- Numbers are acceptable names for children. One of our little trailer park friends was named "Seven". I know what you're thinking - "Sad. They ran out of names by their seventh child". No. As I recall, he was child number 2. I just remember that he was slightly dirty all the time, and once while he was doing some excavation work in his front yard, (he was digging a big hole - looking for pirate treasure no doubt), accidentally dug his shovel of death into my sister's forehead. (At least I think it was an accident). His mom, Toni came running down the street carrying my limp sister, covered in her blood and yelling for my father. I will never forget how her blood was everywhere. I thought she was dead. Turned out she just needed a few stitches. ( I was a bit of a dramatic child.)
- Goats are acceptable domestic pets. There was a woman that lived near us that we called "the Goat Lady". Unlike "Seven", this is self explanatory. She had goats just a roamin' all around her trailer. This is how I know what "goat stink" smells like, and the primary reason I will not eat the stinky goat cheese, I think. I would go in her kitchen and she would give me Tang. I had never had that space-aged-powdery-elixir before and ever after felt quite ill-used that my parents made me drink stupid old real orange juice.
- If there is a field next to your trailer park... and it has a fence... and a "no trespassing" sign... you are not welcome there. Furthermore, there's a pretty good chance that you will find yourself, literally running for your life from Cujo's slightly bigger, uglier and meaner brother. He might also have an ironic name, like Fluffy, because even vicious dog owners can have a sense of humor. The lesson here ? Survival of the fittest. In other words - you don't have to outrun the dog, you only have to outrun the kid next to you. (Actually, I learned this from an experience that my sister had (the same one with the shovel injury - she had a rough childhood). It was definitely not funny, but thankfully she was the skinniest and the fastest of the trespassers, and so was spared a lengthy hospital stay complete with, like one million stitches and full length body casts.) Seriously.
I knew nothing of ugly trailer park stereotypes. I knew nothing of children wandering around in moon boots and diapers. I knew nothing of dirty white tank tops and pants that covered only half of the wearer's "real estate". I knew nothing of eating squirrels or any other sundry rondenty kinds of animals. (Although I did eat my fair share of tuna casserole covered in Lays potato chips.) We were just normal families, in what we considered a normal neighborhood, living normal American lives. My parents worked hard, and eventually left the trailer park and built a home (without wheels) and did the American dream.
So... I was more than a little conflicted when I drove up to a trailer park where I was to leave my daughter for a birthday party being held by one of her school friends - and I didn't get any warm feelings of nostalgia. I just felt panic. The "yards" were dirty and full of rusty things... things that I didn't know could even rust. The air smelled like the smell you smell when you eat in a restaurant that has a Keno establishment/bar hidden in the back. The inside of the trailer was adorned with crosses and crucifixes (to ward off vampires I guess) and pictures of Jesus with sheep... and a picture of an old man praying over his bread and soup. The same picture that hung above the table in the trailer where I grew up (and every place we lived after that.) We called him "Old Man, Bread and Soup" (I know original) and teased my mother about that picture all the time.
I couldn't help but smile faintly around my fear and then breathe a sigh of relief when I found out that one of the other moms from school was staying with our children. I guess that, in the end, there really is no going home, but there's also no getting away from home either. Especially if that home has wheels - like a trailer, or a big rig truck.
ps- the youtube version of "Convoy" in the link is not the original version - I thought it was funny that someone else liked it enough to remake it. Rad.