Wednesday, March 01, 2006

6 fingered hired hand

"Polar Bears can break through 3-4 feet of ice in order to get out of the water" Ben coughed and I tried not to spit the mouthful of water I had in my mouth into his face. Yes, it maybe true (I didn't bother to check the truth of the statement), but it was the tone of voice and the person saying it that made it funny.
Ben and I had splurged and were enjoying pepper chicken at the local King Buffet. We had been put at a table in the back, a place we had never sat before, and where most large families were put. (large being 3 or more children :)
A ranching family was sitting in front of us and my back was to them, so I couldn't see what they looked like. They were very obviously in town for the day and enjoying the lunch out. 4 children from about 12 to 18 (possibly not all their own) and one of those Fathers who is the world's authority on everything.
"And I want to ride bulls, too." said one boy who looked to be about 14.
"And what are you going to do with 4H when you have a broken arm and leg?" asked the Dad very sarcastically.
Three children said something at once, and I peeked back to see the boy deep in thought and heard him say, "Couldn't we take out life insurance?"
He repeated it 3 more times while the others competed for air space, and while I'm one of those proponents of "no question is a dumb question", I couldn't help but thinking, "Down boy, before they make you look as dumb as you sound. . ."
"Dad, couldn't we take out LIFE INSURANCE," the boy was almost shouting.
"Then you'd have to die." laughed a girl of about 17.
"That wouldn't help you with a broken body." said the Dad in a very serious tone.
The son just nodded wisely and sagely and sat back - presumably to ponder how he could do 4H and still ride bulls without life insurance. I could have suggested disability insurance, but I doubt they give it to 14 year olds and I can only imagine the cost of disability insurance for a bull rider!
They children asked if they still had to stay in town to shop (obviously some had come to town for the day just to eat out), and in the middle of it all their Dad said, "You know, my Dad had a hired hand who couldn't count." It was downright sweet the way those kids stopped talking and stared at their Dad with complete trust. Made me realize the importance of not abusing such trust and making sure one is living the proper example. "He hadn't gone to school and didn't have a lick of education. Dumber than a stick." (I almost interjected here to let him know that school does not equal education/smarts: after all, Ben had only gone to "school" till the 3rd grade and here he is only a year from graduating from vet school. But then realized they would know we were listening to every word - kind of hard not to when their voices were that loud and they were only a foot away.
"He had to use his fingers to count. When we were counting calves, he would stick up his hand and count, 'One, Two, Three Four, Five . . Six! This man had 6 fingers.'."
Complete silence as they licked up every bit of this. I almost corrected him and said 5 fingers and a thumb.
"So when we counted calves, we'd be at 90 and the poor sap would be at 110."
A quick calculation told me that Dad was not right - it would be 108 if he counted to 6. Such a shame to see this Dad with all that education not knowing how to count - just like the unschooled hired hand.
"He always wore mittens and never gloves."
By this time I was giggling away and Ben was giving me looks because he couldn't hear it. I tried to whisper to him why I was laughing. He couldn't hear so finally I said it louder, "he had a six fingered hired hand - so when they counted to 90 he was at 110." Ben spluttered and it was obvious he was laughing so I stopped looking at him.
I got up to wash the sticky Chinese off my fingers and when I came back, the Dad was having a one sided conversation with Ben. It seems that Emily was finding staring at them while trying to hang upside down, much more interesting than the cottage cheese Ben was offering her.
"Sure cute now, but wait till the boys come around."
Ben and I just smiled and I wondered what I should say about that whole subject.
"I don't have that problem because all the boys know I have a shotgun behind the front door. . ." He was still talking and smiling, so we continued to smile.
"And any boy she brings home" he pointed to his blond daughter, "has to do pass muster with us. " (well, that's what it sounded like he said. Must be a US phrase -pass muster meaning do chores) "Having to do farm chores each evening sure culls out the bad ones." He tucked his fingers in his shirt pockets and rocked back on his heels.
"Kind of intimidating when they see her throwing 100lb bales around."
Ahhh, this sounded familiar. I've known my share of Dads like this. They can out ride, out shoot, out lift, out train, out cow, out drive anything - and every one of their kids can too. It makes for Dad's that are mighty proud of their children's accomplishments (a good thing) and let the whole world know that their children do everything better than yours (not so good). Their kids adore them because Dad thinks they are the best and he includes them in everything, and Dad is the only source of information they have on everything and therefore knows it all without having researched anything. You don't have a conversation with them, they talk to you. They can ALWAYS help in a bind but if they can't do it, it can't be done. If they can't do it well, then it isn't worth even trying - i.e. if they aren't good at something it is too dumb to do anyway. They are the ones that buy the horses with attitude and bad habits for their children and sell the real quiet ones because they are too tame. When I go trail riding with them, I always end up riding the 8 year olds horse back or ponying the horse and riding double on my horse because their horse with "spirit" is not wanting to listen (i.e. half rearing to go home, tossing his/her head, not turning, running through cues etc). The kids never admit weaknesses about anything, because then they would seem like sissies. Those 100lb bales their 11 year old daughters lift always ended up being 40lbs when I lifted them too. They'd explain it by something like, "Well, we baled some lighter ones for the kids to be able to lift. . " because there was no way you could be half as strong as their 11 year old. :)
They left possibly to go lift some more of those 100lb bales and contemplate life insurance. We had a smile and entertaining if not learning experience.
Signing off
Heather, Ben, Emily, Tia, Franklet and Mochaccino

1 comment:

Lynn said...

Hi guys,

Just a note to tell you I enjoyed your post! Liked your new kitten's name, too!
Love, Lynn