work, or, on one legged lesbians who work at adult novelty shops, or, family values Memphis style, or, this is the world as best as I can remember it....
So I was repairing a lantern at work this morning.
The weather has been cool here in Memphis this week. Usually it the heat has started to flex a bit of muscle by now, which gets you bracing for the agony which will be here come August when you won't remember what cool is. The shop is in a metal building with no air conditioning and poor air circulation. It gets so hot that fans are pointless as they are just blowing hot air on you - one of the most irritating sensations in the world when your body wants nothing but some cool air. The little coppersmithing furnaces you see here (there are 13 or 14 of them clustered close together) and the much bigger blacksmiths' forges don't help.
It was good to see G.K.F. back to work today. She had a stroke recently. A heart attack in her 40s and now a stroke in her 50s, but I have no doubt we will be having conversations again soon when she takes a break to smoke her long skinny cigarettes out back and get a little respite from the inferno.
When we moved to Memphis some guy in a pressed Izod golf shirt at the C.S. Lewis society meeting was kind enough to inform us in as condescending a manner as possible that we had just moved into the "poor gay trash" neighborhood. That neighborhood is near my shop. Anyway, it turns out that Memphis does have a community of gays which is definitely not among the creative classes or bobos or the trendy sort of gays that one thinks of as gentrifying bad neighborhoods and all that wine and brie jazz. We even have dike motorcycle gangs here that do battle with other local gangs. Neat stuff.
Anyway, G.K.F. is among the "poor gay trash" that jackass was talking about. She grew up in a white trash (she describes it thus) family wherein her father beat the shit out of her, then married a white trash man who beat the shit of her, and eventually hooked up with a woman who she has been with for many years now. Their big hobby is bowling and they are in a local bowling club called Dikes & Strikes.
G.K.F.'s daughter also lives with her. The daughter is also a lesbian. The daughter only has one leg. Her missing leg went missing when she was hit by a truck while changing a tire on the side of a highway (Sam Cooper) which runs through Memphis. The daughter doesn't ever wear a prosthetic leg - I don't think she has insurance because she works at an adult novelty store and I don't suspect they offer health insurance. I would think their might be some charity somewhere for people who can't afford prosthetic limbs but G.K.F.'s daughter has a very strong "fuck you" attitude when you first meet her, and I sometimes wonder if she likes going around with a leg obviously missing just so that she can continue to glare and grunt at the people who stare at what is not there. Once the daughter (her initials are E.F., but I don't want to confuse this post with too many initials) helped me when I was working on my truck outside of my shop. She saw me with the hood up and the truck on ramps, asked what the problem was, upon hearing sighed, shook her head at me like I was a dumb ass, grabbed the wrench from my hand, and proceeded to fix the problem. No other words were exchanged except at the end when she was done and I offered to give her some cash and she told me to go to hell and then hopped away.
G.K.F.'s daughter has a son who is now maybe a little less than 2 years old. He is one of the cutest and most sweet hearted little kids I have ever met, which stands in stark contrast to his mother and grandmother, who can be a bit on the rough side, temperament wise, the first 4 or 5 years you know them (they do warm up to people with time). I don't think the daughter could afford to get artificially inseminated or whatever bourgeois lesbians do, so I assume G.K.F.'s daughter found some other way to get pregnant. Not that I would ever dare ask for those kinds of details - these people would answer that question at the drop of a hat.
G.K.F. was really hard on me when I first came to the shop, like she is with everybody when they are newbies at the shop, which is anybody who hasn't been there at least a few years. Things didn't really improve much when I was made foreman, a job which she felt she should have gotten. After my promotion and also the promotion of another guy from the shop floor who got the production manager position, she wrote to the grandmother of our boss to list all she had done in her (G.K.F.'s) years there and why she deserved the job. She was right, of course, her argument was sound, but had my boss made her foreman then half the shop would have quit, some of them because they were men who would never work under a lesbian, some of them because G.K.F. was the sort of person not afraid to make enemies. She is also a hardcore perfectionist who will always put getting the job done absolutely right over keeping production numbers up, which just doesn't work when the goal is to keep the owners living the good life. Anyway, when I admitted to her that she had been treated unfairly, and deserved my job more than I did, she and I warmed up to each other a bit. We took a foundry class at the metal museum together and during breaks she told me the story of her life. Like everybody else's story I guess, except with a few more instances of being beaten unconscious after not performing "good enough" fellatio after being forced to do so in order to "learn to like dick" than you hear in most people's stories.
The conversation with G.K.F. today was short and to the point, per usual. I told it was good to see her up and about and asked her how she was doing and she immediately showed me that even with her hand shaking she could still hold a metal blank well enough to set up a stop on the sheer. It's usually like that with G.K.F. - all business, her letting you know that she can do the job exactly as it needs to be done.
I saw her smile once, when on a break one day she was holding her grandson in the little cage within the shop that is G.K.F.'s area for working on antique hardware. She caught me seeing her smile (I was a bit dumbfounded at the sight of it) and she put on her stern face again. In reference to a conversation we had had years before this event, all she said was, "I won't let anyone hurt him."