01 August 2008

Birthday tribute - Jean

It was Ice Cream Day at work today, so I found myself idly wondering whether a person's choice between ice cream sandwiches and bomb pops was a reflection of his or her sexual orientation...

Think about it a minute...

Anyway, it occurred to me... It's also Jean's birthday. :-D So she gets to be today's victim...

Jean is an interesting individual. She's very intelligent, but not intellectual. This throws people off... the fact that she doesn't use big words and isn't obsessed over any of the usual geek/nerd/anorak things makes people think that she's not too bright, but her mind is every bit as sharp and active as any I've encountered. She just has a different way of expressing herself.

For example, she speaks in what I call "Jeanisms". This are words and phrases that make sense to Jean, and if you think about it, should make sense to you, too. I've heard others use some of them, but I'm pretty sure she said them first. These include:

  • "Old Timer's Disease" (Alzheimer's)
  • "ex-cape" (escape)
  • "my brain was thinking" (I was thinking)
  • "indulations" (the part of undulations that go into the material in question)
  • "Tawnimono" (dogfood, from the Japanese "tabemono" for food, and the name of her dog, "Tawni")
  • "Ashtray" (her nickname for me, because I'm allergic to cigarette smoke)
  • "Hungry" (that country in Europe where I lost 20 pounds)
  • and many more

They make sense, if you stop and think about it. She knows the correct spellings and pronunciations, but she speaks them as they come to her... through a filter where the word should sound like what it means.

Jean was born in New Jersey, but moved to the hick portion of Channelview, Texas as a small child. She was then raised by her NJ parents, but in a hick environment. This results in an interesting personality. First, her accent... She usually doesn't seem to have much of an accent, except for a few words ("Oh Ghoahd!", for example). That is, until she gets around her family, at which point, it's almost like being back in Hungary... I don't understand half of what's said.

Apparently, telepathy runs strongly in Jean's family, so when they're communicating amongst themselves, half of what they say is generalities... "what's-his-name" and "whadyacwallit" and so forth... And they all know what all the others are talking about. It's kinda creepy.

But as I said, she grew up amongst hicks... so she has some of that embedded, too. In fact, when she finds herself around horses, she completely falls into a stereotypical southern drawl. She doesn't even notice it. I one pointed it out to her, and for three days she couldn't speak. She would start to, and then forget how to form the words, and get lost in a morass of accents, and nothing would come out of her mouth. It was nice, until she got past it, and started speaking again.

But don't get me wrong... she's one of my most bestest friends. Odd, considering that she stole my husband (long story). And argues that she saw him first. And she stole my dog. But we all get along great. She's even in my will, but I haven't told her, because I'm trying to find ways to increase my lifespan.

I love to tease her about her sexual orientation. She's straight... obviously... and I know it... obviously... but between the horses and majoring Construction Technology in college (did you know there was a college degree for construction workers?) she somehow developed the reputation as a tiny (five feet tall) lesbian. And she earned that reputation. When I met her, she was the roughest, toughest little student at the college. I once saw her put a nail through her hand. She promptly got up, walked to a sink, pulled the nail out of her hand, rinsed off the hole, put on a Band-Aid® and went back to her hammering.

On another occasion, she was showing off her horse, an uncut Arabian stallion as compact as she was, and explaining that he had an attitude problem. She then climbed onto his back, and after a couple of seconds he started bucking. She flew about 20 feet in the air (not an exaggeration) and landed on her face. She got up onto hands and knees, shook her head, and then got up and walked to him, shouted his name (the Arabic word for "Satan"), and punched him. He backed away, wide-eyed, and she got back on and rode him for a while before folding him and putting him away. She later had a black eye, because she had landed on a rock the size of her fist.

Jean's knowledge is impressive, considering that she tries to hide it. When anyone of us is sick, she gets a phone call. She's always the first to treat a wound that doesn't require an emergency room. She's also the local consultant for animal-related health issues and runs an informal animal rescue out of her home and at her own expense. I once watched her raise a squirrel whose mother had abandoned him before he was weened, and when he was grown he was completely tame, to the point where she could take him outside, let him run around on trees, and when she would open her pocket breast and call him by name, he would jump in. Wow.

Once, when she and I were in college, we were at my mother's house to help get the pool ready. My step-father opened a tube to let the pool drain into some bushes, and a blur shot out of the bushes, which Jean promptly grabbed behind the neck. And found herself holding an alligator about three feet long. He wasn't any more amused than she was.

This is the type of person she is. I wanted to give a picture of the type of person she is. Since she takes care of my daughter (her husband's daughter), my life insurance points to her. I trust her to do the right thing next year when I meet my doom, to ensure that the money is used to my daughter's benefit.

When I have any kind of a problem and need a shoulder to cry on, hers is the closest available, even if I have to drive 40 miles to get to it. When I got out of the hospital, I recuperated at her house. When I broke my ankle in the floods of hurricane Allison, she helped me to be mobile until I could get crutches. She gave me my dog, and my hamster, and when I leave for an extended trip, she's the one who takes care of my animal friends.

I value each of my friends greatly. The people I consider my true friends would kill for me, or die for me, and Jean is no exception. But she's also the one who has been there for me during most of the hardest times of my life, even the ones she caused. And that means something.

So, here's to you, Jean... Happy Birthday!!!

1 comment:

HermitJim said...

Ashley...I have to admit that I am totally confused and when you get some extra time, you need to try and clear things up for me, ok? ok!