The Differences Between Men & Women

 

Well, people, Dr. Matlock is giving marital advice again. 

But in this case, the gal aint married yet!

Hmmmm….

Do I help a damsel in distress, or, do I help a man avoid the spider web that is euphemistically called “marriage?

 

Let’s see……

 

 

 

Dear Dr. Matlock:

 

My boyfriend and I have been together for about 6 months. We get along fine, but I can’t get him to commit to a deeper relationship. I want to get married, but he’s says he’s happy the way things are now. My mother and my girlfriends all give me advice, and I’m confused. Help!

Single and Sad,

Scott, LA

 

Dear Single,

Part of your problem lies in the fact that you are getting your information about men from women. Most women have no idea what makes men tick, because what they know about men came from other women. You’ve finally come to the right place for understanding the male species, because it takes a man to understand a man, I don’t care what your girlfriends say. Ready for a good dose of reality? Okay, here goes….

 

As far as men are concerned, there are two types of women. 1—Women You Play With, and 2—Women You Stay With.

You are in one of these two categories, get it?

Don’t fool yourself!

As far as he’s concerned, you are either a Sleeper……….or a Keeper. Let me give you a description of Women You Play With, and Women You Stay With, then you can decide which one you are in his life. The nice thing about it is, you decide which category you will choose to remain in!

Just understand, in order to change category, you might have to change men.

 

Women You Play With, (aka “babes”, “tricks”, “hoes”, plus any number of less complimentary names), are like pool sticks or baseball bats. They’re designed for fun and games, depending on their quality. Since they are designed for fun and games, the best place to meet them are in local playgrounds (night clubs). The idea is, when you want to play baseball, you pick up a glove and bat, because, that’s what they’re designed for. Tennis? Pick up a racquet. Billiards? Pick up a pool stick. Want to play good time date and hot sex? Pick up a good time girl. Get it?

Then, when you’re finished, you put them down, or up, depending on how attached you are to them. If they’re for your own personal use, you put them up in their case for safekeeping. If not, you put them in the rack on the wall for the next man to use.

Same thing with Good Time Girl. If she’s of low quality, put her in your cell, and call her when you feel like playing again.

If she’s of high quality, give her a space in your life,  and call her your girlfriend. Now, she’s available for fun 24/7.

 

But what about marriage, you ask? The answer is simple: What the heck for?

 

You don’t marry a Play Girl, you play with her. That is her function, nothing more, nothing less. Guys don’t marry their tennis racquets, do they? Geez! Stop asking silly questions!

 

Women You Stay With (aka “Keepers“) are a totally different breed of cat. Because they demand dignity and respect, they get it. Because they don’t tolerate being taken for granted, a good man won’t do that. Because a Keeper loves herself, and has a plan for her life, and a schedule to get there, (did you get that?), a good man will make whatever adjustments he needs to get and keep this woman in his life. He nails her down with a firm commitment, and works quickly to incorporate her in his life.

Aint no mountain high enough, aint no valley low enough, aint no river wide enough, to keep me from youuuuuu…….”

That’s the mindset of a man who’s made a decision about his woman.

 

I need to backtrack a bit. You see, you’re the product of your female upbringing. When you were a girl, you were brought up playing a whole different set of games than little boys played. You played dolls, and house, and Barbie and tea parties, etc, etc. Your games were the cooperative, let’s-play-together type games.

Hopscotch.

Jump rope.

Baby dolls, with tea sets and teddy bears and stuffed animals as guests. Sweet, aint it?

That’s all well and good, but you better understand that boy’s games were different.

 

Vastly different.

 

When boys play games, they keep score.

Football? Touchdowns, field goals, safeties, extra points!

Basketball? Two points! Three points! Slam Dunk!

Baseball? First base, double, triple! Home run! Yaaaaay!

Boy’s games require scoring to be fun.

They also require clearly defined rules. Out of bounds! Double dribble! Clipping! Foul ball!

Scoring, and rules, that’s what boy’s games are all about, Boo.

 

So what does that mean for you?

Well, it’s simple, actually. You are in his life to the extent he sees you as either One To Play With, or One To Stay With.

A Keeper or a Sleeper. Which are you? Here’s how you know:

Keepers are treated differently from Sleepers, because the rules are different.

Sleepers are called when an itch needs to be scratched.

Keepers are called in and considered when a life decision needs to be made.

Sleepers are not called on during their time of the month. Who needs cramps and mood swings?

Keepers are kept close, no matter what day of the month, because he doesn’t want any other man to have access to the Keeper.

 

So what does he consider you to be?

Remember, men play by rules, and Rule # 1 is: Men identify what is theirs.

What does he refer to you as? When he introduces you to people who are important to him, what does he say you are?

Don’t get all girly here. Don’t try to examine and parse every syllable for a clue to what’s in his head. You don’t need a clue!

What he thinks about you will come directly out of his mouth!

If you’re “a friend of mine” or ‘my ‘ol girl”, then you’d better take a serious look at what you are to him, ‘cause he aint all that into you. When a man is casual about how he refers to you, you’re a Play Girl.

 

You said he’s satisfied with the way things are now? If you’re happy being his #1 Play Girl, fine. Don’t do anything different. Enjoy the dinner and dancing, and the sex. Just know that if/when he runs into a Woman You Stay With, you get kicked to the curb. Slowly, perhaps, but for kissing some concrete, smooch-smooch, Baby, smooch-smooch!

Don’t get mad, it’s what you settled for.

Don’t hate the player, hate the game. You’re a nice little pool stick, hang on the rack awhile, another man will pick you up.

Hopefully.

 

If you’re not happy, now is the time to make your move out of Playhood into Stayhood. The key word is “”availability.”

Playgirls are always available.

Always.

When you give off that “I’ll always be here for you” vibe, guess what? That’s the rule he’ll play by.

(Honey, stop watching the LifetimeChannel. That schit aint real. Trust me.)

StayGirls operate their lives on a schedule, and they aint hanging around waiting on a man to call them. You have to let him know what you want, and your timeframe for getting it, and, if he’s not on board with that, this train’s pulling out of the station. Choo-choo, baby, chooooo-chooooo!

 

The second thing you do to get out of Playland:

Close your legs.

Somebody wrote an excellent book on relationships called If You Want Closure, Start With Your Legs.

Good book. Read it!

 

As long as he’s getting sex anytime he wants it, you’re playing by his rules.

 

If you make yourself available to him 24/7, why in the world does he have to marry you?

Here’s a concept: Become unavailable. Close your legs. Turn off the tap.

What that does is flush him out, as far as his intentions are concerned. If he loves you, and wants to transfer you to Stayville, (good news! you can be transferred! Yaaaaaaaay! But, work quick. The clock is ticking!), he’ll do  whatever it takes to get you there. If he just wants to play, he’ll say whatever he thinks you want to hear to keep you playing, but his behavior will stay the same. Don’t pay attention to what he says, pay attention to what he does. Remember,  a man who is committed to a woman will not let the grass grow under his feet, because a Keeper is too much in demand to stay on the market any length of time.

