My father is Maltese. Yes, Maltese like the cross. Yes, like the dog. And no, it is NOT where malt beverages were invented. I get asked that more than you would believe. My dad was born in Hamrun, Malta on June 18th, 1950. He immigrated with his family, to Ellis Island, on December 5th, 1952, which coincidentally also happened to be my mother’s first birthday. His family settled in Detroit, Michigan, where he later met and married my mother. I was born in Wyandotte, just south of Detroit but still in the same county. It is similar to someone being “from Atlanta” but living in Sandy Springs or Roswell, both of which are included in the greater Atlanta area or Fulton County.
I am a first generation Maltese-American. From Detroit. Currently living in Winder, Georgia. (one of these things is not like the other…)
My mom is German-Jewish-Dutch, so I feel like kind of a hybrid white girl. With totally non-white girl hair.
Now, I live in the South. Where humidity rules the atmosphere like an oppressive, angry god, and smooth, sleek Pantene hair, preferably rolled the night before and/or flat-ironed, are the only acceptable coiffures of all good Christian, Southern ladies. Somewhere, somehow I hear God and all His heavenly hosts laughing at my expense.
Also, if you don’t know anything about Winder, which, really, why would you?…we are 20 miles west of Athens, the home of the blessed Georgia Bulldogs. We live in what is known as “Dawg Country.” That is not a misspelling. Come September, red and black become the unspoken required color code of all the otherwise conservative inhabitants of our city. People here take three things VERY seriously: God, guns, and them Dawgs.
I can’t even write that and not feel awkward about myself.
College football was never a priority in our home, simply because my dad was the first in his family to even attend college and graduate when I was 11 years old. Add the fact that I married a man whose father worked his way through college, and didn’t have time for frivolous things such as spectator sports, and bought one of the first TRS-80s in the late 70s for he and his young son to “play with.” Read: I married a hardworking, turbo computer nerd who actually understands technology and loves it like Kip Dynamite.
Now, I am not saying that there aren’t those out there that love both technology and football. But I kind of believe that you either have the sports gene or you do not. I know some dads who love football, and try to coerce their begrudging sons to become lovers of the game, only to be disappointed or frustrated when little Bobby would rather read Walt Whitman and listen to The Cure. My brother and I grew up in the same household, and he loves football. For whatever reasons, though, my immediate family has neither nature nor nurture on our sides of this crucial all-American football matter.
At any rate, I married a man who simply couldn’t care less about sports, and for that I get on my knees and thank Jesus every day of my life during my morning prayers, especially during the fall. Instead of watching college football, we have family viewings of Lord of the Rings and discuss ways in which the movies differ from the books, followed by listening parties of Weird Al Yankovic albums.
I’m not kidding. My nine-year old’s favorite song?
She knows every word. Every. Word.
Now that I think of it…mine and Al’s hair look eerily similar…
Our sports of choice are karate and swimming; where being a small, skinny nerd actually works in your favor. And, they are co-ed, which truly helps cut down on the nights of the week that I have to run them all to different, gender-specific extracurricular activities.
How’s that for some nerdy efficiency?
So, just for kicks, let’s clarify all this again, shall we? I am a first generation, Maltese-American from Detroit, homeschooling nerd, with ethnic hair, who has a general disdain for spectator sports living in Dawg Country,
God. Help. ME.
I know that by typing this, I am outing myself and my poor family, risking our very lives with a potential attack by a mob of angry Bulldog fans. But I feel it is necessary, so there are no misunderstandings. Thus, I beseech you, Dawg fans and fellow citizens of Winder. Have mercy upon us. Remember that we are, first and foremost, Christian brothers and sisters. Even if only slightly first and foremost. What’s even more hilarious about all of this…I actually graduated from UGA. I am a holy and sanctified UGA alumna. During my entire college career, I only attended two games. I had no idea what was happening the whole time. I have never felt more out of place in my entire life.
So here we are. Football season has begun. The Bulldogs won their first game against Clemson, 45-21. My Facebook newsfeed is filled with status updates written by friends and loved ones in a strange language that I do not understand. Nowadays, instead of screaming at the television when a player makes a bad play or the referee makes a bad call, it is acceptable and customary to funnel all of your fury into a status update! So this is the time of year when I will happily take a Facebook respite. But don’t worry. I’m giving you all a taste of your own medicine when political season rolls around!
Stay tuned for part 2 of Growing Up Maltese: The Early Years.