

Better luck next time, ladies.