Lula Mae And Wilbur

Bob and his family had come to Georgia for his sister-in-law’s wedding. It was the day before the big event and he had some free time. His kids were at a cousin’s house playing with nieces and nephews and his wife was with her sister. He knew he’d be in the way, so he meandered downtown.

His wife’s family lived in a small town, so small the residents jokingly said the city limit signs were attached to the same pole. In the center of town was a tree-covered square with its most prominent feature being a set of benches under a large oak tree. It was common knowledge that the locals congregated there and that the benches were called “liars benches. As he drew near, he could see a small knot of men already there. One of them saw him coming and motioned for him to stop.

“Bob, I ain’t seen you in a coon’s age and it was an old coon,” he said while extending his hand, “here for Katy’s hitching’?”

“Hello, Frank, the whole family’s here,” he answered while shaking Frank’s hand.

“Sit awhile. Take a load off. Everybody remember Bob?” he asked the other men.

The men nodded yes, shook his hand, and went back to their conversation.

Bob sat down to the craziest afternoon he had ever spent. Folding his arms across his chest, he listened to the banter. He could tell they were talking about somebody and it was obvious they didn’t think much of him.

“Now Rafe! You know if that boy had an idea, it would die of loneliness!”

“I know! I know! If brains were leather he wouldn’t have enough to make a saddle for a June bug!”

Bob couldn’t figure out who it was. He didn’t want to butt in. The longer he listened it dawned on him who it was. Wilbur Dinkums, If a town could have an idiot he would be their choice. Everybody picked on him and for good reason. He deserved it!

“I know it! If brains were dynamite he couldn’t blow his nose!”

“Well, butter my butt and call it a biscuit if it ain’t so!”

“Yup, he’s as worthless as gum on a boot heel!”

“Hey fellas, here he comes!”

Bob saw a short, heavy man coming down the street. The man saw them and crossed over to the other side.

“Look at him grinnin’ like a possum eatin’ a sweet tater! Wonder what he’s up to?”

“Where did he go? I swear if he was an inch taller he’d be round!”

“Sp“Cain’t never could! He’s slower than molasses in winter!”

“Reckon he’s meetin’ someone?”

“I hear he’s sparkin’ Lula Mae Winchell.”

“Really? She was so ugly when she was born her momma used to borrow a baby to take to church on Sunday.”

“Well, slap my head and call me silly if it ain’t so!”

“Why, she’s so ugly her face would turn sweet milk to clabber!”

“Look at him. He ain’t no movie star!”

“He’s so ugly he didn’t get hit with a stick, he got whopped with the whole forest!”

“I agree. That boy fell out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down!”

“Hey, guys, here he comes and Lula Mae is with him.”

As the couple got closer the men could tell they were fighting.

“Listen to her! She’s pitchin’ a hissy fit!”

“She’s madder’n a wet hen!”

“She’s not the only one. He’s got a burr under his saddle too!”

“Yup! His knickers are in a knot. That’s for sure!”

The men listened and grinned at the exchange.

“You’re lower than a snake in a wagon wheel rut!”

“Now Lula Mae, you know I’m poorer than a church mouse!”

“I don’t care if you’re so poor you can’t pay attention! You promised me supper and a movie tonight.”

All the men knew he squeezed a quarter so tight the eagle screamed. They couldn’t wait to hear his reply.

“Lula Mae, Honey!”

“Wilbur, you better give your heart to Jesus because your butt is mine! I’m gonna tan your hide!”

“Now Lula Mae, you know I been runnin’ all over Hell’s half acre lookin’ for work!”

“I don’t care! You promised! I’m gonna beat you like a redheaded stepchild!”

The men could tell he was as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.

“He’s about as useless as a screen door on a submarine,” one of them muttered, “I heard about his last job. It took him a month of Sundays to get anything done. His boss said he’d jerk a knot in his tail if he didn’t do any better. He got fired.”

“Keep it up and I’ll cancel your birth certificate!” she threatened.

“Now Lula Mae!”

