Gwen Petersen: In a Sow’s Ear 1-30-12
Should you have occasion to sit with a group of four or five cowboys, the conversation usually revolves around horses, cattle and such. And of course stories of jackpots, mishaps and disasters the boys have incurred in their careers as ranch workers.
This bunch of hands – Alan, Jim, Justin, Steve and Steve’s wife, Linda – had come to town pulling a big horse trailer containing two horses plus a stage prop they’d built in the ranch shop. Said prop being a “joke wall” which we’re going to use in the annual comedy show. The horses were to be inspected by the Veterinarian and the joke wall was to be delivered to the Civic Center stage.
Having taken care of those two tasks, a terrible thirst overcame the boys so they repaired to The Thirsty Turtle tavern for an adult beverage. As supervisor of the unloading and installation of the joke wall, I felt obliged to join them.
Once the libations were poured the boys began to reminisce about horses and mules and how long their favorites had lived or might live. Here’s a review of just some of the tales that emerged in their conversations.
Alan started off with a mule tale:
“I had a mule once for a lot of years. When he started acting poorly, I took him to the vet.”
“Doc asked me, ‘How old is your mule?'”
“Well, shucks I didn’t know.”
“I asked Doc to check him out, tell me how old he estimated.” An expectant pause hovered as Alan got a faraway look in his eye. “He told me my mule was so old he’d crossed the Delaware with George Washington.”
“Yeah,” said Jim, “country vets see a lot of odd situations. Like the time I took Boris, my cross-eyed dog, to a vet hoping he could fix Boris’ eyes. I said, ‘Can you do anything for him, Doc?'”
“Doc said he’d take a look and picked up Boris and stared him in the face. Then he said, ‘By golly I got to put this dog down.'”
“You gotta put him down?” Jim said, kinda sad. “You mean just ’cause he’s cross-eyed?”
“‘No,’ Doc said. ‘I gotta put him down because he’s heavy.'”
Then there’s the story concerning the ranch man and wife, Joe and Thelma. Joe had a knack for making a sound that imitated the hiss of a rattler. All very humorous to him but Thelma hated snakes, especially rattlers. When Thelma spotted a big one in her garden she galloped back to the house and fetched a .38. Returning to the garden, she began cautiously searching. That was the moment Joe came up behind her and did his snake imitation. Thelma whirled around and shot her husband in the foot.
And there’s the tale of Linda asking Steve to “pick up a few things” at the grocery store. Linda said she’d make a list and she did. She even numbered the list. 1. potatoes 2. lettuce 3. onions 4. bacon 5. bread 6. toilet paper 7. sugar 8. vanilla 9. flour 10. gallon milk.
Steve dutifully shopped and got home with one potato, two heads of lettuce, three onions, four packages of bacon, five loaves of bread, six cases of toilet paper, seven sacks of sugar, eight bottles of vanilla, nine bags of flour, and 10 gallons of milk.
Grocery shopping is not a talent found among most country males.