She Couldn’t Figure Out How without making him happy

Well, it is almost Christmas, and Commander Cody’s on the radio, singing “Ain’t going to sing those sad songs no more.” That sounds like a good idea to me! Life is just too darn short to take seriously. Especially when the neighbors kids insist on shooting of a kings ransom worth of fireworks every night. From sunset to 1 in the Aye Emm! Sounds like hunting season just started. Snipe hunting.

I think it was H.L. Mencken who observed that hunting and fishing are the only solitary vices a man can indulge in without shame. Hunting and fishing would be a lot more popular if would be nimrods didn’t have such a hard time getting away from home. I have heard that there is only one sure-fire way to get the wife’s permission to hunt and fish all you want to.

Start complaining about your health. Quit shaving or combing your hair. Wear the same clothes all week. Don’t eat more’n a bite or two of your groceries. Stay up as late as you can, get up as early as you can. And after a few weeks of this regimen you will start looking pretty peaked. And as soon as your wife makes the first comment on your appearance make an appointment with a friendly doctor.
Lay the situation before him – and get his prescription for more outdoor R & R.

Of course, you have to make sure your wife values your company. Otherwise you might wind up like the counterman at a diner I stepped into last summer. I was setting there drinking my jamocha when a friend of the counterman stopped by.

After the “hello Ole’s” were over the visitor asks the counterman how his divorce was coming along.

“Not so good,” sez the counterman. “She can’t figure out
how to give me a divorce without making me happy.”

But if you live in a small town – you could join the volunteer fire department. Attend a few meetings. Make a buddy of the guy who controls the alarm. When you are ready to go hunting or fishing get your buddy to sound the alarm. As you leave the house with your fire fighting gear in one hand – pick up your hunting or fishing gear with the other.

And you could announce you are writing a book. Your wife will be so proud of you she will let you do all the research you need to finish your literary opus. At the end of the season tell the little woman that every publisher has rejected your manuscript. I understand nine out of ten women will believe their husbands. The tenth will call him a liar. If you happen to be married to the tenth, there’s only one thing to do. Write the book.

Of course, hunters and fishermen are remarkably honest and hard working folks. I understand 29,243,741 Americans work their buns off 50 weeks a year so they can go hunting or fishing the other two weeks. Out of those, 29,243,739
go outdoors only to discover its raining a regular goose drownder, or the snow is up to Wilt Chamberlain’s armpits, or the wind is too strong to venture outdoors for the two weeks they have left. Of the remaining three sportsmen, two fall and break their legs getting out of their 4WD pickups, and the other fellow is so surprised to have good weather he turns his boat over and loses all his gear.

‘Course, some outdoorsy types do go out in the rain. I remember when the two guys from Duluth went fishing out in Lake Superior. Which Superior is not much smaller than the Gulf of Mexico. Not enough smaller that you can tell the difference standing on the shore, anyhoo.

These guys got about two miles out in the lake, and a violent storm came up. Their boat filled with water and sank in about ten seconds. By some miracle the two intrepid swimmers managed to struggle ashore, miles from their supplies. It took them a week to find their way back. After they got back to Duluth, they immediately looked up their girl friends and related the whole story of their misadventures.

“How in the world did you survive?” asked one of the girls.

“It sure wasn’t easy,” sez one of the survivors. “Lucky for us, I had a can of sardines in my pocket and we lived on that for a week.”

“Both of you lived on one can of sardines for a week,” asked the other girl.

“Yep, sure did. That’s what saved us.” sez the boy.

“Well, how on earth did you keep from falling off?” asks the girl.

But even under the best of circumstances, some folks overdo the outdoors bit. I worked parts of a couple of summers for a guy name of Hank Nutt, who had enough money to burn a wet dog. Hank was a little guy, balding. Let his side hair grow long and combed it over the top. You have seen folks like that.

