‘It's You, Sweetie'

An excerpt from "The Sweet Potato Queens' Wedding Planner/Divorce Guide," Random House, 2005

Every March, just in time for St. Paddy's madness—and the hordes of women who fill the city in search of their own personal Meccas—the JFP presents our Chick issue. This fourth annual Ode to Chickdom carries on our tradition of celebrating the strong-yet-soft, loud-yet-sexy, serious-yet-fun women who both populate Jackson and come to get wasted here every March. This issue, we introduce what will be our annual "Chicks We Love" feature. We also present several essays on the question, "What chickdom means to me." But first, we start with an excerpt from the fifth book of love by the woman who told the world about downtown Jackson's own March Madness, she who is the Chick We Love the Mostest—Jill Conner Browne.

One of the Queens, TammyPippa, owns an architectural salvage company, Backroads Architecturals.This delicate flower of womanhood goes out and tears down old houses and buildings with her own hands and hauls off the good parts to sell to home-building folks with good taste. (Her husband, Charles, does help out.) In one of the fine old houses she was deconstructing, TammyPippa discovered a little paperback book that no doubt had been hidden away because of the shocking nature of its contents. Called "The Book of Nature," this thin tract was written and sold in the early 1920s for a dollar. The cover notes proclaim it to be for "the married and those intending to marry—a complete explanation of all." TammyPippa called me immediately.

I raced over to pick up the book and found plenty of explanations I've been wanting for quite some time. I was expecting to sleep much sounder in the future after getting all my troubling questions answered and all. I also expected to acquire the knowledge to settle a number of unduly vexing issues for you, my readers.

I knew in the opening pages of the book that I had come to the right place. The author, a guy, stated that some other guy had possibly exaggerated when he said that the reproduction of the species is the only duty a woman has to fulfill in human society. Hmmmm? That other guy gave me pause, I gotta tell you. I'm thinking, okay, fine, have it your way, buckwheat. We'll reproduce 'em, and then we will be punching out. Everything else—everything else—is now your problem. Since you're so f*cking smart, here's a bunch of babies for you. We're going out for margaritas and then we'll be napping. We've fulfilled our duty to society. Good luck with them kids!

To smooth things over, the author wrote that he personally thinks that there are women who have brains as well as ovaries. He was not making a rash, blanket statement of generalization, of course, but simply conceding that it might have happened sometime, somewhere. There are whole piles of women who never have children, he opined, but care for the children of others and thereby may be performing an even greater service than the actual production of children.

What makes me even crazier than reading this kinda crap from some guy—even if it was written 80 years ago—is seeing women still buying into it today! Young girls are still going off to college with not a thought in their heads about getting an education that will lead to an actual job so they can go out into the world as self-actualized, self-supporting people. There are far too many enrolled in Pre-Wed, only to survey the crop of prospective husbands who might be manipulated, cajoled or otherwise convinced to support them for the rest of their lives—men who'll simply take up where Daddy left off.

I know a little about this kind of thinking. Remember, my own personal financial plan for the future was that my daddy would live forever. I never considered interviewing other potential candidates for the position, and I certainly never thought about taking care of my ownself. As far as I was concerned, Daddy had a lifetime appointment, and his lifetime would naturally coincide with my own. When all of a sudden his life was over, there I was with a whole bunch of my life left and no Daddy to finance or direct it. Huh? Now, there's a quandary
for you, right there.

So what did I do? The only thing I thought I could do—I looked for another man to take his place! Let me just tell you, if you find yourself in a similar situation now or ever, this ain't the answer. In fact, it is the very antithesis of the answer.

Now, don't misunderstand me. There's a cosmic difference between having someone who supports you and fixes things and handles all the pesky details of the financial side of life and believing that you need someone to support you and fix things and handle all the pesky details. Hunny, I am all for sitting on your ass and being waited on hand and foot—it's great work if you can get it—as long as you know, firsthand, that you could do it for your ownself, should the need or desire ever arise.

Because, lemme tell you something else I learned the very hard way: Every potential husband is a potential ex-husband or even a potential dead husband, and you need a plan just in case either scenario develops down the road. And sometimes (make that usually), whether he leaves your life upright or feet first, he leaves behind a big ole mess, and who do you think gets to clean it up all by herself? Don't be looking around. It's you, sweetie.


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