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How to have Southern fun
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I had the opportunity to chat with my pal, Connie, over the weekend, a gal who has pretty much lived in a lot of different places thanks to her former stint in the U.S. Army, but for now she and her brood are settled in mudpie Mississippi.

Since her kids had spring break the same time as ol’ Sunnybuns, I wondered what they managed to get accomplished. We had planned on hookin’ up somewhere along the road, but her hubs couldn’t get away from his job in Texas. That’s where you work when you live in Mississippi, you see. If you want to make a decent living, I mean.

She regaled me with a story that is as old as time, is as Southern as fried chicken, biscuits and gravy, and a mess o’greens, and pretty much sums up what most folks north of the Mason-Dixon line think about the South anyway.

Seems they stopped off at her friend Miz Betty’s to see how she was gettin’ along from her latest round of chemo to blast a tumor that once threatened her life, but now the doctors were scratching their heads because, really and truly, in miraculous fashion, it had simply ‘disappeared’. Naturally Miz Betty was still feelin’ pretty ill due to the chemo treatment, but they were all relieved that the tumor had managed to take a spankin’ and get gone.

Connie and her kids (three of ‘em) picked up a pizza to take over for Miz Betty’s family, and there was Miz Betty’s boy, P.J., who is 10, pulling up grass outta the lawn because he couldn’t find anything else to do.

He grabbed the pizza before it made its way through the front door and had half of it gone before Connie managed to get up the steps.

He pulled ol’ Corey, Connie’s 12-year-old, off to the side and said, “Let’s have some fun!” so off went the pair of them, crankin’ up the riding mower. Connie’s other two, Hunter and Alyssa, didn’t have the gumption to jump on it for a ride.

Next thing Connie knew, the ridin’ mower got stuck in a mud puddle the size of a small pond, with P.J. just revvin’ the engine and chunkin’ mud all over anyone within a half mile.

Corey was covered head to toe, but scrambling around the yard to fetch some wood to stick under the tires. Must be a boy thing, I’d have never thought of that.

She said those two boys were as happy as pigs in ... well ... mud.

Alyssa was managing to keep herself busy by assembling a ‘bottle cap’ collection from the variety of beer bottle caps that were scattered in the yard like stepping stones. According to Connie, the collection was pretty evenly matched, as all Miz Betty’s family drinks is Bud and Bud Light, so she and Alyssa had a good checkers game at the picnic table out of the red and blue bottle caps.

Now, last but not least, there is Connie’s son Hunter, who is 9. Not to be outdone in making sumpin’ outta nuffin’, he found a long strap hanging from a nearby tree. He latched onto that like a monkey latches onto a banana. He was busy swingin’ himself and hollering “wheeee” with every gleeful launch across the mudbog.

She says she didn’t have the heart to tell him it was the strap they tied up the hogs with when it came “butcherin’ time.” She said she thought he might have gotten a clue with all the clumps of hog hair shavin’s littering the ground. But there again, it’s a boy thing and he probably didn’t give a hoot. I can guarantee you she made him wash up with a bucket o’ bleach that night!

When it was time for the festivities to wind down, P.J. fussed and groveled for his Uncle Bit to please let him stay the weekend with Connie and her gang.

Uncle Bit hushed him and scolded him, saying, “Now P.J., stop makin’ all ’at noise! You know good and well we goin’ to Alabama for the chicken fights this weekend!”

Ahhh ... so that’s how they get around the ‘dog-fightin’ thing ... use chickens instead.

Connie counted a beat waiting for one of her kids to ask if they could tag along, but they didn’t. Thankfully.

She wondered if Yankee kids ever had as much fun as Southern kids. How could they? They still eat watermelon with a knife and fork.

And that, my friends, just ain’t natural.