Hank used about a half a bottle of Wildroot Cream Oil a week on what hair he had left. Combed his hair with a comb that had teeth about a quarter of an inch apart. So when you looked at him from the side his sconce looked like a sandy field that had been flooded and then plowed. The dark strips looked like the tops of the furrows, and the light strips looked like where the plow had dug down to the sand underneath.

Now, Hank was an outdoor sport type. The first summer I worked for him he spent three weeks fishing in the Amazon basin. Then he took off for a three month safari in Rhodesia, or maybe it was Kenya, with Outdoor Life’s Jack O’Conner.

The second summer, he went hunting guar and stuff in Malaya, and when he got back he took a month in Canada hunting elk and mountain sheep. He was gone so much his wife threatened to divorce him.

“Hon,” he asks, “What can I do to keep you from divorcing me?”

“Get me a Jaguar, and stay home more,” sez the little woman.

“Done,” he sez. And he rushes right out and buys her TWO Jaguars. But durned if the critters didn’t eat her up!

That was his second wife. Hank’s first wife was a city gal who decided she didn’t care for life in Highmore, South Dakota. Which I didn’t blame her for, because Highmore was wonderful for solitude but a heck of a place to live.

Arlene, that was the first wife, revelled in the name of Arlene Butts before she married Hank. So she changed her name to Arlene Nutt. And after she split with Hank she moves back to Greenwich, CT, and sort of takes her maiden name back.

Half way. She hyphenated herself into Arlene Butts-Nutt! Which I thought was a terrible thing for a gentle dame to do to herself. Especially when she took up with a society dude who took off running when matrimony was mentioned. But the running started after she had a loaf in the oven, so to speak.

She christens her offspring Bertram, after his daddy. Which made the kid Bertie Butts-Nutt – which is a heck of a load to hang on a kid who can’t even hold up a bottle yet. And which surprised me – I thought she thought better of any kid than that.

But the women are generally the deadlier of this species. I spent one miserable winter in International Falls, Minnesota. One Thanksgiving one of those professional loafers you run across from time to time was ice fishing in the Sturgeon River. The ice broke, he fell in, went under the ice, and he was gone.

The next June, when the ice went out, they found his body about 20 miles downstream. So the town marshal at Loman sent the widow a long wire to the effect that they had found her late husband’s body and it was in bad shape. In fact, it was full of eels. So what did she want to do with the remaining remains.

The woman sent him a seven word reply, “Sell catch, remit proceeds, set him again.”

Speaking of women, there used to be a stingy old woman at Okmulgee who told her neighbor that when she died she wanted them to bury her in her favorite dress. But before they buried her, cut the back out of the dress and use the material to make a quilt for charity. That way the material would do somebody some good.

“You don’t want to cut the back out of the dress you are buried in,” said the neighbor. “Your Charlie has already gone on, and it wouldn’t look right for you to walk up to Charlie at the Golden Gate without a back to your dress.”

“Don’t worry about it,” sez the old woman. “I buried Charlie without his pants.”

There go the neighbor kids. Sounds like WWIII has started. It must be sunset. That racket ‘minds me of the story about the dove who dipped and dived from one end of a baited field to the other. And when he gets back to the roost he’s a mess. Half of his feathers were gone, beak broke, leg at a funny angle.

“Did you get shot at, dear?” asks his wife.

“Yeah, but those bums were the worst shots I ever saw. They didn’t mess up a feather on me. Not even one,” sez the beat up flyer.

“Well, what happened to you, then,” demands the little woman.

“Oh, I was flying too low and I got caught in a badminton game.”

Of course, dove hunting is a daytime sport. From after sunrise to before sunset. Deer hunting, now, is an anytime sport. Particularly the way some of the headlighting set hunt deer.

For serious night hunting – the folks up in Northwest Arkansas take the prize. I have never been around men and women any more serious about coon hunting. Now, the point of the way they coonhunt is to show off their dogs. And that’s all!

I remember one time when Irene, I.Goe’s sister, brought her husband down from Saint Louis and I.Goe took Walter coon hunting. Willie Cummin’s pack was doing the honors, and they had a big ol’ boar coon on the run. Bayin’ every breath. Ooooo, oooooo, yiiii, ooooo, yi-yi, just a going!

