Pink Hawaiian Peonies

(The Peony border my friend Kris recommended we plant.) 

My mom’s first cousin Gary made a tidy bundle selling what I call truckstop ephemera- things like shot glasses and mesh hats with front panels that say things like “Old Fart” and “Official Hiney Inspector.”   

Pink Hawaiian Peony

(Peony, Pink Hawaiian)

Of course, he sold literature like “The Official Hillbilly Cookbook” and “How to Talk Southern”, too.  The latter is where the blog title above comes from (Flares– “Ooowee shug, them flares yur bruther sent you sho’ is perty.”)  Like a fool I’ve let my copy disappear.  I’d ask my cousin Gary to help me find a new one, but I’m not so inclined since two family reunions ago he made a point of standing up in the middle of lunch to declare his undying love for George Bush and his most ardent opposition to gay marriage.  This even though he has a gay son, Matt, who–irony alert!– spends his days riding the highways of America with his gay truckdriver partner.  I’ve never met my cousin’s partner.  I’d like to.  I’ve often wondered what his hat might say.    

Pink Hawaiian Peony

These days Gary couldn’t hook me up with the book anyway, since he has retired from the retail humor business and made the move to travel humor.  In addition to his talent for laying flat a family event, he also does a mean Gomer Pyle imitation that knocks folks old enough to remember the plucky private on their behinds.  (“Mean” here refers to quality, not bitterness.  Bitter Gomer would actually be funny.)  Frequent impromptu impersonations on airlines eventually landed him a gig doing his bit on a regular paid basis.  Where?  On a cruise ship, a place guaranteed to be chocked full of people old enough to remember Gomer.  Now that, folks, is a salesman.  


(Allium and Siberian Iris)

Mom tells me that Matt sometimes travels with his dad to catch his cruise act.  Despite his bravura pronouncements, I believe Gary is on the path to a better understanding and acceptance of who his son and I are.  I think he took the first steps down that path not on the day that his son came out, but on the day of the reunion when my mom threatened to walk out of her cousin’s home and not come back if he didn’t put a sock in it.  As I believe hope springs eternal, it is in honor of Gary that I post these flares from the spring garden of his happily hitched cousin.   

White Iris

(Iris, “Butter and Eggs” [I think])

5 Responses to “Flares”

  1. 1 Barb
    May 9, 2007 at 12:33 pm

    Pictures #2 & #3 actually look like a painting, a piece of art…oh my Troy, they are gorgeous, as is your eye. Wish I had more sun in my yard! Barb

  2. 2 runningpeanut
    May 9, 2007 at 12:48 pm

    Troy, these photos are exquisite! I would love to stop by and see everything in bloom. It took me until the last use of the word “flares” to understand that you were saying “flowers.” What a dunce I am. Knock me over with a peony, or an iris, or a big ‘ole allium ball. Simply gorgeous.

  3. May 9, 2007 at 7:24 pm

    Those photos are absolutely breathtaking!

  4. May 9, 2007 at 9:41 pm

    Actually, I am the bigger dunce, David. I JUST NOW got the “flares” thing when you pointed it out. Me big dummy.

  5. May 10, 2007 at 12:34 pm

    If some of the smartest people I know are having trouble getting it, the fault probably lies with me. On the other hand, when people from East Tennessee moved to Batesville, AR back in the 1970s and actually pronounced the word for flowers this way we had no idea what they were saying either. That’s why we have to find a copy of that book!

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