Monday, October 31, 2011

One Dark Night

A man is walking home 
alone late one foggy night. . . 

when behind him he hears

Bump. . .

BUMP. . .

BUMP. . .

Walking faster, he looks 
back and through the fog 
he makes out the image of 
an upright casket banging its way down the middle of the 
street toward him.

BUMP. . .

BUMP. . .

BUMP. . .

Terrified, the man begins to 
run toward his home, the 
casket bouncing quickly 
behind him



BUMP. . .

BUMP. . .

BUMP. . .

He runs up to his door, fumbles with his keys, opens the door, rushes in, slams and locks the door behind him.

However, the casket crashes through his door, with the lid 
of the casket clapping

clappity-BUMP. . .

clappity-BUMP. . .

clappity-BUMP. . .

on his heels, the terrified man runs.

Rushing upstairs to the 
bathroom, the man locks 
himself in. His heart is pounding; his head is reeling; his breath is coming in sobbing gasps.

With a loud CRASH the casket breaks down the door.

Bumping and clapping toward

The man screams and reaches for something, anything, but all he can find is a bottle of cough syrup!

Desperate, he throws the cough syrup at the casket...

The coffin stops. 

Friday, October 28, 2011


Up.  A funny word.  Say it five times fast and it's even funnier.  It morphs into pup.

When I teach a piano student their first lesson I usually say, "Look up."  
As we gaze at my studio ceiling I go on, "All your life that's been up.  But in piano up is to the right of the keyboard and down is to your left."  We explore high and low sounds, adding to their confusion.

 Are you UP to reading a blog devoted totally to this two-letter word?  "What's up?" we often ask in greeting.  That morphed a few years back into, "Wassup?"

We're up to our neck in ups.  It has more meanings than any other two-letter English word.

Now I get it that the sky is up or you move up to the top of the list.  But in the morning, why do we wake up?  Why not wake over because I usually roll out of bed?  Eventually.

At a meeting why does a topic come up?  Why do we speak up then listen up?  Politicians come up for election and secretaries write up reports.

In one day I might make up my bed then put on my make-up, call up a friend, brighten up a room by polishing up the furniture, fix up my hair, gas up my car, figure up my taxes, heat up leftovers, clean up the kitchen then lock up the house.

This tiny word is packed full of meaning.  People stir up trouble, line up for tickets, work up an appetite then think up excuses for over-eating.

To be dressed is one thing but to dress up is special.  You do that when you go uptown.

Up can also be confusing.  A drain must be opened up because it's stopped up.  Both are actually down so that really makes little sense.

We open up a store in the morning but also close it up at night.  We seem to be pretty mixed up about up.

When it threatens to rain, we say it's clouding up.  When it rains, the earth soaks it up.  When the sun comes out, we say it's clearing up. When it does not rain, things dry up. Whether you like it or not, the weather is always up to something.

Daddy used to tell me to straighten up when I was up to no good.  My 5'2" Mama told me to stand up tall and be proud of my 5'6" height when I slumped at age 12!

To be knowledgeable about the proper use of the word up, look up up and you'll find that in a desk-sized dictionary, it takes up 1/4 of the page defining it.  This adds up to about 30 meanings.

If you're up to it, build up your own list of the many ways up is used.  I doubt you'll use up all the ideas out there.  It may take up some time but if you don't give up, you might wind up with 100 or more.

One could go on and on but I'll wrap it up for now.  

Hm-mmmm. . .on and on.  I may have another blog idea.

Upended on this one!
How many ups are in this blog?  Leave your best guess in COMMENTS.

Friday, October 21, 2011


"Adele, I'm worried about my flight to New York City."


"We accidentally booked it for landing at 11:45 PM thinking it was a morning flight."

My concern about catching a cab or car from LaGuardia to my friend's apartment at midnight is common to all women.  Ask any lady if she ever fears purse-snatching or rape and you'll hear a unanimous, "Yes."  Ask any man that question and he'll stare at you blankly.  (Unless there are prison bars between you and him.)

