the next three decades, the two bought or leased enough land to become
respected farmers in their own right – growing cotton, rice, soybeans
and catfish. They also custom harvested, managed a poplar plantation on
the river for an out-of-state conglomerate and kept a commercial herd of
cattle that they sold from time to time for seed or fertilizer money or
when they needed a new piece of equipment.
had a few employees but were ‘hands-on’ managers who worked just as
hard as any of their hired help and kept longer hours than any of them.
he was well liked, fitting in wasn’t Booger’s strong point. Being
poor as a youngster had given him a self-esteem problem … having a
nickname like "Booger" couldn’t have helped much either.
asked about why he hadn’t married, Booger half-seriously joked that he
might be able to take enough time to run to the courthouse to get
hitched, but he just couldn’t see piddling away time leaving the farm
for any of that courting business.
tractor might tear up or one of the cows might get out. Anything could
had also read somewhere that about half of the marriages in the United
States end in divorce. He wasn’t a gambling man and didn’t like
those odds. He had a whole list of other reasons for staying single.
of necessity, he had learned to cook better than most people he knew.
Fact is, except for the time he fried some chicken livers without a
shirt on, he couldn’t remember having a negative experience in the
kitchen. He also knew how to wash clothes and clean house.
married also cost money. One of the few breaks he had ever gotten in
life as a young man was when his brother took him, one of eight other
siblings, to work with him on the farm. Other than that, he was a
self-made man who knew what it meant to be without.
liked to call himself "fiscally conservative" but, other than
tithing to his church, Booger was just plain cheap. He had stopped
physically growing in his mid-twenties and still wore to church his
thirty-year-old polyester pants, balloon sleeved shirts and leisure suit
jackets that had held up from that era.
had cut his own hair since he was a teenager though he never really got
the hang of it. He kept only his bedroom and a bathroom heated during
the winter, in the dilapidated tenant house he lived in near his brother’s
place, with an old Waterloo step stove stoked with wood he collected
from the poplar plantation.
heated his bath water and cooked on the same stove. He had a Chevrolet
pickup that had over 400,000 miles on it and he was bound and determined
to see it go over a million. This penny-pinching came from a man who, by
some accounts, could buy and sell most anybody in the county.
only social life Booger had was when he went to night church on Sunday
and Wednesday’s prayer meetings. The ladies there had ‘fixed’ him
up a few times but he usually canceled the dates because of work. When
he did go out with someone, he didn’t get around to asking, or got
turned down for, a follow-up Dutch treat meeting at the Dairy Dream.
harvest moon night in the late ’90s, his brother invited every Sunday
school class member of the church to a pasture of theirs for a bonfire
in a veiled attempt to find Booger a honey. Everything went along fine
until sometime after the marshmallow roast.
snuck behind the herd to answer nature’s call on an electric fence.
Nobody was seriously injured by the ensuing stampede but Booger messed
up any chance of getting a date from that gathering. He didn’t show
his face at the church house for several weeks.
around Labor Day a couple of years ago, he was on the farm’s D-9,
clearing some cut-over woods next to the church where an educational
building was planned. Booger sang when he was on loud machinery and
doing the Lord’s work made him that much happier.
was really belting it out as he approached the last locust and bramble
thicket to be pushed onto the burn pile…the thicket with a hornet’s
nest the shape and size of a 30-gallon axle grease drum. Booger was
giving the song all he had with his head reared back, eyes squinted near
shut and mouth wide opened in the last line of "How Great Thou
Art" when the first wasp nailed him on his right jaw.
few more seconds and several more pops to the head had him bailing from
his diesel behemoth and running to the protection of the black smoke of
the burning tractor tire he had used to start his fire. The lumbering
dozer took out a large section of the church cemetery chain link fence
but miraculously missed any tombstones before finally spinning in its
tracks, rocking back and forth and side to side against a giant sycamore
of the corner of his eye, Booger saw through the smoke a figure running
toward the D-9; that figure then, with a single bound, boarded it from
the rear and choked the engine. The next thing he knew, Ellen Bosch, who
worked at the parts house and was in the Christmas cotillion choir with
him, was whipping away the few remaining wasps with her cap while
reaching for Booger’s arm to help him toward her truck.
heat, smoke inhalation and sickness from the stings had him slightly
hallucinating and Ms. Bosch, as he had always addressed her, looked just
like an angel.
had by some quirk of fate, been there for him in his time of need but,
most of all she had saved his expensive piece of machinery first! Booger
was immediately smitten.
the next few months, he hung out at the parts house more than he ever
had before finally getting up the nerve to call on Ellen at her mother’s
house. She saw no reason to waste money on a place of her own since her
momma had so much room. It was a match made in heaven; and after a year
of cost effective dates, Booger and Ellen tied the knot. They live with
Disclaimer: The story you just read is based on reality. The names have been changed to protect the innocent. Any likeness any character in this story has to you, your family or anybody you know or have known is completely coincidental.