Bless your heart – Miz Lydia sympathizes with your pain.
Miz Bennet sat a spell on the front porch with her next door neighbor and sister, Miz Philips, yesterday, and said she’s mighty upset about the whole, entire country decidin’ to make “Bless your heart” mainstream, though she ain’t exactly sure what “mainstream” means, bless her sweet heart. She nearly broke the rockers off her chair, she was rockin’ so hard while she fussed. Miz Philips was plum worried for her. Thought Miz Bennet might have a stroke right there on the porch and drop her mason jar of sweet tea. Bless her heart.
Miz Philips: Yankees and folks out west have taken to using “Bless your heart” just to insult people, and that ain’t right. If I’m gonna call some daft woman an idiot, I don’t usually “Bless her heart” right to her face. That is, as long as she ain’t insultin’ my kin or my cookin’. Like poor Mary Musgrove bringin’ a bucket of Kentucky Fried chicken to our family reunion last Sunday and thinkin’ she’d done her part. I didn’t say nothin’ to her as I laid out my ham and mustard greens, chicken ‘n dumplin’s, green beans with fatback, squash casserole, cornbread, seven-layer caramel cake, and banana puddin’. I just shook my head. When her sister, Lib, caught my eye and said, “Bless her heart,” I knew what she meant. My daddy’s baby girl is stupid enough to think “dinner on the grounds” means we won’t have tables. It was just the plain truth, but I wouldn’t say it to Mary or her daddy, Walter.
Miz Bennet: Exactly, Sis. Down South, we don’t say such a thing right to a person, though if Mary had shown her tacky bucket of chicken to me and asked me if she’d brought enough, I’d have said, “I’m sure you did all you could do, dear. It’s just good to have you here. Bless your heart.” We’re kind down here. We got manners. I always let at least one car in front of me in the Walmart parking lot. Kitty, you must have worked your fingers slam to the bone all day Saturday to get up that spread. Bless your heart.
Miz Philips: That’s right, honey, I did. You know, some people can’t help being stupid, and there ain’t no cure for it. Their parents were likely first or second cousins. They probably met at a family reunion and just don’t know no better. You gotta hope for the best for ‘em. Gotta be careful about marryin’ yer kin folk. Them apples don’t fall far from the tree.
Miz Bennet: Talkin’ ‘bout no cure for stupid, how’d you like those them orange dresses Caroline keeps wearin’? Bless that girl’s heart, she don’t have a lick of sense about what to wear. Why don’t her mama help her?
Miz Philips: Ain’t that right! And she looks like a big old parrot with them feathers in her hair. Lizzy ended up behind her at church last week and couldn’t see a fool thing. She was right put out she couldn’t see the preacher. Said she felt like she needed a scythe to cut through the mess on Caroline’s head. Lawd, help us all. But you know, her mama’s so busy runnin’ after a man to replace her dear, departed husband (God rest his soul) that she don’t take no time a’ tall with Caroline. Bless her heart, it’s a scandal. And Caroline’s just like her mama. Chases everything in pants. Without ‘em, too, or so I heard tell.
Miz Bennet: It’s downright pitiful, and that’s the gospel truth. Looky here. I got some pictures of my new grandbaby, Scarlett, with her sister. Ain’t they purty?
Miz Philips: Bless ’em. They’re a sight. And how’s your oldest girl doin’ in that foreign country she flew off to? Married a soldier, didn’t she?
Miz Bennet: She did. I remember when we liked the men in uniforms, too, Sis. But my girl’s run slap off her feet with them two babies. I don’t know how she does it, but it blesses my heart. They’re such sweet young ‘uns. Just precious, like their mama and daddy, bless all their little hearts.
Miz Philips: I’s afraid she had ‘em too close together. Bless her heart. I know you miss your girls.
Miz Bennet: All the time, Sis. More’n Carter’s got little liver pills. Wish I could see ‘em more. I’d give a purty penny to get a little sugar from those young’uns.
Miz Philips: It’s a cryin’ shame they live so far away. Bless your heart, honey. I’m gonna pray for you.
Miz Bennet: Thank ‘e, Sis. It’s been mighty fine sittin’ out here chewing the fat with you, but I gotta get home and cook up some supper. The girls are gone, but I still gotta husband.
Miz Philips: You’re doin’ a sight better ‘n Caroline’s mama. And me, too. Been alone these twenty years or more now. It perks me right up when you stop by. Don’t be a stranger.
Miz Bennet: I won’t. I’ll be thinkin’ about you, Sis. Bless your heart. You’re such a sweetheart.
Miz Philips: You, too, darlin’. Get along now. Don’t make that man wait to eat. He looks like nobody ain’t fed him in a month of Sundays.
Miz Bennet: Truth is, he eats so much it makes ‘im poor to carry it. I’ll see ya later, sugar.
Miz Philips: Lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise.
Miz Bennet: Amen to that.
© 2016 Robin M. Helm