Company at the Beach

[dropcap]O[/dropcap]ut of town company,” Daddy said. “That’s the real test of a man. If you want to see what a man’s made of, wait until he has company visiting.”

“Company?” I asked.

“Yep,” he explained. “When a man has houseguests, his manners are put to the test.”

Daddy turned out to be right. Just last month, we had my cousins stay with us. My cousins are from Godless New Jersey. Both of them talk funny. They say things like “you guys”, “what’s up,” and “soda pop”

They also use the a particular swear word – beginning with the sixth letter of the alphabet – that I won’t repeat in this story.

Because my mother reads these things.

Jamie and I fixed up the guest bedroom and stocked the pantry. Jamie even made an arrangement from fresh cut magnolias for the den. We tried to make our guests comfortable, we even planned suppers around them.

One night for supper, we put out a real spread. We made collards, cheese grits, and pulled pork sandwiches.

“What is that horrible smell?” my cousin asked. “It smells like a rotten cat in here.”

“The smell?” I said. “It’s only collards.”

My hospitality was being put to the test.

“What about that? What’s all that yellow crap?” he pointed to the pot on the stove.

“This crap?” I said. “These’re grits.”

“Ugh, gross.” He wrinkled his face.

I closed my eyes and recited the Lord’s Prayer silently.

Then the Pledge of Allegiance.

“What about that pot?” he nodded toward the barbecued pork.

“What’s all that $#!+ right there?”

“Oh this?” I said. “This is my famous raccoon liver stew.”

He covered his mouth.

“Don’t worry,” I told him. “I saved the tail for you.”

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