Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Open Up Them Curtains

Upon picking up Perry’s Don’t Make a Black Women Take Off Her Earrings, I noticed the name “Madea” was larger font then the title of the book and Perry’s own name. I had to ask myself, “Who the hell is Madea?” Obviously she was notable. Along with the name, there was a large picture of who I took to be Madea taking up a quarter of the cover. I felt like I should know who this women was, yet I had never seen or heard of her in my life.

In the epilogue Perry defines Madea as the “southern term for “mother dear.”” He explains that, “in the black community, Madea was the head of that village.” These women were wise, and overtly truthful. They were given the responsibility of straightening out the neighborhood, and passing down their knowledge to the next generation. Perry embodies the Madeas of his childhood, in his fictional character, Madea (the women on the cover). In-between Madea’s ridiculous antics, the reader catches glimpses of her great knowledge, and because of the associated humor the reader is more likely to retain some of Madea’s lessons.

After identifying who Madea was and understanding her origins, I started reading her “commentaries” on life. She certainly tells it like it is. I felt as if I knew Madea personally, and she was giving me advice directly. In “Part Eight: Madea’s Real-Life Survival Tips,” Madea describes how to get through a bus ride without being bothered by the people on the bus. I found myself nodding my head, thinking “Yeah! I hate when people bother me on public transportation,” but Perry follows the statement with the suggestion to, “put your nastiest wig on your head and wrap yourself in some dirty old, run-down coat… and mumble to yourself.” I had to laugh out loud. The juxtaposition with real-life scenarios and absurd solutions led to this laughter. I would never choose to put on a nasty wig and dirty coat to avoid a conversation on the bus, yet that fact that the result is appealing made me uncontrollably laugh. Perry follows this format throughout the book. He opens the eyes of the reader to the hilarious situations that surround them, by describing Madea’s realizations.

Along with the tips and suggestions Madea makes, she also recommends, “…to laugh your way through…” life. Perry shares this same outlook, by creating Madea’s commentary. It forces us to laugh at her, as well as search into our own lives for funny situations. Madea had a very positive outlook on life. She says, “Suffering and hardship are a good thing, because they build character… The suffering and the struggling till the soil to get ready for the good things to grow up out of it.” This made me reflect on the service I am doing at C.A.R.E.S. Every week I see a line of people waiting at the door, for the pantry to open. It has to really hurt to admit to your self that you need help, and then to request it. Despite the common stereotype, those that receive assistance are not looking for the easy way out. Our clients are at a low point in their life and they are taking a step to changing their life. Madea describes in the section “Depression,” that there is no use in sitting around and wallowing in your misery, rather you need to get up and put your life into action. What amazes me every week at C.A.R.E.S. is that there is never a somber tone in the waiting room; instead, there is laughter and joy. It may be a bottle of detergent, or a little boy making silly comments, but there is always something to pull joy out of. Although this doesn’t bring me laughter, it always brings a smile to my face.

In Madea’s words, “open up the curtains, put on some good music, take a shower, get up, put on a good face, and open the door and go out and see the world,” then, “you got to laugh everyday, and laugh hard. Laugh as hard as you work…” Perry’s solution to most of life’s problems, and I agree, is to get up and see the world that surrounds us; it will bring one joy and laughter.

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