Crow's-Feet Chronicles: Friends are the next of kin
By Cindy Baker Burnett
Jul 3, 2017
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“Are you having lunch with the Gray Soufflés today?” asked my husband Lanny.  


“Your high school friends. Don’t you girls meet monthly at the buffet diner so you can get the senior citizen discount, eat and laugh all afternoon, and then get a clean plate when the dinner menu is brought out?” 

No, we don’t eat at a buffet, but, yes, we do laugh a lot. And, no, we don’t stay all afternoon.” 

“Weren’t you there from 11:15a until 4:15p last Friday?  

He had me. 

A month is a long time between visits with school chums. To an outsider, the topics are limited---mortality, infidelity, and irregularity. But with our memories fading in and out, the topics seem so fresh and new. 

One of the topics this month was home remedies. Margaret said she and Stan keep a bar of soap in their bed to control leg cramps. When the bar works its way to the edge of the mattress, she or Stan kick it like a hockey puck back toward the center of the bed. She didn’t say whether they keep score, but the footsie hockey will surely keep lather in their marriage (if you know what I mean).  

When Linda said she puts yellow mustard on a burn, I recalled the story my daddy told of my grandmother doctoring him with a mustard plaster. He said removing the plaster was worse than the illness. When she yanked it off (WITH skin!), it left my dad’s liver visible for a week. 

A new topic this month was the subject of cremation, which might be a possible solution to the overcrowding problem in our cemeteries. Gaining in popularity, it’s still a new and dicey proposition where we live. The first time somebody was cremated in our home town, his ashes were sprinkled from a crop duster. We all ran for cover. We liked him fine, but we didn’t want him all over our good clothes. But you’ve got to say this: the folks who owned the property where the ashes were scattered had a darned good cotton crop the next year. 

One of the rules of the South is that the newly dead are never left alone---somebody always sits with the coffin, day or night. It used to be that most people took the body home before the burial and received guests with Grandma right there. This custom, regrettably, isn’t followed as often as it once was, though some families still uphold the tradition. The last time somebody did, it turned out sort of awkward. The body, which belonged to a local matriarch, stayed in the living room for an entire week. Why, you ask? 

Relatives were waiting for the lowest airline fares possible.