Mother’s house was bedlam the morning after Daddy died. Someone made a quick trip to the store for breakfast fixings for Cox’s Army while the rest of us pulled the house back together. The term “quick trip” was relative, since the nearest grocery store was twenty-two miles away. It was a mess since we’d had to find beds for fourteen the night before, reshuffling when Cookie and Uncle Riley’s travelling circus came pulling in at two-thirty in the morning. It’s no wonder they felt their visit couldn’t wait till the next day. They lived two hundred miles away and knew we’d never make it till morning without their insanity.
Cousin Barbie had a delightful quirk. She could not be awakened before eleven. Not the bashful type, I squirted her with a water gun to get her up, since she and her cushions were splayed all over the living room floor. This might have been forgiveable in a toddler, but Barbie’s considerable girth made walking around her quite a chore. She wasn’t happy, but she took her hypoallergenic pillow and collapsed onto a bed in one of the back bedrooms with her yappy little dogs. I have to confess, however, at that point, Little Barbie’s happiness wasn’t foremost on my minds. Cookie also had her quirks. She liked to walk around in her nighty, all day. Around two o’clock, someone, I can’t remember who, pointedly asked her to get dressed, thinking the peep show had gone on long enough. Add Uncle Riley’s compulsive cursing and profanity to the list and our day was made. Thank God, they’d come early to support us!
Thankfully, by ten-thirty, a monstrous breakfast awaited the starving crowd. The table groaned under huge platters of biscuits, scrambled eggs, grits, sausage, bacon, and gravy. There was no question of seating everyone. A line formed, no pushing allowed. Dainty Barbie managed to get up early, especially to be first in line. Though she clearly intended to load up, she didn’t want to appear greedy. She took her time. “Uh, uh. Is this sausage spicy? Spicy sausage gives me heartburn. Does this bacon have nitrites? I can’t eat nitrites. Is there any orange marmalade? I’m allergic to strawberries. There’s nothing here to serve these biscuits. How do I get one? Do I just reach in and pick one up?” All the while, her yapping little dogs nipped at our ankles.
By now, her remarks and dawdling in line had pushed me to the limit. I snapped. “I don’t care if you pick one up by the cheeks of your ass! Just fix your plate and get out of the way. People are starving while you fart around!” I’m afraid my lady-like mother might not have been proud of me, but it got the job done.