© 2016 by Bill Murphy
Uncle Earle’s really a sentimental ole coot. But he doesn’t want that common knowledge. So I was surprised when he told me about falling in love with Aunt May.
They were not much more than 11 or 12 at the time, sixth grade, Conger County Elementary. They were in the same grade, but not in the same class rooms. He had Mrs. Rattliff (Mrs. Rattle-Trap they called her) and May was in Miss Love’s room. (We won’t mention what they called her!) Also in the sixth grade were twins, the Ewegly sisters, daughters of the Reverend and Mrs. J. Paul Ewegly (pronounced Ewe-Glee), of the Holy Ghost Home Fundamentalist Church. He was pastor. She was organist.
School kids called the twins ‘The Ugly Sisters.’ If ever a name fit, their name did. Ewe-glee those girls were! I dare say never two uglier (ewe-gleer) specimens of human-kind ever walked the earth! Because the school board felt it unwise to have brothers and sisters in the same room, Grace Ewegly was in May’s class, and Hope Ewegly in Earle’s.
It was the time of the Ewegly sister’s birthday. Their little house was far too small to host two classrooms of over-active twelve-year-olds, and – their refrigerator/freezer was on the blink. (No ice cream.) So Aunt May’s kind hearted mother – having that big rambling farm house – invited the Reverend and Sister Ewegly to have the party there. It was quite neighborly of her.
In the fall evening comes early. It was almost dark when the party started. Although Uncle Earle had seen Aunt May around school, this was his first time to be ‘up close and personal’ with her. And he liked what he saw. Little did he realize just how close and how personal that would soon become.
There were about half of each class in attendance, a pretty good turn out for the Ewegly girls. Perhaps the good attendance was due to Aunt May’s mother’s famous cat-head sugar cookies. The house was full of sugared-up, hyper active 12 year olds. After the cake had been eaten, the presents opened, and yet another bowl of ice cream spilled, Aunt May’s mom ushered the rowdy bunch outside to play. There was lots of outside lighting around the place. Aunt May’s mom believed in light.
It wasn’t long until they had a game of hide and seek going. May volunteered to be the first ‘it.’ Uncle Earle found a good place to hide around back of the house, behind the butane tank. All the other kids found places off to the right near the barn, or to the left in the corn field, and some in the bushes lining the long front porch. May came a-looking.
One of the Ewegly girls was hiding not too far from Earle, behind a tractor parked in the back yard. May spotted her right away. The Ewegly girl made a mad dash to ‘base,’ with May in hot pursuit.
In retrospect, Earle supposed that May must have forgotten why the tractor was parked in the back yard. It was to pull the concrete lid off the septic tank. The septic men were there that day to clean out the wretched pit, but had to knock off early because of the party. So when May cut across the yard to head off the Ewegly girl, she simply forgot about things septic. One second May was there, and the next she was gone – waist deep in poo-poop-pee-do.
May yelled. And Earle froze. He had never seen anything quite like it! It was oh so funny. But he dared not laugh – this was MAY in trouble – waist deep in you-know-what.
He was just about to get up and rush to the aid of this fair damsel in distress when – May’s mother came crashing out the back door screaming and cursing a blue streak! “May, you stupid oaf,” she screamed – among other un-printable things. Now Earle was frozen with embarrassment for May. If he came out of hiding, May would see that he saw her miserable state. He simply couldn’t do that to May! He stayed hidden.
No sooner than you could say “Jack Robinson,” than the Reverend and Mrs. J. Paul Ewegly gathered up their daughters, the presents, the few remaining crumbs of birthday cake – and shooed the other kids down the road toward their respective homes. Aunt May’s mom was left to take care of May and things septic.
Now Earle was trapped! Alone. Alone that is, except for a very mad woman, and a very, very, stinky young girl. Peering from behind the butane tank, Earle now saw May’s mother stomp from around the corner of the house dragging a garden hose. “Crawl outta there and strip girl!” she barked. “Strip and throw them nasty clothes back in the pit!”
Now Earle was completely frozen – frozen with fear. Frozen with dread. Frozen in anticipation! His eyes as big as saucers, took in the sight of nasty garments being shed – one by one. And then came the bright splash of crystal water washing away all that filth – all in the brilliant light of the back yard. Washed clean, now stood a trembling, totally naked, May. May in the flesh. All of the flesh. In nothing but the flesh. “So help me, she looked like a goddess,” he said. It was the most wondrous sight his young eyes had beheld!
Long after May’s mother had ushered her naked daughter into the house, Earle still crouched transfixed – frozen to the spot. Truly, a thing of incalculable magnitude had happen here this night. It had happened to him. It had happened FOR him. And deep in his young heart, he knew it was all for a reason!
You see, Uncle Earle, for all his seemingly wild tendencies, is thoroughly tame and tender at heart. His thinking is ‘old school.’ To Uncle Earl, May’s very honor had been compromised. Howbeit accidentally, it had happened. And he, Earle, was the one who had inadvertently compromised her honor. And now it was his duty to make things right – to ‘avenge’ her honor as it were.
His thinking took this direction: Because her honor, her glory, her every image had been revealed to him in such a magnificent way, he and he alone, was destined to share in that revelation ever again. His mind was set. Made up. Firm. Someday he would, he must – marry that girl. And he did!
Uncle Earle told me he didn’t relate the story of that night to May until 10 years after they’d been married – and even then – she slapped him.