Southern Fried Austen

Out in the Boonies

Darcy and Lizzy went to work every day the next week, textin’ and talkin’ to each other on their phones, livin’ for the weekend. When the sun peeped over the hill on Saturday, that boy was at her house, knockin’ on the door. Lizzy was ready for him, and she answered the door before the noise could wake up her sister Jane Bea. He kissed her good mornin’ and took her hand to walk her to his car. When they were on their way, he started shootin’ questions at her.

Boonies benefits

 

Darcy: Have you been waitin’ long? I thought I might be late. I didn’t realize it would take so much time to get here.

Lizzy: I told you I live out in the boonies. This is the coun’ry, Sugar. No “t.”

Darcy: Is all this your daddy’s land?

Lizzy: Yep. That’s his house over there across the field. It’s almost two hundred years old, and I grew up there. Jane and I moved into this house after the renters moved out a few years ago. When we decided to live here instead of in the big house, my other three sisters each got their own bedroom, so nobody complained. Daddy likes it ‘cause he can still see what time we come and go, and who we come and go with. The rent’s cheap, too. He gives us a break since he wants us to live close to him.

Darcy: Your daddy owns the house, and you still pay rent?

Lizzy: Shoot yeah. We’re payin’ only about half what he could get from anybody else, and he’s payin’ the utilities. Jane and I both have good jobs, so we should pay him somthin’, and we’d pay a lot more to get any other place. Daddy and Mama can’t afford to let us live here for free. They still have three daughters at home. I know you’ve got more money that you can shake a stick at, but my family doesn’t. We all work. I’ve been workin’ a payin’ job since I was fourteen.

Darcy: I work, too, and I was just asking. Don’t bite my head off.

Dills my pickle

Lizzy: Sorry, Darlin’. I haven’t had my coffee yet. Sometimes I wake up grumpy. I’m not really an early mornin’ person, and I was runnin’ around as soon as I got up like a chicken with its head cut off, tryin’ to look good for you.

Darcy: Well, that just dills my pickle. And might I add, mission accomplished. You look so fetchin’, the sun came up just to see you. Like my grandpa always told my grandma, you’re prettier than a mess of fried catfish. We’ll stop for breakfast as soon as we see a good place.

Lizzy: We folks from out in the boonies don’t eat tofu and bean curd for breakfast, so our ideas of a good place to eat may not line up. I want eggs, grits, and home fries with toast.

Darcy: What? No bacon? You’re missing an opportunity to eat more fat if you leave off the bacon.

Lizzy: Don’t poke the grumpy bear. Remember, you’re in the Deep South where sushi is still called bait.

Darcy: You goin’ to pitch a hissy fit?

Lizzy: I never pitch hissy fits, duck fits, or dyin’ duck fits in enclosed spaces. This tank is big, but I don’t want to chance it. No fits of any sort in a moving vehicle. That’s the rule. Why’re we driving’ so slow? We’re racin’ along like a herd of turtles, and I’m starvin’ over here.

hissy fit

Darcy: I’m already drivin’ two miles an hour over the speed limit.

Lizzy: I bet you always colored inside the lines, too. You fly planes, for heaven’s sake. Don’t you like to go fast? You drive like my memaw.

Darcy: I fly planes like I drive cars – safely.

Lizzy: Let me drive, then.

Darcy: Do I have “idiot” tattooed on my forehead?

Lizzy: I don’t know. Let me look.

Darcy: (smiling) You’ll have to come over here. When I’m drivin’, I keep my eyes on the road.

Lizzy: Give me some duck tape so I can make sure your hands don’t leave the steerin’ wheel, and I’ll lean over there and look. I like safety, too.

Darcy: (laughing) Duct tape? I don’t carry duct tape around in my car.

duck tape 1

Lizzy: (shocked) You don’t have any duck tape? Didn’t you know that duck tape is like the Force down here? It has a light side and a dark side, and it holds everything together. After we eat, we need to stop at a hardware store or a seed and feed.

Darcy: I think we can make it through the day without duct tape. We have to be at the air field at a certain time, so we don’t have time for an errand.

