Grenadine McGunkle’s Double-Wide Christmas, Chapter 7:
Bless Her Heart
I am about as mad as a wet hen right now, and the fact that Tater’s pushing gives out before he can get the station wagon all the way into my preferred parking spot only makes it worse. I do not know what I’m about to say, but I guarantee y’all, it ain’t gonna be pretty.
“Tater Eugene McGunkle! Did I not give you my last twenty dollars an hour ago and ask you to put some gas in my car? Land of Goshen, son, do I need to take you back to that fancy ear doctor down in Bugswallow Hollow?”
I turn to Loretta. “She charged me fifty dollars last time and pulled out a ball of earwax so big, I swear we could’ve made some of them fake lips you get at Halloween and given ‘em out to every man, woman, and child in Hogwalla County.”
I’m not lying, neither. When I married Earl, I knew that rampant earwax production was a trait among McGunkle men, but Tater got a double helping of it.
Tater looks winded, but he tries to explain as he catches his breath. “Well, mama…I was gonna…but then I got to Darrell’s house–”
“Lord, son, please do not tell me that you failed to get beer! The one night of the year that Earl and I entertain, and there ain’t gonna be nothing for nobody to drink! What if somebody starts to choking on one of Loretta’s peppermint shrimp?”
I point at Loretta’s covered dish, and she looks all kinds of offended at the thought of anything so heavenly getting caught in somebody’s throat. “Well, Grenadine,” she starts in, “I’ve been making this dish for near on twenty years, and I’ve never had anybody so much as cough while they’re eating it, so—”
“How they gonna wash that down?” I ask, cutting Loretta off mid-sentence. I know it’s rude, but I’m not feeling too kindly just now. “They’re gonna collapse right here by the barbecue grill, and you know all the negative publicity that generated the last time.”
“For the record,” Loretta says, “that was my Great Aunt Clarice’s Salted Caramel Crawfish, which I admit is an acquired taste. Poor Clarice never could hold a candle to my mama in the kitchen, may they both rest in peace.”
I turn back to my son, and I can feel my up-do starting to sag from all the heat and stress and whatnot.
“So, Tater, what have you got to say for yourself?”
I hate myself for getting this angry on Christmas Eve, but lord love a duck, that boy just knows how to set me off. Don’t get me wrong: I love him like he’s my own flesh and blood, which he is, despite some vicious rumors to the contrary. But sometimes, I’d love to string him up by the toenails, too.
Tater looks a little embarrassed, and I understand why. I have just cussed him up one side and down the other in front of Sally Ann, who may be his fiancee before the night is through. She’s still sitting in the car touching up her lipstick and pretending not to notice, which is considerate of her, but I know I’m shouting so loud they could probably hear me at the Church of Christ out on route four if they wasn’t so busy hollering up to Jesus themselves. Unless Sally Ann’s got that earwax gene herself, she heard every last syllable to come out of my mouth. Continue reading