Our gender fears are different.  One reknown preacher years ago was asked by his seminary students, "What's the most important thing we need to remember just before we preach a sermon?"  

They expected sage theological advice and were startled at his quick reply, "Check your fly.  Your sermon or theology won't matter if it's down."  Now that's a fear I know nothing about.

But my husband does.  As a youth pastor years ago he was speaking to a classroom full of teenagers about dating.  I was seated in row three with them. "Now, kids, modesty is important."  The boy and girl seated behind me snickered.

Doug leaned into the small podium, driving his point further, "Guard your purity and . . ."  Their snickers grew louder and a few other kids joined in the muffled laughter.  I glared at them over my shoulder.  They tried to stifle but couldn't.

Doug continued speaking and the inappropriate guffaws grew as he spoke and I shushed.  The boy behind me whispered, "Mrs. Henderson, look at his fly."  I did. Every time he leaned  forward it gaped open, nullifying his words.  He grew annoyed and more puzzled.  Especially when I started laughing too.

I raised my hand, trying to silently signal Doug with my eyes, "Honey,  An emergency."  Now this was before cell phones. Logically there was no way my message made any sense. Except to Doug.  He immediately knew his fly was down and I'd just given him an out.

He cleared his throat, "I'll be right back."  When he abruptly left the room about half of his audience knew why.  When he returned, red-faced, the others knew.  Word spread.  They all applauded.

At home that night he told me part two of the story, "I knew when you spoke so soon as I stepped into the hallway I zipped up.  THEN I looked up to see two teen girls coming in late.  Too late not to see me adjust my problem."  Busted.  In the room and outside of it.  Men's fears are very real too.
Rumor has it another preacher sat on stage before his sermon when his wife noticed the same problem and gave him a signal.  His eyes darted down but he froze in place thinking, Mrs. Anderson is singing a solo.  As she passes between me and the audience I'll zip up.

Mrs. Anderson was a large lady and she dressed in a flowing lavendar chiffon dress for her special music that Sunday.  As she provided ample shield, the pastor zipped quickly.  So quickly that he didn't notice her dress caught in his zipper, until they all heard the RRR-IIIIIPPPPP that yanked her back a step, dress torn but not in two.

The preacher and Mrs. A. high stepped into an impromptu dance to free her.  The solo and the sermon went on.  But in actuality they were both over before they began.

Gender fears.  Very real.  Very different.  

"What time I am afraid, I will trust in God."  And hold my purse tightly.

Friday, October 14, 2011


This photo of me with my younger brother, Ricky Tippett, was taken one Christmas.  My gift to him that year was his very own Bubba teeth. He was thrilled.  He commented on last week's blog that my 2-part story was one of his favorites. Then he reminded me of his own follow-up adventure.  So I asked if he'd be my guest blogger today and share that episode with you.  He agreed.  So enjoy part 3 of my family's redneck impersonations. 

I read Kathy’s piece last week and smiled and laughed all the way through it. It brought back a lot of good memories. My sister never lacks for a … let’s say, “creative” idea … when it comes to getting people to smile and laugh.

A few months after my sister’s prank at her church, I awoke one morning and decided to do something similar. Dressing early in worn out jeans, a ratty-looking sweatshirt, a wool work coat, and old work shoes, I headed to Raleigh Christian Academy that morning determined to step out of the administrator’s shoes and into Bubba Two’s shoes.

I arrived before any of the teachers or students got to school and I went to the restroom to finish out my prank. I put on a black baseball cap that had a long, black ponytail coming out of the back. I had a pair of thick rim glasses that used to belong to my Dad. That helped change my appearance quite a lot, but not as much as when I put in my Bubba-teeth.

