Friday, November 6, 2009

It Isn’t Quite the Hatfields and McCoys...

By Jaleta Clegg,
Reporter at large

A local feud erupted at the Harvest Fair quilt show, after six months of relative peace. The feud began sixty-three years ago when Clementine Spiffledorfle moved in to the small town of Tamworth on Tide. Clementine was a petite blond child, with ringlets that were the envy of any girl. Her family moved into a house next door to the McBrighamduff family, immigrants to the Confederacy of Dunces by way of Africa, Ireland, Chile, Portugal, and Japan. Little Edna McBrighamduff inadvertently fired the opening shot of the feud the very day Clementine’s family arrived.

Clementine explored her new kingdom, blond curls dancing in the sunlight as she poked through the overgrown fish pond in her new backyard. Edna, curious about the strange child, stuck her face to the slats of the white picket fence.

“There’s frogs,” she said, conversationally. Frogs were a great source of interest to little Edna. She loved the slimy squishiness, their fat mouths, and their loud croaking.

“Frogs are disgusting creatures,” Clementine pronounced. She primly tugged her white, starched pinafore into place over her pink flowered dress. She approached the fence. “My name is Clementine. How do you do?” She held out one hand, fingers cocked at the appropriate angle for greeting a stranger. Her mother had spent hours instructing her on proper courtesies.

“Frogs eat bugs.” Edna pressed her face closer to the slats. “Why are you wearing that funny dress? Halloween isn’t for months.”

“It’s a day dress, acceptable for informal social calls in the afternoons.” Clementine twirled her skirts. “I can call on you if you like. My card.” She slipped a white card, neatly printed with her name in silver letters, through the fence.

“I can call you right now. What’s your name?” Edna stared at the white card.

“Clementine Spiffledorfle.” Clementine bobbed in a curtsy. Her mother would have been so proud if she had been watching.

“I’m Edna. Spiffledorfle is a funny name.” Edna decided the new girl was worth a second look. She climbed the fence, dropping into Clementine’s backyard. She brushed haphazardly at the dirt smears on her coveralls.

Clementine sniffed. “You’re not dressed for a social call. You have dirt on your knees, you ragamuffin.” It was her mother’s word. Clementine felt very grown up using it.

Edna wiped her hand across her nose, smearing mucus. “You calling me names? I think you’re an overdressed prissy girly pansy.”

Clementine forgot her delicate manners. Edna had used words that could never be forgiven. She shrieked like a steam engine and launched herself at Edna. Yards of ruffled white eyelet tangled around them both as they rolled across the lawn, grabbing and punching each other. Frogs scrambled for their lives as the two girls splashed into the pond. Clementine, using her weight to her advantage, pinned the smaller Edna McBrighamduff in the mud.

“You take it back, Edna, or I’ll punch you in the nose!”

“Clementine Spiffledorfle!” Her mother’s horrified scream echoed through the neighborhood. “You get into this house this instant!”

Clementine leaned close to Edna’s face. “Don’t you ever call me a pansy again.”

“Pansy face!” Edna snarled. The fight erupted anew. Mud and frogs splashed wildly as the girls wrestled and clawed each other through the remains of the pond. It took another ten minutes and both mothers to separate the girls. Both were marched home, sporting black eyes and mud.

“I hate that Edna McBrighamduff!” Clementine declared. “I’m going to become a professional gelatin wrestler just so she will never dare call me a pansy again. And I’m not wearing a day dress ever again.”

Clementine’s mother knew better than to argue. Clementine out-stubborned even the most determined mule. She wiped mud from her daughter’s blond curls. “Yes, dear.” Her dreams of a gentle, refined daughter died even as Clementine’s career dreams were born.

Thus began the legendary feud of Clementine and Edna in the tiny hamlet of Tamworth on Tide.

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