The Strange Story of Dear Ms. Brown
I received the first e-mail about two and a half years ago, in September I believe. I’ll never know why it was sent to me. I didn’t recognize the sender, and I’m certainly not Ms. Brown. But believing I was the butt of someone’s joke, I read the mail. It’s somewhat vague now, but I recall it being about a seventeen-year-old boy being invited to his girlfriend’s sixteenth birthday party. Apparently, his “momma” told him that it was only proper to bring a Hostess gift, something nice for Betty Jo’s mother. He brought her a Twinkie, which, as you might imagine, went over like a quart of milk in a pint jar. In any case, the sender asked for advice from Ms. Brown, who I assumed was a columnist for some newspaper. At the bottom of the letter was a mail address with a request to forward. I did. Believing it was all a mistake, I deleted the mail, never expecting to hear from the sender again. Then, a little over three months later I received this (unedited, all names have been changed, the States are not noted):
Dear Ms. Brown,
I don’t know if you remember me. I’m the one who wrote you about me and Betty Jo? Anyways, that episode worked out okay, as Mr. Sprigger thought it was pretty funny, and went and ate the Twinkie I brought Mrs. S as a Hostess gift (as Betty Jo explained, once we got back to talking). But, scratch me behind my ears and toss me some squirrel scraps, ’cause I do believe I’m the doghouse again.
It started simple enough. I was invited over to the Spriggers’ for Christmas dinner. The table (odds and ends of furniture taped together, covered with their best bed linen) stretched like a fancy limousine from the kitchen to the skinning room, what with their family coming in from as far away as Rabbit Drop, —-, and all. I don’t want to tell tales out of school, like my momma says, but Mr. Sprigger and some of his cousins were into the shine. If you know what I mean. Well, sin as it is, what’s worse is that he left the dinner hog-chops in his homemade griller too long.
And that’s where the problem comes in — well, you coulda pounded a nine-penny nail through the table-top with those chops, hard as they were. So, there I was, sawing into my portion, peas to the left, potatoes to the right, when, downright frustrated, I tore away a piece from the bone…and the peas went flying off my plate like jets off a runway. I don’t know how much you know about peas Ms. Brown, but once they’re launched… Yep, up to seven settings down the table they flew, into the plates of Betty Jo’s Uncle Bo, Auntie Tootsie May, cousin Ruffie, and finally into the wine glass of Grandma Sprigger, who’s mouth opened in such surprise that her false teeth fell into the gravy bowl she was holding with her “shakey” hand, which, overloaded as it was, tipped into the lap of Betty Jo’s momma. Needless to say, it ruined her dress, picked up on special from K-Mart just for the occasion. So, after everything was said and done, it turns out that Mrs. Sprigger isn’t speaking to me…again, the family thinks I’m some kind of wacko, and Betty Jo’s wondering if I’m worth all the trouble I cause.
Here are my questions. 1) What did I do wrong? 2) Should I buy Mrs. S a new dress now, or wait until it’s on K-Mart special again? (I’m seventeen years old, only working part-time at the Lickity Split Ice Cream Emporium) 3) Would it have been impolite to ask Mr. Sprigger for a buzz saw to cut my chops?
Signed, Perplexed in Hog Swallow, —-
What advice would you give?