An Ol’ Southern Story

Boy, cut that loud mess off. You heard me, turn off that damn radio and come set down next to your ol’ grandpappy. Don’t make me repeat myself now. Boy, if I have to get up from this chair I’m gonna lose my religion all up on your hind-parts. Good. Set your be-hind down right there. Tell your mama to stop feedin’ you that damn saltwater taffy. It angries up the blood. Makes you hop around this place like a goddamn jackrabbit.

Now, your ol’ grandpappy has a little yarn to tell ya. It was a long time ago, back when your grandpappy was just a little young’n like yourself. See, back then, we didn’t have all these newfangled radios and phonographs. Back then, our only entertainment was pickin’ crops. And if we got bored with that, we could read the Bible or clean the outhouse.

See, back then, we were true Christians, through and through. Not like nowadays, where every runt with a nickel in his pocket thinks he’s too good for religion. Back then, we didn’t question God. We didn’t even love God. No, all we had time for was fear. Every day, paralyzed with terror, we’d pray to the Almighty, begging He wouldn’t strike us with disease. And once in a rare while, God would heed our prayers. But more often than not, He’d make us pay for our sins with rubella, or the whooping cough, or hay fever. Did you know I lost 17 brothers to the consumption? Those were some tough times.

Anyhow, this here’s a story about my pappy. My pappy was the bravest man in the whoooooole county. Why, the only thing he feared was God, lightning, and people of ethnicities different than that of hisself. And he could carve anything out of anything else. One time he carved a cotton gin out of a mountainside. Anyway, one day, he heard from the town drunk that there was a ruckus goin’ on down by the ol’ mill. Two men were tryin’ to get married to each other, and the whole town was raising Cain about it. Well, my pappy, bein’ a man of salt and iron, went down to the ol’ mill faster than a hare in some kind of tornado.

There by the old mill were the two men who aimed to be betrothed, holding two Colt .45s, and opposite them, the whole town standin’ there with pitchforks and torches. Jeb, one of the townsfolk, hollered, “Pappy, these two boys here wanna have a man-marriage! It’s a cot damn disgrace. It ain’t right and it incites my latent discomfort with my own sexuality. Tarnation!” Then my pappy, bein’ a good Christian man, spoke up for what he knew was right. He said, “Y’all should be ashamed o’ yourselves. What you’re doing is wrong, and I won’t tolerate this kind of perversity. Y’all go home and let these men get married in peace.” The townsfolk, ashamed, went on their way, and those two boys eventually got married right under that mill, with pappy pullin’ double duty as the ring bearer and best man. And that’s the story.

But you know why those townsfolk were so angry that day, boy? It’s cause they’d all been eatin’ that damned saltwater taffy. I told you, it angries up the blood and turns men homophobic. So no more of that filth for you. Nope, from now on, you’re just drinking this new-fangled Coca-Cola. The man at the apothecary says it’s made with this new restorative called “cocaine”—it just might settle your nerves a smidgeon.

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