Lizzy: Do you know what you’ll never hear a Southerner say?

Darcy: No, but I’m dyin’ to find out.

Lizzy: Duck tape can’t fix that.

Duct tape outfits

Darcy: Words to live by. We’ll stop on the way back after we fly.

Lizzy: It comes in colors now, you know.

Darcy: What comes in colors?

Lizzy: Are you daft? Duck tape! Out in the boonies, we use it for everything from interior decoratin’ to makin’ prom dresses.

Darcy: I think there’s a Walmart where we’re goin’.

Lizzy: Of course there is. You can’t swing a dead cat down here without hittin’ a Walmart. Have you met that Wickham guy my sister Lydia met at the race? We found out he lives pretty close to you.

Darcy: I used to be buddies with him.

Lizzy: You’re not friends anymore?

Darcy: Nope.

Lizzy: Why not?

Darcy: He’s just not the kind of guy I hang around with. Let’s leave it at that.

Lizzy: I think he’s not tellin’ my sister the truth about some things. He said he was rich, and you two used to be like brothers until you cheated him out of somethin’.

Darcy: Were his lips movin’ when he told her that stuff?

Lyin' lips

Lizzy: I would think so.

Darcy: Well, any time his lips are movin’, he’s lyin’.

Lizzy: He came around last week, and I met him. Seemed to be a nice enough guy, but I thought he didn’t have enough chlorine in his gene pool. His jeans were so tight, I could see the veins in his legs. He looked good, but he made me uncomfortable. My “get away from me” meter was at 10.

Darcy: Was he tryin’ to get too friendly with you? I can talk to him if I need to. I can be very persuasive.

Lizzy: He started out tryin’ to be all touchy-feely, but I handled it fine.

Darcy: What’d you do?

Lizzy: I asked him to help me fix my flashlight. The thing that holds the batteries in was broke off.

Darcy: How’d that handle anything?

Lizzy: Well, I got out the duck tape to tape it back together, and I had him hold the cover in place. Then I accidentally taped his hands together around the flashlight.

Darcy: (laughing harder) Did it fix his problem?

Lizzy: He started to get out of it, but I just did what my daddy always said.

Darcy: This, I have to hear.

Duct tape wall

Lizzy: Well, Daddy always said that if duck tape doesn’t fix it, you haven’t used enough of it. So . . .

Darcy: You used more duct tape on him?

Lizzy: Oh, yeah. A whole roll. I used it on his ankles, too. I trussed him up like a Thanksgiving turkey, and he was yellin’ for Lydia the whole time. Didn’t do him any good, though.

Darcy: Why not?

Lizzy: Daddy had already duck taped her to a chair in the kitchen. He didn’t take a shine to Wickham. Didn’t trust him.

Darcy: I haven’t met your dad yet, but I think I like him already.

Lizzy: That’s good, ‘cause you’re meetin’ him when we get back. He said you can’t come over again until he checks you out.

Darcy: I guess we’ll stop to shop then.

Lizzy: Why? You look fine to me.

Darcy: Not for clothes.

Lizzy: Well, what do you need then?

Darcy: Duct tape.

Duct DIY

Lizzy: Good idea. Don’t go in unarmed.

Darcy: I’m goin’ to duct tape our hands together so he can’t take me off by myself. I could end up duct taped to his tractor or combine.

Lizzy: Nope.

Darcy: Why not?

Lizzy: He loves his tractor and his combine. He never duck tapes boys to them. Just don’t go for a walk with him.

Darcy: Okay. Can I ask “Why not” again?

Lizzy: Sometimes, when he takes things for a walk, they don’t come back.

Darcy: Where happens to them?

Lizzy: I never asked. Some things you don’t want to know.

Darcy: Agreed. No walks with your daddy, and have plenty of duct tape handy.

Lizzy: Stick with me. I can teach you useful things.

Darcy: I’m goin’ to stick to you like a burr on a mule.

Duct tape body shop

Lizzy: (frowning) That makes me the mule.

Darcy: Sometimes, talkin’ to you is like tryin’ to nail Jello to a tree.

