Lisa Hamblen Hood: Through the Fence 4-9-12
According to some sketchy and unconfirmed statistics, men speak about half the words per day that women do. This number can vary wildly from 8,000 vs. 10,000 up to 25,000 vs. 50,000 words per day. Although that’s probably just an urban legend, my husband clings to it like gospel. When I don’t have a chance to use all my word quota, he says I store up a surplus and that I will eventually have to unload on someone. He’s glad for me to visit with one of my girlfriends, and hopes I come home with a word deficit. Maybe then I’ll just be quiet for a few days … yeah, that never happens.
I know a few men who talk more than I do, and I talk a lot! One of those men is our horse-shoer Dale. Unlike most big talkers who talk fast to squeeze in all the words they can, and to make sure no one interrupts them, Dale talks slowly. But he just keeps on talking. Most of his listeners don’t challenge his right to the floor. His stories are interesting, and his jokes, although a little crude are always hilarious. It’s a good thing his wife has a high-paying job in town because with the all the talking he does, it’s a wonder he gets any work done at all.
One afternoon he saddled a little filly that he was working with, intending to ride some of the friskiness out of her, which was considerable. He knew it would take a while, so he was a little dismayed when a customer showed up needing her horse’s hoofs trimmed and shod. He’d promised her that he’d do it anytime so he couldn’t exactly tell her to come back when it was more convenient for him. He left his horse tied while he worked on the other one. When he got done, he did what he always does – started talking. The stories and jokes and gossip flowed easily from his lips and continued to do so as the sun sank into the cactus lined horizon.
When she drove away, Dale realized that he might as well get on his greenbroke filly and start the long process. His horse was standing calmly, half dozing with her head lowered. He flipped on the arena lights and carefully stepped aboard. Then she woke up. She commenced prancing and pitching, progressed to a little crow-hopping, and then starting bucking in earnest. Dale is not one to be intimidated by a little equine attitude. He pulled back on the reins and clenched his legs even tighter around her belly, showing her who was in command.
They went around the arena several times. In a few minutes, she started breathing heavily and sweating. He slowed her down and stopped, intending to finish that task another day. However, as he rose up in the stirrups and started to swing his leg over the saddle, she started bucking again. They galloped around the lighted round pen a few more times, until Dale thought he’d rode out most of her enthusiasm. He was mistaken.
Once again, he prepared to get off and go in the house, but the filly began pitching again. He was getting angry, swearing to himself that he could outlast her. Eventually, the horse was too exhausted to buck one more time, and Dale eased out of the saddle, his legs trembling. He slid the sopping wet blanket off her frothy back and led her into the stall.
As tired as he was from all the riding and as frustrated as he was at the horse, he was really upset with his wife. The moon was high in the sky, and although he wasn’t wearing a watch, knew that it must be closer to midnight. He didn’t understand why she’d never come to check on him. When he came in, his supper was cold, in a covered plate sitting on the stove. “Why didn’t you ever come see about me?” he asked her. “I could’ve been dead out there!”
His wife shrugged and said glibly, “I don’t know, Dale. I knew you had a customer come by. I figured you were still talking.” For once, Dale was speechless.