The Carolynn Chronicles, Volume 4- Welcome to Carolynnland. Please remain seated until the Captain has turned off the seatbelt sign

I can’t even remember who coined the word.  I’d like to take the credit, but in all honesty it could have been any number of people.  “Carolynnland” has for years been what our family and close friends like to refer to as my mother’s alternate reality.  The perfect little existence which she has created in her mind for those times when the truth may be too horrible, too confusing, or too unladylike to bear.

Example: My mother has no professional training in the automotive field.  However, I have numerous memories from my childhood and youth of her constantly diagnosing every symptom, every ping, and every strange sound coming from underneath the hood of our car.  Whenever there would be anything wrong with the car- and I do mean anything (flat tire, out of gas, window wouldn’t roll down properly, whatever) she would very matter-of-factly turn to me and Jessica and say, “It’s the alternator.”  Just between you and me, I’m not 100% convinced that my mother even knows what an alternator is, where it is located, or what function it serves.  I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t.  Driving a Ford Tempo from the 80’s gave my mother, whom we lovingly nicknamed “Mike the mechanic”, ample opportunity for diagnosing.  Love her heart.  In Carolynnland there is only one reason your car would ever be giving you trouble and according to “Mike” it’s always gonna be your alternator.

Jess and I realized early on that our mother was different than most.  She wasn’t like some of the mothers of our other friends.  My mother had very specific ideas and ideals about a number of topics.  They weren’t always popular with me and Jess, but they were respected and followed nonetheless.

Carolynn has always had very strong opinions and was not in the least little bit ashamed to voice them.  Jessica and I were not allowed to wear red lipstick or red nail polish until the age of 16 because, quite frankly, according to Carolynn it was “trashy” on young girls.  “Trashy” became a very well-used word in the Elder household especially during our formative teenage years.  The “trashy” category was not limited to cosmetics, however.  Also falling into that category was smoking, burping, cursing, calling boys on the phone, getting a tatoo (and YES, calling boys on the phone and getting a tatoo WERE equally as trashy in Carolynnland), chewing gum with your mouth open, having your ears pierced more than once, and the ever-so-offensive nude pantyhose.  Not all pantyhose, just the nude-colored hose.  Those particular hose, for some reason, needed to be reserved for older girls.  Girls under the age of 16 were to wear white, black, blue, red, or pink hose so declared the mayor of Carolynnland.  I’m fairly certain that out of the majority of our friends Jessica and I were the last to be allowed to wear pantyhose.  Out of the majority of the entire world, really.

In Carolynnland young girls are supposed to be sweet little beings with cherubic, non-made up faces.  Powder WAS allowed in junior as well as lip gloss, but only in the sheerest of colors.  Don’t even bother entertaining the thought of asking about eye shadow or eyeliner.  These “trashy” products would not be allowed until sometime right before high school.  All of this may serve to explain why on my 16th birthday my only gift request was an entire case of blood-red nail polish and that is exactly what Tripp and Carolynn gave me.  Oh, happy day (sarcasm).

Ironically, even with all of these unconventional rules that Jess and I had, we still had friends who enjoyed spending time with us.  If you were a friend of ours, though, you knew that there would be certain rules in our home that you may not find elsewhere.  One of my favorite categories of Carolynn rules were her choices of acceptable and non-acceptable programming for both television and movies.  Here is just a fraction of some of those rules- Jess and I were not allowed to watch “Laverne and Shirley” because they worked in a beer-bottling factory.  I’m guessing this made them “trashy”.  We were not allowed to watch “Three’s Company” because it portrayed a man living with two women.  This was just the proverbial tip of the ice burg.  (Seriously though, none of this should come as a shock to any of us since these rules are coming from the same woman who would not allow us to play with Barbie dolls as young children because she believed they would send us unrealistic messages about out body image.)  You already know her violently strong feelings toward the movie “Mask” (previous blog), but my all-time favorite was her insisting that we would not be allowed to watch  “Back to the Future”.  What gives, you ask?  I’m gonna stop here for a moment to give you a few seconds to ponder what you think her reasoning for this might have been….. tick, tick, tick…… still wondering?…..wait for it, wait for it…..okay, are you ready for this?  Jess and I were not allowed to watch “Back to the Future” because Carolynn said- in her own words- that she thought it might be too “sexually confusing” for us.  Obviously my mother feared that Jess and I would somehow be sucked back into the 1950’s while zooming down the street in a Delorean, accidentally bump into our father, and then fall in love with him!  Ummm…. I’m thinking “no”.  We still like to give her grief about this one!  🙂

Although we’ve given my mom a hard time about it, I must admit that I’ve often thought Carolynnland would be a wonderful place to live, even if only for a while.  Life can be tough.  We can all attest to that fact.  My mother’s motto is that no one should be forced to live in reality if they don’t want to.  It’s really not such a bad idea if you think about it.

I fully believe that Carolynn’s alternate universe is completely intentional and sometimes necessary.  Her funny rules and quirky theories have help to mold Jessica and me into the women we are today.  I must admit though, that deep down I still love to SLATHER on red lipstick at each chance I get.  I always feel like I’m being a little rebellious and “trashy”! 

My mother is an intelligent, beautiful, God-fearing, Southern woman and she’s just trying to create her world as SHE would like for it to exist.  If we’re being honest, wouldn’t we all like to have a little taste of that?  Our perfect world, if even just for a moment?  I know I would.  Amandaland, here I come!  🙂

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5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Pat Lenzini
    Jan 22, 2010 @ 10:47:38

    I LOVE the story about her Knowledge!! Alternator That is soooooooooo funny!!

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  2. mandaclair
    Jan 23, 2010 @ 10:17:44

    She’s so funny, Pat!

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  3. Stephen Nelson
    Jan 23, 2010 @ 10:26:41

    I always have to ask what the color of the sky is in Carolynnland on any particular day.

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  4. mandaclair
    Jan 23, 2010 @ 10:34:58

    Hahahaha, Steve! I was on the phone with my mom when I read your comment and she said to tell you that you are one of her favorite visitors to Carolynnland! 🙂

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  5. Mom
    Jan 31, 2010 @ 19:11:45

    The reason they were not allowed to watch LaVerne & Shirley was because they (L & S, not A & J) were so stupid and chased men all the time. i was very selective re my daughters’ role models. And as you can see, it paid off beautifully.

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