“Fixin’ to Fix” Supper

Brenda prepared dinner.  We call it “supper”.  We had “dinner” back when some of you were having “lunch”.  Lunch is generally served in a lunchroom, but we had dinner at the dinner table (which is the same as the “supper” table where we would soon sit down and have our supper).

For supper we were having chicken, rice ‘n gravy, and green beans.  I know because Brenda said she was “fixin’ to fix” chicken, rice ‘n gravy, and green beans.  I knew what she meant: she was “preparing” a meal.  One look at those chicken parts all cut up and marinating in a dish convinced me the bird was beyond fixing.  It had greeted its last sunrise.

The green beans were in pieces.  They came that way in a can.  Already snapped, no fixing would revive them to their former selves.  We know what “fix” means:  “Fix us some biscuits; fix me a sandwich, fix me some soup, or fix me a drink” is a clear request here in the South and does not involve getting out the toolbox, or putting anything right again with its original undisturbed and living condition.  In fact, when a pet gets fixed, that means parts of it have been made reasonably dysfunctional.  Besides being used to imply preparation, “fixng” can and does also mean: “about to do something”.

A consultant came to Brenda’s office recently to help her staff get up to speed with some new software.  The expert was not from the South, but Brenda said he was pleasant enough, and patient.  I’d imagine some of that virtue was required in a room full of belles in need of instruction.

A question came up and Brenda called to the instructor for assistance.  It seemed that her computer was being a little pig-headed about a certain command.  With him standing beside her, she verbally went through the steps, saying:

“Okay, now I’ve done did all that stuff.  Now, am I supposed to ‘mash‘ this key right here?”

“You’re topress’ the key,” he said.

Mash this one?” she asked.

Press that one, yes.” he answered.

“I’m fixin’ to mash it right now.” was her reply.

The consultant was cool, and walked away.  He was heard telling another gentleman across the room:

“She’s fixing to mash it.  If she mashes it, I don’t know if we can fix it.”

Well, dinner was served.  It was delicious.  We all ate well.  Brenda is a good cook.  The boys and I thanked her, and demonstrated our sincerity by cleaning up the kitchen.  It was a good time with talk of the best parts of our day, the fun we had on our recent vacation, and thoughts about other summer projects.

With chores done, some play time was squeezed in before darkness would press the balance of daylight over the horizon.  It would soon be bed time for the boys because Brenda and I were getting sleepy.  Bed time for children often corresponds to rest needed by their parents more than by them.

But Brenda couldn’t sleep.  That happens now and then unless we’re watching a particularly good movie.  If that is the case, She’ll fall to sleep right in the middle of it and ask me in the morning to tell her what had happened.  That particular night, a noise coming from down the hall alerted her, and she got out of bed to investigate.

Ashley Cooper had discovered something in the trashcan that appealed to her, so she spread it out onto the floor evidently for the purpose of taking a closer look.  Trash was not confined to the kitchen, either: it was all over the house.  There were nasty bits and pieces of paper, coffee grounds, and other delights strewn in a pathway from the kitchen and dining area, down the stairs and into the den.

At the end of the trail was Ashley caught red-handed licking an empty green-bean can.  There was nothing in it to lick, but she worked at it as if it might produce some additional morsel if encouraged thusly.  How she managed to not cut herself on the sharp edges of the can is mysterious: I’d have shredded my tongue by attempting such a practice.

The trash took up less room in the trashcan once it was re-collected into a new bag (the old bag had been made useless).  It consisted of only trash, there being no garbage left–not even a chicken bone to be found anywhere.

Now the veterinarian said we were not to feed chicken bones to the dawgs, because they can splinter and get lodged in their throats.  But I reckon that prohibition didn’t count for Ashley Cooper: she has the appetite and table manners of a crocodile, and the gizzard of a wood-chipper.  Brenda was concerned that the dawg might choke to death but she didn’t.

At night, we have to put the cat’s food up on the counter out of Ashley’s reach.  Penny Lane (the cat) doesn’t mind: nothing is out of her reach.  Once in a while the dawg will get into the cat food, and look guilty about it, but not actually repent of anything: she is a Baptist.  Our other dawg, Cosmo Topper, is a Methodist.  He is often full of remorse about something but won’t let any of it show, thanks be to God.  The cat is either Hindu or Buddhist, we’re not sure.  She spends a great deal of time meditating.

A dawg can eat things you and I wouldn’t consider.  Many times I’ve walked right by a store that sells floor covering and carpet without drooling or slobbering all over myself.  Ashley Cooper couldn’t do that.

Recently, she ate some of the carpet in our house, and it evidently balled up in her throat.  David (who could sleep through Armageddon) was awakened by terrible gagging and wheezing noises.  He got up and took the dawg outside, gave her water, and watched her barf up a pile of string and fiber that made an impression on him.  Later, he said he’d rather starve to death than to have to eat a rug.

I wouldn’t want to eat carpet either, but dawgs are different.  If you consider how much household garbage has been dragged all over our floors during the past year or so, it is no wonder the rug can smell so appetizing to a ravenous mutt like Ms. Cooper.