“Ain’t that the prettiest music you ever heard in your life,” demands Willie.

“Sure it is,” sez somebody.

“What about you, Walter,” I.Goe asks his brother in law. “Ain’t that fine?”

“Them dam dogs is makin’ so much racket I can’t hear no music at all,” sez the brother-in-law. Needles to say, Joe Goe sent his idiot son-in-law packing the next day. Irene was so upset she almost let Walter go home by himself.

Yessir, those folks were serious about coon hunting. And a prize coonhound is worth some real money. I remember the time I.Goe swapped three brand new Reo trucks to Slick Tullos for one coonhound. That was in ’47 – when you had to be on a list to get any kind of a new vehicle.

I.Goe, his name was Ira Goe but everybody called him I.Goe, had a fleet of cattle and grain trucks and was pretty well off. But his real love was dogs. There wasn’t a field trial within a day’s drive he didn’t bring a brace of pointers to, and there wasn’t a coon hunt he wasn’t in the middle of.

I.Goe had been on the new truck list since VE day and got six new Reo’s in one day. And swapped half his new trucks for a coonhound that night. His banker approved the deal, too. Coonhounds will multiply themselves, but trucks wear out. I.Goe said his drivers could drive the ’40’s they had until he could sell a litter of pups.

What happened was I.Goe had a genuine, pedigreed, get of a double world champion, coonhound. And Slick Tullos had an ugly mongrel dog. Slick’s dog was nothing to look at, I.Goe’s dog was sure enough a looker. But both claimed they had the best coonhound in the world. Of course, because everybody’s coon dog is the best. And every sport is willing to bet his roll on his dog.

So Slick, I.Goe, his banker, a big mouth dude from Tulsa, and a bunch more serious coon hunters went hunting. Just to prove whose dog was best. Slick’s dog barked treed at an old oak tree. Pedigree went sniffing around and couldn’t find a trace of a smell. So the Tulsa dude claimed Slick’s dog was lying.

That made Slick so mad he insisted they climb the tree and roust out the coon. “I know they’s a coon in that air tree,” sez Slick. “I had this dog four years now, hunted ‘er ever night, and he ain’t never treed no empty tree.”

Nobody would climb the tree so they finally cut the old oak down. And in a hollow of that oak tree, thirty feet from the ground, they found the skeleton of a coon that had probably been dead ten years. Which made Slick’s dog hands down winner.

“A coon hound,” sez Slick, “has gotter foller a cold trail. Ef’n he don’t he ain’t no coon dog. That air dog uv mine is a real coon ketcher.” And shortly after that a deal was made.

Now, I.Goe was always in the market for a new dog. One time he was up around Greenville somewhere at a field trial and somebody offered him a champion bird dog along with a cage at a ridiculous price. And before he thought he owned himself another dog. He goes to get his new dog – in its cage – and takes it home. When they get home and he opens the cage door the critter proceeds to tear into his arm and rips it up more’n a hundred stitches worth!

So I.Goe has to go to the doctor. The doc sews him up, and hears the story of the cheap dog. The story don’t sound right to the doc, so he says he’s afraid the dog had been exposed to rabies and he’d better have a course of rabies shots. “Will that keep me from having the hydrophobia?” asks the sufferer.

“If we start right now it will,” sez the doc. “But if we wait even a few hours it might not have time to act before you have symptoms. And if the symptoms ever show you will be a dead man.”

“Well, start the treatments as soon as you can,” sez I.Goe. “But first give me a piece of paper and a pen.”

Naturally, the doc misunderstood him. “You don’t need to make a will yet,” he sez, “you will have plenty of time for that after the first injection.”

“I don’t want to make a will,” sez I.Goe. “I want to make a list of the people I want to bite if your treatment don’t work.”

