front porch, gossip, sermon

The Front Porch

For the last several months, I have belonged to an online writing group. The below was written in response to a recent prompt. (A prompt is a word, sentence or phrase that the writer uses as the theme of their article or short story.)

I grew up in the South, hot and humid Georgia. When I was a child, no one had heard of global warming. We didn’t have air conditioners to keep us at a constant 72 degrees. When we were outside during the summer months, the men would sweat, the women would perspire (although Southern belles refused to admit to perspiring – – they ‘glowed’), and us kids didn’t care what you called it. We just had a good time playing outside all day long.

Most evenings when the temperature had dropped a few degrees and the supper dishes were done,(it wasn’t dinner – it was supper; dinner was eaten at lunch – confusing as heck isn’t it!) almost everybody on the street could be found sitting on their front porch. This was the time of day that, as a teenager, I dubbed “The Gossip Hour.” Without leaving their porch, in other words yelling across the street or next door, most conversations went something like this:

Agnes: ‘Evening, Edna.
Edna: ‘Evenin’ Agnes. How’s your arthritis?
Agnes: ‘Bout the same. Say, did ‘cha hear the news about Flo’s girl?
Edna: No. What’s that child gone and done now?
Agnes: Why she’s up and got herself pregnant again. (How one gets oneself pregnant is beyond me.) And that no account, good-for-nothing husband of hers still not working.
Edna: Lawd ‘a mercy. Don’t them two have better sense?
Agnes: Well, you’d think so. After all, this is number 6 or is it 7?
Edna: Lawd ‘a mercy.

Agnes and Edna continued their nightly conversations and by the end of the week the entire neighborhood knew who was cheatin’ on who, who was pregnant again, who was out of a job and who wasn’t speaking to who and why. Oh yes, Sunday nights was always “roast the preacher” night as the ladies gave “constructive criticism” on the sermon he had preached that morning. Obviously, he didn’t preach on gossip often enough!

These days most of us don’t even know our neighbors. Homes are built with the tiniest front porch you ever saw. You barely have room to stand on the porch, much less sit on it. And that’s a shame because I sure would like to know who is cheatin’ on who, who’s out of a job and if Flo’s granddaughter is pregnant again!

(c) 2009 Edwina E. Cowgill

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