I've had a good but busy week, bus duty, being observed, getting my end of the 9 weeks grades turned in, giving a state standardized test - all for the last time!
I'm not getting much help on Fantasy Friday these days, I just keep going back and trying to find old ones that some of you might not remember. I found this old one and it gave me a grin, I guess that's because I wrote it. Hope you like it.
Times change, or do they?
Henry was sitting in his pick-up feeling like a durn fool. What was he doing spying on his wife? He knew what he had heard about her, about what she was doing, couldn’t possibly be true. He’d loved her since she was 15 years old. They’d been keeping company nearly since then. The ten year age difference didn’t bother her daddy none. He’d been for them getting hitched way back then, but the dang depression had everyone, especially dirt farmers, slammed against a wall. He couldn’t take a wife not knowing if he could put a roof over her head and food in her mouth.
But it looked like things were gonna be better for country folks. Might be bad news coming out of Europe, but it seemed to be putting folks to work over here. He and Betty had married last year early in 1940. She was beginning to worry about being an old maid once she’d turned twenty, but she seemed happy and content once they’d married. Surely this couldn’t be true. He’d overheard one of the share croppers’ young’un say something about it first. He’d put a stop to that talk right fast. Told them if he heard such lying disrespect about his wife again them and their whole families would be on the road before the sun set that day. He hadn’t believed it for a minute.
But Charles had come to him, his own brother; he said right off he might be wrong. Said he’d seen it from a distance, but at the same time he looked embarrassed and said he was pretty sure of what he’d seen. Henry tried to put it out of his mind. Finally he realized he had to know. He had to check it out for himself. He wasn’t the kind of man that would put up with this. Betty had to know that. Would she take such a risk? She was wonderful wife, a hard worked, a good woman, a good Christian woman. But he had to know.
He’d left that morning telling her clearly he’d be in the hills cutting wood with his brothers. Said he might even be late to supper. He let her think she would have the whole day to herself. But now, two hours later he was ready to spring his trap. He just hoped to hell he was wrong. Slowly he got out of the truck and keeping to the edge of the woods quietly made his way back to the barn, then slipping on to the house. He could hear her singing in the kitchen. Somehow the happy sound cheered him and he knew he’d been wrong. With a smile, he was up the stairs and across the porch. Pulling opened the screen door Henry got the shock of his life.
His wife, his sweet Betty, the woman who had promised to make banana pudding for the children’s Sunday school picnic – was standing in his kitchen, wearing pants! Betty let out a small scream. Henry didn’t know if it was because he startled her or the fact that she’d been caught in the act. Betty’s face flushed with embarrassment. She held the towel she was folding in front of her trying to keep Henry from seeing, but it was too late. He walked over and yanked the towel from her hands and stared.
“I didn’t believe it when he told me.” He said simply.
“Told you! Who told you?” she asked in a panic.
“Charles. He saw you getting clothes in off the line one morning. He hoped he was wrong.”
A fresh flush of embarrassment reddened Betty’s cheeks further. “He saw me? He’ll tell your mama and daddy, oh Lord, he’ll tell my mama and daddy! I’ll die of shame. Please don’t let him.” She cried.
“They ain’t your biggest worry right now, young lady.” Betty stepped back and put her hands to her face as Henry’s hands when to undo his belt. He pulled it slowly through the loops, folded it and held it in one hand slapping it lightly against his leg. “I think you better get them britches off right this minute.”
“Here in the kitchen? Henry, I can’t.” There were tears in her eyes.
“You wore them in front of God and everybody outside. I reckon you can take them off where you stand.”
Betty was mortified standing in the kitchen in front of Henry in just her blouse and white cotton panties. He continued to slap the belt against his leg. He stared for a minute, letting her discomfort build. “All right,” he said finally, “You better get yourself to the bedroom.”
Betty scurried out the door and down the hall. Henry watched her go, her cute little bottom jiggling all the way. He didn’t want to have to whip her, but he couldn’t let this go. She was his wife and her conduct reflected on him. He let her wait for a few minutes then followed her to the bedroom.
She was sitting on the bed with her head down when he came in. He stood in front of her and made her look up. “Who’s the man in this family?” he asked her.
“You are, Henry.”
“Who wears the pants in this family?” He continued.
“You do, Henry. I’m really sorry.”
“I ‘spect you’re gonna be even sorrier.” Standing her up, he turned her around and bent her over the bed. She clutched the quilt with both hands awaiting the first lick. She jerked as the belt landed a terrible blow right where bottom and leg meet. Betty howled and stood up grabbing her bottom with both hands.
“Young lady, you best get back where I put you or you won’t be sittin’ for a week.”
Betty lay back across the bed. She managed to stay put as the belt striped her bottom and thighs. After 10 licks Henry stopped. He’d never had to discipline his bride this severely before, but he had to make sure the lesson was learned.
“Did you know it wasn’t fittin’ for a woman to wear pants?”
“Yes sir, I knew.”
“But you went ahead and done it anyway, that right?”
“Yes sir, but I’ll never do it again Henry, I promise. I’m so sorry.”
“Think what would your mama and daddy would’d done if they knew you’d been running around like that?”
