Lisa Hamblen Hood: Through the Fence 9-12-11
No one wants a “white elephant” gift – a weird gizmo that the owner has already tried to pawn off on someone else. They’re fun to give, though. Just knowing you’re unloading some junk gives a sense of relief.
I got a white elephant gift for my birthday last weekend. Since I’ve lived over a half a century, I thought surely I was shock proof. Apparently not … last Friday afternoon, when I got home from my first week of school, I encountered a baffling mystery. There was a white jackass in my front yard with a little blue lead rope tied around its neck. My first thought was of my neighbor, Mr. Daniel, who keeps a veritable menagerie at his house – everything from Barbados sheep, to emus, ostriches and rheas, to goats and miniature horses. I thought one of his donkeys had gotten out and someone put it in our yard by mistake. But when I called him, he said it wasn’t his.
Upon further inspection, I noticed some words had been painted in big red letters on the donkey’s side – “Happy B-day, Lisa” along with a painted on black eye patch for extra flourish. My children and two of their friends arrived a few minutes later. They got out of the truck laughing hysterically when they saw my unusual gift. “Who would do this?” I asked.
“Bill Winton!” they said in unison.
“Mama, he’s the only one crazy enough to pull off a stunt like that who’d have an extra donkey,” my son offered.
Bill is the trail boss of the trail riding group we’re a part of. He trains and drives lots of mule teams for fun and for special occasions like weddings and funerals. He’s old enough to be my father but is probably stouter than most men my age and is notorious for pulling pranks on his friends.
I got lots of funny comments on my Facebook page when I posted the picture of the birthday donkey. Several folks admitted that they’d been offered that same donkey themselves, once as a wedding gift.
When I called my buddy Bill to ask him if he knew anything about it, he acted surprised, confused and even a little insulted that I would suspect him. I told him that I thought he was guilty until proven innocent. I warned him about possible paybacks. He just chuckled and said he didn’t know what I was talking about.
Loud braying woke us early Saturday. We rousted out the sleeping teenagers to help us load the donkey and “return to sender.” That proved to be no small task. He was in a foul mood since he’d gotten scratched up on the way to my house.
My husband gingerly approached him and snagged the short lead rope. Then the calm donkey began running in circles. By this time I had grabbed the camera and was snapping photos of the comical scene. To his credit, my husband stayed with it for several passes before he got so dizzy he had to let go. Luckily, he’d donned a pair of gloves before attempting to catch it or else the rope would have burned off all of his palm flesh.
My son backed the trailer close to the front yard gate so that when we shut it, the donkey had nowhere to go but in. But before he did, he nearly sat all the way down on the pavement. It took my husband, me, several teenagers, two lead ropes and a cattle prod to finally get him loaded.
My white elephant-donkey gift made for a memorable birthday, but I’ve got to find out when Bill’s birthday is so I can return the favor.