It was Wednesday morning it was always Wednesday morning…the hallowed hair day at Belks when Belk ended with an “s”.
Momma and I sat waiting for the store to open in her aqua Pontiac with the hard white top. She was wearing her rhinestone, wind-tipped sunglasses. The Pontiac’s small triangular window was opened a hair while she smoked her Kent cigarette. Momma’s exhaled smoke spiraled about her face was if she were a guest on a late night talk show. With her elbow propped on the arm rest, Momma commented on practically every person who walked in front our car.
Tellin’ Sweet Tea Tales
“Look at that sweet woman holding that young child’s hand. You know her no good daughter is not raising that child. That dear grandmother had to take over.”
Momma took a long drag and exhaled out the corner of her mouth.
“You hear that? He has taps on his shoes. Bet he is married and has a girlfriend. Disgusting.”
She bumped open the vent window a little more.
“Oh, would you look at that woman. Wearing that tight dress and those high heel shoes like she’s trying get men to take a look. She ought to be ashamed of herself.”
I was amazed at how many people Momma knew, though in reality, she was making up stories. She did not know a soul who walked past. But sitting with Momma in her Pontiac while her imagination ran on and on about strangers was an early version “reality entertainment.”
Some twenty years later, my daughter Caroline was sitting in the car with me as we waited for Hobby Lobby to open. Suddenly I found myself saying, ““Look at that sweet woman holding that young child’s hand. You know her no good daughter is not raising that child…”
Call is what you want…weird, funny, or off-the-wall….but in the South we call it conversation. We love our stories and pass them down from generation to generation. Some are true; some are almost true. Many are based on shoddy memories. A few our simply out-right lies that we think happened ‘cause we told them so often. It’s a privileged art in the South to spin a yarn to pass the time.
Lessons from the Yard Dog
Momma once used the example of our overheated dog to explain to my sister and me about how babies are made. Our sweet Honey constantly had a pack of dogs following her around in our yard. Looking out of the back door, once, Momma yelled, “You see that! Look at how popular Honey is with all them mutts? I want you girls to remember how many friends Honey has now. But let me tell you, in a few weeks, no one will be her friend. Soon she will be taking care of half-breed, yapping mutts. No fun trips to the beach with friends; no more going to the Mall. Don’t be like Honey, girls, waggling your tail like that to some fellow. I raised you better’n that and I hope you remember it.
You did, Momma. And I’m better for it.
Jane Jenkins Herlong is a multi-talented Southern belle who can make you laugh, sing, and even teach you a thing or two. She’s a Sirius XM Humorist and an international best-selling author and professional singer, she’s got the literary and vocal chops to keep you entertained.
And as a professional speaker, she’s earned a coveted spot in the Speaker Hall of Fame, which is like winning an Oscar for public speaking. With her trademark blend of humor, storytelling, and wisdom, Jane will make you feel like you’ve just had a glass of sweet tea with your favorite friends!
Hey, grab a copy of her newest book in Cracker Barrel nationwide!