Simply Something for August
It’s the Pits
By Cappy Hall Rearick
Mary Sue’s princess training took place back in the Sixties. At that time, Heloise was the Dr. Phil of housewifery, the self-anointed Kitchen Queen.
While Mary Sue was reading and reciting Heloise to anyone with ears, including her cockatoo, I was memorizing the paperback version of Peg Bracken’s I Hate to Housekeep Book. Heloise wrote about bake day bliss; Peg’s chapters included: Dinner Will Be Ready As Soon As I Figure Out What to Cook. My kind of woman.
Mary Sue had a habit of quoting Heloise’s every syllable. No matter how stupid the hint, she quickly morphed into a human Secretariat, snorting and stomping at the kitchen door as foam gathered around the spoon bit in her mouth.
“I have just learned about pants creasers. Do you know about them?” She was so worked up you’d have thought she discovered the multiple orgasm.
“FYI, Mary Sue. My pants don’t need any help getting creased,” I retorted while she casually reached across the kitchen table and brushed S’mores crumbs from the front of my coffee-stained t-shirt.
She sighed. “Well, let me tell you, you need to buy some of these puppies. And don’t forget to run the pants in the dryer for ten minutes before putting them on the creasers.”
I rolled my eyes. “Why would I do that, Mary Sue?”
“Becaauseee … it removes the wrinkles so you won’t need to iron them, silly.”
“Give me a break. Babe would sooner lay his pants down on hot pavement and run over them with the back tires of his car before trusting me with a hot iron.”
I suppose Mary Sue’s fascination with Heloise was harmless enough. It kept her busy and off the streets and for that, Earle was eternally grateful. He was as patient as Job with the daily hints she spouted as though quoting scripture.
“My hamburger patties look better, cook better, and have no frayed edges,” she told me, grinning like a chessie cat. “That’s because I use a number two and a half can to pull my patties into shape.”
I rolled my eyes and began searching inside closets for Alan Funt’s candid camera.
Mary Sue’s devotion to Heloise eventually took on a devotion normally associated with Trappist Monks. Elevator background music played while she read her daily housekeeping Bible. She would open her Heloise book at random and the first hint to jump out at her became her universal message of the day.
“Save those peach pits,” the Kitchen Queen proclaimed one morning. “Place them in your bed pillows and your guests will thank you for sweet smelling dreams.”
Mary Sue figured she had hit the jackpot, the loving cup, the mother lode. Dashing over to the Piggly Wiggly, she bought four-bushel baskets of peaches and for two days went peach pit crazy. What her family didn’t eat, she froze. Ten years later, the spiked punch at her daughter’s wedding reception was fermented from those same peaches. It was pretty good, as I recall.
Grinning wide like Julia Roberts high on Maui Wowie, she announced, “I put over a hundred peach pits under every pillow in my house.”
I seriously wondered how long she had been lacing her morning coffee with peach schnapps.
“Mary Sue, if I put peach pits under my pillow, will it remove Plantar's warts, nose hair or help me lose weight? Give me one good reason to think that you and your peach pits are not tooling down a squirrelly road toward the Cracker Factory.
“Silly you. Heloise says they freshen pillows.”
“Uh, Mary Sue? You don’t have a hundred pillows in your house.”
She leaned toward me, her eyes dancing like Peter Pan on crack. As if she were about to impart the meaning of life, she said, “Be prepared.”
Before long, the peach pits surrounding Mary Sue’s guest room pillows lay forgotten. Abandoned, that is, until Earle’s boss, the red-headed honcho of honchos, showed up for an overnight visit from New York City.
Mary Sue and Earle pulled out all the stops by wining and dining the man like royalty. Mary Sue cooked a Heloise recipe she had been saving for company, and even shamed him into eating okra.
After too much wine, the blotto boss went upstairs. As soon as he turned down the bed covers, the nest of forgotten peach pits stared back at him. Being a Yankee, he automatically assumed they were a family of cockroaches and he freaked.
He backed into and knocked over a small table that held an heirloom lamp. The light flashed and crashed, which further terrified him.
Earle and Mary Sue rushed upstairs to find the boss man huddled in the fetal position in a dark corner. He was sucking his thumb and calling for his mama.
Mary Sue wrote a nasty letter to Heloise blaming her harebrained peach pit idea for the entire incident as well as for Daniel’s subsequent unemployment. She didn’t mention the necessity for his long-term therapy.
Heloise, ever gracious, replied. “Life is the pits, Toots. Get over it and move on.”