I looked around the table and felt a deep sense of warmth strike me. While not actually a very feely touchy kinda guy, I was very satisfied being where I was. Additionally, the people I sat with were all family or close friends. Bubba was there with his wife, Maude, my mom, Willy Eugene and Nancy Lucille, as well as uncle Andy and his newest girlfriend, who was for some unknown reason called “Cricket.”
I always wondered why she was not called grasshopper, because she changed boyfriends more often than most mothers change diapers. Perhaps she was called Cricket because she was always making noise about one thang er another. Notice, please, that I said noise and not conversation. Anyway, I know she was not called Cricket because of her legs, they were as straight as a two by four.
“What do y’all think of that movie star Swarts-en-nagger feller and all that political mudslangin’ they are a-doin’ to him?” My mom asked the question and I knew immediately she had been readin’ her latest National Requirer magazine.
“I thank it don’t pay no never mind. None a-tall,” Bubba commented as he lifted his glass to his open mouth. Taking a large gulp of the drink, he continued, “See, he’s so famous they cain’t hurt him none.
Not a bit.”
“I cain’t unnerstand why they can pick on him, when Clinton was involved in all that stuff a few years back.” Cricket added her two cents worth to the community conversation.
“He, well, he was the president then. You cain’t do nothin’ to ’em once they get in the orifice. They did try to impeach ‘em though. Didn’t they, Bubba?” Maude spoke with a slow drunken slur to her speech. But, with Maude, she may have just been tired. She worked two jobs and lived with Bubba. That would make me tired at least. I know she wasn’t drunk, she was still nursin’ her first drink.
“Y’all jess don’t unnerstand politics a-tall. See, in the fust place, that movie star is famous and a threat to other fellers who are a-runnin’ fer office. Second, that Swartz-en-nagger feller is from Australia, or some such place, and everybody knows it touches Germany.” Uncle Andy gave us a big all knowing smile as he spoke.
“Uncle Andy, you mean Austria, not Australia. Austria is next to Germany,” I had to correct the man. I had been stationed in Germany for almost five years and knew the geography of the area.
Well, Andy almost dropped his glass in pure shock. He sputtered a couple of times, but finally he found the words to say, “Son, I done fit them Germans in double you, double you, two. I know where that Australia is! Edna, didn’t you raise this boy not to co’rect his elders?”
“I shorely did Andy. I ‘spect hits all that dang world travelin’ he did in the Air Force. Gary Lee, why did you say that to Andy?” My dear old mother had a look of fear in her eyes. I suspected she thought I had completely forgotten my southern heritage.
“Momma, I just thought uncle Andy said the wrong word by mistake. Uncle Andy, I apologize if I spoke outta turn.”
Andy gave me a mean look and then it changed into a crooked smile. He gulp what was left in his glass, held it up and said, “Well, Mule, you can jess buy me a drink to make up fer hit then.”
I grabbed the waitress on her next pass through the area and ordered a round for the whole table. I didn’t mind the price of the drinks, because I was actually enjoying myself for a change. That feeling was fairly new to me, since my recent divorce six years ago.
“Anyway, I read in the paper that the feller, you know, Swartznapper, he envied that Hilter feller from Germany,” Nancy Lucille spoke for the first time that evening. While she didn’t speak often, I’d always suspected it was because she was inattentive most of the time or not that sharp.
Well, now, uncle Andy didn’t know whether to bark or run on that comment. Slamming his empty glass down on the table, he suddenly said in a very loud voice, “Hitler! Why, we whopped his rear end in the last war with them German folks! There was nothing that man ever did but kill people and cause poor inner-national relations!”
“I agree with ya one hunnert percent there Andy, but he did do some thangs that helped the German folks a bit.” Bubba popped his statement in before I could warn him.
I knew if anyone got uncle Andy going, we would listen to every battle and skirmish that occurred in World War Two. As a vet, I understood his feelings, but once started he wouldn’t shut up.
“Name one Bubba Lee! The man was an animal! He was the lowest egg suckin’ dawg eveh born.” Andy quickly shot back.
“Well, how ‘bout them autoban things he designed fer the highways? How ‘bout the way he built up the German E’con’me fer another.” Bubba had an angry look in his eyes and I was actually surprised he knew that much about the German people. I mean, he had only been stationed there in the army for four years and every day of that had been in the states. Well, he did have a tour in Vietnam too, but I doubted he could spell Europe.
“Let me tell you somethang heah, mister world expert. Them audio-bans was made to move his troops and support stuff to where the fightin’ was a-goin’ on. They was neveh made fer normal folks to go on a site seein’ drive on Sunday afternoons after church. Next, that ’con-mee thingy was also done fer his war. See, he wanted to stim’late the ‘con-mee by a-makin’ jobs fer all them that didn’t have one. It was all done to make his military stronger, not to help nobody out. I bet Hitlers own momma didn’t love him.” Andy was down right mad now and looked the part.
