Say something!

Sometimes I love my accent like I love having a hole in my head. I've noticed that on trips yankeeward, at least one person will say the dreaded phrase:

"You have a southern accent! How cute!"

"Why…thank you." (Of course, in the way I speak, that comes out more like "Whaaaah, thaink yew." This is the point where I start to cringe.)

"Say something!"



Groan. Ok, time to don my best educated-Arkansas accent. "I hate being asked to do this?"

"How CUTE!"

Queen of Flames

He wrapped his hands around the martini glass. I watched, with one eye on my pad thai and the other on his finger, which idly swirled his toothpick-speared cocktail olives around in his glass.

Call me a professional eavesdropper, but it's pretty hard not to pay attention when you're trying to have a quiet dinner with your spouse at the local Thai restaurant, and the flaming queen sitting at the bar is asking the waiter, "So what are the rules on orgies in Alabama? How many people does it have to be? Fifteen, sixteen?"

Eat your pad thai, girl, I thought. He's drunk, he's getting drunker, and it's just going to get funnier—as long as he doesn't realize that anyone's listening to him…

Say goodnight, Gracie

Lot A was for the newer cars. Lot B was for trucks, vans, ATVs, SUVs, and anything that didn't quite qualify as a "car." Lot C was for older cars.

We were the sixtieth car in Lot C at tonight's auction down in Cullman. While waiting for the first fifty-nine cars to be processed, Jeff and I had plenty of time to talk over how much we wanted our reserve price to be. We knew we wouldn't get a lot of money for the car—it was, after all, an eight-year-old Sundance—but we wanted to see if we could do better than the trade-in offer we'd received.

On the drive down to the auction, I found myself laughing as I thought about all of the places this little car has taken me since 1994. Nine states: Arkansas, Missouri, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois.

Sitting in the cutting chair

She reached behind me and weighed matters with a quick twist of her arm. "Are you absolutely sure about this? That's pretty drastic…" The feel of the weight coming off my shoulders was dizzying, powerful. Up until that point I had never considered it to be a burden; it was something to be tucked up and away with elastic bands or caps, or carefully restrained with a bow.

I was seventeen, and absolutely certain. "Cut it.""But it's…beautiful. You're absolutely certain you want me to do this? It will take you years to grow this back."

As she spoke, I took my glasses off and tucked them under the plastic robelike drape they make you wear (to protect your clothes from rogue hairs) while sitting in the cutting chairs. Without my glasses, I was blind—and had to trust. Trust felt sticky and warm, like the back of my neck, which was rapidly beginning to adhere to the nonporous plastic drape.

Truth is stranger than fiction

Did you ever have a family member whose antics were guaranteed to liven up any holiday gathering? Someone whose particularly-skewed ideas of fun and amusement were the subject of dinner-table conversations for years to come?

I wouldn't be posting if I didn't have one. Truthfully, I had several, but the one that comes to mind is Clint.

In my family, "mudding" is a verb. As in, "Clint's gone mudding. Who's gonna pull him out this time?"

He wasn't the first member of my family to get addicted to this particularly-rural pastime. My uncle, Keith, was the one whose antics that most of us remember most vividly. My sister, when asked to describe, said it this way: "On every holiday, Keith would take the biggest vehicle he could find and go out to the bluff and sink that sucker up to the axles in mud, and then we'd all have to go pull him out."

Clint was the same way.

Rainy, on principle

It was a rather late hour, later than I cared to admit, when I tiptoed in from the guest bedroom to our bedroom. Jeff was mostly awake, but not quite, as I slipped in under the covers and snuggled up next to him.

"I had bad dreams last night," I said, leaving it at that. Jeff has shared the same bed with me long enough to know that when I have bad dreams, I tend to awaken out of them only to go right back in them. The end result: a long night, filled with multiple awakenings, with little useful sleep actually acquired. When nights like this happen, I end up moving to the guest bedroom so that Jeff, at least, will get a quiet night of sleep.

Morning was almost over, but the sluggish darkness from around the mini-blinds spoke of storm clouds, making it appear much earlier in the morning. Behind my head, the rain slashed against the windowpane. Perfect. He yawned, I yawned, and pulled the covers up to my neck.