 

So, mamacita, it’s up to you!

 

Do what you gotta do, to be what you wanna to be!

Matlock Bitness College!!!

I, Matlock 61, am now offering a new service to you White People!

Yaay!

 

What is it, you may ask?

 

Matlock Bitness College—Earn your Master of Bitness Administration, so you can handle your bitness!!!

 

You see, “handlin’ yo’ bitness” is an important part of Black Culture, and I would be remiss in my duties as HNIC if I didn’t teach you this essential piece.

We are offering a series of classes that will help move you swiftly towards your MBA, such as:

Basic Ebonics–What the Heck Are They Saying? (Mandatory Prerequisite)

American Subcultures Culture 101: Black Wimmen, White Wimmen, White Mens, & Brothers–Why We Do The Thangs We Do.

Finance 101: Proper Techniques in Operating Without Proper Licensure 

 

Finance 102: Identifying Various Begging Techniques/Handling a Beggar With Minimal Liability

Tuition be free.

 

Attendance be mandatory.

(see why Ebonics is a prerequisite?)

 

No tuition? You’re puzzled and confused. The classes are free, but the After Parties following each class gonna cost you somethin’, trust me. You see, “handlin’ yo’ bitness” means to know which end of the cow the milk comes from.

And, of course, knowing how to extract said milk from the aforementioned cow. As Grandpa Matlock used to say, “If ya gonna milk a cow, make sho’ yo’ hands be warm!”

 

Anyway, in local news…

Sister Brown got something on Rev. Kimble!

 

Shhh!

 

She got……..pictures.

See, not too many people know about this, but Rev used to be a tomcat, running around with his tail hanging out, if you know what I mean. There was this high-yellow gal that joined church about 2 years ago, and Rev. was kinda sweet on her from day one. You could tell by the way he took a long time to join her up, patting her hand, and praying an extra-long prayer for her soul, but everybody knew it wasn’t her soul he was concerned with, it was them size 44 DD’s she had hanging out of her sweater.

 

Huh? Where was his wife?

 

Oh, she had joined sometime in between his 3rd and 4th wife.

 

Rev move quick.

Don’t interrupt.

Anyway, I don’t know why Rev. didn’t check around, he would’a found out this gal had a thing for preachers; some daddy issues she aint never worked out, and everywhere she go, she end up with the pastor. So, anyway, this girl is Sister Brown’s nieces, and she let it slip that her and Rev. was gonna hook up at the motel. Sister Brown, she one of those that always gotta see for herself, and, she carry her cell phone with her to snap pics.

She need to take a couple’s selfies, ’cause she fool around with Deacon Whitlock’s nephew Jo-Bee, and she think Jo-Bee keep it to hisself, but the boy stay on Facebook, and he keep a webcam on his nightstand. Sister Brown  don’t know, but she gonna make her FB debut next week. Jo-Bee says he might burn a few DVDs, make him some money!

 

Back to my story. Sister Brown went with her niece to the Crispy Sheet Motel, set herself in the closet and wait for ol’ Rev. ‘Bout fifteen, twenny minutes later there was a tap at the door, and in walk in Rev. Accordin’ to Sister Brown, “…he didn’t even say hello, he just started strippin’ off his clothes! He started strippin’, an’ I started snappin’!”

 

I aint gonna say what else she said, because it just aint fittin’ in polite company, if you know what I mean. Sister Brown says she gonna have a loooong talk with Rev, after Sunday’s sermon, dependin’ on what he preach about. She better hurry, ’cause Jo-Bee gonna put her bitness on the street in a minute. Between her, Rev, and Jo-Bee, in about a week or so, Sweet Home Full Gospel Baptist Church of the Nazarene Holiness Temple of Praise and Deliverance A.M.E Methodist African Episcopalian gonna be a mess!

Huh?

 

That aint the same name I said last week?

 

Child, they change the name of that church like Rev. Kimble change his drawers. Maybe more often….

 

Ha!

Luther’s Barber Shop

I gotta quit going to Luther’s.

 

Not Luther’s BBQ, I’m talking about Luther’s Barber Shop.

 

Luther got a bad habit of watching old wrestling re-runs while he cut hair. Lose a few customers every time Dusty Rhodes put the Sleeper Hold on somebody. Luther start digging those clippers in, whoopin’ and hollerin’  and, well, it makes a mess. I gotta ask him what channel that comes on. Wrestling re-runs?

 

Like, it’s already fake to begin with, and you gotta watch the re-runs?

 

There’s another Luther in town, y’know. Luther Caldwell owns the Rib Shack next to the pool hall…well his wife actually owns it, you know, cuz you can’t get a liquor license if you’re a convicted felon. I’m gonna quit going to that Luther’s, too.

 

Why?

 

I aint sure if those ribs of his actually was cut off of a pig, you feel me? Luther trying to compete with that new Chinese buffet, but I think Luther and Johnny Ling got the same supply truck rolling up to their place. I gotta tell Luther, sometimes cheaper aint better. Besides, Johnny Ling’s sauce got Luther’s beat by a mile. They say his wife Ding, she spit in the sauce, but…

 

Huh?

 

Hey, I aint tryin’ to make fun of Chinese people! That’s her name, Ding Ling!

 

Well, that’s what everybody calls her, and she answer the phone to it.

 

“Ling Chinee prace, Ding speakin’! Bes’ wing in town!”

 

That’s what she says, so don’t get mad with me.

Anyway, they say she spit in the sauce, to give it that real Asian flavor, but I aint seen that, myself. I’m still trying to figure out where they get them ribs from…

 

You know Johnny and his family joined the Baptist church last week, don’t ya?

Humph.

 

Johnny Ling aint foolin’ nobody. Johnny got his eye on that Sunday lunch crowd. You can tell them Lings aint really Baptist. Big fat Buddha eyeballin’ you as soon as you walk in. I wonder if somebody told Johnny he gonna get baptized next month? I’m gonna tell him to bring some soap…that oughta’ be worth the price of the offering…

 

Can you imagine, a whole family of Asians getting’ baptized by Rev, Kimball? I aint tryin’ to make fun, but that’s gonna be a mess! Rev is already kinda nervous to begin with, and he gotta put 5 Asians in some water, and dunk ‘em under? And you know, sometime Rev forget he got somebody underwater, and he go to talkin’ ‘bout how …”Jordan River be chilly and cold, chill my body, but not my soul,” and he lie like a sidewalk, that water be freezing! But freezing aint the problem, Rev, you fixin’ to drown somebody in here!

 

When Rev. Kimble hold Ding Ling underwater for 5 minutes, it’s gonna be some schit in Sweet Home Baptist Church of the Nazarene Pentecostal Holiness Church, trust me!

 

Yeah, I know. That’s a funny name for a church. Somebody need to get their doctrine straight.

