Now, you see, I have a bit of a problem with this question, Danny Prompt. Firstly, I don’t much care for people yelling at me. My hearing is just fine. Second, that’s not a question. That’s an order, and I haven’t taken an order since my darling wife Althea passed years back. But son, I’m going to assume that’s just some poor manners on your part. I’m not Art Fleming, it’s well within my faculties to just pretend that you phrased that in the form of a question.
I remember my 12th birthday like it was yesterday. ‘Course it was a far cry from yesterday. Probably a long way from the day before yesterday. Hell, I’ll drop a dime in the nickelodeon if I’m wrong in sayin’ it was a long way from the day before the day before yesterday.
I’ll tell you what it was, though. It was a Tuesday. I remember because that was the year Tuesday came before Thursday but after Wednesday, on account of the war effort. Couldn’t spare the labour to change the “T” on the printin’ presses in between days. Was a decision that made sense to anyone with a lick of it, but you know government, they get a good thing going and then they have to ruin it.
Like the time when ol’ Tall Wally set the local clocks back 2 hours so we’d save on clock springs. Eggplant farmers had a helluva season that year, but ol’ Tall Wally couldn’t stand the fact that maybe, just maybe, local government had taken its head out of its arse for half a minute, and rolled ’em back the next season.
So, there we were on a Tuesday. There was me, Ma and Pa, Aunt Margory, Uncle Toot and my cousin Flip. Called him Flip because while the midwife was in my Ma ‘n Pa’s bedroom helpin’ to bring me into this world, Aunt Margory an’ Uncle Toot were tryin’ to get to my old man’s corner of the world because Flip was on his way too. Uncle Toot was never any kind of driver though, and he flipped the carriage over Cutter’s Mill Corner. Aunt Marjory calved Flip right there on the banks of the ol’ Hollydale Brook.
Flip and me got up to some doin’s in our time, let me tell you, and the day that started our 12th year on God’s green Earth was no different. You see, my old man and Flip’s old man, they both loved takin’ part in the log rollin’ competition that was held every Spring. Usually took place a week or so before my birthday come in November. Well those Loggins, that’s what we called the left-over competition logs in those days–used a capital “L” on account of Ol’ Larry Chester bein’ none-too-fond of the fact that a lower case “l” looked too much like an upper case “I”, and “Ioggins” was no kind of Christian name to be respected–they were still floatin’ around in ol’ Holly.
I saw the glimmer in Flip’s eye. T’were the kinda look that only young boys get when they’ve found that perfect flavor of trouble with just a pinch of sarsaparilla. I tried tellin’ him that kind of trouble tasted too sour, but let me just say this: I can’t rightly remember a time when someone listened to ol’ Grampa’s good sense.
That afternoon in the summer sun, Flip lost whatever slim chance he had at someone rememberin’ him by his Christian name. Flip and them logs went end over end like Ma was at the handle of her old barrel butter churn. Best damn butter in three counties. Probably more, but Ma never let her butter leave farther than three counties. Said if they wanted good butter, they should learn where to find her. Some days in the winter, I can still taste it gettin’ spread onto a missionary cracker, which is what Pa called toast cooked over a wood stove. He’d always say, “Son, spreadin’ Ma’s butter is like spreadin’ God’s word. Devine.”
So there’s ol’ Flip headed down Hollydale Brook. Pa and Uncle Toot went down stream after him on their own championship Loggins, but they never did catch up to him. He showed up at home the next mornin’. Didn’t look much more like a butter churn anymore. He looked as sorry and guilty as a drowned cat. ‘Spose it’s lucky we didn’t call him Drowned Tom after that event, but Flip had already suited him 12 years, I guess no one saw much reason to change it.