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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Bitter and Sweet (05/28/09)

TITLE: Catchin' Flies With Vinegar
By Jan Ackerson


Wilbur Jennings had most of his teeth and most of his hair—is it any surprise me and Thelma Wilkes both set our eyes on ‘im? Good-lookin men like that is hard to come by these days. Seems like most times the widowers that comes to the senior covered dish suppers is bald and paunchy. Wouldn’t surprise me none if their wives just up and died so they didn’t have to look at them ugly old men no more, with their skinny white legs and yeller teeth. But when Wilbur showed up fer the first time, we knowed he was a keeper, and me and Thelma both aimed to keep ‘im. But one of us had to snag ‘im, first.

Now Thelma’s a right sweet gal, but it’s the kinda sweet that’ll turn yer teeth. Always callin the men darlin’ and sugar, and pattin their arms when she walks by. She’s got that real big smile, too, and she’ll flash it at just ‘bout anyone, ‘specially when they’s sayin somethin nice ‘bout her cookin. And she sings real purty, too…seems like ain’t much I could do against all that sweetness.

Remember that ol’ sayin—you’ll catch more flies with honey than with vinegar? I’ve hated that expression, ever since I was a child. They’s a rebellious streak in me—ma liked to say I was born ornery. So I set out to catch Wilbur, but not with sweetness, no sir. If I couldn’t catch ‘im with my own vinegary self, I didn’t want ‘im nohow.

So when the next covered dish dinner come around, I knowed that Thelma’d be makin her famous pecan pie. I’m not a-kiddin when I says famous, neither. People from two counties over sing the praises of that pie, and truth be told, it’s a mighty nice pie. But it ain’t my style. I made my secret recipe pie and set it next to Thelma’s, just to see what Wilbur’d do.

Here’s what he done…he took a piece of hers, and a piece of mine, and a coupla other desserts, too. He had him a healthy appetite, seems like. I set down not too far away, so’s I could watch ‘im eat. I noticed Thelma watchin ‘im, too, don’t think for a second she wasn’t.

So Wilbur took a bite of her pecan pie, and then a bite of my secret recipe pie, and then he just closed his eyes like he was prayin. And then, Lord have mercy, he tucked into my pie like he was tryin’ to beat the judgment day. And he took another piece, too. Thelma’s pie sat there on the table collectin dust, and when I looked at her, her eyes was big and round like saucers. But when she seen me lookin, she smiled ever so sweet and come over to talk, real friendly-like.

“Sister Cumberland, what kinda pie did you bring? Seems like Brother Jennings just can’t get enough!” She giggled like a girl, and leaned in real close to him. Wilbur just kept shovelin it in, but he stopped with his mouth full to listen to my reply.

“It’s vinegar pie, Sister Wilkes, and I wished Brother Jennings didn’t like it half so much, now there ain’t a piece left for me!” I scowled in his general direction, and he gulped down his mouthful, then looked sadly at the empty pie tin.

“That was a mighty fine pie, ma’am. Not too sweet, just like I like ‘em.”

Long story short? It only took a few more church suppers, and I nabbed ‘im. So why ain’t I smiling? Well, I guess I’m kinda bitter ‘bout the fly I done caught. Wilber’s good lookin, all right, but he buzzes all day about pie, pie, pie. How about some pie, honey bun? Sure wouldn’t mind one of them fine vinegar pies, baby doll. I tell you what, he can take a vinegar pie and…well, I wish I’d waited fer some other widower, and let Thelma have this one.

But I ain’t interested in keepin’ this a secret no more. Go ahead, make one fer yerself, maybe catch you a man, just like I done. Whoop-dee-doo.

4 eggs
1½ cups sugar
¼ cup melted butter
2 tablespoons vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
1 9-inch pie shell

Mix ‘em all up, and pour ‘em in a pie shell. Bake in a medium oven ‘bout 50 minutes, and cool in the kitchen window. Old men loves it.

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This article has been read 1390 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Charla Diehl 06/04/09
Enjoyed the authentic dialog and your feisty MC. Cute story.
Joanne Sher 06/05/09
Soooo clever, and an excellent use of dialect. Love your MC (have a guess who this is, but I certainly could be wrong!). I am NOT trying that recipe. hehe
Colin Swann06/08/09
I like tart tarts but this seems really bitter.

Enjoyed the banter that went off in this interesting pie story.
Carol Slider 06/08/09
Oh, this is SOOO funny! I loved the authentic voice of the narrator and the wonderful twist at the end. Sometimes you don't really want what you THINK you want! (I don't think I'll try the recipe, either...:)
Sheri Gordon06/08/09
I love these two old bitties, fightin' over a man. So funny. Great voice on the MC. And I can't wait to make that pie.
Genia Gilbert06/08/09
A great read! I laughed all the way through, and even imagined a few people that I know as the characters. LOL
Connie Dixon06/08/09
The pie sounds interestin' but not 'nough to bake one. Hope I never have ta use one fer bait.

Right good story, and I ain't kiddin' neither.
Sherry Wendling06/08/09
Haha--"...the kinda sweet that'll turn yer teeth." You sure know how to turn a phrase and keep a reader glued an' grinnin' from front to back!
Chely Roach06/08/09
I grinned all the way through this...fantastic voice. Loved the MC's change of heart by the end.
Btw, I do not make pies, I buy them:)...and we are a tad too far north for vinegar pie, lol. Someday I shall taste one! Wonderful story!
Dee Yoder 06/09/09
Oh man! Women may get old but they never change, do they? Love this voice and the sour biddy who got poor Wilbur. Somehow, I imagined me and my gent in this scenario as I read it. (Don't tell him I said that.) And I DO want to try that recipe...just enough bitter-lover in me to want to taste it.
Sonya Leigh06/09/09
For the record, I have had vinegar pie...and it's very good. As for this hilarious story, I just love the accents, the interaction and the way you make us feel that we are looking over the shoulders of your characters. Great writing.
Bryan Ridenour06/09/09
Loved the dialogue and the take on the topic. Very fun read. Well done!
Jim McWhinnie 06/10/09
Certainly a pleasure to read especially with that spot-on dialect.

I loved the subtly placed lessons that so artfully emerges as the piece progresses.
Mona Purvis06/10/09
Loads of fun. Told with detail and great voice. I've been to some of those church dinners and I know some of those "ladies".
Beth LaBuff 06/10/09
This was one pie my dad talked about (he grew up during the depression). And YES, I made one of these during my teenage years. :) I may have to dust off the recipe (or borrow yours). I think the recipe I used had spices like for a pumpkin pie. :) This was loads of fun. I enjoyed the way you brought the ladies and their rivalry to life!
Laura Anne Harrison06/11/09
This is absolutely delightful! Great characterization and marvelously true dialogue!
Beth LaBuff 06/11/09
Congrats Jan! Will there be Vinegar Pie at the FW Conference? :)
Pat Guy 06/11/09
What a hoot! Great voice that held all the way through to the end. And when the reader smiles the whole time enjoying every word...well, by gum...yous mustas done sompin rit. LOL! Loved it Jan!
Ifeoma Dennis06/12/09
Awww.. this was absolutely fun!
I pray to write great like you someday!