I’m waiting for the Missus, so I thought I might as well do something productive like, oh, I don’t know, read War and Peace, or possibly rebuild Rome.
There is NO REASON TO PANIC even though, by my clock, which works, as opposed to the one in the kitchen that is always 20 minutes late, we have approximately 67 minutes to buy a bottle of wine, get across town during Friday afternoon rush hour, and then listen to the Missus sisters complain when we arrive late for the 900,000th time.
You would think that after 30 years of waiting for the Missus, I would get better at it. That I would accept that some things in life are inevitable, like death and taxes and being late.
But you would be wrong.
When you have been on deadline your whole life, when you believe in keeping your damn word, when you are a MAN, for crying out loud, you simply CANNOT accept the concept of being late.
It is not logical. There are strategies for avoiding being late, chiefly, that of being on friggin time.
It’s not like this evening was a surprise.
First off, my brother-in-law’s birthday is on the same day every year.
He has a BBQ every year.
He invites the same people every year.
All of whom are on time every year, except for the people in my car.
They are the people who arrive late.
People have not spoken in the car for the entire trip (yelling is not counted).
I will arrive at the BBQ with nerves stretched because I will have driven exactly like Bruce Willis, except that he steals taxis and 18-wheelers and dump trucks and helicopters.
This helps him make up time for his wife, who I just know is always late.
When I am zooming in an out of tiny gaps in the traffic, shooting yellow lights and, in general, driving like a pissed off husband who’s wife is making him late AGAIN, so he is trying to make up time, I will be in an old Honda.
Not a taxi or 18-wheeler or dump truck or helicopter.
And I am not allowed to shoot at anybody, not even one person, which makes it just that much harder to get motorists to make a hole.
Good news from the kitchen: We now have an hour to buy wine and get across town in Friday afternoon rush hour, and the Missus is now about to wrap the present.
This makes me do the happy dance. Just like Snoopy.
Or, perhaps slightly more accurately, it makes me want to punt Snoopy over his doghouse.
Far be it from me to mention that the present could have been wrapped yesterday. (Do not suggest I should wrap the present. Have you seen the way I wrap presents???).
Not that I am counting the minutes, but we now have 50 minutes to buy wine and get across town in Friday afternoon rush hour traffic.
If I had all the time in a bottle representing all the minutes that we have been late in the last 30 years, I am almost certain that amount of minutes would tally exactly 30 years.
Don’t argue with me about the math. Just don’t.
Especially if you are one of those people who is always late.
There are two kinds of people in the world.
There are people like me, who say the only good snake is a dead snake; one that has been repeatedly shot or chopped-up with a shovel, bitten by the dog, dropped into the burn barrel with long tongs, and then covered with diesel and “insnakerated.
And then there are the insane people who compete in the annual Rattlesnake Roundup in Sweetwater, Tx. Inbred people who want to be up close and personal with rattlesnakes. People who intentionally seek rattlesnakes out, catch them and even, Lord have mercy, get in a pit with thousands of them.
In case you missed the nuance, the people in the second group are out of their slither-friggen minds.
They desperately need to spend a few days in Eastern Oklahoma with my sister, my brother-in-law, and Katy, to learn their tried-and-true system for “How To Deal With Snakes.”
I have written before about Katy, below, who I nominated for Official State Dog of Oklahoma.
Katy is a snake-finding machine. She races around the farm, “sweeping” the area with her super-delicate nose. When she smells an evil, despicable, heinous snake, she emits the unmistakable “Official Snake Bark”.
Alerted to the presence of a snake, my brother-in-law, armed with either a 12-gauge or a long-handled shovel, then proceeds to de-snakify the rattlesnake, copperhead or whatever, as in Exhibit A, above. This snake is way dead, thanks to a stove-in head. Yet Katy remains vigilant until the snake is tossed into the burn barrel. Good dog, Katy!
Rattlesnakes R Us
Although I have always been snake averse, I decided to take my new Chinese bride to attend the Sweetwater Rattlesnake Roundup back in about 1986. (Who says romance is dead? Not this blog).
Back then, you could go on a *100%-authentic snake hunt that would today have liability lawyers slither all over the place, sensing imminent death and huge lawsuits.