As a man with a graduate degree in psychology, I was interested in Andy’s observations. While Andy lacked a formal education, the man was not dumb. He had a lot of common sense and while he was very capable of formulating his ideas clearly, he often failed to clearly state what he really meant. I was always impressed with his logic in most cases. I had to ask, “Uncle Andy, how did you decide that Hitler’s momma didn’t like him?”
“Mule, could you love a man that wore a funny looking mustache like Charlie Chaplin or had his hair combed like that? I heared the man was one of the people who didn’t eat meat anywho.”
“Oh, my, goodness.” Came from my momma’s open mouth.
“In todays world that don’t mean nothin’ uncle Andy. Live and let live.” Maude spoke and gave us all a big wide grin. I suddenly realized if she lost about a hundred and sixty pounds she would be a very attractive woman. Well, she would have to get rid of the neon red hair dye, but she had potential.
“Now, listen to me right now. We ain’t heah to discuss food. No we hain’t. Let’s change the subject.” Once again it was my momma. I looked over at her and noticed a look of total disgust in the whole conversation. She was a big meat eater and anyone who didn’t eat it, well, she thought there was something wrong with them.
“Ok, I heah ya Edna, I didn’t mean to upset ya none. I was just runnin’ my mouth off is all.” Andy, my momma’s brother, knew better than to get her started. My mother was a fairly quiet and laid back woman, unless you upset her on three subjects; whether Elvis was really dead, religion, and food. She had strong views on all three.
See, she thought Elvis was still alive and livin’ in a doublewide mo’bile home in the country near Macon, Georgia. And, she never discussed religion or food at all. With her you ate what she cooked or went without.
“I don’t know Edna, what ‘bout all them women he’s been with?” Cricket, once more demonstrated her organized thought processes.
“Cricket, what in Sam’s hill, are you a-talkin’ ‘bout?” It was Nancy Lucille and I was surprised, very surprised. It was rare you got two comments out of that woman a single night.
“That mov’ee star feller. What did you thank I was a-talkin’ ‘bout Nancy?”
“Hit’s Nancy Lucille, bug woman, and not jess Nancy. Only my momma calls me Nancy.” Nancy Lucille was quick on the attack.
“Well, whateveh, Nancy.” As soon Cricket had spoken, I was a feared a bug was about to be squashed.
Nancy Lucille stood, put her hands on her wide hips, turned to Willy Eugene and said in a very angry voice, “Willy Eugene Eugene Edward Claremore, let’s go. I ain’t gonna set heah and take no verbal a-buse from no loud mouthed bug woman!”
Willy, who had just got his second drink, obviously did not want to leave yet. Instead, he pulled out his can of snuff and offered it to Nancy Lucille to appease her anger. While that usually worked, it did no good that night.
“Did you heah me! I said, we are a-leaving and a-leavin’ now!” I enjoyed the way she waved her index finger under Willy Eugene’s large nose.
“Honey bucket, let’s don’t go jess right now. I just got me a fresh drink heah.” Willy was pleading. I would not have been surprised to see him on his knees begging her to stay. The man wanted to finish his drink.
“Well, sweetheart, you can stay. I am, how-some-eveh, leavin’.” I noticed as she spoke, each word was spoken slowly and with deliberation. Then again, it may have been with inebriation. She was known to crack the cooking wine now and then.
“Gosh dang it all woman! Cain’t a man finish his drink a-fore you get yer tail all tired up in a big knot?” Willy was angry too.
I decided to attempt to defuse the situation, “Nancy Lucille, please, set back down and let’s have a nice evenin’. Cricket, I know yer from the big city of Mount Plum, but we have different customs heah. We don’t call folks by any name except the one they ask to be called by. I think you owe Nancy Lucille an apology.”
The drink was cold and wet as it struck my face. I could feel it running down my face and onto my shirt. I looked around the table in an effort to determine what in the world had happened. I noticed Nancy Lucille’s recent look of accomplishment had completely vanished. Cricket, however, was standing in front of me holding an empty glass in her right hand.
My momma stood up, leaned over the table, and said in a very low voice to Cricket, “My dear, I strongly suggest that y’all leave. Y’all ain’t welcome heah at our table no mo’.” Turning to face uncle Andy, she continued, “Andy, you need to get your bug woman outta heah. I suggest you do it now. And, she ain’t welcome to join us no more in the future.”
Cricket and uncle Andy left the place with her screaming continuously, “I am not a bug woman! I am Cricket!” Needless to say, every person in the bar knew her nickname when she left.
“If y’all will excuse me, I gotta go and change my shirt. I have one out in the truck and will be right back.” I got up and started for my truck. Just as I was about at the door I heard Bubba say, “I am glad that’s all oveh. Did ya know that Elvis was spotted workin’ at a eleven seven in Little Rock, Arkansas last week?”