Betty didn’t want to think about that. Married of not Daddy would have marched her to the woodshed and taken his strap to her. And Mama, Betty shuttered. Mama had her own way of ‘gettin’ the bad out’ when she did something she knew was wrong.
“Well I’m going to make sure you don’t forget who’s in charge now. Five more hard swats with the belt had Betty dancing on her toes and sobbing into the quilt.”
Henry let her cry for a minute or two then he helped her up and pulled her to sit on his lap and finish crying into his chest. “It’s all right little girl.” He talked to her soothingly as she tried to get hold of herself. “I know where you got this notion. I saw that picture of Miss Katherine Hepburn running around in a pair of men’s trousers out in that Hollywood. Let me tell you missy, that mess will never fly here in this county. I married me an old fashion country girl, now all I hear from you is that you want everything modern. You want indoor plumbing; you want electricity run to the house, what more? You’re going to tell me we soon we need a telephone when there’s one not a mile away at the store. Now I’m tired of all this foolish ‘modern’ talk. Next thing you’ll be cutting your hair and wanting to go out and get a job.
Betty had calmed down in his arms and actually giggled at his last statement. “Well,” she laughed, “I don’t ever think it’ll ever come to that, but I sure would like a flush toilet.”
Henry shook his head in mock despair. “Maybe you just better get dressed properly and get yourself back to the kitchen. We both have work to do.”
Betty quickly slipped into a simple cotton dress and tied on her prettiest apron. She supposed her ideas were too modern. Pants were good for working around the house, but she had known better. Henry was a good husband and a good provider. If she would just follow his guide lines she was sure she could learn to be a good wife.
70 years later…
Betty sat in her favorite rocker under the old oak tree surrounded by family who had come to help her celebrate her 90th birthday. She was still getting around pretty well these days. She still lived in the house Henry had brought her to as a new bride. Her great-granddaughter, April and her fine young husband Kyle lived there with her and took good care of the place.
She gazed up at the old home letting her mind ponder all the changes. She’d lost Henry back in 1979, and she still missed him. The place had been expanded and modernized several time. There were now five bathrooms, five televisions on her last count; there were two computers not counting all them little hand held gadgets everyone seemed to have their nose in. She smiled to herself as she patted her apron pocket to assure herself her own cell phone was handy. What would Henry thing of it all. She looked around at her brood. Henry had been right. Let girls cut their hair and wear pants and you couldn’t tell the men from the women. Add to that that the boys with long hair and it just got dang confusing. Several of the great grandkids, girls and boys, had their ears pierced; two had rings in their noses – just like they used to do to the bulls. Several had their eyebrows pierced and Lord knows she didn’t want to know where else they might have jabbed holes. Wasn’t her style, but she loved them all. She just couldn’t remember when everything had changed so?
Letting the family chatter flow over her she thought back to what she’d over heard the night before. At 90 everyone assumed she was nearly deaf, while in truth she could hear a pin drop, she rarely corrected their assumptions. This way no one bothered to whisper and she got to hear more than her share of secrets. Last night April had shown Kyle her new bathing suit once they retired to their room. Kyle had nearly exploded and Betty had no trouble hearing through the wall! “You mean to Tell me you were sun bathing today in a thong? I told you were not to get one of those!”
Mama never did like me wearing pants to church, which I began doing nearly thirty years ago. But several of her friends thanked me. They told me that their legs got cold in the winter but they didn’t want to be the first to break tradition. I’m only comfortable in pants. I wore a dress to my nephew's wedding this past summer and that was my first time in thirteen years. The next time might be Mollie's wedding, and that's a ways off!
“Now Kyle you can’t tell me what to wear!”
“Young lady, I will tell you what to wear if you think you’re going out with your ass hanging out! I’m your husbands and if I tell you absolutely no, I mean it.” The next thing Betty heard was the commotion of a very sound spanking and eventually, a very apologetic great-granddaughter.
Betty’s mind came back to the party. She watched April carrying a platter of hamburgers to Kyle as he manned the grill. She smiled as she watched them share a kiss and Kyle gently patted her on her bottom. Betty felt that they had seen the last of that bathing suit, and then smiled to herself, remembering she had kept her promise from all those years ago, she hadn’t had on a pair of pants since that day.
Historical note: To those who think Henry’s reaction was a bit overly dramatic, you have no idea what a scandal that was back then. Neither of my grandmothers ever had on a pair of pants. If they had seen such a thing, my grandfathers would have died of embarrassment. My mom was born the same year as Betty in the story. She rarely wore pants, even around the house until I was a teenager. Finally, finally in the late 70’s we wrestled her into a stylish pantsuit of the time. She was terribly embarrassed to go out in it at first, but eventually grew accustom.
When I was in school girls weren’t allowed to wear pants or shorts after the 5th grade. When my older sister was in high school they finally passed a rule that if it was expected to be below 20 degrees for more than a day, girls would be allowed to wear pants – under their dresses! But when it changed it all changed at once. That was the rule when she was a senior, the very next year, when I was a freshman, pants were fine and my school became a sea of 1,400 pair of blue jeans (as we all expressed our individuality, LOL!)
It was fun writing a Fantasy Friday again, I bet everyone would enjoy it. If I’ve talked you into writing one please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org