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Thursday, June 20, 2019

A Scheme That Backfired -- Laurean Brooks


June is the month we celebrate Father's Day, but it is also the anniversary of my father's passing. A humble, sweet man, we lost him June 9, 1980, two months before he was due to draw his first pension check.

Daddy was a big cut up much of the time, joking around, acting silly, and making all of us laugh. His jovial personality kept the family in stitches, reminding me of his favorite comedian, Red Skelton.

On the other hand, when Daddy wanted to, he could look solemn. It is one of these incidences I want to tell you about today.

Our family lived on a farm, seven children plus Daddy and Mama. We took care of a cow, goats, chickens, sometimes pigs, two dogs, and three vegetable gardens—plus we tended four acres of corn. This is why we groaned when Daddy announced his friend Gordon said we could plant another garden on his farm.

A couple weeks later, on a Saturday morning in late April, Daddy said to my sister and me. “Girls, pick yourselves out a couple of sharp hoes and meet me at the truck. We're going to Gordon's place to plant our garden.”

Jewell and I were not “happy campers". What teenage girl wants to spend her Saturday breaking dirt clods and getting sweaty? Although we would not think of disobeying Daddy, we could show him our disdain in a subtle way. (Well, maybe not that subtle.)

So we devised a plan. After tugging on baggy pants and shirts fit for a hobo, we painted up our faces to look like clowns. When we had slathered circles of hot pink lipstick onto our cheeks, we used the same to smear across our lips, drawing broad, turned-up smiles. Then we took a dark eyebrow pencil and stroked in heavy, thick eyebrows that swept downward and into our hairlines. We even penciled handlebar mustaches under our noses. Artistic mustaches that any gentleman would be proud to wear.

With our makeup and our costumes on, Jewell and I plunked floppy straw hats on our heads. Hers was straw-colored, mine a rose pink. Before leaving the bedroom, my sister and I preened before the mirror and giggled. We resembled the scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz. It was hard to stay mad at Daddy after seeing our reflections. Nevertheless, we planned to show him a little defiance.

We tried to slip past Mama in the kitchen. Lucky for us, she didn't bother to look up from peeling potatoes. Instead, her words stopped me at the back door. “Laurie, the preacher's asked about setting a date for your baptismal service.”

Jewell slipped out the back door since she wasn't part of the conversation. I had made a profession of faith on Easter Sunday, a couple of weeks earlier, Without turning, I answered, “Yeah, I know. I guess we can talk to him after church, tomorrow.”

I didn't hear the rest. I just nodded and said, “Okay.” Her voice trailed off as I rushed out the back door toward the shed. Jewell passed me a hoe and we headed to the old Chevy pickup where Daddy waited, rolling a cigarette. We threw our hoes in the bed, climbed in the cab, and waited for Daddy's reaction. We were sadly disappointed when he showed no sign of noticing anything wrong.

Without cracking a smile, he poured Prince Albert tobacco into a cigarette paper. When he'd finished rolling the cigarette, he licked the paper, stuck the cigarette in his mouth and lit. Reaching for the gear shift, he said, “I guess we're ready to go.”

We rode the mile to Gordon's farm in silence. Jewell and I tried to keep our chins posed in defiance posture. It wasn't easy to do if we looked at each other. Doing so made us giggle. And Daddy wouldn't even glance our way.

After a long morning of breaking dirt clods and dropping seeds onto the turned earth then raking dirt over them, the job was finished. It was time to go home. I looked at Jewell. Her clown mouth was drooping and smeared, and half her mustache was gone. She laughed at the dripping pink circles on my cheeks and the once thick eyebrows melting and running down my face. Perspiration had taken its toll.

Still, Daddy was unresponsive. He gripped the steering wheel, stared at the road ahead, and kept driving. Until we pulled into the yard and spied a shiny silver Oldsmobile parked behind our station wagon.

Daddy rubbed his bristly chin. “Hmm... I wonder who that is."

“It's our preacher. Oh, no! He's come to see me.” My face burned, and this time, not from the sun.

What was I supposed to do? Where could I hide? My face was covered in melting clown makeup, and I was dressed like a vagabond. Too late, I knew I should have listened to the rest of what Mama was saying before rushing out the back door.

Jewell and I did the only thing we knew to do. We ran around to the east end of the house and sneaked in the door that led to a long hallway with two bedrooms on either side. Trouble was, the bathroom was at the far end, next to the living room and kitchen. It would be impossible to slip in there and wash the goop off my face without the preacher seeing me.

While struggling with conflicting emotions and trying to still my pounding heart, Jewell said, “Laurie, you know you should go in there and talk to the preacher. He came to see you.”

“No way! I can't, and I won't.” Nothing could have dragged me in the living room to face him. Not the way I looked. Another thought occurred. “What if Mama comes back here and makes me come out?”

Jewell shrugged, bored with the drama. She slipped out of the house using the same door we'd entered, leaving me to face my fear and anxiety. If Mama or Bro. French walked down the hall, I would hide in the closet. But, to my relief, no one came after me. And after what seemed like hours, I finally took a deep, soothing breath as our preacher stepped into his shiny car and drove away.

If this story has a moral, I would call it: “Defiance never pays; it just boomerangs.”

Jaela was born with a silver spoon in her mouth. But, when a family secret is disclosed, her heritage is destroyed. Who is she? Will she find true self .....

Beneath A Macon Moon by [Brooks, Laurean]


  1. Aw, that was a sweet memory, Laurie. One that has stayed you forever, I see. Hee hee

    1. Not that sweet, Miss Mae. I learned a lesson from it that I didn't forget. You always get in trouble when you disobey your parents. Lol. Thank you for dropping by and reading it. And for your post.


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