Monday, August 29, 2016


For those of you who have remarked that Paxton is such a pleasant place, and that the people all seem so NICE---there ARE warts, and there are prickles and stings, but we try hard to ignore them.

Miss Delois Walker was a Mrs. at one time in the past, but the Mister is no longer in the picture.  I don’t know if they divorced, or if they had a fallin’ out, or even if he just got tired of her bossy ways and slunk off in the night/with another woman/had a nervous breakdown and got committed, or any of a dozen ways to leave your impossible-to-love lover.   Her Mama said she cried and carried on for ever so long after he left, but only because of What People Would Think.   And her Mama also said that Miss Dee-Lawis got up on a High Horse when she was still in a High Chair, and never did come down off of it, no matter how they tried to please her.

She doesn’t laugh or anything at your misfortune, so I don’t think she’s just mean, but she certainly states her opinion of whatever folks do or don’t.   Miss Dee-lawis is not a happy woman.  She not only is not happy, she just goes about it in a lot of unpleasant ways.  She carries a cloud, she does, and mostly she IS one.  And she’s a past master of using derogatory dismissals:

“Well, you kin jes git GLAD in the same step-ins you got MAD in!”

“Well, if you’re gonna be THAT way about it.”

“Well, IIII wouldn’t, but just do what you want to.”  SNIFF

“It’s up to yew.”  SNIFF

“You’re not wearin’ THAT, are you?”

“Who on God’s Earth cut-chur hair?”

“Well, jes’ BE that way, then.” SNIFF

And she has a way of criticizing anything she considers high-toned or lofty or big-headed, without even opening her mouth---well not very wide, anyway.

She always wants to know where you’ve been, who you saw, what you bought, what you did there.  And if any of the trip’s or evening’s or day’s jaunt included any of the high-falutin’ things she doesn’t cotton to, she has an exasperating habit that would irritate the robe off a saint.

She makes her mouth into a little tight round like a Cheerio, tilts her head a little bit toward one shoulder, shakes her head a little bit with her eyebrows up and eyes closed, and makes the most obnoxious little inhaling whistle.   I just never saw the like---the moment she finds out you’ve enjoyed the Opera, or a dance recital, or bought a subscription to anything other than Woman’s Day or Redbook, she does that little head-thing that must require a lot of co-ordination or practice, one.

I vote practice, because like Aint Ruby, who was JUBUS of things and folks,  Miss Dee-Lawis is critical, but mainly of things she is not a part of---the Bailey girls’ debuts at the Jackson Cotillion, for example.   That was Puttin on the Dawg, and givin’ it a hat, both.   Those girls’ Mama had just got WAY above her raisin’ and just because she married money, she had no call to go flauntin’ her checkbook like that.  The very idea.

She even put in to be the town correspondent for the County Paper one time, since she knew so much about every little thing that happened around the town.  She was gently declined in favor of Carlisle Emerson---Carlisle having a typewriter and a couple of years of college, and all.   And besides, Carlisle talked nice about people. 

Miss Dee-Lawis will zero in on a  wedding in which the flowers were ordered from OFF, or a party with a TENT, and that time the Covingtons and Heafners went in together and had that truck of seafood brought up from the coast from Gollott’s for their kids’ graduation party---oh, my.   Why, that last one kept her in a ruckus for weeks.

And when she and Miss Mavis Meeker get together---the whole town glows from the burnin’ ears. 


Sunday, August 28, 2016


Miss Mavis Meeker was a flappy-clothes, tall lank lady who loved gossip, and she could insert her beanpole self into the tiniest niches---for hiding and overhearing, or for barging in and asking.  It seemed as if carrying around all those rumors kept her thin as jogging, for she was the one who “sold out” from the Fund-Raiser Tea before scones, to get home to the phone when she heard that old Mr. Halliburton got caught retrieving his hearing aid from the back seat of a married lady’s car. 

She had a need-to-know like no one else in Paxton, and her curiosity grew with each year of her inquiring life.   She’d drive out through the country roads, looking and scanning and taking note of who had nice yards and who’d just had a dish installed and if the Covingtons' children were visiting.   She’d go through an unfamiliar place, and would turn around and come back down the road to see if she could see a name on the other side of a mailbox, frowning and getting a grump on her face if she didn’t, for she simply MUST know who lived where, even if she didn’t KNOW the who.

She traded in “good works” in her information quest, walking an apronful of tomatoes from her garden down the street to the house where a strange car had been parked for several days, trying to peer around the door when it was opened, to see if the Boyette girl had left her husband again and come back to stay with her Mama 'n'em.   If ever a stranger or anyone in law enforcement knocked on a neighbor’s door, she’d make sure she was outside with some little chore so that she could hear or see whatever happened, or she’d grab up a few flowers and take them innocently over just for an excuse to hang around.

She was the first to take a dish by the home of the bereaved, and also took pains to be the first to view a corpse.  She’d been known to wait outside the funeral home in her car til they opened the doors.  She’d stand right by the casket, looking her eyes full, and then  would circle the room like a name-dropper at a cocktail party, pronouncing how the departed looked---from Natchrul to Peekid to They Did All They Could, with a sly peek at the listeners for their reactions.   Closed casket funerals put her off kilter for a week, not being able to assess the make-up, or if they were wasted away, and all.

Being first at the house after the news spread of the death was important, so she could see “how they took it.”  Folks in town swore that  she had four cakes, two casseroles and a banana puddin’ on hand at all times---no WAY she could whip up a dish that fast. 

If Evelyn Couch, inquiring after Ont Vesta in the nursing home, were as nosy as all get-out, and a tee-nincey bit on the obnoxious side, she’d have sounded like Mavis Meeker. 

Miss Mavis would approach a lady, dozing in her wheelchair in the hall---the fact of the lady’s being in Golden Years had, in Mavis’s mind, conferred an immediate mantle of senility upon check-in.   She thought of them all as having been “committed,” as one would have been to Whitfield, the moment they left their own abodes to live at “The Home.”

But she visited them just the same, thinking that if any geriatric mind-mishap might have dampened their filters, she could just ask anything about anybody, and they’d give her the answer.   If they remembered it.   Like where DID the Finch girl go that time when she left school to travel Europe with her Aunt, or who WAS it that Harliss McIntire was with up at Clarksdale that time Mac shot the tires out on her Cadillac? 

She’d arrive at Golden Years, look up and down the halls for a likely victim, and home in.   She wasn’t above going right in a door where someone was sleeping, making herself at home, and rustling about a bit to wake the unwary soul, and had no qualms about asking prying, pointed questions. 

 Until Miss Martha Bridger, that is, who had never had much of a filter to start with, and had taught sixth grade boys for enough years to inure her to any inquiry, expletive, observation, or gesture. 

“Miss Marthy!!” Mavis trumpeted, apparently also convinced that passing eighty rendered her victim deaf, “Do ye know who Aaah ayum?”

A long, testy no-nonsense teacher-look from Miss Martha, and a little complete-circle-like-clock-hands of her tight-pursed lips before she spoke.

“AA’ve known ye all yeh lahfe, Mavis, and ye habm’t improved.”