 

But you know Black people. All we care about is whether or not the choir can sing, and can Reverend Wimble preach good or not. We get baptized when we six years old, get that outta the way early. Johnny and Ding in their twenties, their kids 14, 12, and 3.

I wonder if he gonna try to put ‘em all in the pool at the same time?

Ping, that’s the 3-year old, he don’t lissen to nobody. Rev might, just might, wanna hold him under for awhile, on purpose. Best way to get the devil out is to drown his azz, y’know. Rev. Kimble might end up with a lungful of water hisself, he aint careful.

 

I ought’a warn him, but he was throwin’ slams in the pulpit, talkin’ about, “Some o’ you young wimmens wear yo’ dresses too short! Couple ‘yall wear yo’ skirt one mo’ inch higher, y’all gonna need lipstick! Nasty heifers…”

 

Made my wife mad. She says, “Why Rev be looking at those young women, anyway? He need to be watching Sister Kimble, with her ashy feet! 2 inches of crust on her ankles! Look like she been dipping her legs in cornmeal! All she’s missing is some hot grease, we can have a fish fry up in here! Speaking of fish, she need to wash them old nasty stocking she done wore for the past 3 weeks! Humph! Fish net stockings, that’s exactly what they smell like, fish!”

 

I’m leaving that alone…

 

Ha!

 

Black Men & White Wimmen

Dang, Cuz, I thought inwardly. Is that the best you can do?

 

I was sitting in my pickup truck @ Wal-Mart, watching people come in and out, and I observed a Black man with a scowl on his face. Nothing unusual there, for some brothers, a scowl is the default expression, kind of a Look #8, Don’t Mess With Me. What caught my attention was the woman walking behind him, too far to be really with him, but close enough to him to let anybody interested enough in them to know that they was together.

 

Anybody–Interested–Enough–In–Them…well, that would be…..me.

 

Yes, I am an Biracial Couple Inspector, or BiCI, for short, (pronounced “Bicky”). I have the lofty task of identifying and assessing BiC’s, and filing said information in the BiCDat (“Biracial Couple Database”), an important part of Black Culture.

 

One of the tenets of BC is the instant identification of those who purport to be a part of us.

Hey, we don’t mind you joining us, but we do have standards. Besides the idea of “keepin’ it real” has always been an important part of our heritage, and we don’t suffer perpetrators and imitators gladly. So all you trailer park Suzies with your straight-hair braids, you may sit down now. You’ve been identified and appropriately filed.

 

Under “wannabe”.

 

Anyway, the problem was, the heifer looked wider than the car she just stepped out of; I could hear the  little Kia Soul heave a sigh of relief.

 

Dang! How much this heifer weigh?

 

A fat joke is in order here.

 

Oh, don’t frown up @ me, I’m a fat man, and if I’m not offended, then neither are you!

 

This heifer was so fat…

 

(only got room for one, so it’s got to be funny)

 

…when she joined church, she had to go to Sea World to get baptized!

 

Aw, that’s mean! Let me pick another.

 

This heifer was so fat, her nickname was “Damn!”

 

Oh, okay, one more…This heifer so fat, she sat down in Wal-Mart and lowered the prices!

 

Haaa!

 

Anyway, as they walked towards the door, he turned around with Expression # 64, Hurry Your Azz Up, but she just shook her head; her ankles were under enough strain as it was without adding speed to the mix.

 

“I’m comin’, I’m comin’, chill out,” she muttered.

 

I kept my face straight, but I always marvel at how White gals pick up the Hood Rat Accent.

 

“C’mon, mane, I’m walkin’ fast as I kin,” she said, evicting Expression #16, Eye Roll With Sigh.

 

“This week, I sweah, yo’ azz goin’ on the track,” he replied.

 

A brief explanation is in order here, lest you misunderstand. He has absolutely no intention of making her go on the track, changing her diet, or doing anything that will promote weight loss.

 

None at all.

 

His purpose in saying that at this point is multifold.

 

Black wimmen, stop crooking your neck and pay attention! You might learn something!

 

One, he is establishing/maintaining control over this heifer.

Heifers must be controlled, otherwise you, well, lose control over them.

 

(Duh!)

 

Reminding White girls about their weight has been proven to be an effective means of control, better than chains, whips, or barbed-wire fences, as well as being obviously cheaper.

 

(To the Brother, “cheaper” is always better, unless of course he is attempting to show off his “Baller” status, but we won’t go into that here.)

 

Two, he is demonstrating to the Sisters the reason why he has chosen this particular White heifer, not for her looks, (unless she has some, which is always a good thing), or money (unless she has some, which is always a good thing), or family connections (unless she has some, which is always a good thing)…

 

See the pattern here?

 

Anyway, he is demonstrating to you the fact that this White gal will acquiesce to this kind of treatment, thereby demonstrating:

A–I don’t need you, and,

B–If you wanna hook up, holla @ ya boy, Blondie gonna look the other way! Sweet!

 

Three, he is holding out to this White girl that there is a chance, however small and minute, that there is a way to satisfy and please him, a hope, a light at the end of the tunnel, a place where somehow, someway, she can please this Black man and keep him happy and faithful….

 

I know, Blondie’s been hitting the pipe too often, poor thing. Crystal meth is not your friend.

 

What she has yet to realize, but you already know, Black Woman, is that any nigga who is so mentally/emotionally shallow as to need/want/desire a White woman to validate his Black manhood, no matter which of the several repositories for White girls (a.k.a. “trailer parks”) he has collected this particular specimen from, is no nigga you want to be involved with in the first place. Besides, some of them trailer parks got some strains of STD’s that’ll knock penicillin on its azz. You don’t want that schit in your bloodstream, trust me!

 

I feel you.

 

Let his momma, or his White heifer (a.k.a. “The Fellatio Fairy”) fool with his trifling azz.

0You got better things to do.

The last thing you need is some half-raised Negro eating all the food in the refrigerator, drinking up all the soda water, and then looking at you, talking about, “When we gonna get some grocery in this mo’ fo’? I’m hongry!”

 

No, you don’t need that.

 

Sisters, Matlock wants to encourage you.

 

Finish school.

 

Get your certification.

 

Tack on some alphabets behind your name.

 

Go to a museum. Learn a new skill.

 

Take a night course.

 

Buy a Rosetta Stone CD, and learn a new language.

 

Date a White man. There’s a whole world out there…..

 

Huh?!?

 

Yes, I said, “Date a White Man!”

 

It’s okay, they passed a law!

 

Revised Statutes # 72947-A says, and I quote:

 

“African-American women, formerly known as Black women, formerly known as Afro-American women, formerly known as Negro women, formerly known as Colored women, formerly known as Nigra women, formerly known as nigger wimmen, girl, gal, etc, etc, can now have interpersonal relationships that lead to intimacy with Caucasian, Anglo-Saxon, a.k.a. White men, up to and including marriage and/or long-term commitment.”

 

See?

 

From what I hear, they’ve been craving you for centuries.

 

Just make sure you get one that has the right motive in mind. Some of them want to date you because you in style right now. Enjoy it if you must, but don’t let it go to your head.

