I was born south of the Mason-Dixon Line, I grew up in Alaska.
My grandmother, who considers Boston baked beans ethnic cooking,
says Im bilingual. My mouth swings either way.
Cuz, and I are sitting on the front porch of Russells Store
watching the rain fall. Were drinking bottled Cokes, the
little ones, and Leila has poured a bag of peanuts into hers.
Being half Yankee, I take my peanuts on the side.
a good rain, an old man rocking at the other end of the
sideways, the man next to him spits tobacco into a coffee can
on the floor. Slow and steady, he says, wiping his
mouth with the back of his hand, like a good woman.
our neck of the woods, politically correct means mounting
your Rush Limbaugh sticker on the right side of the bumper.
the noise that gets our attention first. Actually, more of a vibration
pounding over the sound of the rain thats tap-dancing on
the tin roof.
the Boss, Cuz says, identifying the beat as Bruce Springsteen.
is kind of an idiot savant when it comes to music. Being a certified
psychologist, shes also kind of an idiot, but we love her.
our heads, we watch headlights feel their way down the blacktop.
Theres a faded DUKAKIS FOR PRESIDENT sticker on the front
bumper, so even before the car rolls to a stop, you know these
people are lost.
notebooks over their heads, two guys make a dash for the porch.
Cuz drops her feet off the porch rail and sucks in her stomach,
which is the universal sign for Babe on Board.
the guys walk past us, the three of us lean forward.
I like more than a man whose good-bye is as good as his hello,
Leila says as the screen door slams behind them.
the time the guys return to the porch, the rain has reached critical
mass and thunder is grumbling like Satan with a bad hand at a
linguists, the first man says as he wipes the top of his
Pepsi can with a paper napkin.
. . traveling the back roads of the rural South on a federal grant
. . . his sidekick adds as he sniffs a vacuum-sealed hoagie.
. . gathering data with the hopes of documenting the southern
dialect, the first guy concludes.
shut my mouth, Leila drawls. Who sez the federal deficit
is the result of friv-vo-lous spendin?
wish you boooyz could be here at night, I say, licking each
word like its Neapolitan ice cream melting down a sugar
cone on a hot summer day. Them beetles bounce off that there
screen like a pick on a steel git-tarrr.
like a cat, Cuz leans back in her rocker and throws one long tanned
leg up on the porch rail. Being a psychologist, she recognizes
the importance of body language.
rest of the afternoon, we girls dedicate ourselves to science.
When the professors handheld tape recorders run out of tape,
its time for them to go.
come back now, yuh hear? we girls wave from the porch.
the old man at the end of the porch watches the forest-green Volvo
drive away, the man next to him leans sideways and spits into
his coffee can.
believe theres a road goin where them boys is tryin
1996 Paula Wall took a couple of "snippets" she'd
written to her local newspaper. In 1997 she was named "Humor
Columnist of the Year" by the National Society of Newspaper
Columnists. Wall's column, Off the Wall, went on to become
Universal Press Syndicate's #3 internet column after Dear Abby
and News of the Weird, with a weekly readership of over
8 million. She was also a finalist for the Thurber Prize.
collections of her columns were published - My Love is Free
. . . But the Rest of Me Don't Come Cheap, and If
I Were A Man, I'd Marry Me, which stayed on the Top Requested
Humor Books List for 28 weeks.
Wall's first novel The Rock Orchard (Atria/Simon&Schuster)
was released in 2005. "Blending sensuality and wry wit to
create a truly unique love story, The Rock Orchard
is about powerful men, the power of God, and the ultimate power
of extraordinary women."