So when I was back in Tennessee a couple of weeks ago, I went with my friend, Mary, to see her mom, Belle. I used to practically live at their house growing up. Mary’s dad, Demp, gave me the endearing name, “The Boarder.”

Belle lives in Fall Branch, out in the country, and since Demp passed not too long ago, her thirty-ish nephew, Josh, has been staying with her. Josh is a computer engineer who is currently out of work, most likely because he has no social filters. Mary informed me on the way.

Josh was downstairs stoking a fire in the unfinished garage/basement, but came up later and joined us at the kitchen table. Mary dished him up a bowl of chili.

“It sure is hot down there,” he said. “But if I build a hot fire in the basement, it’ll warm up the whole house. That way we don’t have to turn the heat on yet.”

Then he said, “Man, I’m hot. I’m going to take my pants off.”

“No you’re not, Josh,” Mary said in a low, controlled voice.

“Why not?” he said. “I got boxers on – it’s the same as wearing shorts.”

“No it’s not, Josh. You will not take those pants off and sit here at this dinner table eating chili,” she said firmly.

“I don’t see why not,” he said, and eased his tall, lanky body into the chair, brought his head close to the bowl and started wolfing down chili. All you could see was the top of his blond head.

Mary looked at me and mouthed, “See what I mean.” Then she said, changing the subject, “Do you get the Hallmark channel, Suzy?” I said yes. “We don’t get it here anymore unless you pay extra for it.”

Josh yanked his head up. “That’s not true!” he said like he was defending his mother’s honor. “It’s free with cable.”

“It used to be, Josh,” Mary said with contrived patience, like she was talking to an impudent child. “But a few months ago they took it away.”

“They did not,” he said like a defiant child. “You can still get it for free.”

“They sent us a letter, Josh, and said it wasn’t free, and when we didn’t pay extra they dropped it.” Her voice rose as the last words came out.

“You can still get it if you have cable,” Josh said, not giving an inch.

They went back and forth like this for some time, their voices almost shouting. Belle leaned over and said to me under her breath, “They sent me a letter too and said you had to pay more or they were going to cut it off.” I started giggling because it was so ludicrous. Who gave a crap either way? But these two were NOT going to let it go. Finally I said, “Mer, I want to get a picture of you and your mom.”

“I want you in the picture, too,” Mary said.

Josh jumped up and said, “I’ll take the picture.” I thought it was pretty nice considering he and Mary were this close to coming to fisticuffs over the Hallmark channel just seconds before.

My camera has an on/off button and a button to take the picture. That’s it. An imbecile could operate that camera. Josh, the computer engineer, didn’t seem to have any trouble. He pointed the camera at us, then looked at the picture on the camera’s screen and said, “Oh, that’s a good one, but let’s take one more just in case.”

We posed with arms around each other, grinning like a mule eating briars, and he took the picture.  Again Josh looked at the back of the camera and said, “That’s a really good one. You’ll be happy with that.”

Later that night, when I got back to my aunt’s house where I was staying, I uploaded all the pictures I’d taken, and every single one was there except the two that Josh took. My camera is a $400 Canon point and shoot, and it doesn’t make mistakes. Either Josh didn’t press down the shutter on purpose, or he deliberately deleted the pictures.

Mary might have won the pants battle, and she didn’t back down one bit during the Hallmark skirmish, but I do believe that Josh got the best of her in the end.