Well, with the trash back in the trashcan, we checked on the children who were all three fine and pretending to be asleep.  As we started towards our bedroom, we heard some gagging and wheezing.  Brenda turned to me quickly and said:

“Take her outside–she’s fixin’ to throw up!  My God, she sounds like she’s fixin’ to choke to death!”

I took both dawgs outside.  Some regurgitation did take place, mostly on the part of Ashley Cooper.  Cosmo Topper “wretched” a few times just to show empathy.  Such marvelous sounds: I even felt encouraged to join in.  Out in the yard, more was thrown down than up, and nobody choked to death…at least not yet.

Once the dawgs were settled, I went back upstairs.  I was tired, and was fixin’ to go back to bed when the phone rang.  My sons have many schoolmates who must live in houses without clocks.

After I explained the time of night to this late caller, and reminded him that I would be fixin’ to choke him to death if he ever called here again at that hour, I hung up the phone and was soon on my way to a sound and restful sleep.

The next morning, we all got up and helped with fixing breakfast.  It was served in the dining room at the breakfast table (which the night before was called the supper table).

Instead of a dinner at mid-day, we were going to break with tradition and plan on just having a pizza for lunch.  The plan would be to serve it in the living room as long as promises were solemnly made to not get any of it on the couch.  Living takes place all over the house, and even out in the yard.  We’ve never found it necessary, or to any benefit, to keep living restricted to the living room, and we’re not fixin’ to, either.

11 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by NCB on April 22, 2010 at 6:04 pm

    (from e-mail) Van, this is about the best tale yet! Wild, man!


  2. Posted by JL on April 22, 2010 at 8:49 pm

    (From e-mail) Thanks Van! A wonderful read. I use the words “fixin’ to” myself quite frequently to the amusement of some of my highly intellectual Northern acquaintances. I would also observe the word “fixed” has a significantly different meaning to males in the dog kingdom!


  3. Posted by betty on April 22, 2010 at 9:51 pm

    Well, sounds like everything is normal! I’m fixing to clean up the supper dishes. I guess I’d better clean up Smokie’s mess on the floor. too.


  4. Posted by Elisa on April 23, 2010 at 3:34 am

    Yep sounds like a normal household with 3 kids and pets. By the way I am always fixin to do something, my problem is, I usually get very little done because of some crisis somewhere that needs my attention. I love these posts or blogs or whatever the heck you call them! They are too funny and tend to sound like the way my life goes. Maybe it is genetic!! LOL!!! Right now I am fixin to go to bed. I have had too much fun for one day so it is time!!


  5. Posted by David on April 23, 2010 at 11:37 am

    Nice Job, Van. Reminds me of my brother who has lived in the south about 10 years longer than I, and has picked up a few more local colloquialisms. When pestered by an irritating uncle to “say something southern, say something southern”, my brother replied, “If you don’t shut your pie hole, I’m fixin’ to slap you so hard you’ll have to unbutton your shirt to comb yer hair!”. And I think he meant it.


  6. Posted by Nadeen on April 23, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    My favorite line: Once in a while the dawg will get into the cat food, and look guilty about it, but not actually repent of anything: she is a Baptist. Visions of the Bakkers popped into my head (ugh – wha a way to start the day).


  7. Posted by Wayne Casasanta on April 24, 2010 at 3:17 am

    If your owners did not invite you to supper, wouldn’t you fix whatever you could find and probably get sick if your selection was in the garbage can?


  8. Posted by Marlene Humberd on January 30, 2012 at 12:51 am

    Love it …Surprised Brenda didn’t press that consultant’s head into mashed taters ! When our cat D. S. was still alive , David used to love to give him the tuna can bottom with just enough tuna to entice him . That cat would have his face in that can moving it all over the house….kept waiting for him to shoot that puck for a goal in the laundry basket in the closet . Finally ,I would take pity on him and take the can away . A sick puppy ? Sometimes at my house… his name is David .


  9. Posted by Lynn Sigmon Foes on May 8, 2012 at 5:10 pm

    Great tale, Van, and as always, it makes me happy to be a Southern woman lost in the wonderful language of the Carolinas. I have decided that all cats are Buddhists and all dogs are party loving Methodists. Tell Brenda it’s absolutely ok to mash computer buttons as well as the skulls of snarky consultants.


  10. Posted by Michael Teasley on June 3, 2015 at 12:08 pm

    What a wonderful read!


  11. Posted by Lynn Sigmon Foes on June 3, 2015 at 7:53 pm

    This is so wonderfully funny for this Carolina woman who this very minute is fixin’ to check on the supper that’s started. I’m cooking for my Midwestern husband whose forty years in the south have inured him to telling people they can come for service jobs at our house “this evening.” He still timidly asks me what time is evening? He has succumbed to cleaning windas, mashing elevator buttons, and he knows that “all y’all’s” means those objects or feelings belonging to all of you (plural.) Learning a new language takes time and patience. Thanks for your delightful take on southern charm!


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