The Times Journal & Russell County News
Wednesday, Jul. 23, 2014 — RUSSELL SPRINGS & JAMESTOWN, KENTUCKY —
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Debbie does Discourse
In June 13 Issue
Russell County News
By Debbie Bell, Columnist

I hate labels of all kinds from food, clothes, people to political parties. Our society puts too much emphasis on name brands, labels and social status.

For almost all of my life I would only buy name brand foods. My husband would call me from the grocery store to inform me of a great sale on some brand I’d never heard of. I’d say no, let’s just stick with what we know and love. And then hard times fell and like our federal budget, cuts had to be made.

So, I tried more affordable, lesser known brands and I was surprised to find that I liked them as much, sometimes even better than the name brands. I am now facing a similar dilemma with the brand of cigarettes I smoke.

I have smoked the same brand all my life and now they have gone up in price to $45 to $50 a carton. On thse weeks when I have to purchase two cartons of cigarettes it takes my whole weekly allowance and I have nothing left for anything else. I know that it is a mental thing but I’m finding it very hard to switch to a cheaper brand.

Calvin Klein, American Eagle, Abercrombie and Fitch, Hollister, Lucky. DO these clothes make us more special simply because of their expensive labels? Kids are made fun of in school because they can;t afford these clothes. Teenagers have been killed for their name brand sneakers.

My son, who couldn’t pronounce Abercrombie and Fitch correctly would say, “Mom, if you go out to yard sales this weekend, look for me some of those ‘African Fish’ clothes.”

I bought a purse at a yard sale and my friend was just estatic.

“Deb, do you just realize that you’ve got a Prada purse?”

I could’ve cared less. It was soft, it was huge and it cost $2. This same friend will only sleep on Egyptian 800 count sheets. I laugh because I also sleep on 800 count bedding, it’s just that, cat hair!

Hey, it keeps me warm. CLothes do not make the man. It’s how we conduct ourselves and treat others that matter.

The entertainment industry labels us by dividing us into age brackets. The highly coveted 18-34 group who are supposed to like rock music and hip, younger shows. The 35 to death group are supposed to like country music and TV Land. I was absolutely terrified that I would wake up on my 35th birthday humming a Tammy Wynette song and wanting to watch Matlock or Murder She Wrote. Luckily, it didn’t happen. I still love my MTV and Coldplay.

Left wing, right wing, liberal, conservative. We are all labeled because of our political leanings. I started college as a liberal, edealistic, everyone live in a commune and love each other type of person. I did not want children because the world was overpopulated and a horrible place. I didn’t believe in spanking, to me it was akin to a man hitting a woman.

Two children and many spankings later I have so changed my tune. Another person I know started out much like me with that peace on earth, good will toward men attitude. Then they moved to the big city where crime was rampant with gangs on every corner. Now, this person pretty much hates everyone. While our core values may remain the same, life happens and we grow and change with life’s challenges and experiences. We may start out as extreme liberals and as we age become more conservative. Hopefully, we end up somewhere between the two, more moderate and middle of the road.

Nerd. Bully. Trash. Retard. Thug. Freak. Gay. Slut. We might as well walk around with one of those “Hello my name is” labels on our forehead. When I first moved to Russell Springs I had two small children, no friends, and knew no one. A little old lady lived across the road from us. Around the age of 90, she was known as the neighborhood bully. She never spoke to anyone and when on e of the kid’s toys or bolls ould roll into her yard she would snatch it up, take it into her house, and it would never be seen again.

Not knowing anyone I would smile and wave to her everyday and she would go back into her house and slam the door. Not easily deterred I continued to speak to her each day. Finally, one day she grudgingly said hellor. It wasn’t easy and it took a long time but slowly the iceberg began to melt. Before long I was doing errands for her, eating meals with her and enjoying a real, true friendship. She told me that her only child, a daughter, had been killed in a tragic accident when she was in her early 20’s. Her husband had been dead for many years and she had no family left. She had truly been dealt the ‘school of hard knocks.’ No wonder she had become a bitter, lonely, old woman. I did not have that many years with her but I know that I brought her comfort, companionship and joy. Having just lost my granny, she did the same for me. I credit her for opening my eyes and forcing me to look past the labels that society places on people.

My mother always taught me to never judge a book by its cover and I think that is a good philosophy to live by. I have met many people in life that did not immediately make a good first impression. Bur after getting to know them I came to appreciate our difference. I would’ve missed out on a lot of wonderful people if I hadn’t opened that book and read further.

“Caring.” Willing to bend. Tolerant. Understanding. Open-minded. Compassionate. If we must be a society of labels, why don’t we wear a few of these for a change?

Til next time-Forward Ho.

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The Times Journal is a weekly newspaper issued on Thursdays. It was first published on October 13, 1949, by Andrew J. and Terry Norfleet.
P.O. Box 190
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Russell Springs KY 42642
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Russell County News is a weekly newspaper issued on Saturdays, and is mailed free to every address in Russell County, Ky. It was first published on February 1, 1913.
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