Friday, June 06, 2008

"And afterwards, there's always a rainbow."

The sun is shining brightly, but it's also raining. Which is a standard-issue weather pattern during the early days of summer in Houston.

When I was a little kid, around four or five or so, this drove me batshit insane.

"It's not supposed to rain when it's sunny," I whined to my mother, who was my go-to person any time logic and order needed to be re-established in the world. "This is wrong!"

"Honey, this just happens sometimes," she said, digging around in her big bag of homespun Southern wisdom. "It's called a sunshower. Whenever there's a sunshower [ed. note: I'm not making this part up], it means that the Devil is beating his wife."

"Oh, yeah, right," I said (because even as a little kid, I was pretty bitchy). "Who would marry the Devil? That's wrong!"

"Who knows?" she said with a shrug. "There's no accounting for taste."

And I believed her.

For good or for ill, my mother's definition of sunshowers became indelibly imprinted on my psyche. Through adolescence, puberty, college and coming out, sunshowers have always made me think, "The Devil is beating his wife. And that's wrong!"

Years later, while reading Gerald Gardner's Witchcraft Today for the first time, I found the following passage in Chapter 12 ("Who Is The Devil?"):

"Now the god is represented by the high priest (if there is one) and it is he who was called the Devil in the old days. I was very curious about him and asked at once when I was 'inside', by which they mean a member of the cult: 'Who and what is called the Devil?' Though members of the cult never use and, indeed, dislike term, they knew what I meant and said: 'You know him, the leader. He is the high priest, the high priestess's husband.'"

"The high priestess' husband is beating his wife," I instinctively thought, missing Gardner's point by a good mile. "And that's wrong!" And then I got really upset and kind of had a brain spasm. I think my nose bled a little bit.

Since then, I've learned not to interpret my mother's adages so literally.

These days, whenever I see a sunshower, I picture myself in the future, relaxing on one of the the balconies of my Tudor-style mansion (my fantasy, my rules), while my brother's children play idly nearby. Suddenly, even though it's a nice, sunny, summer day, it starts to rain.

"Hey! It's not supposed to rain when it's sunny," say Oscar and Sevilla, both of whom see me as the go-to person any time logic and order need to be re-established in the world. "This is wrong!"

"Darlings, this just happens sometimes," I say. "It's called a sunshower. Whenever there's a sunshower, it means that the Devil is washing the dishes and doing the laundry. You know, pulling his weight for a change, instead of expecting these things to just magically happen by themselves. Because his wife is a smart, talented woman with a wildly successful career and a life of her own outside of this house. And because taking care of a family is a partnership, not the outdated, misogynistic, indentured servitude the Phallocracy wants you to believe it is. There should be sunshowers all the time."

I'm going to be an amazing uncle. I can tell.

6 comments:

Thalia said...

That's awesome.

I was told once that when the sun shines when it's snowing (though I think raining works too), that that is the time the foxes have their weddings. It is dangerous to be outside then.

Evn said...

Oh, that's very cool. It sounds totally Otherworld, you know?

Thalia said...

Yes it does, with the danger and the in-betweenness of sun and rain at the same time.

Evn said...

A fox wedding during a sunshower would make a gorgeous painting. I may have to commission an artist or something...

harmonyfb said...

Oh. My. God. You are the ONLY other person I've ever known who had their mother tell them that! My mom always said it meant 'the devil is whipping his wife'.

I mean, honestly. WTF?

And the worst part is...I've found myself repeating it to MY kids, even though it makes no sense whatsoever even for a Christian, let alone a big ol' heathen like me.

I worry it's just the precursor to some other stuff my mom used to say, like "if you keep making that face, it'll stick like that".

Evn said...

You are the ONLY other person I've ever known who had their mother tell them that!

Camaraderie is a beautiful thing.

(grin)

I worry it's just the precursor to some other stuff my mom used to say, like "if you keep making that face, it'll stick like that".

I wouldn't worry too much. Some of my mother's other memorable quotes include, "I don't care what anyone says: you do not look like Al Gore. No son of mine resembles a democrat."