Things nice little girls just don’t do

Published 2:00 pm Sunday, April 15, 2018

With the countryside a-blaze with rusty-red billy goat grass, many folks “my age” have been drawn back in memory to their childhoods. I’ve chewed billy goat grass and, as recently as yesterday. But, I must admit that I have also dipped snuff.

Like a lot of women back then, my granny dipped snuff. She said there wasn’t a thing in the world that couldn’t be made right with a dip of snuff.

She would carefully take the lid off a can of Peach Sweet Snuff, tap just the right amount of the dark powder into the lid, pull out her lower lip and fill it full of snuff. Then she would tongue it into place, sit back, fold her arms and enjoy the dip.

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My life’s plan was to be a snuff dipper, too.

But the real fascination with dipping snuff wasn’t the ecstasy that it seemed to bring to life but that you could just haul off and spit anywhere you wanted to.

Why, some of the women in Aunt Nita’s church out in the country would spit right out an open window right in the middle of the sermon. They didn’t even look to see if anybody was standing under the window. They just hauled off and spit.

My grandmother didn’t do that. She said it wasn’t civilized.

She carried a spit cup in her pocketbook and, when the notion hit her, she would unsnap the clamp on her pocketbook, spread it wide open, lean over and spit in the tin cup that lived in there and she did it real civilized-like.

Mama said it wasn’t nice for little girls to spit. But boys spit all the time. Boys could do a lot of fun things that it wasn’t nice for little girls to do. I was missing too much fun on account of being a girl. I wanted to spit and my best chance of doing so was to dip snuff.

Plain ol’ spitting was a sin.

There wasn’t any way I could sneak snuff out of my grandmother’s pocketbook but my friend, Tince, said she could get all the snuff she wanted from her grandpa. He had cans of snuff sitting around all around the house.

One afternoon, Tince slipped a whole can of Rooster Snuff out of the house in her dress pocket.

I had my mind set on Peach Sweet Snuff like my grandmother dipped. I imagined that it would taste like the sweet peaches from the volunteer trees along the fencerow. But Tince said all snuff tastes alike – just like chocolate candy.

We went out in the pasture and found a spot on top of the hill where we could take a dip and then stretch out on our backs and watch the clouds make pictures in the sky.

Tince opened the can, tapped out a dip in the lid, pulled out her lip and filled it full. She tapped out another lid full and I pulled out my bottom lip and filled it full.

We fell back on the grass and watched the clouds float by and by .. and by. The whole world started to spin around. I tired to stand up but my knock-kneed, bird-legged legs wouldn’t hold me up. Something didn’t feel right in my stomach. I spit and spit but it was not fun. I started to cry.

Mama was right. There are some things that nice little girls just don’t do.