Sunday, June 3, 2012
“The summer Sundays are the worst,” says Marcy, bouncing three-year-old Andy on a blue-jeaned knee. It’s one in the afternoon. She’s already been to church and to her 12-step meeting for women, the one where the kids are watched over for an hour in an adjoining room. After that, she goes to Starbucks for coffee with some of the other mothers and they take over one of the big central tables and talk about their week.
According to Marcy, the talk is always pretty much the same. A lot of the women are single mothers in low-paying jobs and just last month the county once again reduced the amount of food stamps people in their social category get. There was outrage around the table but no plan for action. A few spoke with priests and probation officers, and fewer still got some foodstuff from their churches—nothing perishable, sodas, cake mixes, cans of soup and peas and corn. On Fridays, some dentists’ offices hand out free toothbrush and tubes of Colgate
The women admit they’re largely invisible. The fathers of their children aren’t around. Some are in jail or prison, others have simply vanished. One or two women have mates doing construction out of state, but by and large they make do by themselves.
Sundays are the worst because for most people it’s family day which is tough when there’s no family, so once a month in the spring and summer a dozen or so women get together, buy burgers and hot dogs and buns and softdrinks and maybe a case or two of Bud Lite and go to a park and have a picnic. They have to leave the beer in coolers in the trunks of their cars because nominally you can’t consume alcoholic beverages on state or county property. They don’t mind that though they’ll all laugh and tell you what a big deal the men make out of a rule like that. If the men are around, some of them act like badasses and flaunt their cans of Bud, which is pretty silly. “Dumb bastards,” says Marcy.
The kids play on swings and slide and the adults keeps an eye out for potential weirdos, and all in all every one has a pretty good time.
Marcy wears a wedding ring but will readily admit there never was a ceremony. She and her then-boyfriend Joe woke up one morning a couple of months before Andy was born and decided they would be married, and so, as far as they were concerned, they were. They both figured it really wasn’t anyone’s business but their own. Then Joe, who had 18 months in NA and a job delivering car parts to garages, Joe met a Japanese car mechanic who every day at six a.m. before work got fixed up at a methadone clinic. Joe and the mechanic got along well, though Marcy didn’t like the man, he tried to grab her ass once when Joe wasn’t in the room and then pretended he was drunk, it was an accident. The mechanic told Joe he could set him up with some meth at a really good price. Joe could sell most of it and make some nice money and still have a little left over for Saturday night. Joe never mentioned any of this to Marcy, she found out about it after he was busted, his very first day as a dealer and he sells to a narc. Joe had a few priors, nothing really serious, a couple of drunks-in-public, a reckless driving charge he never bothered to contest so there was a warrant out, and that was that. It was in September, a month when the county decides to get the dealers off the streets because school just started and the yellow “This Is a Drug Free Zone” don’t scare anyone very much, so Joe just got caught up in the sweep, and there was enough meth to justify a possession with intent to distribute. A felony, that, instead of just holding which would have been a misdemeanor.
Marcy’s pretty certain she and Joe will not get back together. She visited him twice and that didn’t go well. She sent him a couple of letters but he hasn’t responded and he never showed much interest in little Andy from the start. She has a pretty good sense of humor about it all. “Fuck ‘em if they can’t take a joke” is the philosophy she operates by right now. She’ll get by, she and the other women look after each other.
All of which explains why Marcy is spending the day with, Andy, whom she plans to take to a friend’s community swimming pool later in the afternoon if it doesn’t storm, which the morning paper says it will.