“I don't wanna go!” my brother Red was screaming at Mom as she dressed him. He was only three and and couldn't talk plain, but had very definite ideas about what he wanted to do.
“I know.” Mom said patiently, “We're going to the church picnic. We can't leave you home by yourself.”
“Yes, Gooch stay me.” Gooch was the name Red used for me. My name is Greg.
“I can't stay with you Red, I gotta help direct traffic at the picnic.”
“P'ease, don't wan' go. Wadies, pinch!” Mom turned her face away to laugh at this statement.
I took it seriously 'cause I'd been his age just eight years ago and remembered quite well all the pinches.
“At least there won't be as many there as were at the family reunion. Hey, I got an idea! Red, wear my cap with the ear flaps. They cover your cheeks!”
“Hot!” He was crying in earnest now, tears making his shirt front wet.
I racked my eleven year old brain to try and find a way to cover his cheeks. Mom left the room to finish her makeup.
Hey, my brain woke up. How 'bout that fake scar you had for the school play.
I ran to my room and rummaged through the chest of drawers until I found the scar, it was still in good shape, I grabbed the glue and some costume makeup and headed back to Red.
“Here, Red, this will fix you up. We'll put this on your right cheek, paint a design on your left cheek and they won't bother you.”
“Otay. I be ugly. Good.” He climbed onto a chair so I could put the stuff on his face. I told him about all the great food we would have at the church. Describing the fried chicken, potato salad, deviled eggs, pies and cakes made me hungry so as soon as I finished his face, I grabbed him up and headed for the kitchen. I saw some cupcakes on the counter. I grabbed three and took a seat beside Red at the table. I gave him one, I was on my second one when Mom came in. She took one look at Red.
“Greg, what is this for?” I could tell she was upset.
“It'll keep the ladies from pinching his cheeks. Now, he wants to go. Without it, he'll make us all miserable.” I watched Mom's eyes while I talked. I could see she was wavering.
“Oh, I wish Dale was here. He would just make him go without it. But, I guess you're right this time. It's supposed to be a happy time with each other and the Lord. To fellowship with Godly people, not spend the day holding a crying, frightened child. So, I 'll hold a frightning child instead.” She scooped up Red, motioned for me to get the basket of goodies and we hurried to the car.
There were already three cars in the lot when we arrived at the church. I rushed to get the basket of food to the tables. Mr. Cobb was waiting for me. He gave me a flashlight with a red handkerchief tied to it.
“You won't need to turn this on, but use it as a pointer. We want the cars to go to the right side and the trucks and larger vehicles to the left. Fill up each row before starting another. You have any problems, yell for me. I will be directing the cars to the correct spot.” He winked at me as he walked away.
For thirty minutes I was so busy I didn't have time to think. It felt good to be trusted to do a man's job, but I was hungry!
“Mr. Cobb, can I quit now and go eat? I'm starving.” I tried to look pitiful as I asked.
“Yes, Thanks for helping.”
As I ran toward the food, I heard Red crying.
“Red, what's up?” I asked as I grabbed a piece of chicken. “Where's your scar?”
“Ms. Mawee washed my face and scar fell off. I go home now?” He had his hands on his cheeks to protect them.
“Ms. Mollie was just cleaning you up. You stay with me, I'll keep you close where no ladies can reach you. Let's eat!” Red smiled, he could finally be safe from pinching ladies.
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