I planned to be an electrician who was called in to help find some problems with the school's alarm system. I brought an aluminum stepladder so I could remove some tiles in the hallway ceiling and climb up in the ceiling so that people could only see me from the waist down. I strapped on a tool belt and had it fully decked out with professional equipment like a hammer, wire cutters, screw drivers, pliers, etc.

When I heard the students coming in, I got in place and began banging on the pipes and wall above the ceiling so everyone would think some guy from an electrical company was there trying to fix some problem. I saw a few students and teachers pause and look up the ladder, but most of them just walked on by not really paying attention.

When the hallways got more and more people, I began to whistle softly, songs like The Gambler and Stand By Your Man.  At last I decided it was time to come down and get some things out of a toolbox I had placed at the foot of my ladder. This did cause students to stop and stare some, but they had no idea it was me.  When I stared back at them, they quickly looked away so as not to be rude.

I would take a few tools out of the box and head back up the ladder and bang on a few more pipes.

Evidently some of the kids were talking about the strange guy working up in the ceiling. “Yeah, you ought to see him. Man, he’s crazy looking.” So more did come and try to get a peek. Just before the first bell rang, I came down and began to speak to those who where nearby. Just polite southern talk.

“Hey. How ya’ll this morning?”

Pausing, but trying to be nice they’d say, “Fine.” Then they’d move away. I didn’t know if it was the pony tail or the teeth that was getting them to come take another look. I saw some girls put their hands over their mouth to hide their laughter.

They would walk away whispering, “Who is that guy?”

I was pleased. When the bell rang I decided it was time to see what was going on in the school office. I got a teacher to walk me in there, explaining that this was “Johnny” from Electicon Company and he was trying to fix an alarm problem in the hallway and trace down the source of a power failure. Parents and office workers stared blankly. They tried not to stare, but I wasn’t making it easy.

I was speaking loudly and in a deep southern drawl. I looked at Mrs. Newman, one of our office ladies, and I said, “Ma'am, I need to use yer phone, if I may, to call back to the shop.”

I could tell she didn’t recognize me and she said, “There’s a phone in the hallway.”

“I don’t have a quarter, ma'am.”

“Sorry,” she said and walked away back to the copier room.

I decided to push the envelop a bit so I went back behind the counter and I sat in her chair behind her desk and picked up her phone. I pretended to be talking to someone on the phone when she walked back in and saw me. Her hands immediately went up to her hips and she snapped her fingers at me and motioned for me to get up. I kept talking. “Up, sir! Now.”

“Oh, so sorry, ma'am. Just needed to use yer phone.”

“Out!” she barked.

So I left only to find more teachers and students. Eventually people were taking a hard second look. “I think that’s Mr. Tippett,” I heard one senior whisper.  I move away quickly.

I was about to call it a day after an hour or so, but Dwight said, “Let’s go down to the conference room and see if Pastor Rabon recognizes you.”

In a few minutes Pastor walked down and went to his seat in the conference room. He had his back to me and Dwight took me in and said, “Pastor, I have someone I want you to meet. This is Johnny from the electric company, just here to do some work for us. I invited him to church Sunday and I wanted you to meet him.”

Immediately Preacher got up and quickly walked back to where I was standing. “Hey, der, Preacher. Good to meetcha.”

“Hey, there, Johnny. Good to meet you, too.”

“I wuz just here to check on some problems with yer school’s alarm system.”

“Oh?” But now he was really looking me over. He paused and stared real hard at me.

“Ricky? Ricky? …. Is that YOU, Ricky?”

Game over. We all had a good laugh and I began to understand how my crazy sister can rub off on an innocent, impressionable little brother. Sister Bubba lives in Florence and Brudder Bubba lives in Raleigh.

Life is sweet.

Ricky Tippett

Kathy here.  With this other picture of Ricky and me on a cruise, I'll invite you to decide who's truly innocent and impressionable!

