Babysitters I. The picture is of Mrs. Cole. Be patient. Maybe in Part II.


My sister, if she ever talks to me again (unlikely), will back me up on everything in this post. Truth and nothing but.

We were white privilege and didn’t know it. No oodles of cash in our treasure chests. We knew rich people who lived just down the road a ways. Funny though. We never cared. Never thought about it. Because we were white and privileged somehow, I guess.

Let me repeat myself. We never thought about it. My parents went out for dinner, to parties, they were popular, because they were good looking and white and privileged. Or something like that. Which meant that my sister and I had to be looked after by babysitters. A whole bunch of babysitters.

Not kidding. There was Reba, and Lillian, and Jackie, and Pizzi, and Priscilla, and Emma, and Mrs. Cole, my cousin Ann, my grandparents on both sides, because we had grandparents on both sides. Today, though, we’re not concerned with the extended family.

There’s always good and bad. On that you can count. Reba was bad. Not that she was evil in any way. She was sad. And we could see it even at our tender age. Her idea of babysitting us was ironing. She ironed all the sheets and everything white she could find. She had gray hair and a bony face. She was a Moor. Most of you don’t know what that means. We here in South Jersey know. Because our babysitters tell us. They’re not white. They’re not black. They’re something in between. And you can see it in their faces. Like they’re Native Americans but not. Cheekbones, sharp eyes, and unlike Indians, not drunk all the time.

Reba was sad. She ignored us altogether. There was ironing to do. And she walked like the Frankenstein monster, arms outstretched, hands hanging limply from her wrists. We used to do impressions of her walking like that, my sister and me. Reba. We had nothing against her. But she was not Lillian.

Lillian was also a Moor. Very very Native American looking. And THE coolest broad on earth. She was an outcast in the Moor community. She married Oliver, a black man. We liked him but he was a quiet man. Lillian was anything but quiet. She never made us go to bed at bedtime. She taught us how to play all the card games, gin rummy, 500 rummy, and poker, meaning both five card and seven card draw. She had a friend named Rosa, who was a total bitch, and she came and played cards with us, and Lillian kept winking at us about what a bitch Rosa was. She treated my sister and me like grown-ups. Can you imagine that?

I think Lillian was one of those Hopi witch doctors, sent by the Spirit Father to raise us right. We had more fun than you could possibly imagine.

She had a 1955 Chevrolet. Now they go for $20 to $30 thousand dollars. She let me drive it around our driveway when I was nine.

She smoked. I’d come back and give her the car keys, and she’d move the cig to the side of her mouth with her eyes all crinkled into slits, just laughing and laughing.

So┬ámy sis and I were white privileged racists, weren’t we?

And we’ve barely started. Next up, the Puerto Rican slut Jackie of the purple fingernails, the dark dark darkie Emma, who was the first person I ever prayed for, on my knees, and Mrs. Cole, shown up top.

An unbelievably cold woman. They lived in a house only Edward Hopper could have painted, in charcoal, black and white. I was in that house. She was made completely of bone. Two sons. Both with black and white shirts buttoned up to the chin. Her husband was laid off and drunk. She could iron but not as well as Reba. She never spoke to us at all.

Lived 500 yards away from us. Why she was the babysitter of last resort. Now I’m depressed. I’ll tell you more later.


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