So, I went to the Color Guard competition Saturday night. It was in a very northern area of Knoxville which I rarely visit. As I paid the parental extortion fee to watch my own child performing in her half a grand a semester activity while wearing 50 dollars of makeup, the person collecting the fee told me I needed to get my hand stamped. I did what I always do and asked questions instead of just being quiet and nodding my head in agreement. The money collector looked stunned that anyone would question the need for hand stamps and after a moment of being on the receiving end of the deer-in-headlights look, I was politely told, “You’ll need it for readmission.” I don’t know if I looked unsatisfied with that answer or someone felt sorry for the money collector who was really just a mom volunteering her time, but a voice in the crowd that sounded like a direct descendant of Jed Clampett shouted the answer I needed. “They won’t letcha smoke in the buildin’.” Have been hit on the head with the proverbial stupid stick, I smiled at the money collector and said, “Thanks for the stamp.”
Late Saturday night, I scrubbed the stamp off the back of my hand. One of the quickest ways to attract attention in the South on a Sunday is to have a stamp from the night before still visible on your hand. I did not want a long lecture from anyone who looked like my grandmother and I certainly didn’t want phone calls several times a week inviting me to a Baptist Women gathering. Doug absent-mindedly wore his hand stamp all day Sunday. I can’t decide if I want to blame his innocence on too much time spent in New Jersey or sexism in Baptist churches. Either way, I wouldn’t want anyone thinking I was running in and out of the high school gym to smoke cigarettes all night. I could just say I was out club-hopping with my five children. Two dogs. Two cats. And a snake.