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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: At the Pulpit (11/15/07)

TITLE: Southern Popcorn
By Betty Castleberry


Imogene Fowler’s been a Baptist all her life. That changed when the Methodist church got a widower for a pastor. Imogene's granddaddy was a Methodist, so she felt she was entitled to change denominations. It didn’t hurt that Reverend Greene turned out to be tall and silver haired, either.

The first Sunday the new reverend took the pulpit, Imogene was in the first row. I know she spent way too much on that purple dress and hat. Nelda’s Buy Low and Dress Up doesn’t carry anything like that. I bet she went clean into Atlanta to get that outfit.

The Reverend took his place at the pulpit and introduced himself. He preached a decent sermon, and most of the members decided they were going to like him. That is, all except for Imogene. I believe she decided she was going to love him.

After the benediction, she practically knocked poor old Birdy Millican over trying to be the first one to greet the reverend. She asked him if he was a hugger, and before he could answer, she had flung her scrawny arms up around his neck.

I cornered her on the steps outside. “Imogene, that’s a nice outfit.”

She stood right in front of the Lord’s house and told a fib. “Oh Euliss, it’s just an old thing I drug out of the closet.“ She smiled so wide it smeared her purplish lipstick across her teeth. I didn’t tell her about it either. “What time do services start tonight?”

“Six o’clock. You coming?”

“Oh yes. I just love this church. You know my granddaddy on my mother’s side was a Methodist.”

“So I heard. See you tonight.” She waggled her fingers at me, revealing purple nail polish.

It was a busy afternoon, and before I knew it, I was back in church. There was Imogene, sitting in the front row again, only she wasn’t wearing the purple outfit. This time she had on a yellow sweater and yellow trousers. Imogene is tall and thin. It’s not a kind thing to say, but she looked like a banana. She turned around and waved at me. Her nails were painted yellow.

Reverend Greene addressed the congregation. He was talking about the conversion of Paul, when he turned the color of a day old bruise. His eyes watered, and he coughed so loud, it shook the doves in the stained glass windows. The congregation froze, all except for Imogene, who went flying out to the kitchen and came back with a glass of water. I do have to give her credit for her quick thinking.

After a few sips of water and a sound whacking on the back by Imogene, Reverend Greene was fine. He smiled sheepishly and thanked her. To everyone’s surprise, Imogene stepped up to the microphone and went off on a tirade.

“I’ve heard the gossip. So what if I like to dress nice? Let me tell y’all what Miss Lannie Withers has done. She fed our preacher here southern popcorn right before he started preaching. She may look mousy on the outside in her beige suit and flats, but on the inside she’s a pistol. Everybody knows she’s a great cook. She’s using her culinary talents to attract our new reverend. I saw her sneaking him some homemade brownies just this morning. At least I’m open about my intentions.”

It was all I could do to keep from laughing out loud.

Reverend Greene touched Imogene’s shoulder. “Thank you for your thoughts. Now if you’ll just have a seat…”

Imogene stood firm. “I’m not through. I don’t think Lannie really meant to harm our pastor. She probably didn’t think about what fried okra might do right before he started to talk. Didn’t offer him a Coke, either. I do want to say for the record that I’m interested in Reverend Greene, and I know Lannie is, too.”

Imogene folded her arms in triumph and left the pulpit, an astonished pastor staring after her. She walked over to the pew Lannie Withers occupied. “The battle is on, Lannie. Fire up your stove, because I’m making an appointment at the Curl Up and Dye, for the works.” She returned to her seat in a puff of Paris Sophisticate perfume.

That left Reverend Greene in a dilemma to pick between a fashion plate and a wonderful cook. Or maybe there’s another choice. How about a level-headed gal like me?

*Southern Popcorn is a name sometimes given to fried okra.

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This article has been read 961 times
Member Comments
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Verna Cole Mitchell 11/22/07
I loved this entertaining story. I hope the story's narrator got the preacher. The description of Imogene looking like a banana was my favorite line.
Sharlyn Guthrie11/23/07
Poor guy! He's only got trouble ahead. I'd love to read the next chapter. Nice job.
Therese Witkus11/23/07
A fun read and well written.
Joanne Sher 11/24/07
What personality these characters have! This was a load of fun, and I loved it. You had me giggling throughout. Wonderful.
LauraLee Shaw11/24/07
I am cracking up! This was an extremely entertaining read to say the least--also well-written and clever from beginning to end. It has also confirmed that I will be throwing out my old yellow jeans from the '80s. :)
Dee Yoder 11/24/07
Southern popcorn?! Thanks for the warning and the education...okra is THE worst thing the South has ever given to America. (IMHO)
If he has to choose, he should go for the gal whose got the guts to come right out with her agenda-at least life would be lively! Funny and entertaining.
Laury Hubrich 11/25/07
Funny, too, too funny. What a delight to read!
Sara Harricharan 11/27/07
This is hilarious! I liked the two characters and especially the little details like the yellow and purple nail polish to match the outfits and especially the ending speech. Too fun!
Beth LaBuff 11/27/07
What fun! You are so talented. Ya gotta love a name like Imogene! :)
Kristen Hester11/27/07
Oh, I love it! He He. This made me chuckle. I want Chapter 2. I want to know how the pastor handles the competition. You seem to know about southern women. Great job.
Jan Ross11/27/07
I'm laughing so hard! I can just picture this. What a hoot! Great writing! :)
Jan Ackerson 11/27/07
Absolutely adorable--reminds me of Jan Karon's stuff. Charming and full of wonderful rural flavor.
Karen Wilber11/27/07
This was so much fun to read; I just laughed the whole time. Poor pastor....
william price11/27/07
Classic Betty. You are at your best here. Clever, fun and delivered masterfully. A real treat. God bless.
Temple Miller11/28/07
Very funny and, strangely, true-to-life. Former Houstonian, Temple
Beckie Stewart11/28/07
Simply delightful and very believable.
LaNaye Perkins11/28/07
Oh my goodness, this was such a hoot! I loved every line. Now I have another one of your stories that are my favorite! LOL Great writing my friend!
Patty Wysong11/28/07
Oh, thank you for the laugh!! I really, really needed one today!
Loren T. Lowery11/28/07
I had a sneaking feeling the narrator just might have an ulterior motive...the snide remarks were just too comical. Great job!
Sheri Gordon11/28/07
This was so much fun to read. I love the Buy Low and Dress Up -- really cute. For some reason I kept picturing Vickie Lawrence from "Mama's Family" telling this story. That made me laugh even more. Great voice and writing.
Marita Vandertogt11/28/07
H I L A R I O U S !!!
What a fun read!!
Angela M. Baker-Bridge11/28/07
I needed that tonight! Thanks for sharing your delightful humor... Angel