See my ring on my finger? Let this Louisiana boy tell you how I got it.
One day when Daddy thought I was out of earshot, I heard him tell my big brother, “Your little brother wants me to cash in the John Potter fund now, while the market is warm; what do you think?”
“What’s his hurry, Dad?”
“Told me he wants to go to Europe to learn about various cultures. Learn some languages. Sample the cuisine. He has become an excellent cook since your mother passed away, you know.”
“He’s up to something,” my brother said. “He knows it’s about time to cut the cane and he doesn’t relish working in the fields.”
“Don’t you ever get stir crazy here on the place and want to roam, son?”
“No, I enjoy making ribbon cane. Besides, I hate Italy. Tell you what, Dad. Oddly enough, there may be some inadvertent wisdom in cashing the fund now, though. I feel uneasy about some of the foreign markets, especially the doubtful investments Potter makes in Middle East concerns and Third World infrastructures. Go ahead and cash it in. I can get a good return on my share at the bank and in some bonds.”
“My personal belief is that one reason you go fairly safe mutual fund is to have padding if things go south. But, suit yourself.”
Later in the day on the patio: “Boys, I have called you here today to distribute the Potter fund money. Here it is.”
I said, “Thanks, Daddy. Wow! We picked a great time to close it out. And goodbye for awhile.”
My brother said, “I have a place for this.”
I flew to Europe, but I didn’t learn any foreign languages. Instead, I cultivated a three-year hangover and spent all the money, more or less foolishly, hanging around top notch restaurants. Then, out of necessity, I went to work sweeping up and doing general custodial work at a mediocre hotel in Nancy, France.
I came to myself one evening while picking pink toenail clippings out of the lounge carpet.
“I’d rather be supervising migrant labor on Daddy’s sugarcane farm than gathering these little rosebuds. I’m headed home.”
I caught a tramp steamer and worked my way across. I caught a ride from New Jersey to Memphis with a guy on a rice-burner who looked exactly like Elvis. I called Daddy collect then and he sent me bus fare through Western Union. When I got home, I said, “Daddy, just give me a supervisory job on the place; I know and you know I blew it big time in Europe, but I promise I’ll reform and do better.”
My brother said, “No, Dad, he should start at the bottom. If you hire him, put him on as one of my fire-stokers at the syrup mill.”
“That’s the dirtiest and hottest job on the place, son. It’s nice that you want to work with your brother, but I have other plans for him. I haven’t heard from him in three years and we all thought he was dead till he called from Graceland. After we have a party, inviting all the neighbors and all the hands, I’m giving him a job in the kitchen as a pastry chef. I’ve been so hungry for his lemon meringue pie.
I immediately made several and that’s how I got meringue on my finger.