If I were to describe the people who take you on Rattlesnake Roundups, I would note that they:
- are in-bred, insane, absolutely crazy lunatics (I hope I have not nuanced this too much)
- wear thick jeans and boots that go high up their calves
- tightly tape the legs of their pants to the tops of their boots for a very good reason
- risk their lives to catch enough snakes so that, if they win, they maybe will make $250
- if they do not win, they will earn a premium for every pound of Western Diamondback rattler that they turn in.
In case you dozed off, let me repeat point No. 5… They are paid by the pound for the rattlesnakes they caught.
The people who took this blog on our Rattlesnake Roundup were, let’s say, Bubba and Cooter.
Both Bubba and Cooter had been on many, many Rattlesnake Roundups. Each had giant raw hands and fingers the size of sausages. Each man could point to a scar where a rattlesnake had bitten him.
Again, just to ensure you are with me on this, each of these men, who were in charge of our lives. had personally been bitten when they were either trying to catch or release rattlesnakes. I did not take this as a good omen, but by then there was no turning back.
Bite off Some I.Q.
Despite what we have all seen in John Wayne movies, Bubba and Cooter were proof that getting bit by a rattler does not kill you. It may lower your I.Q. by about 50 points, but it does not kill you, IF you get an antivenom shot in time. Thankfully, every second person in Sweetwater carries one and knows how to use it.
As Bubba and Cooter prepared to officially began to hunt dem rattlers, and risk going negative on their collective I.Q.’s, they put gasoline in big bottles, pumped them up and sprayed the mist under huge rocks, and into major league crevasses. (Of course they were smoking cigarettes while spraying gas mist. Have you not been paying attention?)
If they had chosen the right crevasse — and these were highly trained professionals who had been bitten many times — in just a few minutes, out would slither a couple of “drunk” rattlesnake. Even to my untrained eye, it was obvious they should not have been driving. Or slithering. They were the slowest slitherers you ever saw.
Seeing them energized Bubba and Cooter. They told all the tourists, including this blog, to get our cameras ready, then proceeded to catch rattlesnakes with tongs and drop them into a gunny sack.
As if this was not bad enough, then Bubba and Cooter took turns pinning rattlesnakes down with their special Snake Pinning Stick before grabbing them just behind their snaky heads.
This sent a primordial shiver down my spine.
Because, even though the rattlers were drunk, they were by my estimation at least 27 feet long and big around as your leg. The last thing any human in the world should want to do was grab one with his bare hand.
But this was necessary so Bubba and Cooter could pretend to throw one of the rattlesnakes right at you
When they pretended to do that to this blog — a highly trained international journalist who at that exact moment was taking photos with his expensive Nikon 35mm camera — we levitated, dropped our expensive camera gear, turned around in mid-air, and simply disappeared, leaving only the curly animated lines you normally see in a Roadrunner cartoon.
Once we started breathing again, we realized two things: they really did not throw a snake at us; and this was the absolute highlight of their entire in-bred lives. They had made you poop right in your pants, and pay them for the privilege.
The Snake Arena
When we got back to the Official Sweetwater Rattlesnake Arena, which is exactly like the Astr0dome, except it’s somewhat smaller and made out of barn tin, Bubba and Cooter and all their cousins weighed their gunny sacks and then dumped their snakes into a glassed off area, as below.
By this point, the rattlers had long since worked off their gas intoxication. They were now way pissed off, slithering around at 90mph and striking at anything in the general area. They quickly slithered into the corner, and sort of coagulated into a GIANT POISONOUS WAD OF HATE AND DEATH.
(It is appropriate at this point in our story to let out a Primordial scream!)
Alas, the show had not even begun.
**Two-man teams of grown men then climbed into the snake pits to bag as many rattlers as possible in 60 seconds. One guy would hold the gunny sack as his partner attempted to use a stick or his boot to push the insanely angry snakes into the bag. The catcher also had to warn his partner if a rattlesnake was sneaking around behind in an effort to sink its fangs right into his butt.
As I recall, the announcer explained over the P.A. that, in yesterday’s competition, one of Bubba and Cooter’s cousins “had got hisownself bit” and was recovering in the hospital, even though “his leg was swole up like a stump.” Because he’d been bitten so many times over the years, the doctor advised that if he ever got snakebit again, he’d be off to the Great Rattlesnake Hunt in the Sky.
Final snake note.
Despite rigorous laws about “truth in advertising”, the Sweetwater Chamber of Commerce flagrantly touted rattlesnake meat as “tasting like chicken.” They even described snake meat as ***”Chicken of the Crevasse”.
They were lying.
