Monday, March 06, 2006


While we're celebrating my Southern rearing, I would be remiss if I didn't tell you a few of my early tobacco and firearms experiences.
When I was about 4 and we lived in Mississippi, my brother had a bb gun that was as tall as I was. It took all my strength to cock that sucker, but I managed. Daddy had a new watch which I laid on the floor, face-up. Now I had seen a magazine ad of an elephant standing on a watch (Timex ad, y'all), and I decided to put daddy's watch to the test. I held the bb gun perpendicular to the ground laying flush on the face of the watch, and proceeded to blow the guts out of the watch. I wondered why an elephant could stand on it but it couldn't take a bb to the face.
This is incidentally the first lie I remember telling.
Dad: Phlegmmy! Why did you do that?
Me: I was aiming at my toe
Dad: I wish you had HIT your toe!
Visiting the maternal grandparents in NE Arkansas, ancient Aunt Eulah (my kind of gal, I now know) with the glint in her eye, was sitting on her own in the kitchen with a big glass of chocolate powder. I was about 3. I said "I like that." She said "You do? Well, go get you a spoon and you can eat all you want! But you have to eat all you take." Having no sense of moderation, I chose a BIG spoon. Yes, I dipped liberally into the glass and shoveled it in, and the instant evil bitter taste of snuff dazzled my wits - my eyes must have been huge - and an atomic explosion of dry snuff sprayed forth from my miserable mouth and nose, and Aunt Eulah cackled for hours.
Living in Memphis, about age 5. Karen from across the street was over, and my mom knew we were too quiet and something must have been up. She heard hushed voices from the bathroom, pushed open the door to see me and Karen looking guilty in a room covered in snuff powder. Dad was never a dipper, and she didn't know what inspired him to get that. Maybe it was a cosmic plan that I have something to play with that day.
Flash forward a few years. Grandpa Smith's farm in NE Arkansas. Yes, by now you have surmised that I come from a long line of snuff-dippers and tobacco chewers, and the answer is yes, the men in the family dipped and chewed, too. I do recall being a very young child and thinking when one's chin gets wrinkly enough that the wicking effect (capillary action) pulls a fine thread of tobacco colored juice down one's chin, it's time to give it up - very unladylike. Anyway, grandpa has always been a big tobacco chewer, and he'd spit his juice in white plastic gallon-milk jugs.
Now, there is a particular kind of heat we get in the south that is unlike anywhere else, and I think it takes people of a certain type of mettle to tolerate this indigenous blend of heat and moisture. Apparently tobacco-laden spittle is made of more fragile stuff. About 50 yards from the back of the house and right near the outhouse, grandpa had a huge mound of these milk jugs, in which the spittle-juice had fermented and bloated like a week-old dead warthog. Brother had the neat idea of relieving the pressure with the application of a liberal peppering of pellets from his pellet gun, which we both did. Oh my brothers and sisters, it was a glorious sight - streams of hot tobacco juice, liberated from their plastic prisons, bursting forth and spraying into the turgid air. It looked like a Sam Peckinpah film- so many ribbons of tobacco bursting forth - classic overkill in the cinematic tradition. The greatest delight, though, was the satisfying "thwunk!" the pellets made as they penetrated the plastic. Superlative!
When I was about 8, the men folk were out in front of Grandpa's house and smoking cigars. I asked if I could try it - all the other kids did - but they inhaled and got sick. I smoked it for about 5 minutes and then handed it back to go play. Dad and uncles laughed that I didn't turn green and puke like the other kids. Yeah, I'm real hardcore like that.
Finally, I'll tell you my favorite shooting experience was the time - maybe 15 years ago? - when dad got out the muzzle-loader the patriarch used in the Civil War, and we fired that puppy on grandpa's farm. It was a marvelous feeling, firing this huge magnificent beast that was the constant companion to gggg-grandpa 150 years ago, or so. There's also something really cool about preparing a weapon like that for firing - more ritualized than simply snapping on a cartridge or slipping a shell into a chamber. I recommend it.
These are far from being my only tobacco/firearms stories, but they are my favorites. I know you are wondering, and I confess that I do not dip or chew, and I only rarely smoke cigars these days.
By the way, my dad read my post from yesterday, and I think he'd want me to let you know he said it was "gross" and "smutty." I think that's his way of saying he's not responsible for the monster that sprang forth from his and mom's loins. Blame me.

12 comments:

Zelda said...

I can barely type I'm laughing so hard. I like Aunt Eulah.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

That Aunt Eulah story, it quite freaked me out, especially as I had first assumed that it was unsweetened cocoa powder she had in the glass (which is bad enough, imho)!

Heather B said...

Great post, you always have the best family stories!

Kelly said...

Thank you for giving me my first belly laugh of the day!

FatQuarterQuiltFarm said...

I love love the ultra blue violet Lobelia...btw.. and am a huge fan of "gross" AND "smutty". Could be the name of some hardware chain stores.......better yet "Jewelry for Pork" retail outlets. You did say loins.

phlegmfatale said...

Wow, zelda and barbara - I always get a kick out of remembering her fondly, and I'm glad you enjoyed the story too.

Thanks, heather - we are a colorful lot! And I'm just getting started...

You're welcome, o.g.

Yeah, lobelia is enchanting, schnoobie. Tee hee, jewelry for pork, pearls before swine, hyuk! hyuk!

Tam said...

The Sam Peckinpah spit-jugs imagery just kicked over my giggle box.

I mean, laugh 'til it hurt, helpless scare-the-cats whooping gasps, snot bubbles and all, type-laughter.

It may just be the DayQuil talking, but you sure can paint a picture with words.

Ow, my poor head.

*snicker*

Mike said...

Ah, cute stories nonetheless. Very interesting read, enjoyed your site.

phlegmfatale said...

Aw, shucks, tam - it takes a brilliant blogger to know one, but I'm glad you liked it. I'm honored to know that my phlegmmy self has inspired snot bubbles!!!

By the way, I failed to mention the most brutal aspect of this even was that we were downwind of the wretched mess. Stinky!

Rocky (Racquel) said...

oh Phlegmmy, I knew we were kindred spirits...my mum's fam is from NE Arkansas...nothing like summer fun in the South!!

Now that you have shared the T and F, let's hear about the A.

phlegmfatale said...

Golly, rocky - maybe we're related! Ixnay on the A end of the spectrum - a bunch of non-drinking southern baptists is my clan. I, of course, broke with that tradition. In moderation, of course.

fuzzbert_1999@yahoo.com said...

I am so glad you sent me this URL...otherwise I may have missed a classic one.

That was really well done.

Thanks!