 

Triflin’ White boy is worse than a  triflin’ nigga….

 

Ha!

 

White People’s Children!

Okay, White people, this is a Public service announcement:

Raise your kids!!!

Wait, I may have been a bit vague. Let me restate:

White people, BEAT—YOUR—KIDS!!!

 

BEAT ‘EM!!!

 

Ahhhhhhhh!

Got that off my chest!

Some of you White people ought to be ashamed. Unruly, whiny White kids are one of my pet peeves.

Black kids, too, but that’s another topic.

Hood-rat-lettes make me want to believe in retroactive abortion. Wait until they’re about eleven years old, twelve, maybe. Give ‘em a chance to see if they gonna amount to anything. If so, fine, let ‘em stay.

If not…?

 

Take ‘em to the clinic. Tell ‘em they going to their Maw-Maw’s house, and drop ‘em off…….

 

“…Ray-Ray, if you don’t keep yo’ sticky-azz fangers outta my purse I swear, yo’ azz goin’ to the clinic! You aint made twelve yet! I’ll drop yo’ azz off in a heartbeat, you think I’m playin’? Stick a needle in yo’ azz, you’ll quit that schit, I bet!”

 

I was in Dollar Tree the other day, minding my own business, looking for some masculine products, you know, rim cleaner, tire black, clear coat wax…

 

Huh?

 

Hey, if you can say “feminine products,” I can say “masculine products.”

And I can use my stuff outside, you gotta sneak in the bathroom to use your schit, so be quiet!

Unless you want to trade off?

I wash yours, you wash mine…

 

I thought so! Now hush!

 

Anyway, (before I was so rudely interrupted), I’m walking in Dollar Tree, and suddenly I hear behind me, “Mommmmm—yyyyyyyy!!! I want a tooooyyyyyeeeeee!!!”

 

I turned, and, sure enough, a 5-year old White kid was pointing at some G.I. Joe-like toy that me and his momma both knew wouldn’t last 12 hours in his little masochistic hands, but, hey, it’s Dollar Tree.

Everything’s a dollar there.

 

Even a 5-year old White kid’s satisfaction and the resulting silence that, theoretically, was supposed to follow. So, she grabs it.

“Here,” she says, relieved that this whole episode was so easily resolved.

 

But, noooooo…..

 

“Mommmmmm—yyyyyy!!! Not thaaaaaaat oooonnneeee!!! Thiiiiissssssss one!”

“Grrrrr,” I said, to nobody in general.

The mother looked up at me, with Look # 77, I’m-A-White-Girl…Interested???

I responded with Look #15, You, Madame, Do Not Exist.

 

She smiled, and I knew I had to change aisles. Besides, Little White Kid wasn’t through just yet. “MOMM-MEEEEE! I SAID I WANT THISSSSSS ONNNEEEE!” he wailed.

 

It was time to move, before she could—

 

“Mister, can you reach that one?” she asked. “You know how children are,” she said brightly.

 

I gritted my teeth, and grabbed the little G.I. Joe off of the upper shelf.

 

“Not that one, Mister, that one!” He pointed.

 

“Kid,” I growled, “If you know like I know, you’ll take this one, and like it,” I said, giving him Look # 2, Don’t Push it, Little Bastid.

 

He opened his mouth to answer, but I growled, deeper this time, and he shut it.

“Take his azz to the check-out,” I said menacingly, in my best Shaft Just Left Africa, And He’s Highly Pissed Off voice, “and take him home and train him before you bring him back. Because if I ever hear him in this store again,“ I leaned closer, “I’m gonna eat him for breakfast, y’hear? Believe dat!”

“Oh!” she said, and grabbed his hand. “Come on, Trevor, let’s go!” She sprinted off, with him in tow, yelling, “Mommieeeee! He’s gonna eeeeeeeeeeaaaaaat meeeeee?”

 

I came to the check-out line, and noted with satisfaction the wide eyes of the clerk, a good-looking sister with dookie braids. “That was you who ran ‘em off?” she asked.

 

“Yep,” I answered proudly.

 

“I got three kids need man trainin’,” she said. “Interested?”

 

“Better call their pa,” I answered. “I done raised mine.”

 

She tore my receipt off, and scribbled her number on it. “Call me,” she said with a wink. I walked back to my truck, and handed my wife the receipt. “Your cousin said to call her when you get home,” I said.

 

Like I said, I raised mine….

 

Ha!

Bruno, the Rabbit-Hunting Poodle

“Ya hear ‘im? Bruno’s just found ‘im another rabbit!” Uncle Alfred was jubilant. He had bet Uncle Jack fifty dollars that Bruno could out-hunt Jack’s beagle Stumpy. We called him Stumpy, ‘cause once he had gotten his tail caught in a rattrap, and Uncle Jack had to end up cutting half his tail off. Stumpy warn’t half bad for rabbit hunting, as far as beagles go, but he couldn’t hold a candle to Bruno, not a-tall.

 

You see, Bruno was Muh’s pet poodle, and he was the best rabbit dog in the parish, bar none. I know what you’re thinking, poodles can’t hunt. But you’d be wrong, mighty wrong. Bruno was a rabbit hunting fool; he’d smell ‘em a mile off. Then he’d “Yip! Yip-yip!” and Uncle Alfred would say, “Go get ‘im, boy!”, and Bruno would take off, long, curly hair just a-flying. We trimmed his hair once, so he wouldn’t get all full of ticks and cockleburs from traipsin’ in the woods, but Muh got mad at us for that.

 

“Is y’all done lost y’alls minds? Look at my dog! Look at ‘im!” Muh was hot. “He’s a poodle, he supposed to have long hair! Y’all got him lookin’ like a plucked squirrelLook at ‘im!”

 

We both looked, ‘cause Muh was holdin’ a hatchet in her hand at the time, she had been choppin’ wood, and she had done worked up a good sweat. One of us, I forget who exactly, had borryed ol’ man Spencer’s hair clippers and went to work on Bruno. Alfred swore up and down it was me, but I said Mister Spencer wouldn’t-a lent his clippers to me, but Uncle Alfred said Spencer would lend me anything I ask for, ‘cause he was sweet on my Aunt Do. Aunt Do couldn’t stand him, said he was too ugly to fool with.

 

“Dat nigga so ugly, when he was born, the midwife put on a blindfold! Reached over and slapped his momma! I told her, ‘I done tole you, stop foolin’ with that mule!’ Humph! Tryin’ to date me? He so ugly, he can’t get a date offa calendar!”

 

Anyways, Muh was grippin’ that hatchet mighty hard, so we looked at po’ Bruno. We had shaved him mighty close, I had to admit. “What I wants to know,” Muh said, heistin’ that hatchet, “was whose bright ideer was this?”