Lizzy: You know what would hold that Jello to the tree better than a nail?

Darcy: Duct tape.

Lizzy: See, you’re learnin’ already.

Wentworth Wednesday

Yeah, I’m a nervy old bat, changing Austen to suit myself. Here goes:

Susan Kaye, Writer

BeFunky_Stenciler_1This is the last entry to Wentworth Wednesday. It’s taken me a while to figure out what to write, because, frankly, the last chapter of Persuasion is meh. Boring even.

The last chapter does the perfunctory job of tying up loose ends. We are told Sir Walter comes to think more highly of Frederick and so does Lady Russell. We find out that William Elliot takes off for London and that Penelope Clay eventually joins him. Mary takes credit for having Anne stay with her over the autumn, and thus making the reunion possible. Mrs Smith is also credited and is rewarded when Frederick helps resolve her husband’s estate. Ho-hum.

The most exciting thing we learn is the somewhere along the way Anne acquires a landaulette. It was a sassy little conveyance for its time, but we don’t even know what color it is. And what Frederick is doing is…

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Pride & Precedence: Like I Should be Musical?

A continuing series by Persuasion’s Mary Musgrove

giovanniboldiniafternoonstroll-mm21

Of all the demands made upon a lady, musical performance is the most unfair. Upon every occasion–say, a rainy afternoon, or before tea, and certainly with after-dinner guests–a lady is asked to play and sing.

I mean, really. Who says I must be musical? Simply because there is a pianoforte in the room, why does everyone look at me? Is it a requirement that every gentlewoman sing and play? Of course I can do both, for I am not a barbarian, but why should I?

My sisters-in-law are another matter. Upon the slightest pretext they plunk down on the piano stool and pound out the most dreadful music. They have very little talent and No Taste. But do their parents notice?

The poet Congreve says that music hath charms to soothe the savage breast. But he might change his mind if he heard my sisters-in-law!

Indivi536The idea that music helps one think creatively I reject. I am accomplished in many areas—most particularly in the area of supervision—but do I get credit? No, that is reserved for the pianist who entertains. It is most unfair.

I must say, I would be a better musician if only I had time to practice! But my time is all about duties–or should I say do-ties? Do this, do that, for everyone else! No one knows what I suffer.

I would very much like to play the harp, as it is such an elegant instrument.  But where is the money to purchase a harp and pay the music teacher? Bless me, it is spent for my husband’s hunting guns and horses!

1Indiv572But what can one expect, living buried in the  country as we do? There isn’t a teacher within twenty miles, whereas if we lived in London or Bath–

Besides, we have my sister Anne to play for us. I have no reason to exhaust myself by practicing scales and dances.

And so I soldier on, willingly providing topics of conversation, gratis, for all my friends and neighbors. It’s yet another evidence of good breeding, a thing my father calls noblesse oblige.

I trust that your musical obligations are more tolerable than mine.

Most cordially,

Mary Elliot Musgrove
Daughter of Sir Walter Elliot, Bart.
Future Mistress of Uppercross
Laura Hile (1)

Mary’s “portrait” is Afternoon Stroll by Giovanni Boldini

Southern Fried Austen

Everything’s better with butter.

Lizzy was still giggling long after Caroline stomped off in a snit to sit with Charlie, Jane, and Emma. Darcy decided her giggle was his favorite sound in the whole world, so he settled in his mind he’d keep her laughin’, and he had an idea concerning how to go about it.

Better with butter

Darcy: (smiling) You know, Lizzy, when the good Lord was passin’ out brains, Caroline thought He said “trains,” so she said, “None for me, thanks. They make me sick.”

Lizzy: (giggling louder) And when He was passin’ out charms, she thought He said “arms,” and she said, “Don’t need ‘em. I already have two.”

Darcy: (chuckling) When He was passin’ out looks, she thought He said “books” and said, “I have too many good ones. You can give those to somebody who needs them.”

Lizzy: (snorting) When He told them to line up for ears, she thought He said “beers.” She called out, “I’ll have just one.”

