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.
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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