 

Alfred gulped, real loud. I looked at him, ‘cause he sounded like he was swallowing concrete. “Uh, Mom, uh, it was my idea, trimmin’ Bruno, ‘cause, you know, runnin’ rabbits inna woods is kinda hard on a long-hair dog, so we trim ‘im to keep from havin’ to comb the cockleburs outta his hair.” He held up the sack of rabbits. “See? Ol’ Bruno hit his limit!” He grinned.

 

Muh put the hatchet down; a good sign. “I see,” she said. “When you clean ‘em, send half of ‘em here.”

 

Alfred opened his mouth to speak, and Muh leaned down towards her hatchet. “You was ‘bout to say somethin’?” she asked.

 

“No! Oh, no!” he answer real quick. “Me and the boy here gonna clean ‘em, and you get half of ‘em ‘fo the end of the day.”

 

Muh eyed him. “No, nigga you gonna clean ‘em, the boy gonna finish choppin’ my wood! Come here, Bruno!” She walked off, with Bruno close behind.

 

“You best get to cleanin’,” I said, laughing.

 

“You best get to choppin’,” he answered, grinning…

 

 

 

Anyways, Bruno was yip-yip-yippin’ a mile a minute, and Uncle Alfred was waiting.

“See, boy,” he told Uncle Jack, “That there dog ‘bout to show Stumpy how it’s done. Stand back, make yo’self useful, an’ hold my sack!” He pulled his .22 up, and waited.

 

“Yip! Yip!” Bruno was getting closer. Ten, fifteen more seconds, and Alfred could make his shot.

 

“Humph! Aint no poodle got no business huntin’ rabbits better’n a beagle,” Uncle Jack said. I could tell he was jealous, but what could he do? Stumpy wasn’t in the same class as Bruno, and we all knew it.

 

“Take dat dog back to Texas, nigga, teach ‘im how to roll over, play dead, fetch a newspaper. Dat’s all he good fo’.” Uncle Alfred grinned around his pipe.

Growwwllll!”A funny noise came outta the woods, a kinda deep noise.

 

“What the hell?” Alfred said. “Dat aint Bruno.”

 

I answer, real quick, “Dat aint no dog!”

 

We waited a second or two, not real sure what we ought’a do. “Yip! Yip!” Bruno was barkin’ his fool head off, and the “Grrrowwll!” noise was getting’ louder and louder.

 

All of a sudden, we saw the dangdest sight you ever wanna see in your life! A big ole black bear came crashin’ through the woods, just a-yellin’ and growlin’ to beat the band! That didn’t faze us none; we had seen our share of bears in them woods before. Funny thing about this one, though, was the little brown-and-white spot on his back, goin’ “Yip! Yip!” an’ holdin’ on for dear life.

 

Bruno had done jumped the bear, dead in the small of his back, and was bitin’ and scratchin’ and yippin’ that bear to a frazzle! Bear was twisting and turning, tryin’ to toss ol’ Bruno, but no soap. Bruno looked like a big fat tick on that bear’s back, ‘cept ticks don’t go “Yip! Yip!”

 

The bear shot by us, and I thought about makin’ a break for it, but since Jack an’ Alfred was stayin’ put, warn’t no need for me to run. I figgered if the bear started chasin’ us, I didn’t have to outrun the bear, just Alfred an’ Jack.

 

But that bear wasn’t studdyin’ n’ar one of us, he was just tryin’ to get rid of Bruno. Try as he might, tho’, Bruno was stuck on his back tighter than a fat lady’s drawers after Christmas dinner. “Yip! “Yip!” Bruno barked.

 

Grrrowwwlll!” the bear roared.

 

“Well, if dat don’t hairy-lip the buzzard,” Uncle Alfred said, sticking his pipe in his pocket. Jack didn’t say much of nothin’, for a minute, then he frowned.

 

“Where’s Stumpy?” he asked.

I didn’t answer right off, ‘cause we had a bigger problem to deal with. I figgered Stumpy was bein’ digested at the moment, but if we didn’t bring Bruno back home, Muh was gonna digest us.

 

But Bruno was doin’ pretty dang good with Brer Bear, diggin’ his claws in his back, yippin’ and bitin’ him, wasn’t hurtin’ him none, but being one helluva botheration an’ embarrassment. The bear climb up a tree, tryin’ to scratch Bruno off with one of the branches, but Bruno was too smart for that trick. He lay low, deep in the bear’s fur, steady yippin’ and biting, and the funny thing was, he looked like he was enjoyin’ hisself.

 

“I guess I need to put dat b’ar outta his misery,” Uncle Alfred said. He put his .22 down, and reached in his holster for his old mule leg, an antique .50 Navy Colt pistol Cousin Howard had brought back from the war. Or so he says. You caint believe much ‘a nothin’ come outta Howard’s mouth.

 

“Where’s po’ Stumpy?” Jack asked.

 

“Jack, I kin ask the b’ar, or I kin shoot ‘im. Which one ya wants?” Jack was plum mizable, but it couldn’t be helped. Stumpy was up a tree, in more ways than one.

“Yip! Grr! Yip! Yip!” Ol’ Bruno was havin’ hisself a time! Alfred hesitated a bit, and said, “Wanna shoot ‘im, Jack?”

 

I eyed Uncle Alfred. I ain’t never disrespected my uncles none, but I came close to cussin’ him, cuz he knowed dang good an’ well Uncle Jack had a shaky hand with a clear shot, and with Bruno carryin’ on, you could forget it. Besides, I didn’t trust Jack not to shoot Bruno, just outta spite.

 

“If you too scared to shoot ‘im, Alfred, hand me the gun,” I said, looking him straight in the eye.

 

“Sheet,” he answered, then he said, “If it warn’t for dat crazy-azz poodle, I’d let ya.” He raised the pistol, then dropped it. “Hell, that just aint sportin’,” he said, then turned the pistol upside-down, and braced it on his arm.

 

“Fifty bucks say you miss,” Jack say. I dug in my pocket. “I got ten o’ dat,” I said quick, before Jack got some sense and changed his mind. Besides, I knew he was just tryin’ to rattle Alfred, but he should’a knowed better’n that. Alfred could shoot the fly off a frog’s tongue at fifty feet, and never make him jump.

 

“Deal,” Alfred says, then: “Bruno!”

 

Bruno bit that bear one more time, then bailed offa that bear’s back, landed on the ground, then took off back in the woods. Alfred pulled the trigger, “BLAM!!”, and the bear swung for a minute, then hit the ground like a sack of bricks.

 

“Pay up, nigga,” Alfred says, and po’ Uncle Jack dug in his pocket and fished out some bills. “Go get yo’ truck, so we kin get this b’ar outta these woods befo’ the game warden catch you.”

 

“Me?” Uncle Jack stared at Alfred.

 

“I’m huntin’ rabbits, nigga,” Alfred answered, and bust out laughing. “Come on, Neph, let’s get that dog an’ go home.”

 

Well, a minute or so later, we could hear Bruno yippin’ and yappin’, along with an “Arroo-oooo!” every ten seconds or so. Then, we saw Stumpy walking slow, with Bruno nippin’ at his heels, just herding him along, til they make it back to us.