Darcy: (laughing) When He said to stand to the side for beautiful eyes, she thought He said “beautiful flies,” so she passed, saying, “I don’t fish, and those things are nasty.”

Lizzy: (crying) When He gave out shiny hair, she thought He said “shiny mare,” and went to a different line, saying, “My horse’s mane and tail are already shiny. She’s won competitions for her looks at rodeos. She’s a beauty queen, like me.”

Darcy: (wiping his eyes) Have mercy! Enough! I’m startin’ to feel a little sorry for Caroline and a mite guilty about making fun of her. Besides, my belly’s startin’ to hurt somethin’ fierce.

Butter

Lizzy: Just rub some butter on it. Everything’s better with butter. Here’s a little square of it for you.

Darcy: Butter my belly? Seriously?

Lizzy: We rub butter on our bellies and backs to get a suntan.

Darcy: You’re frying yourself, Lizzy. Don’t ruin your skin. You could get cancer from that.

Lizzy: Good grief! Is there anything that won’t make me fat or sick? Sugar’s bad; butter’s bad; meat’s bad.

Darcy: Not all sugar is bad. The kind I give you won’t make you fat, and I hope it never makes you sick.

Lizzy: And you have plenty of it to give away. If your kisses were airplanes, you’d be an airline.

Darcy: You complainin’ about gettin’ too much sugar, Sugar?

Lizzy: Not as long as you don’t spread it around. I don’t like to share.

Darcy: Neither do I. Remember, I don’t play. I quit school because of recess.

Lizzy: All right then. No point in beatin’ a dead horse. ‘Course it doesn’t hurt either. So you’re feelin’ like we were mean to Caroline? I was just funnin’. She’s almost like a sister to me. Well, maybe not a sister, but certainly some sort of kin. Second cousin, maybe. We fuss, but we’d do anything for each other. That said, you have to admit she’s wound up tighter than the girdle of a Baptist minister’s wife at an all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast.

Darcy: She does want her way. She’s been all over me like kudzu at a Civil War memorial.

Lizzy: Well, aren’t you slicker than a harpooned hippo on a banana tree with your Southern talk? Seriously though, you know kudzu, wisteria, honeysuckle, and mistletoe are all beautiful parasites,  but they eventually kill their hosts. Suck the life right out of ‘em. Just a little warnin’.

kudzu

Darcy: You don’t need to warn me about Caroline, Lizzy. She’s like a doorknob. Every man I’ve met since I came back here has had a turn at being her boyfriend.

Lizzy: That was nicely put. I liked the addition of “at being her boyfriend.”

Darcy: Yep. I changed it a bit. She’s not that kind of bad.

Lizzy: You’re right. She isn’t. She goes out with lots of guys, and she dresses like she’s a flashin’ sign advertisin’ for a good time, but she really isn’t a hoochie mama, even if the jeans she has on are tight enough to see Lincoln smilin’ on a penny in her back pocket. She’s more like a black widow spider.

Darcy: Or a praying mantis? The female eats her male partner when she’s finished with him. Sometimes she decapitates him.

Lizzy: You know more than a Philadelphia lawyer. That’s our Caroline. Don’t worry though. We’re nothin’ alike. And Charlie’s not like her, either.

Darcy: Yep. There’s no conceit in her family. She got it all.

Lizzy: Here comes Harriet, loaded down with our plates.

Harriet: Here you go, folks. I see Caroline and Emma moved. I’m gonna hustle on over there and take them their orders.

Darcy: Thanks, Harriet.

Butter - Paula Dean

Lizzy: Is your food good?

Darcy: The roasted chicken is a little dry.

Lizzy: Put some butter on it.

Darcy: I know. Everything’s better with butter. Maybe we’ll lay out in the sun Saturday after we have lunch at the beach. You could put butter on my back.

Lizzy: (grinning) You’re already good enough. If I make you any better I might have to slap myself.

Darcy: You tryin’ to turn my head? ‘Cause it’s spinning like Linda Blair’s in “The Exorcist.”

Lizzy: (shivers) You could put all the butter in the world on that girl, and she’d still scare the bejeebers out of me.