Well, there’s Burl Ives singing John Henry. That was popular back when I first moved to this part of the world. I was hired as bench man for the largest local purveyor of idiot boxes. The store was next to the Owl Drug Store on the corner of Front and Main, downtown. The Owl had a nice lunch counter, and after dinner the cooks and waitresses liked to take a break on the steps in the alley.

One day a fellow with a sixty inch waist and forty inch hips brought in a Hotpoint table model to be repaired. I promised him it would be ready after lunch, and it was. He came to get it during break time at the Owl – and while I was getting his change he picks the TV up and totes it out to his pickup.

I follow him out with his change, and his pants start sliding down! By the time he gets to
the step down into the alley he is waddling along with his knees as far apart as he can get them. Keeping his pants from sliding any lower!

There were five or six women sitting out back taking a smoke break – and everything stopped! Every last woman was as still as the statue on the court house lawn! Not one moved a muscle or offered that fat man the slightest help. The fat man staggers down the back steps taking those real wide steps. You could have spun a hula hoop between his legs without touching him. He makes it to his truck, sets the TV on the tailgate, pulls up his pants, and takes his change, all “cool as a cucumber.” He’s just a little redder in the face than he was to begin with. Then he hops in his truck and wheels out on Main Street. Nobody moved a muscle until he was gone.

And then everybody started roaring with laughter. Including me! Some of the women sitting there laughed until the tears ran down their faces.

Because the fellow had about a six inch high by six inch wide “gas vent” ripped in the seat of his drawers! I always wondered if his mama ever warned him about wearing clean underwear in case he was in a wreck.

Actually, I have had long johns with the trap down that had less southern exposure than that fellow’s boxer shorts. The trap was so small you had to be careful when you wore those woolies, for sure.

You know, talking about those red woolies, they were warm. And the warmest part was all that good exercise you got scratching yourself. I suspect itchy wool underwear was a major reason so few folks in the forties and before were fat. We worked hard every day. Even when we were settin’ we were still scratching.

But in those days most folks still had outhouses. And it didn’t matter how tight your privy was there were still cracks. And I tell you what – folks nowadays don’t know what it feels like to go out on a bitterly cold night, drop your drawers and take a seat, and feel a freezing cold wind tickling your curly hairs. Brrr! Gives me the cold robbies just thinking about it.

Now, I like a good laugh. But some folks think things are funny that just flat leave me cold. Like blonde jokes. These are pretty sad. Like the one about the blonde who worked up a big appetite so she stopped off at the Pizza Hut.

The clerk asked her if she wanted her pizza sliced up into four slices, or eight. The blonde scratched her head as she thought about it, then she answered..
“Make it four slices. I could never eat eight.”

Or the one about the blonde who was found unconscious in a jail cell with twelve bumps on
her head. She tried to hang herself with a rubber band.

Or “How many blondes does it take to change a light bulb?”

“None. Their boy friends do it for them.”

Now a real life blonde I once knew named her daughter Morphine, because morphine comes from wild poppies. As she explained it, “Her poppie was just about the wildest scoundrel who ever came through here.”

One of the wildest scoundrels I ever knew was a commercial airlines pilot by trade. This was a while back, when the DC3’s still flew the short hops and the Connies took the hoi polloi to Europe “non stop with a stopover at Gander.”

Jake was a DC3 pilot who hit every burg of any size in West Kansas. His plane was never more than half full, so they only gave him one stewardess. One time he got a gal fresh out of stewardess school. She was so green she had actually never been off the ground before.

So Jake and his co-pilot decided to give her a trip to remember. The co- pilot gets on through the cargo hatch in the nose of the plane, and he was sitting just where he was supposed to be. But as soon as they were in the air Jake called the new stew and asked her to send the co-pilot forward. She checked and called back that the co-pilot was no where to be found.

“We weren’t supposed to take off until you checked the co-pilot in. There’s nothing we can do now but go on to Garden City and get another copilot from Wichita. That will mean a five hour layover in Garden City!”

You talk about a gal being scared! That gal was scared to death. Several passengers got a hot coffee shower before the plane lit at Garden City.

