In the south, there’s little else as comforting as perchin’ on the back porch to drink and shoot the shit with friends and family. What would a modern-day Steel Magnolias like book be without a porch perch? Enjoy this bonus from A Place to Stand.
After work, I swing by the liquor store and buy caramel flavored vodka then drive to Jess’s house. Liz and Red are usually there on Fridays. I’m hoping for a good ole porch perch before I jump into my plans. Plus, I need to tell them what I’m doing.
When I arrive, Jess has CCR blaring in the house so loud she can’t hear me at the door. I let myself in and run straight into Ms. Jillian. I hug her tight and sling her up on my hip. We get into the kitchen where Jess is singing into her chili spoon like a microphone. Jillian giggles and breaks Jess’s concentration. We all laugh so hard tears fill our eyes. “Bitch!” Jess yells at me between gasps for air.
“I’m sorry. I just came for the porch perch.”
“You know you’re always welcome for that. Jilly, go wash your hands so you can eat. What’s in the brown bag?”
“You know what’s in this bag. You got Coke?”
She nods and keeps cooking. I mix a drink, then head out on the porch to watch the sunset. Connor has wired speakers so that whatever she’s playing in the house also plays on the porch. There is no escaping CCR night. Ever.
Liz and red join me on the porch a little bit later. Jess brings out bowls of chili. It really is still too hot to eat chili, but none of us complain. Jess makes due with what they’ve got and she does a good job with it. I know we need to eat, too. It’ll help absorb alcohol.
After dinner and some playing around, we are sitting on the porch singing some Skynyrd. I drift off to a trance while the girls talk. The bug light is all of a sudden the most interesting thing I have ever seen. Jess snaps me back to the conversation, “So what made you want to join porch night anyway?”
“Ah well, I’m going to sell the house and quit my job. Wanted to let you ladies know what I’m doing.”
“Selling stuff. Quitting.” I drink more vodka. I quit bothering with the Coke as a mixer a few drinks ago. Walking to the kitchen just isn’t worth the effort.
“Have you talked to Dad?”
“Not yet. But I’m meeting a real estate agent tomorrow, and I plan to quit on Monday.”
“You have no direction, limited income from the life insurance, and now no place to live. What part of that sounds like a good idea?” Jess is pissed. I didn’t expect this reaction.
“All of it!” I’m nothing if not hard-headed. “You try going to a job that makes you feel useless, walk into a house that reminds you of everything you’ve lost, and live in the same city with the mistress of your dead husband. You tell me what you would do.”
“Alright. Stop this,” Red speaks up. “Jess, she’s doing what she thinks she needs to do. Rhae, she’s just looking out for you. No fighting on porch night.”
“I’m sorry, honey. I just worry that you’ll end up homeless and broke. Nowhere-to-go kind of thing.” Jess confesses.
“I love you Jessi-Poo! If I end up homeless I can always live with you and Connor. Jilly loves me.”
We laugh off our tiff and toast my assumptions.
I wake up Saturday morning with a pain in my left cheek. Oh, shit that hurts. My mouth feels like velcro and my head is so heavy I’m not sure I can lift it. My eyes are definitely burning out of my head. What the fuck is happening? I scrunch my face up and fight against the urge to move. Everything hurts! Continuing my assessment of the situation, I smell coffee. I’m just mustering the courage to turn my head when someone kicks me in my ass, “Get up, heifer!”
“Ughhhhhh Jess. Help me. I’m stuck. Everything hurts.” I try to swallow but my throat is sandpaper raw.
Jess reaches down and helps peel me off the porch. My cheek is stuck to the panels of the floor with my own drool. It is as sticky as duct tape. I think I leave skin on the floor when she finally gets me up. God love her, she passes me my shades and a cup of coffee. I ball up in the corner chair in the last piece of shade on the porch. I sip my coffee carefully as not to burn my tongue. It has been a long, long time since I had a hangover. This is beyond a hangover. This is the hangover a hangover gets.
“How much did I drink? How did I end up sleeping on the porch?” “Well, you polished off the bottle of vodka you brought and against
my better advice, you let Liz tease you into drinking tequila. You declared you had to pee and when you stood up, you landed face down on the porch. We were scared to death until we heard you snore. I have to tell ya’, we laughed until Red nearly peed herself. Never saw you like that, baby girl.”
“Glad I could provide some entertainment,” I grouse.