The Name ~

“Known commonly as the jackass, this long-eared  little creature is respected throughout the southwest, roundly cursed yet respected, and here he is usually referred to by his Spanish  name, burro. Because of his extraordinary bray, he is sometimes ironically  called the “Arizona Nightingale.” ~ Administration in the State of Arizona

When I think of the word jackass, many things come to mind ~ the donkey, the north end of a southbound mule, the person who just isn’t doing IT right, sweet terms of endearment and, my favorite, the nickname.

Growing up in the South, with southern parents, the southern way of life, southern cooking and southern playing, none of us kids were immune to the butt whipping that something ensued when we didn’t act ‘just so,” according to the Southern rules of tradition or if one parent mentioned another parent “your kid didn’t treat my kid right” so do something.

Mind you, jackass was not considered an appropriate term for kids to use, even if we were from the south. It was the era of the double-standard ~ don’t do what I do, don’t say what I say, do what you are supposed to do. Simple enough, right? Wrong. Especially when toting the nickname of Jackass. Honest! Cross my heart! My uncle, God love him, made me believe that Jackass was actually my name, and I answered to it. For a while there, I didn’t even know I had another name that sounded much more appealing! It was a very sheltered life. More specifically, I sort of felt like I should be living in the barn with that name hung on me. But I hung on to it, didn’t even question it, until I made a boo boo.

One thing you never, EVER, do in the south is lie to a parent. Everything is forgivable in this world except when you lie to mom or dad. Even if it’s about a donkey, except in the verbal form of jackass.

The uncle in question who gave me the nickname had a daughter. My cousin. A real pain in the butt, at times. Loved her tremendously but she was jealous of everything and everybody, and would do all she could to get you back if she thought she had been slighted in any way possible. Psychologists would call that self-esteem issues today; we just called her a royal pain in the rear. Actually, a jackass. Because she was.I told her, too. Never truly understood the concept of what ‘a’ jackass until I realized that was exactly what she was! Needless to say, that didn’t set well with her, me telling her the honest to goodness truth such as I did, but she stomped off and I thought it was over. I mean really, I had the last word, wasn’t that it?

Afraid not. I eased on over to my house (we lived beside each other and she walked home). My dad, sweetest, gentlest man I know, was standing in the dining room. Dad and I have always been close but he was just a little too smooth this particular afternoon. He asked questions and I answered them, thinking that he was up to something. Boy, I figured that one out quick when he point blank asked me if I called my cousin a jackass and, quick as lightening, I said NO! Why? Why? Why did I say that? It wasn’t true! But wait, he didn’t know that, did he? So I stood my ground, swearing up and down that I did NOT call her an unladylike body part. Imagine how dumb I felt when he just told me to stop, she had told her parents (meaning the uncle that gave me the nickname to start with!), they had called him, and told him how completely unladylike I was because I called THEIR daughter a jackass!

My dad didn’t give me spankings in our lifetime’s but when he did, you didn’t have to guess why you were getting one. He calmly explained it to you so you would understand and never make that particular boo boo again! So, he told me it was my turn, that I had lied to him.  Golly, I hated to displease my dad, he’s just so cool, but I knew what I did was wrong. The best part of it, though, was when he looked me in the eye and said that he wasn’t giving me the whipping because I had called cousin a jackass, because she IS a jackass (he said!), it’s only because you lied.

Until the day he died, I never lied to him again. The truth might not always have been pretty but it was still the truth. I remembered the lesson. And his agreement. The nickname is still around.


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