Greetings from the Ridge.
Lillian Ferguson was a flibberjibbet. No other word for it. When I was a young girl growing up on the Ridge, Lillian provided hours of pleasure and amusement for the neighborhood by simply being herself. She was the most innocently audacious woman I’d ever met and she reached the zenith of her idiocy when she’d hang her underwear on the clothesline.
Most folks in those days still used the sunshine and air to dry their washing, but most folks had the good sense to put the clothesline behind their house. Lillian had her twin poles set directly north of her home, thus giving all passing cars a sidelong glance at whatever was hanging there. And anyone who’s familiar with the old-fashioned way of drying laundry knows that every garment looks bigger when hanging on a line. Such was the case with Lillian’s underthings. All this could be overlooked since in a small town we pretty much know all your secrets anyway, but the astounding thing about the Lillian’s Drawers incident is that the woman was completely insulted when anyone would notice.
A stray comment like, “I see you did laundry today, Lillian,” or “Love that new slip you’ve got out on the line,” would send her into fits of consternation. Her face would redden and she’d sputter something about minding our own business. Heck, she was the one who chose to hang her dainties in full view of God and the rest of the Methodists.
What was the woman thinking? How dense could she possibly be? It had been years since I’d thought of Lillian and her bloomers blowing in the breeze until I started reading accounts of Internet piracy and spying by governments, corporations and individuals. Oh, I don’t in any way condone this sort of technological voyeurism but it made me wonder about anyone who would put their secrets out onto the most public forum ever invented then be startled when someone read it. There’s surely a reason they call it the World Wide Web and not the Who Would Wonder? As in the case of Lillian, I’ve got to ask . . . What were you thinking?
My Uncle Harris always said, “If you’re mad at a fella, don’t write him a letter. Tell him face to face.” The wise old man knew that most disagreements are settled after a time but once the words go down in writing that letter can be kept and re-read. I’ve heard teenagers who are aghast when they post things on their Facebook page then find that someone has actually seen it. Perhaps our colleges could create a new course of study simply called, “Duh!”
Eighty percent of colleges say that they check out their prospective students on the social networks while considering their admission, and a whole generation of young job applicants are astounded to be questioned about their party-hearty or obscene postings when applying for a job. One young lady told the Huffington Post that she felt it was unfair when the personnel office of the accounting firm to which she had applied had found a picture of her lying on a beer-soaked floor of a cruise ship. “That’s none of their business!” she protested. I don’t know whether she got the job, but I suspect that many employers now have a large rubber stamp capable of marking “Duh!” on all such dunderheaded applications.
My friend Lannie was astounded that advertisements for the sort of things she bought kept popping up on her Facebook page and that every time she took some online quiz she’d start getting emails touting certain products. “Lannie, they’re tracking you,” I said. She was mortified. “How could they possible know?” I told her it was easy. In fact you could spell it “D-U-H.”
Lillian finally bought herself a clothes drier and the town was no longer treated to the sight of her danties fluttering in the breeze. I missed them. We all did. Oh, no one really relished the sight of her rather spacious silk pants adorning the Coonridge landscape, but it was such a treat to witness Lillian’s exasperation when someone actually looked and made a comment. I miss the days before we started medicating mental problems. We’re losing our characters.
You ever in Coonridge, stop by. We may not answer the door but you'll enjoy the trip.