Summertime Ain't No Time to Sing About
My friend is so Southern she thinks catfish is a food group. She usually has something simmering on the stove, a pot of collards or pole beans, complete with slabs of fatback big enough to cause a cardiologist to run screaming into the night. She hails from rural South Carolina--she really says, "hails," although it sounds more like, "ha-yulls"--from a town so small, she swears "if you blink you not only miss the town but the whole danged county."
Her accent makes molasses seem watery and once she has a drink or two, she tells stories about the Baptist ladies in the church she grew up in that would make a vaudeville comic blush.
But even she's been finding summers here in Georgia oppressively hot. So hot "the devil moved on back to hell, just to cool off."
She visited with my wife and me the other day. There's nothing like cold beer and summer heat to get a Southerner talking. "Whenever I'd whine about how the heat was making me sweat," my friend said, "my mother would straighten her back, till I feared she'd break a vertebrae, wrinkle her forehead till she had one eyebrow, and pinch her lips so tight I wondered how she managed to squeeze the words out: 'Horses sweat, dear. Young ladies glisten.'
"Well, Mama. This summer I'm sweatin' like a damn horse," she says.
"Maybe Al Gore's onto something. To tell you the truth, I used to think he was just on something." Like a good storyteller, she allowed time for us to laugh and sip our beers before continuing.
"Now I don't know about the globe warming, but it's sure a lot hotter nowadays than it was once upon a time. Why it's only June, and the thermometer outside my porch says it's nearing one hundred. We expect that in August, but June? Hell's bells. It's like the in-laws showing up Saturday for Sunday dinner.
"I can't do a lick of work in the garden without feeling faint. The greens bolted so fast I hardly had me a salad. If I don't pick the squash everyday they get so big and tough the boys use 'em for baseball bats. And the tomatoes? They're exploding on the vine, like some damn terrorists loaded them with dynamite.
"I got me a new hobby. Skinnydipping. I haven't done that since I was little and mama give me such a whupping I couldn't sit down for weeks. Now I sneak down to the creek at the edge of my property, strip nekkid, and sit in the water till I turn blue."
We all laughed and sipped more beer.
"It ain't natural, I tell ya. Something's wrong. I might have me a heat stroke come August. Or worse. I may have to move north."
Wayne Scheer has been locked in a room with his computer and turtle since his retirement. (Wayne's, not the turtle's.) To keep from going back to work, he's published hundreds of short stories, essays and poems, including, Revealing Moments, a collection of twenty-four flash stories, available as a free download at http://www.pearnoir.com/