Now, Granny Beth had gotten it into her gray head that she ought to go back to school. For what, she didn’t know, but she always regretted not gettin’ proper book learning after she graduated high school.
See, Granny had been a smart one back in the day, but Poppy Lloyd talked like that apple pie ‘shine Marty Campbell makes in his still goes down your gullet and had her knocked up afore she could get far in life. Her duties were relegated to taking care of the younguns while ol’ Poppy went underground in Mingo Number 5 everyday.
Granny Beth never complained. Maybe run after Poppy with that big cast iron skillet a hers once in awhile, but that’s to be expected, ‘pecially when he’d been hitting that rotgut they passed underground on Fridays.
Well, Poppy passed in May, and by July, Granny Beth was bored stiff. You could eat off the floors, she cleaned ‘em everyday. The silver blinded you when you opened a drawer, account of all the polishing. She pert near canned every kind of preserve you could think of.
What was a widow to do?
To the surprise of her clan, she announced she had gotten herself accepted to State University. Out she walked with that big steamer trunk of hers and her knitting basket, saying, she says, she’s going to get “the full experience,” whatever that meant.
Now, it seems, Granny Beth was a lot more prepared for going to school than school was prepared for Granny Beth. For one, she took to chemistry like Bill Wilkins’s bloodhound to that little bitch down the holler and read that big ol’ book in a weekend. Hell, she even corrected that fancy professor of hers a time or two. He didn’t appreciate that too much, nor did he like the clickety-click of Granny’s knitting needles while he was a-lecturin’, but when else was she a’pposed to get it in with all that book learning?
Anyway, she corrected him one too many times, and he challenged her, which she was used to, on account of Poppy Lloyd being who he had. So the professor looks at her, his face all red, and says, he says, “What would you say if I mixed cesium and water?”
“I’d say don’t do it here, sonny,” she says, her needles going clickety-click.
“Ha!” Then there he goes grabbing the chemicals and mixing ‘em right there. “You are very wrong, my lady! You see, students, reading the book will only get you so far! You need my exp—”
See, Granny Beth musta had him flustered. He meant to say cadmium and water, which wouldn’t’ve done much of anything. Cesium and water now, as Granny Beth knew, would cause something called an exothermic reaction, whatever that means.
Well, I can’t attest to what that fancy professor’s doing now’days, but Granny Beth graduated top of her class and is teachin’. Seems those younguns love her as much as we do.