Gwen Petersen
Big Timber, Mont.

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October 21, 2013
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Gwen Petersen: In a Sow’s Ear 10-21-13

Friendly Freddy is a mule used to pack supplies into mountain and wilderness areas. Freddy is called Friendly because he’s just that. Always willing and easy to catch, pack or ride. Well, usually. Friendly Freddy is also easily spooked. When he’s scared, Freddy reacts with eye rolls, snorts, panic and flight.

The introduction above is necessary to explain how Outfitter Calvin lost his pants in rough country. Calvin was riding Freddy and leading another mule, Dolly, along a mountain trail when Dolly stepped in a hole, lost her balance and tipped over, landing — upside down — in a sort of gully alongside the path. She was unhurt, except for her dignity, but the gully was narrow. She seemed unable to roll over to get up so naturally Calvin dismounted to assist her.

He held Freddy’s halter rope as he scrambled down the embankment. Dolly struggled; all four legs thrashed. Apparently the sight of waving hooves struck terror in Freddy’s heart. He pulled back — hard — and broke his halter. The sudden release sent Freddy rearing up on his back legs. His front appendages pawed the air. Should anyone wonder if mule hooves are sharp, wonder no longer. As Freddy’s orbiting feet fell to earth, one hoof raked down Calvin’s back and ripped his pants right off. (This is a true story).

Freddy, in a panic, took off into the forest. A disgusted Calvin managed to help Dolly out of the gully. Then he retrieved his cell phone from a vest pocket and called home. His wife, Magdalene, answered.

Calvin told her where he was, then added, “Bring me a pair of pants!”

“Excuse me?” queried a puzzled Magdalene.

“Pants! Pants! I need a pair of !@#$%^&*()_+!! pants!”

Now, Magdalene and Calvin are seasoned outfitters. While Magdalene didn’t know the details — yet — she did know that the odd request was a serious one. So she rounded up some trousers, found the keys to the pickup and hied off to the mountains.

Meanwhile, Calvin, in his BVD’s climbed aboard an upright Dolly and went searching the woods for Freddy. Riding a mule while trouserless tends to chafe the rider in personal anatomical parts. (At times, outdoor people, especially outfitters, are uncommonly grateful for Bag Balm).

By the time, Magdalene had rendezvoused with her unpantsed husband, he had come to terms with his condition. Which is to say, he had added considerably to his already colorful lexicon of curses. Especially so as Magdalene couldn’t stop laughing.

Freshly trousered, Calvin searched for — and eventually found — Friendly Freddy. He let Calvin re-halter him without fuss though he appeared to look — well, sheepish — if a mule critter can look sheepish. It might have been the way he let one ear flop forward, the other back while being rehaltered. Or maybe it was the way he leaned his big head against Calvin’s chest as if for protection from hobgoblins. Or maybe he was just tired. It had been five hours since he’d bolted. If he allowed himself to be caught, there was all that nice sweet hay back at camp. Freddy is not a stupid mule, just an excitable one.

When Magdalene told me this story, she swore me to secrecy so as not to further embarrass Calvin. So, Dear Reader, I’m regaling you with the tale but only if you promise not to repeat it. ❖


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The Fence Post Updated Oct 17, 2013 03:40PM Published Nov 4, 2013 01:59PM Copyright 2013 The Fence Post. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.