Some stories just beg to be written down by me. I know it the instant I hear them. This is one of those. I’ve been pestering a friend to let me write this since I first heard the story a week ago. Usually, my stories only involve my adventures, but I didn’t have one thing to do with this one. I didn’t even know this woman back then. She was like this when I met her!
She took some persuading. She’s formidable, one of my favorite people in the world, highly intelligent, fearless, and fun. Without heels, she swears she’s 5’ 2” tall. At least two inches of that is a bold-faced lie. She’s a devotee of mystery novels and crime shows, and if I ever decide to really take somebody out, rather than merely threatening it, I’m hiring her. She’s a plotter. In fact, she often speaks in code when we talk on the phone because she’s convinced someone “out there” is listening. I’m confident no one cares enough about us to do that. Otherwise, someone would have already knocked on my door and dragged me away for an “interview” long ago.
I read recently that women are more likely than men to kill someone (usually a man) with poison. That didn’t surprise me. And, apparently, if the victim has been poisoned with arsenic, guess who the profilers look for? A Southern woman! That statistic set me back on my heels a little bit. I admit it. Still, I can’t say I’m shocked, exactly. If anyone deserves a slow and agonizing death, I know a few Southern women who could serve it up in a sweet potato soufflé so mouth-watering it would make death-by-arsenic a not-so-bad way to hit the pearly gates.
This particular Southern-woman-crime story began when my friend returned to her apartment after her wedding reception to retrieve her suitcase before heading out for a week of honeymoon bliss. That’s when she pushed open the door and walked into a mess of wedding gifts and packing boxes and discovered that thieves had ransacked her jewelry box. She spent her wedding night in tears over the loss of pieces of jewelry from her childhood.
Not being one to dwell on something she couldn’t do anything about, my friend headed off on her honeymoon but returned with a plan. Her husband reluctantly returned to work, which required out-of-town travelling, after making sure she had a good security system, complete with panic button.
My friend went one step further. She planted herself in a chair right in the middle of her dining table with a phone and her panic button. After all, she was recently wed, and she had a mountain of thank-you notes to write. She was not about to let a little thing like being-afraid-for-her-life stand in the way of getting those suckers out on time. So she added one additional security measure to her husband’s plan: she put a loaded pistol—pointed toward the front door—on the dining table, just to the left of her boxes of monogrammed stationery, to the right of her glass of iced tea, within easy reach, in case of another armed robbery. We Southern women pride ourselves on always being prepared for anything.
The moral of this story is: you don’t want to get between a Southern woman and a mountain of sterling silver wedding gifts, and you’d be wise to steer clear of her jewelry. We remember slights like that for generations.
While I was badgering her to let me write this story, I asked why she was reluctant to share, confident I could reassure her enough to get a green light to spill.
“Well . . . ” she finally admitted, “That gun is a family piece. It’s not technically mine. I’d hate for my mama to find out about that.”
She wasn’t afraid of an armed robber. She was, however, scared silly about what her mama might say about this story.
That’s how we roll, y’all.