Because as the time, we were freelancing and planned to claim this trip as a tax-deduction, we felt obliged to actually taste deep-dried rattlesnake. This blog can now assure you that rattlesnake does not in any way, shape or form taste like chicken.
What it tastes like is chicken-fried mean.
* Yes, I was out of my mind.
** If you thought Bubba and Cooter were competing, you would be wrong. Even THEY thought this was insane
*** According to Champ Kind from Anchorman 2
If you really, really want to be creeped out, click on this Rattlesnake Roundup video. It would not be a good idea to do that right before going to bed.
It was pretty damn cool.
I was a reporter on the University of Texas at Arlington student newspaper.
And the Secret Service wanted me, sort of.
I had to be credentialed if I wanted to be in the press briefing later that year when President Reagan flew into DFW Airport.
Even though no one in our typically pinko newsroom was a Reagan supporter, the fact that the Secret Service was checking us out was sort of cool.
It was a pretty straight-forward process for everyone but me. As I recall, the Junior G-man had to call Washington to decide what to do with my application. It called for 10 fingerprints, but I could only offer five. He improvised.
Two legendary brothers were U.S. Deputy Marshals when I was a reporter in Waco. To put that in perspective, in the law enforcement community, they were just below God in their standing and power.
Scattershooting At The Mall, Wondering Whatever Happened to Grover Scomer, and Feeling the Need to Point Out…
How can you talk to young people about ‘Scattershooting’ when they have no idea who Blackie Sherrod was?
Now that we have all seen Kim Kardashian’s entire buttooskies, Ebola is just not that scary.
Not many people can say they have personally shaken hands with Ronald McDonald and Peter Andre, on the same day.
I wish I had a dollar for every time I said I wish I had a dollar for every time…
If you used to have a mind like a steel trap, it’s hard to accept that your steel trap is now a) rusty and b) what were we talking about?
I never enjoyed playing golf because I could never get good at it. But I sure miss the laughs. I thought about that after reading a classic Sports Illustrated piece by Dan Jenkins.
Even if the day pretty much sucks, when the Crack Puppy smiles and licks you right on the nose, your burdens instantly get much lighter.
Nowadays, as I drive my Honda, I expect, at any moment, for an 18-wheeler to crash into me going about 100 mph. I’m not sure whether this is because I’ve been watching way too many Bruce Willis movies or that I may angel is trying to get my attention.
Speaking of Bruce Willis, I admit wanting to be him so just once I could say, “Yippee ki yay MF”, before blowing the crap out of all the bad guys.
Yesterday was Guy Fawkes Day, which they celebrate in New Zealand by shooting off fireworks.
This makes sense because Guy Fawkes tried to blow up the British Parliament Building with barrels of gunpowder which, when you think about it, makes a lot more sense than voting.
Anyway, the NZ government has been making noise for several years about banning fireworks. Yesterday was probably the last Guy Fawkes Day. Ever. So my neighbors went insane.
It sounded like we were under fire from both flanks. It was so intense that the Crack Puppy, never bothered by kabooms in the past, was a basket case until surgically implanted with me in my recliner.
Torn By Fireworks
One one hand, I wanted to scream out the window “Get off my lawn, and enough with your damn fireworks,” or something equally Geezer-like.
On the other hand, it reminded me of some great times in my misspent youth in Norman, Oklahoma, many of which were fireworks related.
Now THAT is the cover of the greatest ‘Happy 26th Birthday’ card ever!
And BELOW are the inside pages to said card.
Because that’s how we roll in New Zealand.
This is because, when we moved here two decades ago, birthday cards were boring, stupid and outrageously priced.
That led to the creation of Cards by Dad. Motto: we drink and then get cheap and funky (kidding).
I do not “get” children of today.
And by “children of today”, I mean Junior and his Chinese cousins.
And by “today”, I mean 15 years ago. Because that’s how my mind works.
When Junior and his cousins got together, they invariably started playing with Pokemons or some stupid board game involving 10 billion little figurines, that had to be painted, and came with lots of rules and cards.
And when they played, they were usually quiet. QUIET!
And there was never bloodshed. NEVER!
When I was that age, play time involved things that would hurt you. Otherwise, I mean really, what was the point of being a boy?
My personal weapon of choice, when I was maybe 8, was a Johnny Reb Civil War cannon. It was awesome.
I would use it when Steve Madden and I battled in my hallway. About 10,000 times every day.