Have you heard the one about the son who decided his aged father would have to be sent to the “poor house”? Yep, that’s what we Alabamians and Mississippians called such institutions back in the olden days.
One morning the son told his father, “Pa, you need to get dressed.” The old man said, “Whut fer”? His son said, “I’m taking you to the poor house.” The old fellow shouted with joy and jumped up, raced to the bedroom alternating between smiling, laughing, singing, humming and whistling. He soon returned dressed in his best suit and said, “Hey, boy, whut air yew a-waitin’ fer? Let’s go!”
Thoroughly perplexed, the young man said, “Pa, I’m taking you to the poor house because I can’t take care of you at home anymore. Why are you so happy about having to go to the poor house?” The old man’s smile was replaced with a scowl and he said, “Pore house? Pore house? Hell, I thought you said whore house!“
You, the reader, have probably noticed that the son and the father obviously speak differently. That’s because the son speaks English and the father speaks Alabamish—‘nuf said? That silly joke provides a segue for me concerning something our president’s wife said as she ascended to the speaker’s platform to stand beside her husband after he was elected to the White House in 2008.
She said, “For the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country.” Apparently her pride in her country was generated by her husband having been elected to the presidency of the United States. I can understand her being proud of the country for having voted him into office, but for the first time in her adult life?
Evidently she was not proud of the country that gave him the opportunity to live free, that provided him the opportunity to live freely in a country that educated him, voted him into the Illinois state Senate, the United States Senate and vaulted him into the highest office in the land, a position considered to be the most powerful in the world.
Her statement made me realize that I was with the same emotion, but mine was in the reverse. I was ashamed of my country for submitting to the lure of the siren’s singing and allowing my country to go aground. We had no Orpheus and our country is foundering on the rocky islands. Her husband won the election and his wife expressed pride in her country for the first time in her adult life. For the enlightenment of those perhaps unfamiliar with Orpheus and the song of the sirens, I offer the following explanation provided by Wikipedia:
Chiron had told Jason that without the aid of Orpheus, the Argonauts would never be able to pass the Sirens — the same Sirens encountered by Odysseus in Homer‘s epic poem the Odyssey. The Sirens lived on three small rocky islands called Sirenum scopuli and sang beautiful songs that enticed sailors to come to them, which resulted in the crashing of their ship into the islands. When Orpheus heard their voices, he drew his lyre and played music that was more beautiful and louder, drowning out the Sirens’ bewitching songs.
Our ship is still on the rocks, but there is hope. Not the hope and change chanted in the last presidential election, nor the hope and change that would doom our nation to remain grounded, but the hope and change that will reverse our path and take us off the rocks and return us to deep water.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.