Miss Minnie Gets Hitched

The invention of cell phones has permitted people everywhere to prove the adage “talk is cheap.” People talk on cell phones as they drive cars, shop, get their hair done, pump gasoline, and while they are standing in long lines at customer service in the supermarket waiting to buy lottery tickets when the Powerball gets above a half a billion dollars. All that blah-blah was nerve wracking to Miss Minniferd Morningstar who had taught English at Letongaloosa High School for the past 32 years. Miss Minnie used to interrupt people at social gatherings and town council meetings to correct their grammar. For her, correct grammar, diction, usage, and syntax were sacred. Folks in town tolerated Miss Minnie’s interrupting their conversations because they were awed by her knowledge of English and because Miss Minnie had inherited piles of money, and was generous with it. Miss Minnie began teaching public school the year she graduated from college. To teach back then you didn’t need a certificate beyond a bachelor’s degree. She went on to get her masters by taking summer classes at State University. It was at State U. that Miss Minnie first saw Reginald Danforth Suggs. Young Suggs had just been hired as a custodian at the School of Education building. Reggie owed his first two names to his mother who hoped he would rise above his working class roots. Reggie rejected those aspirations. He made his own choices about speech and career options. He and Miss Minnie clashed immediately because she walked on the floor of a hallway that Reggie had just mopped. “Lady, getcher clodhoppers offn’ mah floah,” Reggie growled. Minnie gave the barbarian a withering stare. “Are you addressing me, young man?” “Ain’t addressin’ nobody,” said Reggie, “Ahm tellin yew ta quit trompin’ on mah floah.” At that point Professor Blaine, a member of the graduate faculty, opened his office door. He had heard the exchange. “Hello, Miss Minniferd,” he said. “You can pick up your paperwork at the graduate school office down the hall.” And, “That will do, Reggie.” “Hummmph,” said Reggie, and shoved his mop bucket on down the hall. After Minnie had finished her business at the university and returned home, she realized she had mixed feelings about the encounter. The handsome janitor had acted boorishly, but Minnie somehow found herself intrigued. She made subtle inquiries and learned that Reggie had a high IQ, a gift for language, and an aversion to orthodox social behavior. The latter obviously limited his work options. But those options, she soon realized, coincided what with he wanted to do for a living–be a janitor. Reggie always told people he was a janitor–not a custodian, or a “custodial engineer.” After that, Reggie popped into Minnie’s mind at odd moments—as when she took a break from correcting papers, or was fixing a late-night snack. She dismissed the thoughts, but they kept popping up. And Reggie thought off and on about “that teecher woman” too. When they both sought his aid as an intermediary on the same day, Prof. Blaine became the expediter of their budding romance. After a short engagement the extraordinary couple married. It was a two-part wedding. The first ceremony and reception were held in the chapel and recreation room of the Custodial Workers Union Hall. A janitor, who was a lay pastor, presided. The second ceremony took place in the sanctuary of Letongaloosa’s fine old Episcopal Church under the direction of the Rev. Thomas Leon Harper, D.D. The betrothed wrote their own vows. The union hall ceremony, written by Reggie, was short. To wit: “Ah weel if you weel.” To which Minnieferd responded: “Shore.” The reception featured mounds of serve-yourself chicken nuggets, barbeque beef and pork, mashed potatoes, creamed corn, hard rolls and a huge chocolate layer cake with chocolate frosting. The service at the Episcopal Church, prepared by Minnieferd, lasted an hour, and included two numbers by the choir and short passages from Shakespeare, Tennyson, Wordsworth, and Ezra Pound. The reception featured peach tea and little round mints. Minnie’s vows included five “I do’s,” and four “I wills,” and one “absolutely” spoken on cue by the bride and groom. Minnie and Reggie…Reggie and Minnie…are happilying it ever after. -30-

 

Dr. Larry Day is a retired J-School Professor from KU and author of Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia available on Amazon

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