In a Sow’s Ear
Big Timber, Mont.
The following is a mostly true story. The characters have been changed but the sentiment remains. Which is to say in the words of a Hank Williams tune: Mind your own business, ’cause if you mind your own business then you won’t be mindin’ mine.
Hank had a point. So did Cowboy Wade and Cowboy Clyde. When Clyde accidentally slashed his thumb when he was cuttin’ calves, he said, “Durn.” (This is a family column, so he said “durn.”)
Wade opined, “Heck, Clyde, I kin see yer thumb bone.”
“Golly” Clyde replied as he used his wild rag to sop up the blood, “yer right. We only got two more calves to go, then maybe I oughta get Doc to stitch it up.”
Wade offered to drive Clyde to town. “You’re apt to git the steerin’ wheel slimy hangin’ on it with that bleedin’ hand.”
At the emergency room in the local hospital, a rather impressively endowed nurse carrying a clipboard approached the pair. “I have a few questions,” she said.
Clyde and Wade said nothing, just gazed with cowboy appreciation upon the nurse.
“Your names?” said Nurse, her pen poised.
“Uh, he’s Wade,” said Clyde.
“He’s Clyde,” said Wade.
Nurse fired off a string of questions including asking Clyde’s mother’s maiden name, his shoe size and was Wade a relative?
“Naw,” said Wade. “I hadda come to town anyway. Needed some salt blocks.”
For some seconds, Nurse furrowed her brow. Then she asked, “What about alcohol?”
“Al who?” said Clyde.
“Alcohol,” said Nurse. “Do you drink alcohol?”
Wade looked at Clyde. Clyde eyed Wade.
“Say what?” the cowboys chorused.
Nurse’s brow furrowed again. “I’m trying to ascertain whether this accident is alcohol related.”
“Could be,” said Clyde. “I always sterilize my knife blade in a bottle of alcohol when I’m cuttin’ calves.”
The furrow in Nurse’s brow deepened. “No,” she snapped, “I mean do you drink liquor?”
Wade quirked an eyebrow at Wade and Wade quirked two in return.
“When and how often?” asked Nurse.
“Whenever we git around to it,” said Wade.
“Well, what do you drink?” said Nosy Nurse.
“Beer, now and again,” said Wade, “but Clyde here, likes a glass of wine with his beans.”
“Yep,” said Clyde, hiding a grin behind his hand ” the one wearing the blood-soaked bandana ” which left a swipe of red on his cheek. “But just on weekends or maybe a special holiday like my Mom’s birthday or Christmas.”
“Now, Clyde,” said Wade, “I’ve seen you sip on bourbon a time or two.”
“Don’t do that anymore,” said Clyde.
“You don’t?” said Nurse. She turned to Wade for verification. “He doesn’t drink any more?”
“Drink any more? No ma’am, he don’t drink any more. Just as much, but not any more …”
The furrow in Nurse’s brow turned into a permanent feature.