“I mean it! You’re about as useless as a steering wheel on a mule! I oughta knock you into the middle of next week lookin’ both ways for Sunday,” she shouted while balling up her fists.

Wilbur began looking for a place to hide. She outweighed him a hundred and seven pounds and was eleven inches taller.

“She could make a preacher cuss!” whispered one of the men.

“Uh huh, she’s as lost as last year’s Easter egg,” muttered another.

“He’s in trouble. He’s too poor to paint and too proud to whitewash. What a dummy. He’s so dumb he could throw himself on the ground and miss!”

“I never saw the like. His brain rattles like BB’s in a boxcar!”

“What do you have to say for yourself?” she demanded.

“Now Lula Mae, you know I’m as busy as a one-legged cat in a sandbox!”

“Doin’ what? You ain’t workin’. When a job is available you run the other way faster than green grass goin’ through a goose!”

“Aw, Lula Mae, Honey, you know you are finer than frog hair split four ways.”

“Don’t give me that! If you don’t watch out I’m gonna cream your corn! And stop your whinin’ before I give you somethin’ to whine about!” she threatened him.

“I’m tryin’ to find a job,” he pleaded, “flippin’ burgers ain’t my style.”

“Now that sticks in my throat like a hair on a biscuit! Daddy offered you a job. Ridin’ shotgun on a garbage truck’s better than nothin’. What’s that sayin’? If ya can’t run with the big dogs stay under the porch! Come here,” she commanded, “Whoooeey! You smell bad enough to gag a maggot!”

Embarrassed, Wilbur ran off like a scalded “haint.”

Lula Mae went over and began talking to the men.

“Bless your pea-pickin’ heart. I don’t know why you put up with him.”

“I wouldn’t walk across the street to throw water on him if he was on fire!” another said.

“I know,” she replied, “he doesn’t have a pot to pee in or a window to throw it out of but he just dills my pickle. Sometimes his heart is colder than a well digger’s ear in January and he’s embarrassin’ in church. He couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket if the lid was shut tight!”

In the distance, they could see a storm approaching. It had been hotter than blue blazes. Now a cool breeze was blowing.

“Are ya hungry?” she asked the men, “I’m so hungry my belly thinks my throat’s been cut.”

“Let’s go over to Clara’s Diner. I been hearin’ about that new place up the road. Sounds disgustin.’ Down here, far as I’m concerned, sushi is still used as bait!”

“Ain’t that the truth!”

Sitting at a large table, they enjoyed a meal of fried catfish, okra, hush puppies, cornbread, and sweet tea.

Leaning back in her chair, Lula Mae belched and grinned.

“If that doesn’t start a fire your wood’s wet!”

“I’m as full as a tick!”

Clara came from behind a counter carrying something. They could see it was a pie. A fresh-baked pecan pie.

“Put that on top of your head and your tongue would beat your brains out trying to get to it!”

They went through it like a hot knife goes through butter.

“Look at it rain! It’s pourin’”

“We need it! It’s been so dry the trees are bribin’ the dogs!”

“Man, it’s rainin’ like a cow peein’ on a flat rock!”

“It’s rainin’ so hard I wonder if the animals are pairin’ up?”

All of a sudden, the door opened and Wilbur came rushing in. He spotted them and motioned for Lula Mae to come to him. They began talking in quiet tones.

“If his lips are movin’ he’s lyin’”

“That dog won’t hunt. That’s for sure!”

“Why, that egg-suckin’ dog! Look!”

The men watched as Lula Mae picked him up and gave him a kiss. The couple skedaddled out into the rain.

“Look at him. He’s as happy as if he had good sense!”

“They’re gonna have old and new-monia if they ain’t careful!”

“I don’t rightly understand it. Doesn’t make a lick of sense!”

The rain let up and Bob got up from the table, said his goodbyes and headed for his in-law’s house. As he walked he chuckled to himself.

“Ain’t love funny?” he laughed, “confusin’ and funny!”

October 15, 2020