Pitiful Valley Mobile Home Park
Pity’s Sake, TX 75301
April 5, 1985
I was certainly pleased to hear from you over the weekend. Things a quiet here in Oatmeal once again following a weekend of intrigue and excitement at the Christian Youth Conference. I knew you’d hear about it eventually so I thought the sooner the better, and that it might be easier to take coming from one of your own kin. I even considered borrowing Mr. Heinekopf’s telephone and calling you regarding this matter, but bad news already travels fast enough and he was so upset that I wasn’t about to ask him to let me make a long distance call.
It all started on Wednesday when that little Cambodian boat boy your church is sponsoring arrived here in town with Mrs. Tuttleberry and the youth choir. Now I’ve never been one to judge a book by it’s cover, but something about that boy’s very name seemed to portend disastrous happenstance a comin’.
When I greeted Mrs. Tuttleberry and the choir she introduced me to each and every one of the children. I could sense her dread when it came time for me to meet– him. Imagine poor Gussie Tuttleberry’s embarrassment having to actually say that boy’s name out loud.
Now I realize that the Southeast Asian culture and language are a lot different than ours, but having a name that sounds like a vulgar term for fornication, even though it is spelled differently is just not right in America. Why it’s embarrassing for everyone concerned.
Of course I tried to make things more comfortable by immediately changing the subject, but I was so flabbergasted that I made the mistake of engaging that young Phuc in conversation. I could barely understand him with that accent of his but I did manage to get him to understand that there were sandwiches and punch waiting for the group in the fellowship hall.
Anyway, we got to talking about food and the different varieties and before you know it, the little Phuc had most graciously volunteered to cook a traditional Asian delicacy to culminate the progressive dinner we had planned for Friday evening before our special screening of the filmstrips. He showed me a PF Flyers shoe box he had brought with him that was full of little jars of spices, bottles of sauce and funny looking cooking utensils. He also had this rounded washtub looking pan that he called his walk.
I thought the youth might enjoy some kind of ethnic food since the only type available around here is the tacos down at the Dairy Queen over in North Zulch. He gave me a list of things he needed– things like rice and celery and onions and peppers. He told me he had one special ingredient that had to be fresh, but that he’d see to getting that himself. I had no idea how special that ingredient would turn out to be.
Old Miss Erbay stopped round on Friday afternoon all upset because her little cocker spaniel was missing from her yard. Mr. Heinekopf dropped by a few minutes later and asked if anybody had seen anything of his little daschhund. I told him the same thing I’d told Miss Erbay, that both animals had been hanging around by the kitchen door earlier in the day, but there was no trace of them to be found anywhere around the church. We all three looked.
It wasn’t until after the filmstrip and the lesson was over that I found the dog collars, they were in the garbage can amongst the celery stalks and onion peeling, and I remembered that crazy boy asking me if it would be okay for him to walk the dogs! When I confronted him, that boy just stood there grinning like he was proud of himself for feeding those fine Christian Youth two of my neighbors’ cherished pets. It beat just about anything I’ve ever seen!
Poor Old Miss Erbay was so upset that Dr. Dickie had to give her thorazine to calm her down and Velma Mae de Villers had to sit up with her all night long. I was afraid that Mr. Heinekopf being a Vietnam veteran and all was going to have a flashback or something and go on a rampage. When he found out what had become of his weenie dog, his lips got almost purple and the veins in his temples bulged like those steroid popping weight lifters you see pictures of in magazines.
I know for a fact that he was at the VFW hall until the wee hours trying to convince a few of those boys that hang around there drinking beer that they should maybe have a neck tie party for your poor little boat boy. I was concerned enough about it to have Sheriff Shackleford go talk to them. He advised them all to go home and get in bed. He also advised Mrs. Tuttleberry to get the you-know-what out of town.
We were lucky in that none of the youth found out what they’d eaten. I know Mrs. Tuttleberry was glad of their ignorance, because a long bus ride on a hot night can make you queasy all on it’s own.
You probably know all about this by now, but I just thought I’d write and let you know what went on.