Life In Alabama, Finding Common Ground

Awareness of the outside world. The best reactions to Birmingham’s new Miss Fancy elephant statue, Smith, Dec. 11, 2022.


Spotted crossing into Alabama.

[Midwestern Mounts]

When you disagree with the people around you on every possible social, cultural, and political issue, the thing that brings you together has to be exceptionally strong. It is for horses. It wasn’t for firefighting.

There were other reasons that I stopped volunteering as a firefighter.

I got busy with horses. Yay.

I was bad at it. Boo.

This is not me fishing for compliments. There are things I am good at – horses, handcrafts. There are things I am bad at – dancing, firefighting. I took the extensive volunteer training course. I took a special short course on pumpers. I still cannot get water in one end of a pump and out the other.

I remember standing in front of our old pumper while the Chief explained the operation of the front-mounted pump. I could feel – literally feel – the information draining back out of my head as he spoke.

Where are the lead shanks for the show? Over there in that one of three identical tack boxes. Piece of equipment X is behind which roll-up door on the engine? Huh …

I could not safely provide the level of competence that other people legit should have been able to expect of me given how long I had been there.

But I have wandered into the weeds.

So, safety was the biggest factor. Alienation wasn’t the biggest factor, but it was one of them.

At the one year anniversary of 9/11, we represented at a local church service. The speaker did not quite go as far as the Sodom & Gomorrah argument that we deserved it, but they flirted with it. Then, they went on to discuss a variety of social issues, on all of which I held the opposing point of view.

If I hadn’t been in uniform, I would have gotten up and walked out.

I liked firefighting. I sometimes think about going back. It’s been long enough that the expectations would be lower and therefore ones that I could meet competently and safely. Is my interest strong enough to overcome the social distance?

On the other hand, horses.

In the first place, points of opposition simply don’t come up. Horse people can go away for a horse show and talk about nothing but horses all weekend.

And then, I cut the situation more slack.

As an example, makeup.

In general, I am not a fan of makeup. In specific, it has no place in sport.

I have no inherent objections to the concept of facial modification. Wanna dye your hair purple and paint roses on your face? Rock on. What I object to in the cosmetics industry is the message that you are not beautiful, that you are not enough as you are. Dye your hair. Have surgery on your face. Make your eyes bigger, your skin smoother, your face flushed. You must change. Look younger. Look sexier.


One could make the argument that horse show makeup is along the lines of theatrical makeup. Helping you to be seen by your audience, i.e. the judge. I’ve made this argument.

“Conversely, I am much happier with this look. It leaves behind thorny issues on the hyper-sexualization of women and enters the realm of theater. This I can live with. … Or maybe I just don’t do subtle.” [Shopping: Make-up]

But really, it would be a better justification if all performers wore makeup, as they do on stage. When only one subset of the group is doing so, you are back to the narrative that something is different for subset. They must look, do, behave differently to be allowed on the playing field.

Again, no.

Plus, how my horse goes should have nothing to do with how supposedly pretty my eyes are. Watch the horse, dude.

But I digress.

The point is, despite all the words I am willing to spill on the subject, I was also willing to sit down and have my face painted if that was what it took to ride.

Photo by Mom

“She said this proves that I will do almost anything to get on a horse.” [Things My Momma Told Me]

When you disagree with the people around you on every possible social, cultural, and political issue, the thing that brings you together has to be exceptionally strong.

Previous post. [Life in Alabama, Being a Bad Blue Dot In A Really Red State]


2 thoughts on “Life In Alabama, Finding Common Ground

  1. Following the links back to the 2014 show was a lovely trip down memory lane. Thank you. That was a fun weekend!

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