One of the drawbacks of being from South Carolina is that I am related to people with names like Bubba. Bubba, my mother’s half-brother, was kicked out of the Citadel, South Carolina’s military college, which should tell you all you need to know.
When I was a small child, my parents occasionally left me in the care of Bubba and my other uncle, Billy. (Billy was Bubba’s half-brother but not my mother’s brothermy grandmother was married nine times before she died, which is a tale for another day.) I loved it when Bubba and Billy babysat, because it meant that we ate no actual food, subsisting on a diet of ice cream and marshmallow fluff. This was apparently not enough of an incentive for Bubba and Billy, though; eventually they decided they’d had enough of having me foisted upon them, and hatched a plot.
The next time my parents came home from a weekend away, having left me in my uncles’ tender careI believe I was three or fourBilly and Bubba suggested that we all go out for lunch. On the way there, Billy and Bubba said, “Hey, Faustus, why don’t you sing your mom and dad the song we taught you?”
I burst spontaneously into a beautifully executed rendition of “Dixie” and my civil rights worker parents just about had a stroke.
Then we got to the restaurant, and when it came time to give my drink order, I asked for beer (which is what Bubba and Billy had told me Mountain Dew was really called).
But the coup de grâce came in the form of the following conversation, for which I’d learned my lines as instructed:
Bubba: “Hey, Faustus, what do you like?”
Faustus: “Dumb broads.”
Faustus: “‘Cause they don’t tell.”
Billy and Bubba never had to babysit for me again.
In fact, I believe it was several years before they were allowed within thirty feet of me.