Edwina and the Hot Grits!

Posted on June 13, 2009

Some cheeky person just made this story come to mind. Has that ever happened to you? Thinking or talking about something else and poof…up pops a story that is not really related. Anyway – I guess that’s how the glorious, sleep-deprived, slightly aging mind works, eh? This is just a little story – but I think it’s worth telling.

When I left ‘ole # 2 (the sadist) I was working at the Department of Labor. There was a Black girl who worked with me named Edwina – she was from around Franklin, I believe. Well, little by little, as I regained my sensibilities, and people would ask me what happened, I started talking about it. Before then, I kept ‘the secret’ all inside – it was too shameful to tell.

One day, I was talking to a kind, older lady who had befriended me – her name was Dot. In her own kind way, she had asked me about his treatment of me and I was telling her – not the worse things, but just some of his abuse. I’ve told more since then – just not all. I think it has to come a little at a time. Edwina overheard and joined the conversation. She told me that it was just too bad that I had not confided in her about what he was doing, because her mother had taught her the way to handle such things.

I’ll confess – I was curious. Did Black mothers know something that my mother did not tell me? Was it Southern mothers versus Yankee ones, like I had? What in the world do you teach your daughter to keep her from falling through the looking glass into the dark, dark world of abuse? I replied to her “How?” and was just waiting to hear this – that which might have spared me these years of horror.

Edwina began by saying in her matter-of-fact, always practical voice that her Father was a big drinker at one time – most probably an alcoholic. She said that when he took to drinking, he would also go gambling and lose a lot of his pay check, leaving her mother to have to scrape and scratch to make ends meet. Oh, I thought – how did that woman have the answer – sounds to me like she was ‘done in’ as well?

Edwin continued by saying that if her mother tried to quiet him when he came in wild and drunk or did anything to irk him, he would raise his hand to her. One night, it seems he raised it and let it fly for the first time and struck her. She took the blow and just kept her mouth shut. She waited for him to fall asleep in the bed – sleeping all soundly from the liquor. Then, she went into the kitchen and put a large pot of water to boiling and took out a box of grits.

I didn’t understand this – how was eating grits in the middle of the night going to solve anyone’s problem?
Edwin continued her story and said that her mother cooked up the largest saucepan she had full of grits. Then, she took a dishtowel and wrapped it around the handle and carried the grits in the semi-dark into the bedroom. She used her foot to poke and prod at Edwina’s father to awaken him. By then she was holding the grits right over his – well, you know – his family jewels. That is what he awoke from his drunken stupor to see – his wife holding a large saucepan of grits right over his pride and joy and saying “Oh, I know. You’re thinking I won’t do it….wanna bet? And then, you’re thinking you might can jump up and escape and beat and thrash me – wanna try? Because what you are not thinking is what will do you in – that you have to sleep sometimes, you sumbitch and if I don’t get you this time, there is a next time and a next time, until you learn to quit coming in drunk and making the mistake of hitting me. Do you know what the heat of these grits will do to your flesh? Cook it, blister it and when you – in your wild, anguished pain – try to scrape away the grits to stop the burning – your flesh is going to come with them and you will be scarred for life! Now – I’ll only ask you once – are you ever going to come home drunk and hit me again?”

Turns out that Edwina’s mother never had to use the grits. Edwina’s father saw the ‘light’ miraculously and stopped coming home drunk. He never raised a hand to Edwina’s mother again.

“Yes,” I said, “Yes – that might have worked!” I vowed to keep that remedy in my head just in case any other man ever got the idea that he could hurt me or whip up on me again. I won’t even bother to add that it would be against my will because no one wants to be hit and no one wants to be hurt. That’s just a male myth that goes floating around bars and the likes.

Lucky for me, I never had to use that kind of remedy on anyone. It sounded so terrible – shooting seemed less awful that that one. But I never had to shoot anyone either. After I left ‘ole # 2 there was only one fellow who ever made the mistake of slapping my face again – but that is another story.

Years later, I learned of another remedy for abusive husbands that was closer to the one that entered my head while I was still living with ‘ole # 2 – it was in a song by some girls called the Dixie Chicks and they were singing about a sumbitch named Earl. Funny thing, there were loads of women and girls standing up and singing and dancing triumphantly to that song in the way that only those who have suffered (or watched someone they love suffer) the whippings, the name callings and the humiliations can do – and then I knew for sure that I was not alone. Later, another woman named Martina McBride wrote yet another song with the same theme – and I wondered then – how many, how many – how many of us are there who have been hurt and told the story and still it goes on? Every time I hear of another woman beaten and killed – or sent to the hospital – I want to go back in time and tell her Edwina’s mother’s remedy and say “Do it, Do it” before he hurts or kills you. I want us all to tell our sons and daughters Edwina’s mother’s hateful, mean, torturous remedy for something equally as hateful, mean and torturous and say – “When will it ever end….when will it ever end?”

After all these years, I’m still waiting for an answer to that question.

Last edited by katie on June 23, 2009, 1:12 pm

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2 responses to Edwina and the Hot Grits!

  1. I’m in accord with the black Mama – hot grits.
    That woman knew.

    and you said: "Poof…up pops a story"

    Would that be a fluffy poofterism?

  2. Ya bet yer
    it is!

    Keep it up . . . just keep it up…. I got plans for the likes of you!

    Did ya say you were kin to ‘ole earl, there????

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