Gladys Hardy

My cellmate at work is named Morgan. She’s a bright young lady with a sharp sense of humor and a slightly sarcastic bent. Since she’s been stuck with me for the past year, her sarcasm has been honed to a deadly point. However, being a decade younger than I, she still retains some wide-eyed belief in things. Belief that will slowly seep from her life until she is the arched-eyebrow-with-sardonic-half-smile type of chick I’ve become. Lucky her.

She shared with me a You Tube video one of her friends emailed out that features a segment from the Ellen Degeneres show. Ellen received a voicemail from an 88-year-old Austinite named Gladys Hardy. She was full of the piss-n-vinegar we like in our old ladies. Ellen found her message so entertaining, she called the old gal at home in Austin during one of her shows. She was probably fifteen seconds into the conversation when I started thinking that this was a put-on. At a minute-and-a-half, the old lady started sounding to me like a man pretending to be an old lady. At about the two-minute point (it goes on for six or seven minutes), I recognized the voice as maybe belonging to one of the Greater Tuna guys. Finally at about four minutes or so, the “old lady” says something to the effect of “Honey, I love Jesus, but I drink a little.” That was IT. I knew it was bullshit for sure. So I had to share this news with Morgan. She’d been eagerly watching the video, leaning forward in her chair and laughing a lot until I said something, then she sat back and was no longer enjoying it (having felt like she’d been tricked). I felt bad for saying something.

So which is the preferred state of being: believing the magic trick is really magic, knowing it’s not magic but willfully suspending disbelief or knowing it’s magic and also knowing how they did it? I vacillate among the three options, and my preference for each is in a constant state of flux.

I looked around online to see what others thought of “Gladys” and found I wasn’t alone in thinking it was one of the Greater Tuna guys (my vote is that it’s the fat one). This article in the Statesman suggests that Gladys probably isn’t a real person. There are many comments below the story, and the general consensus seems to be: who gives a shit if Gladys is real or not because it’s funny, why be so cynical, she brings joy and laughter and if you out her we won’t get to hear her again.

I call bullshit on that. If one of the Greater Tuna guys had come on in their usual country-time drag, the segment would have been pretty funny. But presenting it as a real phone call from a real little old lady doesn’t work for me. And this let us have our fantasy attitude presented by the commenters on the Statesman story is pretty indicative of how people are approaching their lives in general these days. Believing that the manufactured situations on reality TV are real. Believing that if we ignore it, the bad stuff will go away. Believing that it’s preferable to ingest lies because they make us feel better for a little while. All bullshit. Because eventually the bill comes due, and boy is it going to be a big one this time.