Here is another installment to Conversations with My Lakota Mom. You might have seen previous conversations published this last Mother’s Day. These humorous interactions are between a 40-something daughter, and her 60ish Lakota mom which represents the kind of conversations I’ve had with my own mother, and also represent an amalgamation of other Native moms and aunties, and grandmas who I’ve been lucky enough to have known throughout my life.
Who’s That One Guy?
—I like that one guy… what’s his name? That Ind’n actor…
—No, that other one.
—Uh, no, what’s his name …
—No. He was in Dances with Wolves, he married that white woman with the big hair, the one who looked like she just came from Vidal Sassoon.
—He’s so handsome!
—Your dad was handsome like that Ind’n Dances with Wolves.
—Um, that’s Kevin Costner, Mom. He’s NOT Indian.
—Well he played one on TV.
—You didn’t just say that!
— (Grinning) I did. I like seeing you get all riled up.
—I walked three miles on the treadmill yesterday.
—Wow, Mom! Good for you!
—Yes. I was watching this TV show, it gave me pep.
—Yeah? What were you watching? NASCAR?
—No. What’s NASCAR?
—Never mind. What were you watching?
—It was this show about Indians running all of these buffalo off a cliff.
—Oh? I saw that before. That’s Into the West.
—Yeah. Into the West. I figured I better get the lead out. All our ancestors running alongside buffalo, on horseback, beneath a hot Plains sun.
—They humbled me, so I walked extra to honor them. I hope the grandfathers are smiling.
—That’s good. Next time you can work out on the rowing machine and pretend you’re Sacagawea mapping a trail to the Pacific.
—Yeah. I’ll be Sacagawea, getting my groove back. They can put me working out on the rowing machine on the twenty-dollar bill.
Hunting and Gathering
— (Pulling into the mall parking garage) Okay, Mom, where do you want to go first? Macy’s?
—Oh no. I can’t go there. I’m never going back there again.
—Where? Macy’s? Why not? I thought you liked Macy’s.
—I do! They have the best selection. But I can’t go back there, not after what happened.
—Geez! What happened?
—I went there the last time I was in Bozeman, Judy and me went, and when I was checking out this white girl clerk defiled my purchases.
—What?! A white girl did what?
—Judy commented that she liked this clerk’s jewelry. She was just being polite, I think.
—Yeah…so what happened?
—The clerk had these big gemstones in her nose.
—Yeah, okay, so?
—So, this Macy’s clerk, this white girl, was ringing us up, and I guess she thought we wanted to see up her nose, thought we must have been just dying to see her Treasure Island up there.
—Okay. That’s bizarre.
—It was obscene is what it was! This girl put two fingers straight up her nose, and I mean DUG IN, turned her nostrils inside out. Mercy! She looked like a pig, and was all proud to show us the other jewelry she had stored up there, like it was a cache of nuts she saved for winter.
—Yes! And then she continued with the transaction, her sticky fingers gumming up the cash she handed back, putting her pig nose hands all over my purchases, my bag. Judy just stood there with her jaw hanging open, I had to snap my fingers in front of her face to get her attention.
—That sounds … traumatic (laughing).
— (Laughing) It was! The clerk followed us out the store, Judy ran ahead of me, I almost lost her. I thought that clerk was going to pull down her underwear and show me her tattoos.
—So, you maybe want to skip Macy’s then?
—Maybe. Unless there’s a shoe sale.
—I think this Macy’s is safe. We’re not in Montana.
—But keep an eye out. And we should avoid the jewelry counter.
—Oh, of course.
—And maybe the cosmetics department.
—Right. You got it. Steer clear of pig nosed clerks.
—I’m shook up just thinking about it.
—Maybe we should go to the food court and get soft serve to calm me down.
—Maybe you want a pulled-pork sandwich to go with that?
— (Laughing) Maybe you should shut up.
Tiffany Midge is a poetry editor for The Rumpus, and an award-winning author of The Woman Who Married a Bear. Her work is featured in McSweeney's, Okey-Pankey, The Butter, Waxwing, and Moss. She is Hunkpapa Lakota. Follow her on Twitter @TiffanyMidge.