There weren’t any official first families, but the Sawyer family, the Maree family, and the Joyance family, were as close as you could get. They were tight from way back. You messed with one of them, you got shit from all of them. They went to church together, hunted together, and they were in business together. SMJ Mechanics and Towing was the name the residents in a sixty-mile radius turned to when their mechanics malfunctioned or stopped functioning altogether. Through the years, the families had expanded the business and now SMJ Towing was a household name up and down the entirety of the Southeast. Nobody wielded a wrench like them boys over at SMJ Towing. And few men looked better wielding tools. If it was broke, they could fix it. If it wasn’t broke, they could fix it ’til it was.
Expanding the business meant that their progeny went to college instead of to the factories, tobacco fields, and hog farms that dotted the area. Most of the SMJ Clan stayed close to home and attended Mount Olive College, St. Andrews University, or UNC-Wilmington, but the current generation had decided to spread their wings and thus went to colleges in the piedmont and mountain regions of the state. Others even were so bold as to go out of state. They didn’t necessarily select colleges for their academics; they selected colleges according to where their football program ranked. And if there was one thing the SMJ Clan appreciated more than a good meal, it was football.
Pluck Brevard, Ozella Crown, Shelley Nichols, Simone Pisgah and Esther Prynne were women who should never drink and plot because when they did, chaos happened. Really, it was Ozella’s fault because her family owned a vineyard and an estate with an endless wine cellar. North Carolina wasn’t just basketball country, it was now wine country, boasting 400 vineyards and 100 wineries. It was fitting as America’s first grape was grown in the Tar Heel State way back in the day. Now, North Carolina was the one place where every major variety of grape was grown.
If not for wine, it wouldn’t be possible for them to drink and plot because they wouldn’t have access to free, quality wine. In theory, they could’ve drunk cheap wine but drinking cheap wine with expensive chocolate while wearing Italian shoes was simply gauche. Regardless of the fact that their sense of daring and their lack of filters might’ve had a lot to do with their shenanigans, they blamed it on the wine mostly because they could. Plus, blaming it on the wine sounded a lot more sophisticated than blaming it on grain alcohol since wine didn’t double as fuel or a solvent, unlike liquid grain.
It was a burgundy that was responsible for them trekking off to the University of Colorado for graduate school because they were hell bent on learning to snowboard and the slopes around Boulder were bigger than those in Boone. It was a sauvignon blanc that was responsible for them being the founding members of Rho Beta Omicron Tau, thusly named because they didn’t think their university would approve a sorority called Ridiculously Big Old Titties and R.B.O.T. looked much more legit in the Greek alphabet. Using the Greek letters was so much more refined. And if they were anything, they were refined…even when they were dumping a truckload of elephant shit in the bed of someone’s truck while they were making out with some other chick that wasn’t you. What said refined like watching your best friend laugh for the first time in weeks after watching her cheating, lying scumbag of an ex almost-boyfriend try to explain to his jumpoff that it wasn’t his fault?
Now back to the wine. It was a Riesling that was responsible for them being in the city of Pleasanton. Since Rho Beta Omicron Tau wasn’t formally recognized by any of the Greek councils, they were on a cross-country recruiting trip to give their sorority visibility. They could do that sort of thing since they were all their own bosses, which was fun for them and the safest bet for the world in general.
Her spot, Quit Happens, was the place to go when you were quitting something (your job, your significant other) and had to have just the right words to say ‘kiss my ass’ to fit the context. Split Happens was the place to go when you couldn’t just quit somebody because you had the hare-brained idea to marry them. Simone would pat you on the back, give you some tissues and then ask if you wanted most of the marital assets plus his or her ass or all of the assets. Shelley owned Lit Happens, which was where you went when you wanted to write a book about your pain and suffering…or do something simple such as take out a billboard on I-95 and blast to the world what a douchebag your ex was. Shelley was creative like that, which is why she was also the organizer of one of the world’s major cons. Esther owned Fit Happens, which was fitting being she had the perfect body for it meaning she was all sculpted lines with just the right amount of curves. Fit Happens was the place to go when you wanted to get bootylicious to the max and make your ex sorry they’d ever done you wrong. Submit Happens was Ozella’s place. Contrary to what it sounded like, it wasn’t a place you went when you needed someone to make you their bitch. It had something to do with the wine business. However, since Ozella didn’t have faith in the reading ability of the general public, she didn’t name it Barrique Happens, which was a good thing because listening to southerners massacre the French word wasn’t good for anybody anywhere.
Anyway, the bottom line was that they owned their own shit. Pause for a round of celebratory bootie dancing or a bout of shoe shopping. And of course, wine.