Southern Fried Austen

Have a Conniption

On Sunday, Darcy picked Lizzy up to go down to the Mount Pisgah Baptist Church in Sugarfield. They hadn’t been there five minutes before George Wickham swaggered in, holdin’ hands with Lydia in front of God and everybody. Jane Bea was up in the choir with Mary Bess, and Kitty sat with their parents on the seat two rows front of Darcy and Lizzy. The entire set of Bennet ladies slapped their hands over their mouths and let out a muffled “Oooo!” in unison. Key of D. Then Lizzy heard her daddy grunt, and she saw her mama put her arm around his shoulders to hold him back. She shivered.

Darcy leaned over to whisper in her ear.

Darcy: You cold, Sugar? I can go get my jacket from the car. Won’t take a minute.

Lizzy: I’m not cold. It’s Daddy.

Darcy: Your daddy’s cold? He’s wearin’ long sleeves.

Lizzy: He’s not cold either. Good gracious, man. Didn’t you see Wickham come in with Lydia? He’s flirtin’ with death, and right here in church, too.

Flirting with death

Darcy: I don’t see them. Where are they?

Lizzy: They’re on the other side, right across from the row in front of us.

Darcy: I see them now. What’s he thinkin’? Your daddy will go postal, right here in Mount Pisgah Baptist Church.

Lizzy: Go postal? What does the mail have to do with the price of tea in China?

Darcy: “Go postal” means “Have a dyin’ duck fit.”

pitch a hissy fit

Lizzy: He’ll have a conniption. People will think he’s speakin’ in tongues, ready to roll in the aisles, there’s a squirrel running under the pews, goin’ Pentecostal. Not that that’s a bad thing. You just don’t go Pentecostal in a Baptist church. You do that in the Pentecostal church down the street. Or you could go to the Holiness church one street over. Then there’s the Church of God just down from that, or the First Assembly of God church right across from it. Or the ARP church across the street, or the Methodist church right at the town limits, but you can’t have a conniption in those. You can’t have any kind of fit in the Lutheran church out toward Ruby, or the Catholic church in Roseland, or First Baptist Church downtown, or Second Baptist Church just outside the city limits. Anyway, you pitch a fit and have a conniption. You can throw a conniption, too, but you can’t throw a fit. Southerners know the difference.

conniption engaged

Darcy: Good grief! How many churches are there in Sugarfield?

Lizzy: Let’s see. I guess about twenty. More than you can shake a stick at.

Darcy: There’re more churches than stores or businesses.

Lizzy: Well, duh. You’re in the South. We’re not heathens down here. If you count churches in the whole county, there’s probably a hundred or more. Churches come in different flavors to suit whatever people want to believe, and some people like really small churches with only six or seven people, including the preacher and his family. A Baptist isn’t just a Baptist. He’s a Southern Baptist, or a Regular Baptist, or a Freewill Baptist, or a Primitive Baptist, or an Independent Baptist. Same with Methodists and Presbyterians. Anyhow, George Wickham is lower than snake’s belly in a wagon rut to come struttin’ in here with Lydia, right in front of Daddy. Lydia’s goin’ to get another sermon when she gets home – from her Daddy. What in world is that girl thinkin’? Nobody ever accused her of bein’ a genius, but this is plain stupid. If brains were leather, she wouldn’t have enough to saddle a June bug.

have a conniption

Darcy: She’s not thinkin’ about anything except good-lookin’ George Wickham. He’s sweet talkin’ her, and she believes every word. He’s lower than a limbo stick at a Hawaiian luau.

Lizzy: Huh? He’s lower than Aunt Maddie’s ex-husband’s lawyer.

Darcy: Sometimes when I’m talkin’ to you, I feel like a monkey tryin’ to do a math problem.

Lizzy: Keep tryin’, Darlin’. Just leave out the foreign places.

Darcy: (tryin’ not to laugh in church) Hawaii isn’t a foreign place. It’s the fiftieth state.

Lizzy: If you can’t drive there in a car, it’s foreign.

Darcy: So, Hawaii’s foreign, but Alaska isn’t. I guess Canada and Mexico aren’t foreign either.

Lizzy: They aren’t in the USA, but they aren’t exactly foreign either. We share a continent.

Darcy: Got it. Back to what Wickham’s lower than. If low could fly, he’d be a jet.

Lizzy: I like it. That boy’s so stuck on himself he thinks the sun comes up just to hear him crow.

Darcy: Didn’t you just change directions in mid-air?

Lizzy: Yep. Go with my flow, Honey. Just keep talkin’ about how bad Wickham is.

Darcy: He’s as crooked as a barrel of snakes.

Lizzy: You’re getting’ there. He’s like a bad penny – always turnin’ up.

Darcy: Your mama’s starin’ at us.

Lizzy: I think we’d best hush now, or you won’t be welcome to Sunday dinner, and Mama always has two meats, five vegetables, homemade bread, and two desserts. If we wait until the choir sings to talk some more, she won’t be able to hear us, but you’ll have to whisper right in my ear, and I’ll whisper in yours.

Darcy: Whisper in my ear, and I’ll follow you anywhere.

Good golly miss molly

Lizzy: There you go, bein’ like sugar in my hand again. I’m startin’ to get used to havin’ you around. Don’t go getting’ a big head about it, though.

Darcy: The choir’s about to sing. Why aren’t you in it?

Lizzy: ‘Cause I couldn’t sing my way out of a wet paper bag if my life depended on it. Good golly, Miss Molly! Just look at Caroline up there in front of the preacher and everybody, ‘bout nekkid as a boiled chicken. She needs to pull that tight skirt down. We can see clear to the Promised Land. And the preacher’s face is so red, I’m afraid he’s fixin’ to have a stroke. Next week, the men will make that choir rail taller.

Darcy: She does like to display her, ah, assets.

Lizzy: You think? She’s starin’ at you so hard, I’m about to tell her to take a picture. It’d last longer. Now, look at my sister Mary. She can sure bud sing. She’s tearin’ it up.

Darcy: You change subjects so often and so fast I’m about to get whiplash from tryin’ to follow you.


Lizzy: Try to keep up, Sugar. I just don’t understand Lydia, though. I’d rather jump off a six-foot step ladder into a five-gallon bucket of porcupines than let that man touch me. Look at them. All cuddled up like two hamsters in a gunny sack.

Darcy: He’s about as useful as a steerin’ wheel on a mule.

Lizzy: Uh oh. Mama’s lookin’ mean at us. Don’t look at her! Look at the preacher and act like you’re listenin’.

Lizzy: Darcy?

Lizzy: Darcy?

Lizzy: Will?

Darcy: (looking straight ahead) Don’t have a conniption, woman. I want my two desserts.





6 thoughts on “Southern Fried Austen

      1. Laura Hile

        But she could. not. help. herself.
        We have freedom to make choices in life, but we cannot choose the consequences. Makes for gripping storytelling, when the supposed King Snake turns out to be a Rattler with fangs.

        Liked by 1 person


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