A Hog a Day Part 17

EF453DFA-DCA7-4103-96FE-215A4A32FB35

Original art by Kathleen Swain

Unless you’ve been cursed with a prissy, goody-two-shoes older sister, you couldn’t possibly appreciate this, so just go on with whatever you were doing. If you want to commiserate, jump right in. Phyllis was three years older than I. This put her just far enough ahead of me that all the teachers and Sunday School teachers were still raving about her performance. “Phyllis never misspelled a word on a test the whole year. Phyllis is the best student I had in all my twenty years of teaching. Phyllis is the neatest kid in class. Phyllis always reads her Sunday School Lesson and knows her memory verses.” I’m sure it was all true. She worked on her homework from the time she got off the bus every day till Mother made her go to bed every night, copying it over rather than have an erasure.

I did my homework on the bus, if I could borrow some paper. The second day of first grade Miss Angie called me a blabbermouth and a scatterbrain. I was delighted till she sent a note home. My parents pointed out neither was a good thing. The only notes Phyllis ever got asked if she could be the lead in the school play, tutor slow kids, or be considered for sainthood. Mother had to chase the schoolbus to brush my hair. If we had pancakes for breakfast, my papers stuck to me all morning and dirt clung to the syrupy patches after recess. I never got the connection between being sticky and not washing up after breakfast.

It was bad enough that Mother tried to civilize me. After I started school, Phyllis was embarrassed about being related to “Messy Mayhem.” She started in telling Mother I needed to pull my socks up, brush my hair, not wipe my snotty nose on my sleeve, and most of all, not tell anyone I was related to her. She was a hotline home for anything that the teachers forgot to send a note about. It didn’t help our friendship.

Phyllis was always first in line to get in the door at church. I am surprised she didn’t have her own key. Sitting quietly and thoughtfully through sermons, she’d occasionally nod and mark passages in her Bible. The minister was sure she was headed for “Special Sevice.” Meanwhile, I sat next to Mother, barely aware of the minister’s drone, desperately trying to find interest, somewhere, anywhere. I liked the singing but it didn’t last long. The words didn’t make sense, but it sure beat the sermon. Once the sermon started, I’d start at the front and enumerate things: roses on hats, striped ties, bald men, sleepers, crying babies, kids who got to prowl in their mother’s purses, or the number of times the preacher said “Damn, Breast or Hell!”. Once in a while something interesting would happen, like pants or skirt stuck in a butt-crack, or a kid would get taken out for a spanking, but all this made for a mighty lean diet.

One glorious Sunday, the sun shone. As we filed out, I looked longingly at the lucky kids running wild in the parking lot. We had to stand decorously beside Mother and Daddy as he waxed eloquent, rubbing elbows with the deacons, whose august company he longed to join. As he discussed the merits of the sermon with Brother Cornell Poleman, a deacon with an unfortunate sinus infection, Brother Poleman pulled a big white hankie from his coat pocket and blew a disgusting snort in its general direction. Fortunately for Sister Poleman, she wouldn’t be dealing with that nasty hanky in Monday’s laundry. A giant yellow, green gelatinous gob of snot went airborn, landing right on Phyllis’s saintly, snowy, Southern Baptist forearm, where it quivered just a bit, before settling into its happy home. Her expression was priceless. Mr. Poleman grabbed her arm, rubbing the snot all over her forearm before she could extricate herself from his foul grip. She flew to the church bathroom to wash before joining the family waiting in the car. That snot trick had put a hasty end to all visiting. When she got home, she locked herself in the bathroom to scrub her arm with Comet. I enjoyed church that day.

My brother Billy certainly didn’t have to deal with comparisons to a saint when he followed three years behind me.

Advertisements

A Hog a Day Part 16

I was always grateful when the preacher enlivened the service with a joke or was able to  come up with an interesting story.   I was blessed one memorable Sunday when a well-known evangelist preached to a packed house.  Brother Paine was hailed far and wide for his moving sermons. He was eloquent and erudite, a born speaker whose knowledge of scripture was legend, as he quoted long passages flawlessly, without opening his beloved Bible.  This was all wasted on me, a kid who zoned in and out and listened with less than half an ear.  I usually managed to notice the change in rhythm when a joke, a good story, or an interesting bit of Bible lore might be forthcoming.  Otherwise, I just tried to maintain consciousness enough to stay out of trouble with my parents.  I did find Brother Paine’s sermon a bit more interesting than the usual fare, especially when he got to the story of Baalam. He spun a tale of Baalam’s evil deeds stoking God’s anger. As Baalam’s faithful ass carried him down the road, only the ass saw the sword-wielding angel of God in their path, prepared to strike Baalam down for his wickedness. Three times the ass turned away, saving Baalam from the death-angel’s sword. Three times Baalam cruelly beat her for disobedience. Intending to make the point that God miraculously gave the ass the power of speech to rebuke Balaam for his cruelty, Brother Raymond paused dramatically, pounded on the podium and boomed out. “God spoke through Baalam’s ass!!!!”  He had our complete attention! Silence reigned as he realized his error.  Some of the teenagers and younger kids snickered first, then a few of the less pious joined in. The song-leader faked a few coughs trying to regain his composure, then snorted two giant snot bubbles.  We all burst into full-fledged, knee-slapping, undeniable laughter. Brother Raymond gave it up and church was done for the day. The final prayer was short and sweet.

If I’d had a quarter, I’d have put it in the love offering.

 

Making an Ass of Myself at a Funeral

funeral cartoonMy brother Billy and I decided to go to Mr. Charley’s funeral together.  I should have known better.  He always gets me in trouble.  We grew up playing with Mr. Charley’s kids, in and out of their house a lot.  He was a good guy.  I certainly didn’t decide to go to his funeral just to make a total ass of myself.  That was Billy’s doing. Continue reading

You a teacher an’ you don’t know…..

image

Johnny gave a big snort, wiping his nose on his sleeve.

Disgusted, his teacher sought to shame him.  “Johnny, what’s that on you sleeve?

“He looked at her coldly.  “You a teacher an’ you been to college an’ you don’t know what snot is?”

Boo Hoo to You, Too

Bah!

I wrote this in response to Trish’s post yesterday on Ten Years a Single on Mom about crying about a broken washing machine.  I’ve done worse.

Here’s the whole sorry story.  Daddy had died after sudden illness days before.  I was a mess, but making a great effort to keep my emotions in check, knowing my mother was in Continue reading

It’s Snot What You Think

Snotty girl0004Illustration by Kathleen Swain

Unless you’ve been cursed with a prissy, goody-two-shoes older sister, you couldn’t possibly appreciate this, so just go on with whatever you were doing. If you want to commiserate, jump right in. Phyllis was three years older than I. This put her just far enough ahead of me that all the teachers and Sunday School teachers were still raving Continue reading

Mother Tried to Raise Me Right

Church was hard on me Church clothes were designed by the devil. My mom made fancy dresses with twirly skirts, puffy sleeves, lace, fancy collars, and gigantic sashes that tied in the back in a big bow. Just in case I might get a little comfortable, she starched and ironed them till they were so stiff they could stand alone. Getting ready for church started Saturday night with a bath and hair washing. No problem with that. The trouble started when Mother got out the hair pins and tissue paper. She clamped me between her knees Continue reading