The plane rolled to a stop in Garden City, the co-pilot slips back out the cargo hatch and makes a run for that rolling ladder they used to use to get passengers aboard. When the new stew breaks the seal on the door the first thing she sees is a guy in a pilot’s riggin’ staggerin’ up the passenger ramp. Looking plumb tuckered out.

He literally fell into the startled stewardess’ arms, puffing and blowing like a marathon runner. “Lord, what a race,” he puffed. “I didn’t think I’d make it!”

Jake was half of a set of twins, and t’ other half was pretty much of a cutter, too. A lot of twins not only look alike and act alike but they take up the same profession. But where Jake was a rowdy who took up flying, his brother Jack had a dry sense of humor, and he went to med school and made a doctor. And a darn good one, too.

One time Jack was a guest at a big dinner party when one of the women turned to him and asked, “Doctor, what do you find to be the most common ailment of children?”

Jack considered the question while he chewed up another chunk of chicken and then he answered the question. “Mothers, madam.”

There’s more truth than poetry to that, for sure.

Some of the funniest stuff I hear comes on the news. And not at the end of Paul Harvey, either. Like the Republican lady who walked out of the library, plumb innocent, and she finds herself tangled up in the start of a Bill Clinton parade. After the parade she sought out the law and accused a certain prominent Massachusetts Democrat of making extremely improper advances to her while she was tangled up waiting for the parade to form up.

“Why didn’t you cry out for help, if he was doing what you claim he did?” she was asked.

“You’ll never hear me hollering at a Democratic Party parade,” she said.

Speaking of never hearing something, I’m reminded of the time Lykes Steamship Lines advertised for a radio operator.

Six or seven prospects showed up at their office, and they were told to set down and wait. Of course, they all got to swapping stories while they were waiting for the interview. They got so involved in talking they didn’t pay any attention to the dits and dahs that came over the office loudspeaker from time to time.

After a while another radioman came in the office and sat down. All at once the new man snapped to attention and walked into the personnel managers office without any invite that any of the other operators could see.

In a couple of minutes he walked out of the office with a satisfied smile on his face, and his employment papers in his hand. The other operators wanted to know how he got in ahead of everyone.

“One of you would have gotten the job, if you had listened to the message from the loudspeaker,” the newly employed radioman said.

“What message?” the other operators asked.

“Why, the code,” Sparks said. “It said: ‘The man I need must always be alert. The first man who gets this message and comes directly into my office will be hired.”

Now, Sparks took the test and passed. Which reminds me of Willie Weichert, a skinny redheaded sack of freckles I used to box with. One time Miss Bond gave Willie a report card that wasn’t so good – straight “C” or worse. Willie wasn’t dumb – he just didn’t like school all that well.

When Willie’s daddy got home Willie hands him a report card. His Daddy looks at the card and says to Willie, “What’s this.”

“That’s one of your old report cards I borrowed from Grandma. Now here’s mine.”

Now, Willie usually had a quick comeback to most everyone. He became the maitre’d of a fancy eating joint down in Tulsa on the strength of his ability to hold up his end of things. I only know of one time Willie was at a loss for words.

Now – I better explain that the deal with restaurant eatin’ is that they make up a daily list of luncheon specials, cook up a lot of it, and hope the customers eat ’em out of special. But every once in a blue moon nobody will order a darn thing off the steam table. That’s when the kitchen gets backed up and the service goes to blazes.

One of those bad days, a Friday, a guy in a hurry comes in and orders fish. He not only orders fish – he’s durn p’ticular about how he wanted it fixed. So he sets for a while. After about a half hour his waiter approaches his table with a big silver tray. And the guy sets up straight and looks expectant.

“I’m sorry, sir,” sez his waiter. “This roast beef is for another table. But your fish will be ready in just a few minutes.”
“Ask the maitre’d watinell kind of bait are you usin’?” demands the now highly irate diner.

Well, that looks like all the time I have for today, but if things work out well, I should have more time for talking about what used to be.

Stranger

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