Let’s back track a little here…
I was born and raised in Hancock County, Mississippi, in a “city” called Kiln. We usually call it “the kill” because it’ll dismember your hopes and dreams if you don’t get out quickly enough. Trucks are more decked out than homes and groceries are 30+ minutes away.
One fine evening, my mother couldn’t fit in her size zero acid wash jeans to go out to the bar. Thus, it was discovered that I was on the way (one of her favorite stories to tell because I was such a surprise and she was so extra).
DeRae was decided as my name not too long after I was born. My grandmother was named Alice Rae. Quite a few people in our family have Rae for a middle name. Everyone in our family agrees Alice Rae was a bitch. Why we’re all named after her really beats me, but tradition is tradition. My mother, Dawn, and her sister, Delores, clearly have ‘D’ names. As the story was told to me, by Dawn (so, God knows it’s probably fabricated or exaggerated), she had intended to name me Taylor Rae. My dad had a raging crush on Taylor Dayne, pop princess of the 80’s, so that was his contribution. Once I was born, it was brought up that my name didn’t have a ‘D’ in it. Apparently, it was brought up by my Aunt Delores, and that sent my mother into a rage, right at the moment she had finished writing my name on the birth certificate. Out of frustration and complete lack of consideration for the rest of my life, she squeezed in the ‘De’ in front of the ‘Rae’. It was from then on out, I would dread school roll call and waiting for my name to be called at any bank or office. I am, however, grateful for the diversity of my two names. In a very Deep South community, I can use Taylor for all of my banking and career- oriented needs because I don’t trust racist ass people. DeRae is used all other times, because it is oh-so-fitting for my personality; I’m unique, difficult, and hard to handle for the normal person.
My first job was at Dolly’s Quick Stop in the Kiln. It’s literally the most profitable establishment the Kiln has because of its bomb-ass chicken on a stick and decent diesel prices. I didn’t have a car but the store was conveniently on the way home from school for most people so I could convince whoever I was dating at the time or friends to drop me off. I worked there with my best friends, and it was nothing to close that sucker down on a Saturday night, Smirnoff coolers and candy bars in hand to head to the parties.
In true country fashion, I had my first kiss in a barn. It was beautiful, dimly lit by the moon, and it smelled like shit. And it was a barn, so there’s that. There weren’t many places for kids to go do things. Most high schoolers hung out in the Dolly’s parking lot, the Chevron parking lot in Diamondhead, or in a random field… like the one where I almost died from vodka a few golden times. Due to the lack of access to teen-friendly entertainment and lack of adequate fostering of talents, activities often included stealing traffic cones and drinking. You know, very philosophical things. There was a ton of camo… more so in school than in the woods. Kids rode horses in school and often got expelled for having hunting knifes in their backpacks. High school football is the way of life and your mom went to school with everyone else’s parents.
Before the days of Myspace, Facebook, and the internet in general, one great way to keep up with the community was to check the arrest records. Now, as an adult, it’s a great way for me to keep up with classmates. Among the usual offenders was often my mother. No one knew trouble better than Dawn. It followed her, befriended her, and clung like a Tinder date that realizes you have a great job and no children. I’ll never forget when a kid from school came running to me in the cafeteria with the arrest records in tow to say, “Hey, is that your mom? Isn’t that her right there? See her name?” I had one of two options: own up or act up.
I acted up. But, by acted up, I just mean that I denied it and went on my merry way.
I often think back to that day. Was I sad at the time? Yeah, it was difficult growing up like that. Am I still sad? HELL NO. The fat little fuck that embarrassed me that day is extra fat, has a dog for a wife, and multiple kids he can’t afford all while posting racial slurs on Facebook that he can’t even spell correctly. And I’m hot. Karma is bitch, but she’s an efficient one, I’ll tell you that.