By Barb Hauge
Too late most of us think of clever, witty and withering come-backs. They are such gems we regret not using them yet in retrospect, perhaps they are better left unsaid.
We were recently accused of "flipping butts" onto CRP land where a grass fire was burning. My perfect answer would have been, "No, we don't have that dangerous and disgusting habit." Many smokers do incinerate themselves and others and of course destroy property. My father-in-law must have barely escaped immolation because, when we cleaned out his house, most of his clothing had burn-holes from cigarettes.
My brother Allan's wife was of Bohemian ancestry and she pretty much said whatever came to mind. She did not endear herself to my Dad when he was trying to train a cattle dog; she told him, "You've got to have more brains than the dog if you're going to teach him anything." Mother used to despair that she had "ruined the Baird name with her vicious tongue" but I always felt Catherine's bark was worse than her bite. She worked for Doctor Hoon in Chinook doing housekeeping and cooking for his patients, Allan's home was always filled with young people; some from The Reservation stayed there and went to school.
Its amusingly sad to meet people you knew long ago who were disdainful of old age and its infirmities; of people who were overweight or had various other imperfections. And here they come; waddling like overstuffed ducks or herpaling along like a frozen-toed rooster, incontinent and reeking of urine; often trapped in a wheel chair for the balance of their lives. None of us should be smug or superior; it can happen to anyone. Its best not to comment on their condition just talk about old times even if you're dying to say, "I see the sins of your colorful youth finally caught up with you!"
"You Better Not" is a poem I did for one of the gatherings.
"He gives you a coat made from some old goat; the thing is as ugly as sin. You want to throw it in his face; kick him off the place. But Honey, you better not!
"He says you're his pal but out in the corral he flicks you with his black-snake cuz you didn't close the gate. You are seething with hate. But Dear Girl, you better not!
"He takes you to a dance and away you prance with Jerry, the boy from town. He's as mad as a bat; you'd like to smash his hat. But Lady, you better not!
"You've just born his child; his reaction is mild cuz the child is a baby girl. He says, Next time a boy.' You could slug him with joy. But Little Mamma, you better not! Then a boy is born one April morn and he brings you the Income Tax. Says, Figure this out.' You'd like to murder the lout. But Tax Lady, you better not!
"The kids are all grown; from the coop they have flown. He sells The Ranch and buys you a trailer. He parks it by a rack; you'd like to knock off his block. But Good Wife, you better not! Now he is old; no longer handsome and bold. Nothing works anymore. He goes limp in the staff and you want to laugh. But Old Lady, you better not!"