My life as a man #14

Sunday, 30 September 2012


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And the rockets red glare...during Rev. Jimmy Braggart's Anger Management Class

I've got the Anger Management Class Blues

I have hated Yankees since my ill-spent youth. I grew up in the hills of the Virginias and Carolinas. Every summer, my family spent countless hot hours manning an Apple Cider (and Apple Brandy) stand alongside US 60, in Kanawha County, West Virginia.

We owned an apple orchard, and for my family, during the season, it was all hands on deck, pruning trees, harvesting early season apples, and pressing cider the old fashioned way, using a mule-go-round powered press. I cannot stress enough how many hours I spent looking at the ass-end of a shitting mule as the two of us went round and round, pressing a thousand pounds of apples a day into unpasteurized cider. It made me angry, sometimes, well most every time.

I must admit, there were some benefits to the job. About half of our crop went to making hard cider and apple jack, which is a distilled product we called brandy. Brandy? Shit, it was just good old liquid sunshine, about 120 proof. I drank a boat load of it when I was in the cider stand during those interminable hot summer days. Let me just say that I was often as lit up as a lightning storm about six hours out of every summer's cider shift. I was, it has been said, a lit fuse (no pun intended).

And every summer, the Yankees came south in route to Virginia Beach, Myrtle Beach or Daytona Beach. Invariably, they were assholes.

We sold a gallon of cider for $1.50, a good price, even then when prices were low. I got to keep 20 cents per gallon of my cider sales. The hard cider sold for $10.50 a gallon; I got $1.00 a gallon for that sale. The apple jack went for $25.00 a gallon; I got $3.00 commission on that. I saved my commissions for my own trips to the beach. I desperately needed that money to go.

The damned Yankees never just paid the asking price. They'd try to finagle a sale for half the price, or less, and when I refused to sell it for less than my daddy told me to sell it for; they bitched, moaned, and insulted my daddy's product.

Let me explain something here: I had no intention of allowing any Yankee carpet-bagger to steal anything else my family had managed to hold on to after the Late Unpleasantness; and since I was usually drunk, and the Yankee tourists were assholes, the Civil War continued in West Virginia, unabated, on the side of that highway.

Words led to insults; insults led to fisticuffs, and Cops were called in a few more times than was good for me. More than once a summer, I ended up in the Justice of the Peace Court of old Joe Guy.

JP Guy told my father many times that I was a hot head, and maybe a damned drunk, "and yet only fourteen. By nineteen," he prophesized, I'd "be a stone cold killer."

That was then, in the early 1960's.

Fast forward to this past June:

I was at a sports bar watching my Cincinnati Reds play the Atlanta Braves. The Reds were a-surgin, and I was a-hootin and a-hollerin, and a-having myself a grand ole time of it. Then some damned Podunk Yankee from Allentown, Pennsylvania told me to shut the fuck up. He allowed how's the Spitsburg Pirates were the better team and also said something about my southern ancestors being inbred monkeys.

Did I mention that a large number of my ancestors were Hatfields out of Mingo County?

I let that Yankee slide UNTIL he insulted my coon dog. He said, "That dog don't hunt!" That's just one common way fights get started down here.

So, I bitch-slapped the silly Yankee bastard and ended up in the Justice of the Peace Court of old Joe Guy. The son of a bitch must be 119-years-old; but his memory is just as good as ever.

"You're Virgil's boy, ain't you?"

"Yes sir, Justice Guy. I am," I admitted.

"How many times have you been in my court for fighting while intoxicated," he asked me (although I'm quite certain he knew exactly how many times this incident made it).

"Not more than eight, nine times, mebbe," I answered while maintaining eye contact only with the floor.

"Bullshit, Francois! This makes twenty-nine times," he thundered.

"Maybe it's your dead daddy's fault for naming you Francois. I tole him that was a mistake. You got anything to say before I sentence you?"

"That Yankee insulted my coon dog," I pleaded.

"Boy, you going to pay a fine of $500, spend a night in the slammer, and you will enroll in Pastor Jimmy Braggart's Anger Management Class," he intoned.

I paid the fine, slept good in slam (and had a so-so breakfast; they used to be better). Then I dutifully showed up, yesterday at the Reverend Jimmy Braggart's First Church of the God Almighty Pentecost for Anger Management Class. Apparently, Pastor Braggart has a long, long waiting list to get into his class.

The class did nothing to solve my anger management issues. In fact, the class made things even worse.

There were thirty-two of us hotheads in the class. By the end of the first session, twelve of us were hospitalized at Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson Memorial Hospital.

A fight broke out within the first twenty minutes when Billy Ray Pyrus accused Reverend Braggart of "inappropriately touching" his daughter, Easy Pyrus, "out back of the church after choir practice."

Actually, the fight didn't start because of that remark by Billy Ray Pyrus. Even Billy Ray knows Easy has been inappropriately touched by nearly every man in the county.

No, the fight really started when Shemp Gordon called Billy Ray "a deadbeat."

Shemp is the Loan Officer down at the Bank of Virginia. Billy Ray, says Shemp, is four months past due on his mortgage.

"You're a damned deadbeat, Billy Ray," said Shemp during our first class, Sensitivity Training.

"I ain't got the money to pay the note," Billy Ray said.

"That don't make me no 'deadbeat,' Shemp Gordon," he concluded.

"You'd have the damned money if you made Easy charge money for her 'favors,'" Shemp snorted.

"Easy ain't a whore; she's just easy," Billy Ray shouted.

"And I ain't no beatnik, Shemp, you commie pig-farmin, chicken-screwin, in-bred, back-stabbin, deer-poachin…"

Evidently, calling a neighbor a "deer poacher" is/was the exact cause of the fist fight, and the riot that ensued amongst all thirty-two of us in the Anger Management Class. But I've seen similar brawls caused by calling a neighbor a Mason, a Presbyterian, a Homo sapiens, a Republican, a Librarian, or a Queer.

In any event, it is my testimony that the melee began precisely when Billy Ray Pyrus called Shemp Gordon a deer poacher, because that is precisely when Shemp threw a chair at Billy Ray. The chair missed Billy Ray but hit the Reverend Jimmy Braggart, and the fight was on!

I didn't have a dog in this particular fight, but I've never been the type of guy to let a good fight go to waste, so I waded into Junior Bradshaw and ended up breaking my right thumb in Junior's left eye socket. Junior wears a glass eye, but wasn't wearing it that particular night, and I'm going to sue his ass just as soon as my sisters bail me out of jail, where I've been since I showed up in Joe guy's Justice Court yet again.

Like I said before: twelve of us ended up in the hospital; but oddly enough, only six of us were injured in the fight. The other six went in to be treated for STD's contracted while inappropriately touching Easy Pyrus. Me, I just had a broken thumb, but I haven't gotten my blood test back yet.

The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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