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The Southern Girl's Guide to Getting Your MRS Degree
Allie Marini
Writer of the Month

The Southern Girl’s Guide to Getting Your MRS Degree - forthcoming in the University of Hell anthology, "We Can Make Your Life Better", recently published in Sparkle + Blink & performed in San Francisco at the Quiet Lightning reading series

first of all, let’s talk sweet tea. Yankees joke about the secret being sugar—& it is, partly—but the real secret’s in the baking soda. it takes the bitterness out of the tea & makes the sweet taste sweeter. just like you should be to your husband. neutralize all the bitterness & just be sweet as Southern tea. & don’t squeeze them teabags. you know what I mean, girl. 

know your way around a kitchen. cornbread: make sure it’s baked in a cast iron skillet. biscuits: always make catheads & don’t listen to anyone who says they come out just as good with butter because that ain’t true—use lard or Crisco, & always use a fork, because your hot hands will melt the fat & then they won’t raise up right. grits: keep stirring, even though it’s tedious, because the second you step away is when they turn to glue. fried chicken needs to set up overnight in buttermilk or pickle juice; whichever one your man likes best. always use peanut oil to fry it & a little cornstarch in the flour goes a long ways. speaking of peanuts, even though it’s just peanuts, water & salt, there are in fact ways to jack up boiled peanuts, so be patient: cook ‘em long & low. make sure your ambrosia’s the best one around. but don’t be surprised if even with all that good cooking at home, he still steps out for junk food & drive-thru. when he does, keep Alka-Seltzer in the cupboard & you get used to the taste of your own tongue, because you’re gonna have to swallow it down. 

keep a tidy house & make sure there’s order when he comes home. always make the bed. never leave dishes in the sink if you can avoid it & make sure the laundry basket never overflows. iron his pants, even if you know he’ll never notice you do that. but when you go grocery shopping, he pushes the buggy & taking out the trash is always husband work, so make sure you stay firm on those 2 points, even if you learn to bend like a cattail in the wind on everything else.  

pray that when your belly swells that it’s a son that comes first, because then your man can love the little girl that follows without reservations. if she has the misfortune to come first, be kinder to her than you want to be, even when she’s awful, because she’ll always suspect that her Daddy loves his son better’n he loves her. & she’ll be right. you remember what that’s like. 

he will drink, he will gamble, he will smoke & swear, & chances are, he’ll cheat. keep Saltines & ginger ale in the cupboard & aspirin in the medicine chest. when you do the laundry, keep whatever loose change & dollar bills in a coffee can on top of the fridge, so you have pin money in case he isn’t very good at poker. don’t ever tell him if he is a bad poker player. take up smoking Winstons yourself, or pretend you don’t smell the smoke on his shirt cuffs. in mixed company, remember to say Oh, for heaven’s sake! when his language is salty but behind closed doors, keep a few choice phrases tucked into your pillowcase. if he cheats, play dumb, but remember it. pray that he keeps coming home to you, & that even if he does love her, he’ll always love you more. it won’t hurt any less if you don’t say anything about it, but it’ll at least keep the peace. 

learn to love being on your knees, in the bedroom & in church pews. understand that you will be calling upon Jesus in both places, albeit for mightily different reasons. your praise chorus will not always be in the holy covenant of your matrimonial bond. oftentimes, the pleas you begin in the bedroom on Saturday night when he stumbles home drunk & reeking of rosewater perfume & cigar smoke you’ll just have to finish up on Sunday morning, face scrubbed & shiny. understand that sometimes your prayers will go unanswered. this is just the way of faith. 

if his hand ever raises up to you, turn away like this so your nose don’t break. if he blackens your eye, stay home till it fades. if he hits, remember what I told you about sweet tea: neutralize the bitterness & stay sweet. but remember it. if he don’t bring flowers, come home for a spell. wait till next time to tell your Daddy & your brothers. if all else fails, remember that other thing I told you about sweet tea: if you forget to add the baking soda, or if you squeeze the teabags, it can get mighty bitter. bitter tea—even if it’s sweet tea—can hide a lot of things, just like any good wife who follows all the rules. so if you reach your wit’s end, you can always be real careful not to touch it yourself & stir a spoonful of sap from the oleander tree out back into his sweet tea. 

now, let me finish fixin’ your veil. 

Allie Marini holds degrees from Antioch University of Los Angeles & New College of Florida, meaning she can explain deconstructionism, but cannot perform simple math. Her work has been a finalist for Best of the Net & nominated for the Pushcart Prize, not that those distinctions mean anything. She co-edits for Lucky Bastard Press [currently on hiatus] with her man, performance poet Brennan DeFrisco. She has previously served on the masthead for Zoetic Press, NonBinary Review, Unbound Octavo, Lunch Ticket, Spry Literary Journal, The Weekenders Magazine, Mojave River Review & Press, & The Bookshelf Bombshells. Allie is the author of You Might Curse Before You Bless (ELJ Publications), Unmade & Other Poems (Beautysleep Press),  wingless, scorched & beautiful (Imaginary Friend Press), Before Fire (ELJ Publications), This Is How It Ends (Bitterzoet), Pictures From The Center Of The Universe (Paper Nautilus, winner of the Vella Prize), Cliffdiving (Nomadic Press), And When She Tasted of Knowledge (Nomadic Press), Southern Cryptozoology: A Field Guide To Beasts Of The Southern Wild (Hyacinth Girl Press), Here Comes Hell {dancing girl press}, Heart Radicals, a collaborative collection with Les Kay, Janeen Pergrin Rastall & Sandra Marchetti (ELJ Publications) & Exquisite Duet, a collaborative collection co-authored with Brennan DeFrisco (Hermeneutic Chaos Press). Allie rarely sleeps, & her mother has hypothesized that she is actually a robot fueled by Diet Coke & Sri Racha. She does not Facebook, but she would love to see your pictures on Instagram, Pinterest, or Twitter: @kiddeternity.