The other day, when I was at the grocery store, a lady came up to me and told me that this junk I write had inspired her to have fun with phone creatures. I thought about tellin’ her about the one I spoke with the other night, but I figured I’d just let her read about it instead.
Phone creatures, for y’all who haven’t ever read this junk before, are what I call those telephone solicitors who call, buggin’ you to buy stuff.
You know the ones I mean. They call at supper time, or when a really good show’s fixin’ to come on the television set. Anywho, like I said, I got a call the other night.
“Yellow,” I said into the receiver. Nobody answered back. “Yellow!” I said louder. Then, I heard that faint click that tells you it’s a phone creature.
“Hello, Mr. Mitchum,” the creature said. “This is Margarita Finn, and I’m callin’…..”
“LORETTA LYNN!” I yelled. Then I moved my mouth away from the phone and yelled like I was talkin’ to somebody else. “Hey Maw! You ain’t gonna believe this! I’m talkin’ to Loretta Lynn!...... What?...... What’s that you say Maw…? OK. I’ll tell her.” Then I put my mouth back to the phone. “Hey Loretta? Maw says hey.”
“Uh, Mr. Mitchum,” the creature said. That’s when I decided not to let her get another word in.
“Loretta, you just don’t know how big a fan I am of yours. Why I bet I got two or three of your records. And you know what? I saw that movie about your life, too. Man, that was a good movie. Every time I think about you talkin’ about baloney, I crack up. I don’t know if you know it or not, but that girl Sissy that plays you in the movie, growd up just down the road from here in Quitman. I ain’t never seen her down there, but they’ve got a street named after her.
“Did you see that movie about your life? Well, if you didn’t, it’s a good’un. I won’t tell you how it ended, in case you want to go see it. I wouldn’t want to ruin it for you. By the way, do you ever see Roy Clark? I sure miss seein’ him. I used to see him every week on Hee Haw, but Maw got mad at the television set and throwed her ashtray through it. She said there was too much violence on it, but I think she got mad at it ‘cause it showed a brassiere commercial.
“Well tell me, how’s things goin’? You got any new records comin’ out? Do you know I remember hearin’ on the radio a long time ago, that you became a grandmother when you was 29? That’s purdy young, ain’t it?
“You got a dog? I had two, but one of ‘em got ran over the other day. The other one moped around for a few days, but he got alright. I’m gonna have to find me another one I guess. I’m a two dog man, you know. Can’t have just one dog. Just don’t seem right.
“You still live in Tennessee? I got a couple of buddies live up in Tennessee. That sure is a purdy state, from what I’ve seen of it.
“Did you know Tammy Wynette? She wore her hair kinda big like you did; only she was a blonde.”
“Stand by your man,” I sung. “That was a purdy good song.
“Hey, I remember in that movie about you that your husband drove a bulldozer. You ain’t gonna believe this, but I drove a bulldozer once. Got it stuck in Boilin’ Springs Creek and couldn’t get it out. It’s still there. That was a while back, so I don’t think it’s worth much of anything now. I’ll sit in the seat every once in awhile and fish. Don’t never catch nothin’.
“Hey, you know what? I saw Johnny Cash’s brother one time in the gymnasium in Chandler, Texas. I thought I was goin’ to see Johnny, but it turned out to be Tommy Cash. He was OK, I guess, but he weren’t no Johnny.
“I saw Jerry Lee Lewis once, too. He played the piano with his feet. Honest. I ain’t never seen nothin like it.
“And I saw Merle Haggard, too. Boy howdy, he looked rough. His face looked like it’d had some definite erosion problems. He had more lines and ditches in his face, than the back of the spillway on my little lake.
“Did I tell you I had a lake? Well, it ain’t really a lake, more like a pond, but it has good water in it. Some purdy good fish, too. Maw, likes to go down there and sit on the bank with some chicken livers and catch catfish. Me, I just like to shoot at turtles. Got to be careful shootin’ on the water though. Them bullets’ll skip right off of that water and hit something if you ain’t careful. That’s how Maw lost her foot. I told her to git out of the way, but you can’t tell old folks nothin’. They won’t listen. Well, she’ll listen next time, I’ll bet.
“You ain’t gonna believe this, but I thought about takin’ up country singin’ one time. It was back in grade school. I made myself a guitar out of an ol’ cigar box, a yard stick, and some rubber bands. I never could get it to sound right though. So my hopes of bein’ a big star were dashed. Sometimes when I think about it, my eyes’ll water up.
“Speakin’ of waterin’ up, you ought to see Maw’s good foot. It’s swelled up like a foot ball. The top of it’s done folded over her toes. I’ve thought about lancin’ it, but we ain’t got a bucket to drain it in. Used to have one, but that blasted idiot nephew of mine got it to use for a seat in his ol’ pickup. Said he wanted a bucket seat. He ain’t real bright, you know. Kids now-a-days. They just ain’t got no respect for other people’s property. A good bucket’s hard to find, you know. We used to use that bucket for everything. You know you are just lost at hog killin’ time if you ain’t got a bucket. I mean you can gut ‘em in a feed sack, but it just ain’t the same.”
“GOODBYE!” the creature yelled on the other end of the phone line, and slammed the receiver down.
I smiled and hung up. I turned, and yes, there was my dearly beloved, arms crossed, with that look on her face. It was sort of a haggard look.
“What?” I said.
“What is wrong with you?” she asked.
“Where do you come up with all of this….?”
“Watch your language, now,” I said.
“Stuff,” she said.
“It’s a gift,” I replied.
“A gift, huh?” she said. “Well why don’t you see if you can return it?”