Tag Archives: Belle Meade

Dog the Bounty Hunted

OK, with reference to my previous post, you will be aware that I am dog sitting for a fugitive from the Florida Branch of the Federal Vole Agency.

Before I go any further, I would like to assure you that I am not intending to turn this into a dog blog, although I do reserve the right to keep you posted on the progress of Eliza Dolittle Blanche from time to time. I am trying, for example, to post on topics ranging from Hawaii to cremation, and I will get there in time, but you will have to be patient.

Because it turns out that the neighbours, who have extended their spa vacation to incorporate the glamorous resorts of Northern Europe, were perfectly aware that Nigel had an extensive record as a political activist, and in fact, has been a key player in the Occupy Nashville movement.

It’s not like I’m not a big supporter or anything. In fact, as many of you will know, I have a not inconsiderable record of political activism in my past. But it might have been useful information for me to have available when I took him to the Reservation yesterday and left him to smell the chipmunks in my parents’ back yard.

The thing is, he slipped his brand new chew-proof lead, and spent a couple of hours tearing around the neighbourhood. The police had to be informed. The mailman really got into it. And I realised, as I cruised the surrounding streets, that he had a dastardly albeit brilliant plan. You see, the dogs on the reservation get to stay out all day in yards that are bordered by invisible electric fences. And Nigel ran through every yard, working up said dogs into a lather, and systematically electrocuted them all. Every. Single. One. The only way I eventually found him, to be honest, was to follow the rather disturbing yelping noise emanating from WAP dogs hitting the boundary of their electric fences. I reckon he got the whole of the one per cent in a single afternoon.

So, while I admit that I am somewhat in awe of this outlaw canine, I have decided that for his own protection, he needs to stay in disguise for the time being.

© Copyright 2012, Southern Dysfunction



Filed under Dogs

Place Card Treasure

OK, so I have been busy, busy, busy. Another day, another closet. Two weeks ago it was vases, last week it was soup bowls, then it was place mats and linen napkins.

So forgive me, but I am busy being a dutiful daughter, helping my mother clear out the big house on the Reservation in preparation for the move to her deluxe apartment in the sky.

And then we got to place cards.

‘Oh look,’ says mom.’We have to keep these! Your grandmother used them every Christmas for years. I love these! Just look at all the sequins!’ She spread them out on the dining room table.

‘But mom,’ I say. ‘These people are all dead.’

With the help of my doctor, I am trying to cultivate patience and serenity as character traits in 2012.

‘Not all of them, dear. They could still be useful. I think we should keep them.’

‘Uh Huh. How about we throw a luncheon out at Mount Olivet Cemetery?’ OK, so I’m not very good at patient and serene, yet. But I’m working on it.

‘Oh Harriet,’ she sighs. ‘You are so ruthless.’ And she hands them over for me to put in the trash. Then she pulls out the next box of place cards.

‘Huh. I forgot all about these. My parents bought them in Paris in the 1920s. I suppose we should throw them out as well.’

I open the box. ‘Hmmm… actually mom, I think I might like to have these for myself.’

And that’s how, in the time it took to open up the top drawer of a 19th century English sideboard, I became the envy of my considerable circle of gay friends here in Nashville:



© Copyright 2012, Southern Dysfunction


Filed under Family

The Reservation

My long suffering Mother has had to go away for a week to look after her poor sisters, Darlene and Ida, who are unfortunate because they have to live in California. Although at 84 she is the oldest by several years, having lived in the South she is in much better shape to travel. This is because she is a Steel Magnolia and knows how to put up with anything, but mainly with Big Daddy, with whom she has put up for more than fifty years. This means that I have had to move back onto the Reservation while she is gone because he can no longer be left on his own.

I had better explain, because people who are not from the South generally hold prejudiced notions about how we handle relations between our ethnic communities down here.

Plantation house on the site of the Reservation

The Reservation was established before the first world war as a safe haven for Nashville’s White Affluent Peoples (WAPs). Sensitively sited on land comprising a former plantation, the Reservation is still going from strength to strength a century later. Confinement on the Reservation allows the WAPs to preserve their traditional culture and way of life, which has changed remarkably little since Our Recent Unpleasantness. Indeed, although I want to stress that while living on the Reservation is strictly voluntary, there are many WAPs in Nashville who rarely leave its borders.

I grew up out here on the Reservation but like a large number of our young people of WAP descent, I was given the opportunity to move away for my college education. Significantly, although I am an example of a WAP who has been pretty much absorbed into modern American culture, there are many WAPs of my generation who have either made the decision to return to the Reservation to raise their families in the traditional environment of their ancestors, or who have never left the Reservation at all.

According to the most recent official data, there are 3,518 people living on the Reservation, of whom 97.1% or 3,297 are WAPs. My understanding is that 1.2% or 42 are African American, of whom 41 are here in disguise as domestic workers but who are actually anthropologists who live in garage apartments provided with money from the federal government, and are here to observe the WAPs in their native environment as part of a long-term academic study (the remaining 1 African American is, I believe, a professional football player, but he might have moved away). Improbably, .2% or 7 residents list themselves as Native American. Subsequent analysis of the data, however, has revealed that this was because there were 7 residents who thought that ‘Native American’ meant that your ancestors arrived on the Mayflower.


Nashville's Federal WAP Administration Headquarters (FWAPA, or in WAP dialect, 'the Club')

I am not going to try to deny that there are some social problems and controversies on the Reservation. In common with similar tribal areas in other parts of North America, alcoholism has tragically affected many local families, although this is being dealt with primarily through local churches and the dedicated team of local FWAPA employees.

Nashville has largely welcomed President Obama’s rumored decision that the Reservation will become the United State’s 59th National Park in 2014. This news is expected to help regenerate the local economy, providing many much-needed jobs in an area that has long been blighted by unemployment. This should help the significant minority of WAPs living on the Reservation who have never experienced paid work. But of equal importance, by boosting tourism to the area, it will encourage a broader public understanding of the customs and way of life of this largely neglected community.


Traditional WAP monogrammed hand towels, ca.1956

© Copyright 2011, Southern Dysfunction


Filed under Family