My sister-in-law offhandedly, and dangerously, remarked that I have yet to "victimize" her in my column. "Oh, but I have," I reminded her. "That stunt you pulled on your wedding day, having a wedding pawn read the scripture advising wives to submit to their husbands, that mind game made print, my dear."
"Oh, yeah, that," she smiled devilishly.
She is the quintessential southern belle, gracious to a fault, knows the importance of keeping up appearances, believes in nourishing the souls of others with comfort foods, and practices her womanly wiles so subtly only a lady of the same caliber could catch it. And she was smart to square off for the upper hand in her marriage at the outset, staging her rightful march to the matriarchal throne, right there at the nuptial altar; because she's married to my Mississippi brother, the space lawyer, who has said more than once: "The only way to cover up a lie is to tell a bigger one."
"Well, what have you done of note lately?" I inquired of her, interview style.
She thought for a moment, then offered, "I bought a tin of cinnamon rolls at Bi-Lo, repackaged them, and gifted them to someone." "Mm-hmm," I hummed, with a knowing, kindred nod. "Disguised them."
"Yes," she agreed. "But three days later his wife came asking for the recipe. I thought, 'Crap! Now he's dragged his wife into it. I don't have the recipe. Where's my lying husband when I need him? How will I get out of this gracefully?'"
"How did you get out of it?" I grinned.
She leaned in and confided, "I told her it was a secret."
"True enough," I commended her.
Providing unnecessary self-defense, she continued, "I never told him they were homemade. He just assumed it because of the containers they were in, you know those disposable plastic containers you can buy at the grocery store. And then his wife assumed it was an old family recipe! I never said that."
"Who is he? Why did you take him cinnamon rolls, anyway?"
She sighed. "He's Mickey, the Program Manager of the Water Valley Main Street Association and I'm a member of the Water Valley Main Street Association Movie Night Committee. My job is to hang movie night posters around town. I ran out of time to do it, and I had to confess, and I had to give him the posters so someone else could put them up."
"So," I said, unraveling the tangled web, "you needed a sugar-coated bribe to keep him from getting sideways with you. You led him to believe that you used the time in which you could have hung the posters slaving, instead, over the oven making homemade cinnamon rolls from a secret family recipe just for him."
Exhaling, she admitted, "I wanted the appearance of homemade without the trouble of it."
"Why didn't you just come clean?"
"I was so flattered that his wife wanted the recipe." Her hands flew in the air, as if she made a serendipitous discovery. "The flattery made me do it, made me tell this... this... tale." Then she gasped, "You're not going to put this in the paper are you? I hope my parents don't read it. Change my name to Caitlyn, better yet, Leye (our newest sister-in-law)," Kathryn said.
Regardless of what her parents think, my Mississippi brother will be pleased with how his wife persisted in weaving that web into knots that'll never come out. That's because he doesn't know it's not lies as much as it's only mind games.
(Lucy Adams is a syndicated columnist, freelance writer, and author of If Mama Don't Laugh, It Ain't Funny. She lives in Thomson. Lucy invites readers to e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org and to visit her web site, www.IfMama.com.)