Friday, January 4, 2008

Sweet Thoughts

Excuse me, Ma’am. Do you carry buttermilk?

I’m standing in the middle of menswear, so this was an odd inquiry. But, since I shop as well as work here, I had a quick answer.

Sure do. Over in dairy.

As she wheeled her way toward groceries, I went back to my folding and thought of my Grandpa.

Doesn’t everyone think of their Grandfather when they are asked about buttermilk?

No?

Oh.

Folding shirts and repackaging boxer shorts is therapeutic in a way. It keeps your hands busy and lets your mind wander.

So you’re welcome to wander with me for awhile if you have a mind to.

Lester Otis has been gone 12 years or so now, but through the course of his 80 years whenever he wanted a glass of milk he always asked specifically for ‘sweet’ milk-lest Granny bring him buttermilk by mistake. It didn’t matter that there hadn’t been a drop of the stuff in house for years, Grampa asked for ‘sweet’ milk.

He’d have a glass with supper and then for a snack later in the evening he’d take leftover cornbread (which was prepared everyday) and crumble it up in a big glass of ‘sweet’ milk and eat it with a spoon. This is seriously good eatin’, Yu’ns.

I kid you not.

Grampa also chewed tobacco. He chewed on the sly. He’d take Bubby and me fishing ‘down to the spill-way’ and we’d stop in the store and get a rope. We were, of course, sworn to secrecy. While we fished, he’d cut a big chaw off his rope and then without closing his knife, he’d pick up a tree branch and start carving a walking stick out of it.

I still have one of my Grampa’s walking sticks.

I got a bee sting one summer and he spit tobacco juice on it. It stopped stinging. Immediately. I stopped gagging. Eventually.

He didn’t smoke much. Granny was the big cigarette smoker, but he would blow cigarette smoke in my ear whenever I had an earache. Immediately after this, he would warm up a teaspoon of ‘sweet’ oil with Granny’s lighter and then pour it in my ear.

He also made up the word ‘Horsefeathers’.

Oh yes he did!

This is a great word to use instead of Bulls#@t.

Grampa, let Bubby and me go to the café and loaf with you this morning. I promise we’ll be quiet.

Horsefeathers!

Lester Honey, He said the check was in the mail.

He’s full of Horsefeathers!


See?

When I got older I realized there was an old movie with that word as the title.

Sigh.


That’s when I made the discovery.

My Grandfather knew Graucho Marx! Isn’t that the coolest?

One hot, sticky Arkansas night, we were outside fighting mosquitoes and trying to stay cool. Gramps was whittling, I was reading, Granny was watering her flowers, and Bubby had made a make-shift squirt gun out of an empty mustard bottle. He was busy drowning ants.

Grampa made some covert motions to Bubby.

Granny was bent over in her flower bed. Her ample backside hiked in the air. Bubby took his mustard bottle squirt gun and squeezed a stream of cold water right up Granny’s housedress.

Good times.

She screamed like the hounds of hell were after her and chased Bubby around the yard with her hose.

Grampa just sat there laughing and shaking his head.

Now, Son. Why’d you wanna go and do a thing like that for? You shouldn’t pester your Granny like that.

He was an ornery cuss.

…and right now I just miss him like crazy. I’ve got that little hard knot in the middle of my throat.

He drank ‘sweet milk’.
He ate ‘redneck cereal’.
He spat on us.
He got us into trouble.

He coined the word ‘Horsefeathers’.

…and you’ll never convince me otherwise.

7 comments:

Primal Sneeze said...

I remember neither grandfather although one died holding me in his arms. Some babysitter eh?

But I do remember buttermilk and one granny. She was bedridden and I'd jump in beside her, next the wall, while she beat my mum away with her walking stick. Once Ma had given up trying to retrieve me, granny and I would share the buttermilk I'd stolen for her.

It was years later that I realised their conspiracy - to get me to drink milk.

Sugar Britches said...

Yes, but do you still drink buttermilk?

I only had one set of Grandparents. My Dad's parents died before I was born.

I'm lucky I still have Granny. She turned 90 last year.

Bou said...

I love this post!

I miss my Grandaddy. He was ornery and chewed the end of a cigar like tobacco, and it was nasty, and I loved him for it.

Primal Sneeze said...

Nope, Sugar. Not for years. I never liked it but my mum and granny considered it essential for young kids. Once it was no longer forbidden fruit there was no incentive.

Yep, I've been reading your posts about Granny. She's some piece of work.

Sugar Britches said...

Bou- We love our Grannys, but Grandpas just always have a special spot-kinda like daddys do.

Primal- Every now and again I'll have a craving for buttermilk. I'll drink one glass and use the rest to cook with.

Granny is indeed a piece of work, that is why she is so easy to write about.

Eolaí gan Fhéile said...

What a warming post. Like a pot of tea after a long walk in the cold and rain.

Mind you I haven't even been outside for days let alone walked anywhere.

Still though, I feel warmed.

Sugar Britches said...

Eolai, speaking of rain... There have been thunderstorms, tornado touchdowns causing fatalities and flash flooding all evening here in Spring Vegas territory. And according to the weather reports, tomorrow night it will probably snow.

Makes you glad you moved out of this weird weather Mecca, doesn't it?

...I'm glad you're warmed.

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