Friday, November 6, 2009

Judy, Judy, Judy

Today's word: oreodont.  Definition: Any of various extinct sheep-sized ruminant artiodactyls of the family Merycoidodontidae, widespread during part of the Tertiary in North America.

Cross-referenced sub-definition for those of us who understood nothing after sheep-sized:  artiodactyl means a hoofed mammal that has an even number of toes on each foot.

I'm was trying not to get hung up on the "oreo" part of this word, since I dwelled on doughnuts in my last post, but I've really been on a kick lately with "milk's favorite cookie."  Oreos hold a special place in my heart, largely because I spent every Saturday morning as a kid with a huge stack of them, a cold glass of milk, and Muppet Babies on TV.  

I'm a bit of an Oreo purist -- I don't do double stuff or mint or peanut butter or golden or whatever the hell else they have out on the market these days.  I like 'em simple and I like 'em a little soggy, and I especially like 'em in ice cream.  Every time I go to Dairy Queen, I intend to try something new, and inevitably I walk out with an Oreo Blizzard.  If I could have one of those and a mocha frappuccino every day, I'd be in heaven. I'd be 400 lbs. and broke, but I'd be in heaven.

So there's the first part of "oreodont," but I should probably address what it means.  I don't know much about sheep, other than I've heard they're super dumb and just will not stop screaming, despite rigorous analysis by institutionalized cannibalistic psychopaths.

But my first memory is actually of a sheep, a stuffed lamb that someone gave to my sister when she was born.  It might have been the fact that she was ill that cemented this memory in my head, because I also remember the little oxygen tent and standing on our driveway when my dad came home from the hospital.  Is 2 years 11 months too young to have a memory?  

In any case, getting a sister seems like as good a time as any to start remembering things, although I don't recall walking into her room while she was sleeping and flipping on the light in protest.  Evidently I was quite the little shit those first few months. Apparently I told my mother I was going to lock myself in my bedroom until I got a brother.  I would still be there.

The story my family and friends love to tell about me, and the one I will share with you now, involves me wanting, and I quote, "a little black baby named Judy."  I don't know where I got this idea, but according to my parents, when anyone asked them what our new family addition was going to be, I responded with this phrase. This declaration must have seemed perfectly reasonable to me, and I proclaimed it joyfully to whoever would listen.  (I talked early and coherently ... and I talked a lot. I'm quite sure I'm getting several motormouthed offspring in retribution.)

But alas, when delivery day arrived, out popped yet another white kid of German-Russian heritage, to be named not Judy but Meghan and who would never sprout an afro.  I, on the other hand, would rock the 'fro from second grade until seventh, courtesy of bad perms.

I'm not sure this dream of mine has completely died, however, since I've always wanted to adopt children and would be delighted if they were of a different ethnicity.  And I'm not alone.  I was recently talking with a friend about how beautiful multi-racial kids are, and she confessed that she's always wanted an African-American baby ... with apologies to her husband, who is as white as she is. Since they plan to conceive the old-fashioned way, I asked her husband what he planned to do about that.  His reply: "Work late?"
I don't think my dad spent too many neglectful nights at the office, judging by the fact that my sister looks just like him, and I look just like my mom.  My sister and I look nothing like each other, and though I've always been curious about how it would feel to be instantly recognizable as siblings, I've never truly lamented the fact that we each have our separate identities. (I've also never held a grudge against her skin color, which would have been an instant conversation-starter for awhile there.)

In the end, what binds us together isn't eye color or bone structure -- it's knowing someone who's known you since the beginning, the person you made your first memories with. Mine started with a lamb.


The Warden Family said...

"A little black baby named Judy" I can't believe that I didn't know this story. That is hilarious. Especially from a young girl in rural South Dakota. I'm trying to think of how many African Americans lived in Milbank during our time. Any?

Pearl said...

I remember, growing up in central and northern Minnesota in the 60s, thinking how exotic black people were and how I would've given anything to be one, to never have to be so pale... :-)