Resolved: Be More Like Madea

The New Year is upon us. Like many I have given consideration to my New Year’s resolutions. I have one failed resolution that I have made over and over for many years. It goes something like this: this year, I will not be so outspoken.

Age, old age, is an excuse for many things: you can talk to people on elevators without being arrested, flirt with young men for the fun of it, and give advice no one listens to or cares to hear.

Last year, I resolved to share my opinions only with my dogs, Sassy and Jipper. I think that resolution was broken by 9:45 am January 2. This year I am dispensing with any resolutions. Even, my favorite January resolution which is to resolve to exercise on a regular basis. I can’t keep this one either, though, I did set out on a brisk walk once this past October. If you count rolling out the garbage can on Thursday, well, I semi-completed this resolution.

Resolutions work like this with me. They irritate my dogs and just thinking about them makes me irascible. At my extended age changing a stubborn personality like mine is like trying to teach a pig to sing. It is not that I don’t believe in resolutions. I do. I am just too old, too impatient, and too head strong. Also, I have reached an age of freedom, an age of crankiness.

And speaking of cranky, I am so tired of developers who have chopped down acres and acres of trees and emaciated our community. One new developer has recently destroyed approximately 30 acres of pine trees. Tore them out of the earth, one by one. These pine trees were planted in the 1940s by Will Sherrill, one of Shuffletown’s dearest characters. This act of clearing acres of trees is what I consider a “crime against nature and our community.” This makes me cranky.

Age, old age, is an excuse for many things: you can talk to people on elevators without being arrested, flirt with young men for the fun of it, and give advice no one listens to or cares to hear. If I feel like it…I will wear unmatched shoes and odd clothing, but I promise to never show my belly button.

I have pretty much acted like this most of my life, but now I am older and I have an excuse. I can wear funny hats and sleep on the couch until 3 am, if I feel like it. Aging is good. Recently, I kept showing a police officer photos of my grandchildren while I searched through my purse for my driver’s license. This action garnered me a warning, not a speeding ticket.

Most of all, I can tell a teenager exactly how I feel about what is right and what is wrong without them running away. Usually this is because I am holding onto their clothing. This is my 2008 resolution. I am free to be me and those who seek to run away. I will honor their decision.

Well, I do have one 2008 resolution. I am going to do my best to avoid being politically correct. Unless, of course, it would get me arrested, then I will keep my mouth shut as best I can.

Maybe this is because I have a new mentor and there is nothing that is politically correct about this matriarch. Her name is Madea. Let me tell you about her. Madea is a character invented by Tyler Perry. You might have seen one of the movies based on her? My favorite movie is, “Madea’s Family Reunion.”

I did not know this, but “Madea” or “ Madear” is a Southern name for a grandmother. It is shortened form of “Mother Dear.” In the movies, Madea is a fictional character who is short-tempered, cusses like a sailor, and is not above a good brawl. She prefers casinos to church service, but each movie has a deep religious meaning. She lives in a fictional community near Atlanta. Her home and her heart are open to any child or adult in need. Madea is a pillar of strength in the community. She is always trying to tame a child who won’t attend school or breaks the law. And when all else fails, Madea will give them a good whooping. There is not much about Madea that is politically correct. That is why I like her so much.

Exaggeration is her strength. In one movie she claimed that Rosa Parks stole Madea’s man and that Rosa wouldn’t get off the bus because Madea was going to shoot her. Madea has had approximately seventeen husbands, but who’s counting.

In one movie while trying to make a point to a semi-outlaw she states, “I’m a thug. I’m a real thug! I shot Tupac!”

Madea’s advice for one woman who came to her house to hide from her husband because he was beating her was potentially crime-laden, but so is wife beating. Madea explained to her the importance of preparing grits for her husband. “This is what you do,” Madea said, “You invite him to breakfast, sit him down at the table and cook up a pot of grits. When those grits are bubbling and boiling, you move over like you are going to pour them into a bowl…then you pour them all over him.”

After a pause, Madea continues. “This is a two part cooking procedure. You then pick up your iron frying pan and slap him in the head with it. That’ll take care of that problem.” If he does not have a taste for grits, Madea has a recipe for a sweet potato pie that will eternally cure the wife beater.

Madea believes in the children she is trying to save, “They’ll be all right. Ain’t nothing wrong with these children. All they need is some love, support, and someone to be a little patient with them, and they’ll be alright.”

She has her rules, “honey, when I tell a child to do something, it ain’t no conversation. It ain’t no negotiation. They get up and do what the hell I told them to do.”

Madea encourages revenge, the best revenge. She believes that the only way to prove them wrong is to live well.

Tyler Perry, a writer and a comedian, has created a character who rears children and talks to adults like they have good sense. Tyler writes characters that are supposed to appeal to a black audience, but his movies and plays reach beyond race, creed, and touches the truth of religion. His characters touch upon the lives of all people. All who reach for a higher moral ground. They deal with real problems. The teaching of the movies, in my opinion, is that God forgives, but he is also to be obeyed. This is good to remember in a world where everyone acts like there are no consequences to their actions, particularly politicians and developers.

Who ever you are. Whatever your circumstances. You will find great wisdom in the rantings and ravings of Madea. Open your heart and laugh. Madea’s people are just folks trying to make sense in a world spinning out of control. They are us, you and me and our neighbors next door.

I recently read a book by the Dali Lama in which he stated that the more people he met in the many countries he visited he was struck by one thing…our sameness. We all want shelter, food, and peace. I would like to add shade trees to that list.

Instead this year, I resolve to not separate people into politically correct categories. These politically correct terms separate us. They do not bind a country together. They separate us into categories when we are all God’s children.

We all should have a Madea to guide us into 2008, especially those sub-division builders who do not consider Shuffletown and the west side of Charlotte important enough to honor our rural heritage. If they want to speak with me about it, come for breakfast. We’re having grits.

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