Girls' Night Out


Oysterback, Md. -- Sometimes you get tired of your own cooking, as Miss Clara Barth of the McDaniel Country Store remarked when she came in here the other day for one of my new white potato pies.

I know what she means. Which is why Doreen Redmond, Jeanne Swann and I -- Desiree Grinch, proprietor of the Blue Crab Tavern -- got into Doreen's red Cherokee the other night and drove down Route 13 to the Dew Drop Inn in Wingo, Virginia.

Usually, on girls' night out we go to Ocean City or somewhere there's a Kevin Costner movie. But that night Doreen had a craving for white potato pie, so it was the Dew Drop.

Now, I personally have nothing against the Dew Drop. The food is fine if you happen to like crackermeal crab cakes with one sliver of claw meat swimming in a vat of grease, and you like to drink with the terminally common sorry. If Litey Clash had to use his own ladies' room, he might clean it once in a while, but that is just my opinion.

I should have known there would be trouble the minute I saw Snake Wingate's truck in the lot. Snake, as we all know, is real fractious. But Doreen wanted that white potato pie, and by then Jeanne had to go to the bathroom, so we went in and took a booth.

I took one look around and I knew there was trouble even before Litey Clash came shuffling up to us without, for once, that big stretched-out smile all over his face.

Eyeball to eyeball. Snake was holding onto a longneck bottle by the wrong end and that lawyer was about to beam him with his brief case, and everyone else was getting out of the way.

"Desiree," Litey says, "in the ordinary course of events, you know that I would be more than happy to have you and these fine Oysterbackettes boil the dishrag in my place, but it looks as if there is going to be trouble and I think you ought to leave before it starts.

"That there lawyer represented Logene, who is, as you know, the ex-Mrs. Snake, in the divorce, and as he and Snake were both on their way in here, Logene sped past, stopped and tried to run one of them down in the parking lot, and now each of them says she was aiming for him, not the other one."

If you ask me, that's why Litey has the sheriff in his place all the time; he doesn't know how to handle people.

"Let me take care of this," I said, and went over to Snake and this lawyer, who were about a breath away from feathering up on each other. It was right tense.

"Before you two start a who shot John," I said, getting right in between them, "I believe I can settle this argument. Will you agree to wait for one minute while I step outside and inspect the scene of the incident?"

Snake looked at the lawyer and the lawyer looked at Snake, and they both nodded. "We'll let Ms. Grinch make the call," agrees the lawyer.

It took me but 30 seconds to go outside and check the parking lot, and when I came back I knew the answer.

"Well?" says Snake. "Who was she about to hit and run, Desiree? Me or this common sorry courthouse barnacle?"

"Well," I said, "There were two sets of tire marks, like she tried once, backed up and tried again. Is that right?"

They both nodded.

"Well, then I am here to tell you when big court convenes, Logene, formerly Mrs. Snake, tried to run down this here lawyer," I said firmly.

"How you figure that?" Snake asked. He's a good enough

pitcher, but you have to spell it all out for him off the field.

"Well, it's like this," I told them. "The difference is between runnin' down a snake and runnin' down a lawyer. You don't back up and try to hit the snake twice."

Anyway, that's how I come away with Litey Clash's white potato pie recipe. Hope you like it.

Helen Chappell, a novelist, writes her Oysterback tales from Easton.

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