Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Southern Storytelling - The Preacher and The Cigarette

The setting is Margie's Diner, a reliably greasy eatery in the small industrial city of Roanoke Rapids, N.C., in the early 1980s. It's a workday afternoon, and Adrienne Ivey, a lifetime resident of the city and the local newspaper's top reporter, sits in an upholstered booth. She sprinkles salt on her chef's salad, takes a deep drag off her cigarette, spots "The Preacher," and sighs. "Here we go," she thinks.

The lanky man lumbering toward Adrienne isn't an ordained preacher. The Preacher is simply his nickname, one he wears proudly like a new Stetson hat. He earned the nickname because he's apt to preach. He tells you exactly what he thinks whether you asked for his opinion or not, and usually, you didn't ask.

"Afternoon, Adrienne," says The Preacher, towering over her. He glances at the empty seat across from her and then back to Adrienne, with all the subtlety of a silent film actor.
Adrienne Ivey at her desk
"Be my guest," Adrienne replies, knowing she has no other alternative but to be rude. As The Preacher takes his seat, Adrienne alternates between bites of her salad and deep draws from her cigarette. The Preacher's nose twitches. Small talk is exchanged; who's been at church lately, who hasn't, that sort of thing.

Adrienne exhales more smoke, this time a bit closer to The Preacher's nostrils, which flare with indignation at each of Adrienne's exhalations. The Preacher tries to ignore the smoke and continues with the small talk, which consists primarily of his opinions about who's up to no good.

Finally, Adrienne lets out a stream of smoke like something you'd see from a rocket ship blasting off. "Adrienne," The Preacher says, his voice lowering, "I'd rather commit adultery than smoke a cigarette!"

Adrienne narrows her eyes, looks squarely at The Preacher, and says, "So would I, Preacher. But I've only got 30 minutes for lunch."


My previous post about Southern storytellers brought Adrienne, and this story, to mind. Next time: Adrienne catches me in a 'white lie' during my first week on the job--and saves me from a dreadful fate.

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  1. That was great! It was just the thing I needed after work tonight!! Please keep the stories coming.

  2. I would like to tuck Adrienne in my pocket and carry her around with me all day.

    I mean, the woman salts lunch meat!! She's got some kahunas.

    I can't wait to read the next tale!

    1. You ain't seen nothin' yet, sugar, regarding Adrienne and her kahunas!

  3. I don't miss the days of smoking, but there are some gestures that can only be put across with a Marlboro.

  4. Great story! I am laughing out loud. Everyone needs an Adrienne Ivey in their life.