Thursday, June 08, 2006

Mrs. Linda
(The tale of how a pushy woman can drive a brotha into the arms of golf)

When I was a kid, my parents would sometimes send us to Ms. Linda's when they went to Mississippi. Mrs. Linda and my parents went way back and knew each other from Natchez, Mississippi. You see I was raised in Oxon Hill Maryland. My parents are from Mississippi and so are Mrs. Linda and Mr. Bob. When my parents went on vacation or had pressing business that called for them to travel home sometimes we would be dropped at Mrs. Linda's. Being from the burbs it was a welcome change of scenery. Spending 2 or so weeks in DC with more freedom than we had at home was something that we cherished every year. At Mrs. Linda’s we got to stay out later, stay up later and live a life of freedom we normally didn’t live at home. Anyway Mrs. Linda was pretty much like our parents, liked to laugh, smoke, drink, play spades, basically had that authentic southern down home realness, brutal honesty and openness to friends and neighbors.
One thing that I vividly remember about Mrs. Linda is that she and her oldest son Craig had an antagonistic love hate relationship going on. They were constantly at each other’s throats. Not a day went by when she didn’t yell at him. She yelled at everybody to tell you the truth. Including yours truly. She also whupped asses. Including yours truly. She even yelled at her very mild mannered husband (Mr. Bob) whom everyone liked, Ill speak more about him later. When it was time to come in and eat, she yelled, when someone had finished taking their bath, she might yell for you to come wash your ass, when you had done something she didn’t like of course she might yell. But at the same time one always felt loved by Mrs. Linda she was a wonderful cook, a very loving person, very maternal, but even by liberal standards she would be considered just a tad bit too pushy.
Sometimes shed even cut on you (in a loving but stinging way). And Lawd have mercy! how Mrs. Linda could cut one to pieces if she caught you slipping. Mrs Linda could also light that ass up as well and I can never forget that belt she used when talking or yelling didnt get her point across. That was one scary looking belt, if there was a Hall of fame for sinister looking belts the belt she used on our hindparts would have a strong chance of being inducted. Anyway Mrs. Linda could bring the heat by, sparing the rod, yelling or cutting you to pieces. The whole family (ceptin for Mr. Bob) had a fondness for cutting each other as well as others. Mrs. Linda had passed her skillz at cutting folks down to the entire family.
The undisputed champion of cutting was her son Craig, who was also a smart mouth. Her son was her most avid and talented pupil indeed. Craig was one of the funniest people I’ve known in my life. Anyway not a day went be when I didn’t hear Mrs. Linda screaming at somebody for something. But the odd thing is Mrs. Linda who was overweight, had high blood pressure and was on medication for it still did more yelling than anybody in the house. She was constantly saying things such as " yall aint gone run my pressure up I works to damm hard", while screaming it at the top of her lungs.I would often watch as Mrs Linda brought Mr. Bob his steaming plate of food at dinner time. Mr. Bob usually sat at the couch watching TV while he ate.
During these times it would not be unnormal to hear Mrs. Linda yelling at Mr. Bob. She might yell at him if he opened the hot sauce wrong, or if he couldn’t get the salt or pepper shaker to work (in which case she might walk over and open it for him), or it could be for something like not mixing his potatoes properly. I mean all of those things literally by the way. It was more than obvious even to even to a young kid such as me, that Mr. Bob was Mrs. Linda's favorite target. But to be truthful everyone in the house hold was a potential target to Mrs.
Anyway one morning we were eating breakfast. It was me, my little brother, Craig and Mrs. Linda. Mrs. Linda was giving it to my little brother, I think it was because of how he was eating, she was questioning him on why he was eating a certain way, I don’t remember if was eating too fast, slow or was putting to much food in his mouth at one time. However this was in keeping with Mrs. Linda's normal behavior. In the middle of her grilling my little brother, her son Craig announced for everyone present to hear that one time the babysitter had tried to tell him how to eat and he’d just turned around and stole her. Everyone in the room started laughing, I mean it was one of those times where you try not to laugh out of respect for an adult but no one could hold their laughter in, the more we tried the funnier it got. So not being able to hold it in everyone present just went ahead and laughed freely (everyone except Mrs. Linda).
As for Mr. Bob this guy was one of the most mild manner and humble people I’ve ever known. I never knew Mr. Bob to bother or get mad anybody.In fact, I dont ever remeber him raising his voice. I never knew anyone other than his wife to be upset with him. His mild and quite manner was the exact opposite of his wife and made for an interesting and striking contrast. Their was one thing about Mr. Bob I did not understand. That was his love of golf, Mr. Bob really, really loved golf. Other than his family golf was the only thing Id ever known him to be committed to and this was long before Tiger came along and made golf sexy, while opening up a can of whup ass on the entire P.G.A. He had clubs and often he play even if it rained. In fact it was from him that I first learned about golfers being struck by lightning while playing golf. He even had the audacity to watch it on TV sometimes (and my how we suffered). Since it was the only TV in the house if Mr. Bob watched golf it meant that everyone watched golf. At times like these I usually sat quietly playing in the corner.

From what I could see Mr. Bob and Mrs. Linda had an agreement, she would cook, clean and deal with the kids for the most part. He would work and provide for his family. She would yell at him, whenever and for whatever she wanted to. He didn’t have to left a finger, fold any clothes and dinner was always brought to him. Now of course their was a line that Mrs. Linda never crossed with Mr. Bob and that was established and understood by both of them, probably before they left Mississippi in the sixties. Although I have no idea of what type of agreement they had between them, it probably went something like this. Mrs. Linda got to say whatever she wanted, whenever she wanted and how loud she wanted to. She was allowed to have her unquestioned way around the house, as well as hold and wear the balls that god intended for Mr. Bob. What he got in return was to be taken care of and to play golf anytime he wanted to. Now that I think about it, Mr. Bob's love of golf makes perfect sense. Being out on the golf course was probably the only time Mr. Bob didn’t have, anyone yelling at him, for absolutely no reason. The poor man probably just wanted some piece and quite. The green quite, expanse of the golf course probably represented the one place he was truly free and would not be overwhelmed with any foolishness from his pushy wife. . Almost twenty years removed from those scenes, I can now say I understand where Mr. Bob was coming from. Mark Bey

P.S All names have been changed to protect the privacy of the people featured. Otherwise it is a true and accurate picture of the author’s life in the early 80's and late 70's. At the time I didn’t think anything was special about those summers at Mrs. Linda's however now I think back on those days with fondness and appreciation. But I can’t help wondering if their others who have had similar experiences.

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