Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Theory 3: You should be nice to everyone you meet, because you will meet again, especially if you were not nice in the first place.

I have to start with my mother again. To protect her privacy, let’s call her by the nickname my cousin “Roscoe” gave her when he played college basketball. The players decided to give all their mamas nicknames. Well, Roscoe’s mama has a “donk” so they deemed her “Big Booty J” or “B.B.J.” for short. My mama sports colorful blouses that stretch across her well-endowed bosom and chandelier earrings that swish below her short black curly hair. And, at all times, she carries a drink and snacks, typically a tall fruity drink and popcorn or peanuts. Thus, the boys named her “Delicious D.” I’ll call her “Delicious” here on Theories: Size 12.

While Delicious is eccentric,  she’s also a great teacher in my life and the lives of others—in theory and example. My whole life, Delicious has beaten maxims into my brain, especially during our four years of driving to and from high school together. She taught at my school, or should I say, I attended hers? I had no social life, so we were pretty much together  24 hours a day. I mean, I couldn’t skip school because she would notice I was not in the passenger seat. Maybe. So, I sat, listened, and learned. One of her favorite lessons is “Be nice to everyone one you meet, because you will meet again.”

This Theory has played out over and over in my life, but I’m going to illustrate with two examples, in hopes that you avoid similar mistakes. In the first, Delicious is the instigator. In the second, I am the victim, until I am the victor!

Example 1: Delicious was shopping at The Kmart (in The South, stores names are amped up with the article The, as in The Wal-Mart, The Exxon, The Co-Op). Perhaps she was balancing a Styrofoam cup of Coca-Cola or pouring a plastic sleeve of peanuts through her Wine with Everything lips. Perhaps she just wasn’t paying attention, but Delicious made a driving error in the parking lot of The Kmart. A female driver behind her angrily honked, and Delicious flipped her The bird. As the woman—likely aghast at the obscene gesture—cruised by, Delicious peered into the driver’s window. There she spotted her now frowning co-worker and friend of 20 years, Mrs. R! What did Delicious do? She laid low, finished her peanuts, and washed them down with some ice cold refreshing Coca-Cola. Once Mrs. R was out of sight, Delicious peeled out in a flash of embarrassment.  She never apologized. She never admitted her sin. She simply hoped Mrs. R never noticed her in the first place. You see, in The South, you can just keep things soft, smooth, and simple by not confronting such situations. You can both pretend The Thing never happened. Delicious learned her lesson, and has not flipped The Bird in The Kmart parking lot since.

Example 2: Picture me, Mountain Mama, 20 pounds lighter (yay) 20 years ago, all decked out in a navy blue business suit, panty hose (yep), and taupe high heels. Painful, neutral, nervous shoes: taupe. The suit jacket did its best to conceal the professional woman’s enemy: giant boobs. I prayed the minimizer bra kept its promise. Taupe means business.  Boobs mean bimbo. I was one month away from graduating from The University of Tennessee and was as broke as a haint. A haint is a low class ghost who basically hangs around and harasses. Haints haint. Full of self-confidence with a touch of naiveté, I typed up a resume` and cover letter and set out to bust the world wide open, professionally speaking, beginning with downtown Knoxville. My first stop was Home Federal Bank. There, I planned to drop off my documents, give my practiced not-too-feminine, not-too-masculine handshake, and politely introduce myself to the director of human resources, who would no-doubt be impressed by my finance degree, outgoing personality, confident handshake, and taupe shoes. The receptionist said, “Thank you for your resume, but Mr. M doesn’t usually talk to anyone unless he calls you for an interview.” I replied, “Well, I am about to graduate and just need one moment of his time to introduce myself.” (I was coached at the UT Career Center to personally hand off my resume, make eye contact, use the handshake, etc. to increase my chances of a call back.) No deal at Home Federal. But, Mr. M did, just at that moment, open his office door and walk right into the room! I pounced, “Good morning, Mr. M. May I speak with you for just a moment?” Mr. M grumbled, did not make eye contact, and walked off.  For a human resources director, he did not act very human at all! Needless to say, I ended up working for another bank. About five years into my career, I was promoted to be branch manager of The Main Office! Whoop whoop! The first day on the job, I met my staff, which included………… MRS. M! What?!? Payback is a B. Well, it can be if you are a jerk. I was nice to MRS. M, though I admit I cut her zero slack. I felt sorry for her, being married to the non-human human resources officer, but, boy did I get a chuckle out of being her boss.

All this is to say, listen to Delicious and Bug. Be nice to everyone. Which reminds me of Theory 4: Don’t judge a woman by her accent or her breast size.

See you next post. Until then, think outside The Barn!

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Just thinking outside the barn...

Just thinking outside the barn...