Black: Goat Day
Twenty years ago when we still lived in Brighton, Colo., I had invited several friends to have Thanksgiving at my house. (A tradition my insurance agent later said I could no longer afford.) Each of my guests were gracious and had asked if they could bring anything. When Mac asked what he might contribute I suggested he bring the goats.
“Goats?” he asked. I explained that Friday was Goat Day. We always built a big fire outside and spent the afternoon basting Spanish goat in sop made from Shriner’s beer. And, since the best Spanish goat came from west Texas, I figgered he could bring it.
“But I’ll be flyin’ my own plane,” he sputtered.
“Perfect,” I said, “They’ll only be in transit a short time.”
Although he did his best to talk me out of it, I remained firm.
So that fateful Tuesday morning he was out on the San Angelo airport tarmac takin’ the back seat out of his twin engine Bonanza. The ever-vigilant Drug Enforcement Agency noted his suspicious behavior and took him in for questioning. His truthful explanation was so preposterous that they called me in Colorado to check his story.
Upon his release he flew to Junction, Texas, and picked up four Spanish goats. He hogtied each one and put it in a gunny sack which he taped around their neck. Sort of a goat head bota bag. He spread newspaper and scattered straw just in case.
Four hours later Mac was swingin’ wide around the busy metropolitan Denver air space in touch with the Stapleton International tower. The goats were in full chorus and bleating each time he keyed the microphone.
“This is twin Bonanza…baa…baa…four zero…blat…blat…seven three…bleat…Whiskey ….braaaack….”
We were waiting at the Tri County Airport when Mac dipped his wing and skidded down the runway. He crawled out on the wing. I noticed his hair was standing on end. He looked like he’d been castrating pigs in a metal building. You could almost hear his ears ringing. His eyes were glassy, his voice hoarse and he was vibrating.
I opened the passenger side to the deafening chorus. The imprisoned smell of four enclosed goats hit me head on. The floorboard carpeting looked like Walden Pond.
Goat Day was the highlight of that Thanksgiving and Mac got proper recognition. But his plane was never the same. On hot west Texas afternoons when he planned to go flying he would spray Lysol, slice onions, sprinkle Old Grandad and cook cabbage in the cockpit to mask the scent. It never worked. No matter what he did, after riding in the plane for an hour he would smell like an army of goats had adopted him and marked him as their personal territory.
He eventually sold the airplane at a yard sale, on a cold winter day. ❖