Nearly every town in the South has a family of McGuires living in it. For that matter, nearly every town in the contiguous United States has at least one McGuire in it. McGuires are easy to spot: garrulous, sociable and usually bold. But Greater Metropolitan Roopville has a McGuire that even outdoes that: we have Xena McGuire.
Xena is the daughter of Wade Aloysius and the formidable Mary Margaret McGuire. Their other two daughters and son are fairly average in personality and temperament but Xena is not average in any respect. She was named after TV’s Xena: Warrior Princess because that was Mary Margaret’s favorite show. Wade had a name all picked out for a son and had given no thought on a daughter’s name, so he went along with what Mary wanted. Wade always goes along with what Mary wants. It’s quieter that way.
It was obvious from the start that Xena was named accurately because she has always been a trailblazer and she will fight for what she feels is right. She’s not haughty about it – McGuires do not do haughty – but she goes after her chosen goal with all the zeal of a McGuire at a county fair at pickle judging time. You’re a fool for standing in the way of justice, or a well-packed jar.
It was Xena who as a kindergartener, noticed the cafeteria served country fries and crinkle cut fries, but not curly fries. She asked her mother why not. “I suppose no one’s ever thought about it, darlin’,” Mary Margaret said, and suggested if Xena wanted them badly enough, she should bring it to the school board’s attention. Mary then spun a tale about the early suffragettes and how they picketed and protested for what they wanted, and Xena was enthralled. She got it into her head that arguing for something long enough and vociferously enough would result in triumph. It worked for her mama; Mary Margaret argued and Wade folded because it was quieter that way. Xena decided curly fries was an idea who time must come to school, so she carried petitions all over town and got people to sign it, and it eventually came up before the Greater Metropolitan Roopville school board. Mary Margaret was so proud of her little Warrior Princess fighting the good fight for what she believed in, that she accompanied Xena all over town and they eventually got the school board to agree to add them to the menu. That was when Xena, an angelic little moppet with chestnut-colored ringlets and a spackling of freckles across her pert little nose, turned to Mary Margaret and Wade and said with ominous glee, “Now it’s on to the good stuff.”
That, Wade told me, was when he knew they were in deep trouble.
All through grade school Xena tilted against social windmills like a cunning Don Quixote in miniature. The school board wanted to end elementary recess sessions; Xena fought against it by picketing the board of education building. Because those ringlets and freckles made for great photography, distant cousin Dean McGuire ran a story on the pint-sized picketing in the Greater Metropolitan Roopville Shout. Parents who didn’t want their children coming home restless and cranky from school without the physical relief of playground running and jumping also got involved, and the school board eventually caved.
The girls’ locker room at the school gym needed new paint; Xena led the campaign to get it painted Barbie pink – volunteering Wade to help paint it, of course. The city library had reading contests every summer and Xena was always near the top of the avid reader’s list. There wasn’t a stray dog on a homemade LOST poster that Xena did not actively hunt for, and no one bullied anyone on Xena’s school bus without getting the Riot Act read to them by the Warrior Princess herself.
Wade said Xena learned to count by reciting “One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, Title Nine” because she went after anything that smacked of gender inequality. Xena not only joined the Brownies, she got a copy of the Cub Scout handbook so their campouts would be just as challenging as the boys’. This did not make Xena particularly popular with the scout leaders but the other little girls had fun. Once Mary Margaret McGuire became the troop leader, the McGuire sisters and the other Brownie girls went hiking and rafting and skeet shooting as well as bird watching and art. They crafted a troop float every year for the Homecoming Days parade out of papier-mache and a gallon of tempera paint, and one year they even won a trophy. All this activity was just dandy with Wade and Wade Junior, who stayed at home sipping cold drinks and shouting at the umpires on TV all weekend.
In high school Xena led the fight for girls to take Auto Repair at the technical school without getting harassed by the boys. Xena said auto tech was her favorite class in school, next to American History. One Halloween she came to school dressed as Molly Pitcher but nobody guessed who she was. “Hello? – the Battle of Monmouth?” Xena demanded in outrage, to which a classmate replied “You mean the Battle of Big Mouth!”
“How about the Battle of I’m’ll bust you in the mouth with my knuckles?” Xena came back, but the teacher stepped in and put a stop to the sudden escalation. Lord knows the South does not need another war to break out. They haven’t stopped fighting the Recent Unpleasantness of 1861-1864.
Xena successfully campaigned to get the school to allow science classes to build and use a campus greenhouse to study genetics in plants, and the cafeteria gets fresh herbs. Never mind that the school normally uses canned goods and USDA government-approved recipes for the lunches – they have a greenhouse with herbs! If the cooking staff decides to sprinkle in some fresh parley or rosemary in a dish, they now can. Special banquets and fundraisers use the herbs, which is probably why everything tastes especially good in the Greater Metropolitan Roopville school fundraising circuit.
The only thing Xena fought for and didn’t get, was for the right for gay kids to bring dates of their choosing to prom. Not even a McGuire with a Cause could break through that barrier.
Xena’s sister Jennifer went to Sewanee: The University of the South to study Anthropology and her other sister Kathleen O’Mera McGuire graduated from Georgia Southern with a degree in Irish Studies. Wade Junior attended the University of Georgia because, dude: THE UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA. He claims he’s majoring in partying but his transcript indicates he’s at least minoring in business.
Xena McGuire graduated from Greater Metropolitan Roopville and from there went to an auto mechanic’s school in Athens. She and her partner Gabrielle – no, I’m serious, she found her very own Gabrielle – live in Athens where Gabrielle manages a tax preparation office, and Xena works on Porsches and makes a hefty income. Occasionally she goes home to Greater Metropolitan Roopville and keeps her mom’s LeSabre and her dad’s Audi tuned up. The last time she was home, Xena announced she was planning on running for state representative because “somebody needs to straighten them up in Atlanta.”
Wade went out on the porch and laughed for a good five minutes. “Now it’s on to the good stuff!” Atlanta, you have been warned.