from "Joie de Vivre Means Pain in my Ass, Right?”
Remember Susan Smith, the woman from South Carolina who drowned her two children? Everyone was talking about carjackings back then. You were supposed to lock your door the second you got in. Susan Smith said she’d been carjacked, that a black man held a gun to her head and forced her out of the car before he drove off with her kids.
That story scared us. Waiting for our low-impact aerobics class to begin, the ladies stretching in front of me whispered that this sort of tragedy would never, ever have happened back when they were girls. “Maybe things weren’t always fair,” said the one in the purple leotard, “But the world was safer. A black man would not dare go after a white baby.”
Waiting for Caroline to finish her acting class at the Alliance, Bootsy Biggers told me about all the ways a man could get into your house when you weren’t looking.
“Lock your door even if you’re just going back and forth carrying groceries in from the car,” she said. “You never know who might be waiting to get at you.”
And then the truth came out, that there had been no kidnapping, that Susan Smith had rolled the car off the boat ramp herself, her three-year old and eighteen-month old strapped inside, crying for their mommy before their cries were swallowed by the cold dark water. After that only one word was heard at the grocery, at church, waiting in the carpool line at Westwood: monster.
What kind of a monster would do such a thing?
From “Everyone Has A Wheel: In Defense Of Summer”
Even Bryan Adams would have to admit that the summer in which he got his first real six-string and gawked at some girl on her mama’s porch paled in comparison to the one I was having in the Summer of 2011. I was living off a modest inheritance and a generous severance package from having been laid off earlier that year. I was never going to have to work again, for any man. My life was full of limitless possibility.
I realize that many people reading this may have grown up in the South in the ‘80s and may remember the Turtles chain of music stores. They had a customer rewards program that involved tokens, and later stamps, and in certain locations, also rented movies. We had one in Conyers when I first moved down to Georgia. I remember that place.
This was not that. My “Turtles” was so in name only—the original chain had folded in the early ‘90s or thereabouts, and among the various corporate assets they sold was their name and logo, which was snapped up by the Music Network, which also owned Camelot Records and some other places and started buying up the failing Blockbuster Music chain stores around tertiary markets such as Milledgeville. Like many things found in shopping malls, we were only a hollow shell of that thing you remember from childhood. A hollow shell full of P Diddy CDs.
Much like it had in its previous life, Turtles was going out of business. I’d spent the past couple years there, humping a cash register and slinging Nappy Roots CDs until I was promoted--basically by default--to shift manager. So I’d get up in the morning, leave my sodden apartment, and open the store—dropping off the previous night’s take at the bank and ratcheting open the big metal shutters. Large red signs hung everywhere proclaiming STORE CLOSING. EVERYTHING ON SALE. ALL SALES ANAL. Actually, I’d crafted that last one using only a boxcutter, scotch tape and boredom.