Friday, October 7, 2011


Our church, Greenwood Baptist, held a Fall Festival for the community for many years. We'd have 500-600 costumed kids come for treats, booths, rides and photo ops.  My job was to greet them at the door, give them a Trick or Treat bag and direct them into the sanctuary to meet Pastor Mike and then have a picture made.

Lawrence Hill, one of our charter members (now with the Lord), shared this greeting post with me over the years.  After a couple of hours at the vestibule door, I slipped away explaining, "Mr. Lawrence, I'm gonna put on a costume this year.  But when I come back out, don't tell anyone it's me."  His eyes reflected my twinkle and I knew I had a cohort.

In the adjacent Bride's Room I stuffed pillows into my large flannel shirt and bib overalls.  I put on a ball cap with dreadlocks attached, thick bottle-glasses, Billy Bob teeth and even gloves to hide my manicured hands.  I waved at Lawrence as I made my re-entrance.  He seemed puzzled at first.  "It's ME!   Shhhhh!"

I sashayed down the aisle behind a costumed family, waiting my turn to meet the unsuspecting pastor.  

He reached for my hand, "Hello.  I'm Mike.  Welcome to Greenwood."

"Heeeeyyyy, Preacher!"  I croaked in my best Redneck, gravel voice.   "I met you a'fore!  Doncha' 'member me?"

He paused, "Uh, no, I don't quite. . ."  I could see his struggle as he tried to decide if this weird lady was in a costume or merely a weird lady.   I enjoyed watching him squirm with diplomacy.

"Well, I'm here near 'bout every Sunday.  Yessiree!"

"You are?" he smiled patronizingly.

"Yep.  I sit right in front.  You bounda' see me!"

He squinted trying to peer through my thick glasses.  Obviously his job this night was to welcome folks to his church.   Until now, it had been a relatively easy job.

I continued the charade, "Shore nuff!  In fact I hear you need an organ player."

Now he knew I'd visited before.  I play the piano but at that time we also needed someone on organ.  So he smiled with, "Why, yes, we do," still trying to place me.

"I play!"

Teetering between diplomacy and hysteria, he kindly asked, "You do?"  

"Yep.  In fact, you WATCH me play every week!"

"I-I do?"  His voice was a bit higher than usual.  

"Yesiree Bob!  I just sit on the pianer bench every Sunday."

Mike leaned in as close as my pillowed-belly would let him.  He lifted my thick glasses and queried, "Kathy?  Is that you in there?"

I had my picture taken and one of our members fixed it up into a poster:

Then I continued all through the gym talking to folks who didn't recognize me.  We truly have some kind members.  Then I got to Doug's booth.  Of course he knew it was me but he played along as I flirted with him.  Finally I grabbed him, leaned him back and planted a big, Billy-Bob-toothed kiss on him.  Everyone froze in terror until I removed my hat, glasses and teeth.

The big reveal!

ONE YEAR LATER--Part 2 (just when you thought it couldn't get worse. . .)

I asked Vickie Morrison, "Would you dress up in my garb like I did last year, Vickie?"

"Oh, Kathy, I can't be crazy like you."

"You don't have to, Vickie.  In fact don't say a word and they'll all think it's me again."  So she did.  As she went through the sanctuary Pastor Mike kidded her, "Come on, Kathy, not again!  You look as bad as last time."

She went to the gym and at every booth folks made wise cracks to Kathy.  She never spoke but took the back-slapping and ribbing like a pro.  About halfway through her circuit of the booths, I came in dressed normally.  Me at one end of the gym,  Vickie at the other.

"Kathy!  I thought I just saw you and I said how ugly you looked!  Oh no!"

"You did?  Who were you talking to?  I just got here."

"That lady down there. . .oh nooooo!  She looked just like you did last year.  I thought it was you!  Oh man!"

I followed her trail hearing one person after another moan at what they'd just said to our ugly visitor.   I waited awhile before revealing mini-me as Vickie.

We stopped having Fall Festivals soon after these 2 years.  Wonder why.