 

“He’s all right?” I asked.

 

“He fine,” Jack says, real slow, “He just shame, is all.”

 

 

 

 

Muh stood at the end of the driveway, hands on hips, a grim expression on her face.

 

“Okay, boys,” Alfred says. “Which one of us gonna tell Mom Zora what happened?”

 

I pointed at Bruno. “She might believe him,” I said. “Ya think?”

 

“Yip! Yip!” Bruno answered.

 

 

Aunt Mae Makes Cornbread

“Okay, Mom,” Aunt Mae said, “show me how to make cornbread.”

 

I bit my lip. Muh had been gatherin’ up the fixins for a gumbo, and my job was to catch the chickens and wring their necks. Then we dipped them in a pot of hot water to make pluckin’ ’em easy. After we plucked ’em, we took the guts out, and put the soft eggs in a bowl, for later. Soft eggs is the ones the chicken aint laid yet, and there aint nothin’ better tastin’ than them, trust me. Well, maybe turtle eggs, cuz it got that seafood flavor built in.

Anyhow, we singed the chickens to get rid of the pinfeathers. I had to be careful, cuz Muh didn’t like stains on her new gas stove. Now in the middle of alla this, Aunt Mae had come over, askin’ Muh to show her how to make cornbread. “Alfred been after me all week to get you to show me how,” she said. “Aint nothin’ wrong with my cornbread, I do it just like they say on the box.”

“Box?” Muh asked, “What box?”

“The Wonder Muffin box,” Aunt Mae answered.

Muh sighed, and rubbed her temples. “You mean to tell me,” she said, slow-like, “that you make box cornbread?”

“Yes, ma’am,” she said, “but Alfred don’t like it. He say it don’t taste right. He threw out my last batch, right offa the front po’ch. Hit the cat inna haid with it, flipped po’ Fluffy twice.”

“Well hoo-ray for Alfred,” Muh muttered. She looked at Aunt Mae. “Baby, I tell you what. I’m right in the middle o’ fixin’ some gumbo. Once we get it to cookin’, I’ll show you how to make cornbread.” She looked over her glasses. “The right way.”

 

“But, hol’ yo hosses,” Muh told her. I still had two chickens left to cut, and Muh had sat down to drink some coffee while she waited. The big iron kettle was on the stove, sizzlin’ the onions, pars’ly, garlic, an’ bell pepper, real slow, so it didn’t scorch. “Stir that, Mae, whilst I sip my coffee,” she said. 

I stopped, an’ looked at Muh. “You feelin’ okay?” I asked.

“I’m feelin’ fine, son,” she answered, “You cut the chickin’, and Mae stir my seasonin’.” She chuckled. “I got me two hosses to pull my wagon.”

I wanted to tell her that one of her hosses had a bum leg, but I kept my mouth shut.

 

You see, Aunt Mae caint cook. Aint no nice way to put it, other than that. Aunt Mae aint had no bitness near nobody’s stove. One time, she tried to make baked chicken with rice dressin’, and for some reason, don’t ask me why, she thought it was a good idea to pack the rice in the chicken.

Raw rice.

I aint lyin’, raw rice!

Uncle Alfred told us later, “I kept hearin’ her open the oven do’r, and sayin’, ‘What’s takin’ this rice so long?’ Afterwhile, I was gettin’ ready to pass out, so’s I went to see what’s keepin’ dinner. I op’ de oven, an’ all I see is half-cook rice an’ burnt chickin! I holler, ‘Mae! What the hell you doin’?’ She come runnin’ from the back room, whoopin’ an’ hollerin’, ‘Get outta my stove! Get outta my stove!’ I was nice about it, Nephew, the cops had already been to the house day befo’ yestiddy, so I didn’t want ta start nothin’ fresh, y’know? I grabs my hat, an’ tells Mae, ‘I be back, I’m goin’ for a paper.’ You know she had the nerve to tell me to get back inna half an hour, so my dinner won’t get cold? Shee-it, if I’da had time to pack some drawers, I’d still be gone!”

I asked him, ‘Well, how did it taste?”

He just looked at me for a minute, and he says, ‘It’s still in the icebox, if ya wants some.”

I says, “But Unc, that was about a year ago, wasn’t it?”

He says, “And?”

 

Well, Mae commence to stirrin, an’ I gets to cuttin’, but I kept my eye on Mae. Muh did, too, but she wasn’t too obvious about it. She wasn’t foolin’ me none, though. Company was comin’, and gumbo was gumbo, and Muh wasn’t about to let some triflin’ woman like Aunt Mae ruin her reputation for cookin’, no sir.

Mae stirrin’ an’ stirrin’ like she really doin’ something, but it’s just onions and garlic, nothing special. Then she gets to humming while she stirring, and I knew that wouldn’t last too long, cuz Mae like them rotgut blues, fellas like Sugar Shank and Lowdown Sam, you know, them nasty niggas. She start humming, and then, sure enough, she start singing, under her breath, on the first. Them bell pepper fumes must’a rized in her head, cuz the song started to get good to her, and she started dippin’ and swayin’ like she was in the club. She sang:

 

“I’m comin’ like a freight train, can you hear my whistle blow?

I’m comin’ like a freight train, baby, can you hear my whistle blow?”

Red light mean stop! (chank, chank, changggg!) Green light mean go, baby go!”

 

I didn’t say nothin, but I snuck a look at Muh. She opened her mouth to say something, but then she press her lips tight, and she hang on, I guess she want to see if Mae realize where she was. She didn’t, of course, just kept on singing:

 

“Wear yo’ black drawers, baby…yo’ daddy comin’ to call..(hey!)

Wear yo’ black drawers, baby…yo’ daddy comin’ to call…

Black drawers is all-right! (chank, chank, changggg!) Soon be none a-tall…”

 

“MAE!”  Muh hollered. “What is wrong wit’ you? Singin’ the blues all under the people’s clothes! In front of the chile, at dat! Loose here, devil! Satan, the Lawd rebuke ya! Gimmie my spoon, gal, have my gumbo all full of the debbil! Move, gal! Can’t even drink a cuppa coffee in peace, without ol’ slewfoot! Move, I say!”

Mae looked at me under-eyed, like she was tryin’ to figger a way of makin’ it my fault. I was doing my best not to laugh, cuz I saw that one comin’ a mile off, just like that train. I put my eyes on my chicken, cuz if I was to look at either Muh or Mae right now, the jig was up. Mae slouched down in the chair and folded her arms like she was mad, but she kept quiet. Muh was still grumbling about the devil, and Mae knew if somebody flipped Muh a nickel, she’d a’noint Mae with some oil inna Name of Jesus, and then the fur would fly. Besides, she still didn’t know how to make cornbread, and between Alfred and Fluffy, she wouldn’t have no peace in her house until she did.

 

“The very i-dea,” Muh muttered, as I handed her the last of the chicken. “Get me the skillet,” she commanded, and as I bent over into the cabinet to retrieve it, I could see Aunt Mae’s bony fingers digging in her purse, kinda sly-like. I knew what it was. Mae was a cigarette fiend.