Darcy: See. Not everything’s better with butter.

Lizzy: Maybe not, but this baked potato sure is.

Darcy: Give me some of that, Darlin’. It looks good.

Lizzy: The next time you reach toward my baked potato, you’ll draw back a nub. Eat your dry chicken and be happy.

Darcy: Not even one bite?

Lizzy: Well, I’ll give you one bite, but if I have to slap myself, I don’t want to hear a word out of you.

Darcy: Dang. That’s so good it has to be bad. I think you’re right. Everything IS better with butter.

 

Wentworth Wednesday

CHAPTER 23
“I can listen no longer in silence.  I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach.  You pierce my soul.  I am half agony, half hope.  Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever.  I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago.  Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death.  I have loved none but you.  Unjust I may have been, weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant.  You alone have brought me to Bath.  For you alone, I think and plan.  Have you not seen this?  Can you fail to have understood my wishes?  I had not waited even these ten days, could I have read your feelings, as I think you must have penetrated mine.  I can hardly write.  I am every instant hearing something which overpowers me.  You sink your voice, but I can distinguish the tones of that voice when they would be lost on others. Too good, too excellent creature!  You do us justice, indeed.  You do believe that there is true attachment and constancy among men.  Believe it to be most fervent, most undeviating, in F. W. 

“I must go, uncertain of my fate; but I shall return hither, or follow your party, as soon as possible.  A word, a look, will be enough to decide whether I enter your father’s house this evening or never.”

FW_at_desk

What can be said about the letter? It’s a grand declaration of love and longing, and a grand admission of failure.

“I can listen no longer in silence.  I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach.  You pierce my soul.  I am half agony, half hope.  Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever.  I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago.

At this point, Frederick is still not positive of Anne’s feelings. He’s asking that she put him out of his soul-pierced misery and tell him how she genuinely feels. In an earlier chapter, Frederick is sarcastic when talking to Sophy about the sort of woman he wants to marry. On the shallow end of his mind, he described a flirty young thing, one a lot like Louisa Musgrove. But soon he gets to the nitty-gritty describes a serious, thinking woman that is actually Anne Elliot. He’s still angry and confident at that point. But now, after making a lot of mistakes and taking a long time-out, he’s contrite and unsure that he’s reading the signs properly. He’s an intelligent man who is overthinking everything he sees and hears. Fortunately for us, he throws caution to the wind and bares his heart to Anne.

§

For most of the adaptations, the letter is the culmination of the story. The ’95 version gives us a circus outside the White Hart as a metaphor for their internal joy. There are lots of Persuasionites who like it. I am neutral. The ’07 version had Anne running around the town looking for Frederick. I call this, The Aerobic Version. I think that tells you what I think of it.

Along with the Frederick vs. Little Walter scene at Uppercross Cottage, I can only hope this scene is included in a future adaptation. I hope this because the beginning of the walk is where the romance truly happens.

Since this is Jane Austen, there is no lusty mauling like we have in contemporary romances. Frederick and Anne keep everything family-friendly for public viewing with “smiles reined in and spirits dancing in private rapture.”

FW_and_Anne_stroll

“There they exchanged again those feelings and those promises which had once before seemed to secure everything, but which had been followed by so many, many years of division and estrangement.  There they returned again into the past, more exquisitely happy, perhaps, in their re-union, than when it had been first projected; more tender, more tried, more fixed in a knowledge of each other’s character, truth, and attachment; more equal to act, more justified in acting.”

Occasionally, I wish Austen had written this part of the conversation instead of going over his behavior with Louisa, the fall at Lyme, and the concert earlier in the week. But, I have to say that her dislike of writing the more tender aspects of love work out well for fiction writers. We do know they understand more deeply their pasts and how those shaped their present. And I think it’s safe to say they are more solidly in love now than in ’06.

§

The 1995 version of Persuasion has a short scene of the evening party. It’s well-done and shows some of the underlying storylines being tied up or unravelling as the case may be. Though, it’s wrecked for me with Frederick’s public, and wholly inappropriate asking Sir Walter for Anne’s hand in marriage. I am a purist in a lot of ways and this really bugs me. Though, Harville’s look is too good to miss.

