In remnants of the old South, during my childhood, Saturdays and Sundays were spent visitin'. As a preacher's kid, visitin' took many different forms. Sometimes, it was the after Sunday have the preacher over for dinner (lunch) visitin'. Other times, it was sick visitin' or checkin' up on visitin'. And then other times it was just plain visitin'. Going from family to family, catching up on the comings and goings of neighbors. Oftentimes, it was a front and center opportunity to confirm or deny gossip, but other times, it was pure neighbor to neighbor to interaction.
One unique phenomena I observed as a young person is the parlor effect. The parlor (usually found in the homes of senior adults) is the formal setting in which you were invited to visit. This room looked barely used, everything neat as a pin. If luck fell upon you during a visit, a plastic covered couch might even enter in the picture, with the cellophane still wrapped around the lampshades. Why? Because this room was reserved, special, not to be played in or messed up. It was the show piece of the house. A polite, but understood, line in the sand fell between the parlor (which may or may not include the formal dining room) and the kitchen or hallway that bordered it. Polite company was not to cross it. What if you had to go to the restroom? Usually, there was a special visitin' restroom too.
Refreshments were served. Ps and Qs were followed. Everyone put on their best face until the visit ended and then the family retreated back into the family space. The living space. Where the masks came off and everyone got real. The whole backdoor guest thing? That's when you were accepted into the family as one invited into the living space, bypassing the parlor altogether. There were times ,however, you wished you were a parlor guest, one not subjected to the no holds barred reality of unmasked behavior.
Today, in 2015, our parlors have gone by the way side, but the masking effect of insincerity is still very much in place. I'm trying to deconstruct my virtual parlor, and be real with everyone. Authenticity. Transparency. Legit interactions. I want to start inviting people into my real world; they can stay if they choose or they can run away screaming, but at least the invitation was to the right party. The party of ME. My life. My reality. My faith. My questions. My frustrations.
Time is short, y'all. We simply don't have time for parlor visits anymore. Take the white gloves off and show people the real you. They can take it, and if they can't, they'll just exit through the back door.
Amanda Williams is a forty-year old wife and mother of two who can still swing her pony tail and display just a tad of sass. She is also a Jesus loving girl who realizes she is nothing without the One who saved her. Amanda has two degrees specializing in serving students with special needs and is currently working in the field of Leadership Development. She is a Christian author, speaker, blogger, and publisher who loves serving beside her husband at her local place of worship, First Baptist Church of Ocala.