Pall Mall, unfiltered. Yep, them’s the one.

I began to grin. If Aunt Mae thought Muh was gonna let her cook AND smoke in her kitchen, she had another thought coming.

“Where’s that skillet, chile? What’s takin’ you–” she stopped in mid-sentence. I straightened up. Muh was staring at Mae, who had stuck that Pall Mall in the corner of her mouth. She had a habit of dangling it while she talked, and I always wanted to ask he just how did she do that, but not today. Not now, anyway.

 

“Mae,” Muh said quietly, “you kin learn how to make cornbread here, or you kin smoke at yo’ house. Which one you want?” 

Mae plucked the cigarette out of her mouth, and stuck it behind her ear. Muh sighed, a real deep one. “Hand me the greeze, baby, so we kin get this chicken browned and in the pot. You payin’ ‘tention, Mae?”

All of a sudden, the phone rang, and Muh picked it up.

“Hello? Oh, hi, Abie. I’m fine, I suppose…yo’ sister-in-law in here, and I’m showin’ her how to make cornbread…what ‘cha mean, ‘who’? How many sister-in laws you got? Yes, Mae! Huh? No, I will not wait ’til you gits here… What? You’ll be here in five minutes? Uh-huh…all right, then, bye.” She looked at me. “Yo’ momma on her way,” she said.

 I got to thinkin, then. Momma was comin’ over to watch the show, and I didn’t blame her. I could’a sold tickets to this ‘un, but there was a problem. Aunt Mae needed a cigarette, and a way to smoke one, otherwise she was gonna get all jittery and snappish, and that wouldn’t do, not a-tall. Between Muh and Momma, Aunt Mae didn’t stand a chance without a smoke in the next few minutes. I looked outta the window, and bless my soul, Uncle Alfred was sittin’ on his front porch, readin’ a newspaper. I said, “You might want to go see what Uncle Alfred wants.”

She answered me, real short-like, “I ain’t studyin’ bout Alfred. He want somethin’ he get it for hisself.”

I looked at her. I had half a mind to keep quiet and let the monkey swing, but I felt kinda sorry for Aunt Mae. I says, real slow this time, “Aunt Mae, you might want to go outside, and see what Uncle Alfred want, and then come back and make yo’ cornbread.”

She opened her mouth to answer me, smart-like, then the light bulb came on. She gathered up her purse and got up quick and headed toward the door. “I’ll be back inna minute, Mom!” Didn’t even say thank you, but I didn’t ‘spect her to. She done figgered it was her idea by now, that’s just how she was.

I watched out of the window as she clattered across the street towards her house, a cloud of smoke billowing around her head. Muh said, “Baby, Alfred married that gal whilst he was livin’ in Texas. Time I met her, it was too late to warn ‘im.” She pointed her finger at me. “Boy, you know Grandmomma love you. But if you evah bring home a triflin’ woman like dat one…” she paused, “I’ll beat ya so bad, there be nothin’ left to ya but the greeze spot, y’hear?”

 

 

“Okay, Mom,” Aunt Mae said, “Show me how to make cornbread.” I was leaning on the cabinet by the kitchen sink. Momma had done made her way in, and made her perch in the rockin’ chair near the door, and tryin’ her best to keep a straight face. Muh was sittin’ next to the table, right by the stove, and Aunt Mae was standin’ up at the table.

Muh said, “First thing you gonna need is some flour and cornmeal.”

Mae looked at me, and do you know that old sow had the nerve to say, “You heard her, boy, you need some flour and cornmeal.”

I opened my mouth to answer her, but Momma beat me to the punch. “Mae,” she said, “He aint the one Muh was talkin’ to.”

Mae answered, “Mebbe not, but he need to learn dis, too.”

Momma replied, “He already know how, Mae.”

Good. Mae had a bad habit of tryin’ to order people around, but she was pickin’ figs offa the wrong tree today, trust me…

 

Well, bless my soul, twenny minutes later, we was all sweatin’ bricks. Aunt Mae had poked a hole in the sifter, broke three wood spoons, and spilled a half-pan of cornbread batter in the bottom of the oven.

Yes, ma’am, Muh’s brand-new gas oven.

Good thing Muh had put some tinfoil on the bottom, or she’d be facin’ a murder rap.  As it was, Muh had to take a dose of her pressure medicine, yellin’ at Mae and Momma at the same time: “Go outside and smoke! Go!, I said! Go smoke a cig’rette! Go-smoke-a-cig’rette! And Abie, if you don’t stop laughin’, I’m gonna sen’ you out with her! Raise the window, let the smoke outta here! Tomorra’s Sunday, y’all all goin’ on the altar!”

Finally, Aunt Mae came back in, Momma stopped laughin’, and the pan of batter was in the oven, with a new sheet of tinfoil, of course. Muh glared at us. “Who’s idea was this, anyway?” she asked. Aunt Mae look up at the ceiling, like she didn’t know, then the lid on the gumbo pot clattered a bit, and Mae popped up, like she was gonna fiddle with it. Muh picked up the flyswatter. “I dare ya,” she said.

Supper was good that night. The gumbo was rich and thick, and fulla yardbird, homemade sausage, shrimp and oysters. ‘Round about my third bowl, Uncle Alfred and Aunt Mae came in. “Hidy, folks,” Uncle Alfred said, “I could smell it outside. Pass me a bowl.”

“Go wash yo’ hands, Alfred.” Muh hadn’t quite cooled off. 

“Yas, ma’am,” he answered, and he had a glint in his eye that usually meant he was gonna start some mess. “Boy,” he said to me, “I hear there was some cookin’ goin’ on ‘round these parts. That so?”

“Yes, sir,” I said.

“Yeah, I heard ‘bout it, ‘deed I did,” he said with a wink at me. “Mom, I hear you had a lil’ mis-hap with yo’ new stove. Mae tried to stop ya, but you went and spilt the co’nbread daid in de fire. Messin’ up yo’ new stove like dat, Mom, don’t make no sense. Just don’t make no sense. Good thing Mae was here, could’a been a lot worse. ” He began to chuckle. “Yas-suh, could’a been a whole lot worse!”

Muh got up, real slow-like, and went to stirrin’ in the trash can. “What’cha doin’, Mom?” Alfred asked, still laughing.

Muh came back to the table and sat, holding the broken forks in her hand. She arranged ‘em in a straight line, then sat back, a grim look on her face. “I’m givin’ you somethin’ to think about, when you layin’ in yo’ coffin,” she said. The table grew quiet. Muh got up, a look of satisfaction on her face. “I’m goin’ to bed,” she said, “But befo’ I go, let me tell you sump’tin. Next time you sen’ dat simple-minded heifer back to my house for a cookin’ lesson, I’m gonna break both yo’ necks, y’heah?”