FW_evening_party

In the novel, the scene would be a lot longer and would include another admission of failure and guilt on Frederick’s part.

After asking if Anne would have renewed the engagement in ’08, when returned to England with a little money and a good posting, and she answers in the affirmative, he says this:

“I was proud, too proud to ask again.  I did not understand you.  I shut my eyes, and would not understand you, or do you justice.  This is a recollection which ought to make me forgive every one sooner than myself.  Six years of separation and suffering might have been spared. It is a sort of pain, too, which is new to me.  I have been used to the gratification of believing myself to earn every blessing that I enjoyed.  I have valued myself on honourable toils and just rewards. Like other great men under reverses,” he added, with a smile. “I must endeavour to subdue my mind to my fortune.  I must learn to brook being happier than I deserve.”

I think the reason I like Frederick is that he’s the “everyman.” He thinks he deserves every good thing. The bad stuff? Well, that’s filed under Why Me? In the last line, I am reminded why I have to be careful not to get too puffed up. The love and people I have in my life are gifts that need to be cared for with gratitude and thankfulness. My ability to earn them is miniscule.

Pride and Precedence: In-house Insomnia

giovanniboldiniafternoonstroll-mm21

An advice column by Persuasion’s Mary Musgrove

If only I could sleep properly! But the demands of a household are myriad, and as you know I am the most responsible member of the family. Charles shrugs off our troubles, while I am kept awake thinking of solutions for future events.

It’s as if Thinking has become a profession. This is most unfair, for I am an Elliot and a gentlewoman. I should not have a profession! I should not have to think!

One of the London papers had an article about sleeplessness recently, and the suggestions offered were idiotic. If my husband were to read them, my life would be worse, not better. I sent that newspaper straight into the fire.

I share those so-called solutions here because I daresay you could use a laugh.

Exercise and stay active. I walk quite enough, thank you. My husband will never purchase a proper carriage if he thinks strolling about will improve my health. It won’t.

Can I help it if I am always thinking?

Can I help it if I am always thinking?

Avoid Naps. Bless me, if I do not nap, how will I stay awake at parties and assemblies? I am not about to become like one of the dowagers, snoozing open-mouthed on the sofa instead of dancing.

Abstain from caffeine and wine. What am I to offer callers instead of tea, pray? Warm milk? I must serve wine with dinner and strong coffee with dessert. The sort of people who read London newspapers obviously have no social life.

Moderate large meals, particularly those with meat. Look, when I am invited to dinner, of course I will eat meat and plenty of it. Meat is not only healthful but also expensive. I enjoy meat the most when my father-in-law is paying for it, thank you. Besides, hosts expect their guests to partake with enthusiasm. To abstain would be rude.

Get out of the bed when not sleeping. And go where? Sharing a bedchamber is not easy. My husband will thrash about in his sleep and pull off the blankets. He says I hog them, but I act only in self-defense.

Fill the bedchamber with pleasing floral aromas. As I said, I share with my husband. Not only do we not have flowers available year-round (for he refuses to put up a hothouse), but the scent in our room is far from floral!

Hide the bedroom clocks. I would like a clock to hide! Charles will not purchase one for our bedchamber or any other room; he says they are unnecessary for country life. We have a mournful longcase clock in the entrance hall and an elegant ormolu clock–a wedding gift from Father–in the drawing room. And that’s it.

Buy a good mattress. This is the only decent suggestion of the lot. Ours was supposedly restuffed or refluffed or reticked (or whatever one does to mattresses) when we were married five years ago. I say my in-laws lied. This mattress has been around since before William the Conqueror. Yes, it would be just the thing for a battle-hardened Saxon brute.

Alas, I must selflessly make do with what beauty sleep I can snatch. I trust you are able to do the same.

Most cordially,

Mary Elliot Musgrove
Daughter of Sir Walter Elliot, Bart.
Future Mistress of Uppercross

Laura Hile (1)

Mary’s “portrait” is Afternoon Stroll by Giovanni Boldini