Today, The Writing Well is delighted to showcase Roy Richardson’s unique brand of humor writing with an excerpt from his short story collection, “Hillbillies Prefer Blondes.” Last week, Roy was featured on The Writing Well along with author Jameson Gregg on how they create prose that makes people laugh. On Monday, Jameson will share an excerpt from his new comic novel, Luck Be a Chicken.
Hillbillies Prefer Blondes
By Roy Richardson
First grade was pure hell for me. Because I had not attended kindergarten, I was put in with a bunch that the state of Georgia had deemed “Slow Learners.” A cage packed with Howler monkeys would have been more civilized.
In front of me sat a snub-nosed little girl with white blunt-cut hair and freckles. Her skinny legs showed scabs on both knees, which she picked at as she appraised me through squinted eyes.
“Daaang, little boy, you sure are ugly!’ she decided. “You look like my granny’s billy goat!”
I was taken aback by her white trash candor. True, the Good Lord in his infinite wisdom had graced me with a cleft palate, but the accompanying scar had never been described to me as ugly, and I had certainly never been compared to a farm animal before. I made what I imagined to be a truly ugly face at her, and decided that the best way to cope would be to ignore her. This established my relations with the opposite sex for years to come.
Behind me in this hillbilly version of the Inferno sat Wilber the Stutterer. I quickly concluded that given a choice between stuttering and looking like a billy goat, Pan would win every time. Poor Wilbur was hounded relentlessly by the other little rednecks.
I myself did not tease poor Wilbur. Whether it was out of true compassion or just a Baptist fear of burning in Hell, I cannot say. Poor Wilbur took this simple act of Christian restraint as a sign that we were to be lifelong friends, and proceeded to follow me around like an ADHD puppy dog.
While Wilbur’s vocal handicap did not vex me, he was in fact dumb as a post, and tended more and more to react to the unrelenting taunting of his fellows with violent outbursts. So while I did not torment poor Wilbur, I did decide it would be in my best interest to distance myself from him.
Slow as he was, Wilbur was no fool. He approached me one day with his hands stuck in the pockets of his grubby jeans, a purposeful look on his dull face. He pulled one hand free and extended it to me, saying “I-I-I want to give you this for being my f-friend.” In his sweaty, thick-fingered little paw was a grimy quarter. I was screwed.
Fortunately for me, this moral dilemma soon resolved itself. Based on my grades and the recommendation of my long-suffering “Slow Learners” teacher, one Mrs. Garner, God bless her soul, I was transferred from her torture chamber into an “Advanced Learner” class. While this group had its own entirely different set of problems, at least the smart kids were a little quieter.
Not long after this ascent into the higher echelons of grade school learning, I received a reminder from whence I had come. I was standing in the lunchroom line with the rest of the Shining Elite, when I felt a sharp pain hit my arm. I turned to see the grinning face of the Little White-Haired Girl, who had just pinched the hell out of me.
“Hey, Ugly!” she shouted happily, evidently delighted to be able to insult and injure me in front of a whole new group of my peers.
Conjuring up the worst epithet I could imagine, I hissed back: “Hey, Turd!” She looked genuinely hurt, and made no reply, save to scowl and jut out her lower lip.
That was the last time I ever saw her, as her family soon moved off to parts unknown. Many years passed before I had gained enough insight into the female psyche to realize that “Ugly” had been intended by the Little White-Haired Girl as a term of endearment, and that she probably had been genuinely hurt by my retort.
I have occasionally wondered, as the years have gone by, whatever became of that little girl. I like to picture her as a grade school teacher, wrangling year after year with increasingly large classrooms full of loud, ugly little children.
Of course, judging from the examples of other old flames that I have encountered in recent years, it is equally likely that she is either a Dominatrix, or ensconced in an asylum somewhere.
© 2014 Roy Richardson