She walked off, and Momma began to giggle. Alfred looked at Mae. “Now, Alfred,” she began, “You know—“

“Hush!” he said, reaching for his pipe, “You done yo’ share of lyin’ for today.” He looked at Momma, who had tears comin’ out of her eyes, she was laughin’ so hard. “Aint no need’a askin’ you, take you five hours to tell the story,” he said. Then he turned to me. “Nephew, I saw you killin’ the chickens, so I knows you were here,” he said, “Now tell me what happened, an’ don’t pull no punches,” he said, with a look at Aunt Mae, who had done started diggin’ in her purse.

“You sure?” I asked.

He sighed, and lit his pipe. “I never ast a question I’se skeert to hear the answer to,” he replied, “And she done already lied to me, so nothin’ you say gonna make it worse,” he said, glaring at Mae, “so tell me.”

I started to tell him, but Momma kept bustin’ out laughin’, so it took awhile. When I told him about how Aunt Mae stuck the fork through the sifter, he held up a hand. “Stop,” he said, “Just stop for a minute. Abie, will you please be quiet? Why in the hell would somebody stick a fork in a sifter? And why did Mom let her do that?”

“Muh was in the bathroom,” I answered, “and Aunt Mae was workin’ the sifter, an’ all of a sudden, she say, ‘These holes too doggone small,’ and ‘fo I could stop her, she grab the fork, and stuck ‘er in.”

“Them holes was too dam small,” Aunt Mae grumbled, “Take all dam day to sift two cuppa flour. An’ why the hell you gotta sif’ it to begin wit’? Don’t the bag say pre-sifted? You think I’ma set here with all yo’ people and let ‘em run me down, and I ain’t gonna defen’ myself?”

Uncle Alfred answer her, he says, “Aint no need-a you defendin’ yoself in here, aint nobody fightin’ with ya.” He puffed on his pipe. “Nope, aint no fightin’ goin’ on in here. Cross the street, now, thassa different story. We goin’ to Mad’son Square Garden inna few minutes, act like Sonny Liston an’ Floyd Patterson, yessir, Sonny an’ Floyd, Floyd an’ Sonny, bang, bang, boom, boom!” He puffed on his pipe, calm as could be.

“Mae, you gonna take that?” Aunt Leese said. Aunt Leese was my momma’s oldest sister. She had been married the longest, got married when she was fourteen, don’t ask me why. Back then, courthouse didn’t ask for birth certif’cates or nothin’, if you looked kinda’ young, they made yo’ momma or daddy sign, an’ that was that. She was kinda like one of them pioneer wimmen, she raise chickens and ducks, plant big garden, vegatables an’ such, did wimmens hair with a flat iron an’ hot comb, an’ between that and her husband drivin’ a cab, they did pretty good.

Anyways, she was pushin’ the fire, mostly to get Aunt Mae stirred up. We all knew Uncle Alfred wouldn’t actually hit Aunt Mae, not ‘less she hit him first, an’ even then he’d just slap her to get her offa him. “I wouldn’t let no man tell me I couldn’t go to my house,” she said, foldin’ her arms. “I’d buss him one in the chops, see how he like dat.”

“Don’t tell him nothin’,” Aunt Mae said, slouchin’ in her seat. I was a bit puzzled, cuz Aunt Leese wasn’t talkin’ to him, she was talkin’ to her, but you know how that is. “Don’t tell him schit. He talkin’ bout Sonny and Floyd, he gonna need Sonny and Floyd to pull me offa him. Nigga thank I’ma let him beat me up behind some cornbread, he done loss his mind!”

“Mae, you aint gonna do nothin’,” Aunt Lezlie said. Yes, Leese and Lezlie, two different people. Don’t ask me how they kept it straight growin’ up, I wasn’t there. “You gonna sit there while Alfred cuss you out fo’ lyin’, and all you gonna do is bust out cryin’. That’s it.”

Aunt Do was chewin’ on a piece of sausage. She was the youngest of Muh’s children, and at the time, she was single. Later on, she married a preacher, but that’s a whole ‘nother story. She stop chewin’ for a minute, and says, “Leese and Lezlie, y’all both need to stop that. Pushin’ a husban’ and wife to fightin’ aint right, an’ you both know it.”

“Aint nobody ask you,” Aunt Lezlie said, “Aint nobody ask you nothin’. When dollar roll, penny stay flat. So set there, an’ eat yo’ gumbo. Now, where was we?” Aunt Do looked at Lezlie, then flicked her sausage offa her spoon, and hit her in the ear.

“Hey!” Aunt Lezlie hollered, “What’s wrong with you?”

“Nothin’, now,” Do answered.

Uncle Alfred looked around and made a rude noise. “If I aint surrounded by the craziest wimmen God ever made,” he said, “I’m a man inna moon.”

“You too black to be in the moon,” Aunt Leese said, “They don’t ‘low niggas on the moon, you knows that. They barely ‘low yo’ black azz in ‘Cadia Parish, they aint bout to fly yo’ azz to the moon.” We all laughed.

“I wish they would fly me to the moon,” he countered, “Den mebbe I find me a woman can cook me some cornbread.” He looked at Mae, and shook his head. “All I want me is a little cornbread, e’ry now and den.”

“I cooks cornbred, Alfred!” she hollered, “I cooks, but yo azz ain’ never satisfied! Never!” She banged the table with her fist, then got up. “I’m goin’ to my house,” she yelled, “an’ I dare you to come home an’ start somethin’! I—jest—dare—you!” She snatched her purse, and walked out, her high heels clickin’ a mile a minute. She always had high heels on, I don’t know why.

Well, we just sat there for a minute, waitin’ to see which way the frog was gonna jump. Finally, Aunt Leese says, “Alfred, what you gonna do?”

Alfred smile a bit, then said, “Aint no need ‘a me goin’ over there, aint nothin’ there but a trip to the jailhouse. Besides, I done et. Now, I’se thirsty. Comin’, Nephew?”

“Yes, sir!” I answered, jumpin’ up quick. 

Momma said, “Boy, sit down. Any place you kin get into done been closed. Alfred, what you got press in that pipe of yours?”

Alfred stood up and stretched. “Yeah, mebbe she right, Neph. I aint gonna be back ‘fo sunrise, mebbe noon. I’se gonna have to fight ol’ Sonny anyhow, might as well tank up befo’ Round One.” He ambled out, slow as usual.

“Y’all know where he goin’, don’t y’all?” Momma asked.

“Yep,” they said in unison. “Straight to the Blue Diamond!”

Aunt Lezlie said, “Let’s give him a half-hour, then drop Mae off in there see what happen.” She began to giggle.

Aunt Do reached for the toothpicks, and pulled a few out, then broke one. “Short stick get to drive,” she said.

They looked at her. “Oh, really, peacemaker?” Aunt Leese asked.

“Yep,” Do answered, “Aint no need ‘a us fightin’ over it.”

“Can I come?” I asked. They just looked at me.

“Dollars ‘bout to roll,” Momma said, pointing at me. Penny, stay flat!”