The summer of my 22nd birthday, I went down to Lumpkin, Georgia, to help my granddaddy with his annual “Liquor Kicker” campaign. Granddaddy was the Baptist preacher in Lumpkin, and that Sunday morning he preached a fire-and-brimstone sermon so loud, so long, and so bombastic that even the demons at the gates of hell feared for their futures.
After church, Granddaddy, Grandmother, and I pushed an old Winn-Dixie shopping cart around town, door to door, asking people to give up their liquor bottles. Grandmother seeded the cart with a bottle of bourbon, like putting a dollar in the tip jar before a performance, saying in her Georgia drawl, “People is more likely to give up their bottles if they see someone else done give up theirs first.”
Back at home at the end of the afternoon, Granddaddy went to take a nap, and Grandmother and I went to the kitchen to dispose of the liquor we had collected–bourbon, vodka, rum, beer, wine, and even some moonshine. She took each bottle out of the cart, removed the cap, sniffed the liquor, and then put the bottle either on the counter or on the table. When she had finished dividing the bottles into the two groups, she pointed to the liquor on the counter and said, “Now, Christy, you pour all them bottles down the sink.”
“Yes, ma’am,” I said, “but what about the bottles on the table?”
“Them?” she asked. “Them’s the good ones. I’m puttin’ ’em in the laundry room where your granddaddy won’t never find ’em!”
“Grandmother! Wasn’t this whole liquor kicker campaign his grand idea? How can betray him?”
“Not exactly, hon,” she explained. “As a woman in the south, you need only three things: someone who loves you; the know-how to make him do what you want him to do; and wisdom … to make him think it was his idea.”
From “The Summer that Grandmother Got Her Shine Back,” soon to be available on Kindle and Nook in the short story collection Pecan Pie, Cigars, and the One and Only Secret to Happiness.