I suppose it started the night my boyfriend Max came home from the bar: he was drunk, he was angry, but he was also sorry for something he’s done. He didn’t want to talk about it, but I knew he needed to get it out, so I said, “C’mon, tell Mama all about it”, and suddenly he’s crying and telling me some guy at the bar made made fun of his old truck. So he left, took out a sledgehammer, and busted the headlights and windshield of the truck the other guy owned. It wasn’t until he was halfway home before what he’d done settled in, and he was beyond consolation. But I said, “Look, you’ve owned that truck since it came off the line. That guy was way out of line. You did the right thing, sweetie; just remember that”.
The next morning, the cops took him away for sixty days, but he was, by all accounts, the easiest prisoner they’d ever had, and he came back the most loving boyfriend I ever had.
But he must have said something to the other prisoners, because on occasion I’d get a call from the Inside. At first they didn’t really want to talk about it, but all I had to say was, “C’mon, tell Mama all about it”, and they just let loose. And I figured, these men need validation from somewhere, so I supplied it. “Sure, you needed that diamond more than he did. A man’s gotta survive, and he probably had insurance anyway, right?” “Yes, she was terrible to you, maybe even more than you thought. You probably let her off easy.” “Obviously, that police officer didn’t make you feel good about yourself: you have the right to take his gun just so he knew what it felt like.” It felt good giving them support when they do desperately needed it; after all, everyone has their reasons for doing what they do, and sometimes we just have to let those reasons come to light.
Then, suddenly, I’m getting calls and meetings with county sheriffs and local small town mayors. And I would say to them all, “Tell Mama about it,” and I’m hearing how their citizens just don’t seem to understand that, while protests may be wonderful in theory, in actuality they’re big and dangerous for everyone involved. No one seems to realize that money doesn’t grow on trees, and sometimes you have to make unfortunate cuts to, say, library services, when the general welfare is at stake. And I would be right there to tell them all, in a soothing and calming voice that sometimes you just have to do what you feel is right. It’s not like you have a personal agenda: you simply want the best for everyone. And they’d hang up, happier than they’d ever been because someone assured them they were right. True, a few protest marches were shut down, and some libraries were closed due to budget cuts, but I simply did my best to make sure the town leaders were happy about their decisions, as difficult as they might have been.
My first state senator was confused why people were upset that he was taking money from a local large corporation until I pointed out that giving someone money was actually a very sweet gesture, and no one had the right to question a gift from one person to another. The only reason they were upset, I noted, was because they didn’t get the money, and jealousy is never pretty. My first governor said everyone was mad at him for nominating his wife to lead a very important government agency, and all I said was, “I’m sure you looked at all the candidates and realized your wife was the most appropriate one.” He was practically crying when we hung up.
Since then… well, it’s been a bit of a whirl, I suppose. I get invitations to meet with heads of state, all of them wanting assurance that they’re doing the right thing by their countries. “Of course you’re building a palace! You want something that says, in a country that wants to become one of prosperity, you just have to work hard and you too can succeed!”
Money? Oh, I never take money for anything. That would just sully everything. I simply give people reassurance and validation and the faith that what they’re doing is the best for everyone involved, that there really are no black and white answers sometimes, that every now and then you need that leap of faith that you’re following a dream not just for yourself, but for everyone.
Goodness, look at all this ironing…