Jim Goldsworthy, Columnist
I get to read my buddy Maude’s column before you do (and before she gets to read mine), and she sometimes provides a spark of inspiration.
Her efforts today reminded me of a conversation I frequently have with some of my contemporaries.
It has to do with the fact that although we have heard most of the existing jokes, in one form or another, we still have the fun of inflicting them upon younger folks who haven’t heard them.
Legend has it that there are only seven basic jokes. Having spent four years in high school riding in football, basketball and track team buses, I have heard virtually all versions of them.
A friend of mine is a retired Navy chief, and he heard the same jokes on shipboard that I did on those buses. It is our impression that jokes take about 30 years to make it from the Atlantic coast to the Pacific coast and back again, because that’s the frequency with which we hear them.
Here, then, is a story I last remember telling my old friend Frank Calemine one day while we were out hunting or fishing, and that’s been a good 30 years.
I heard a version of it not long ago, so like a homing pigeon it has found its way home again.
A farmer is down on his luck after his crops had failed due to a drought and is telling a neighbor about his woes.
The neighbor has an idea.
“You know that sow of your’n?” he asks. “Why don’t you take her down the road and innerduce her to that boar hog of Old Man Zigafoose’s? You’ll get some piglets out of that, and piglets bring good money.”
The farmer brightens up for a moment, but then his face clouds over.
“How’m I gonna do that?” he asks the other man. “My truck’s broke down and I ain’t got no money to fix it.”
“You got a wheelbarrow, ain’cha?” the neighbor asks, and the farmer says he does.
Soon as the farmer gets home, he calls Old Man Zigafoose and makes the necessary arrangements. Old Man Zigafoose says all he needs out of the deal is one of the piglets.
Next morning, the farmer is up bright and early. He goes to the shed, fetches the wheelbarrow and heads to the sow’s pen.
Bear in mind that this sow has been eating well — even if nobody else on the farm has.
It takes the farmer a bit of coaxing and heaving to get the sow into the wheelbarrow, and then he faces the task of manhandling her down a bumpy and rutted dirt road to Old Man Zigafoose’s place, a mile or so away.
The journey is downhill, which means the farmer has to keep putting on the brakes to keep the wheelbarrow from running away ... only there are no brakes except those he was born with. The return trip is, of course, uphill — and that requires considerable shoving and grunting on the farmer’s part.
Anyway, the sow and the boar are introduced to each other and quickly become friends.
The farmer returns the sow to her pen and the wheelbarrow to the shed, then goes into the house to take a hot bath and have dinner.
Next morning, he looks out the window and sees the sow alone in her pen.
“Damnation,” he mutters. “They ain’t no piglets. I reckon it didn’t take.”
You’re probably thinking the same thing I’m thinking. Since we’re both on the same page, we’ll let it go at that.
The farmer gets dressed, goes to the shed and gets the wheelbarrow, takes it to the sow’s pen and farmerhandles her into it. Down the road they go to Old Man Zigafoose’s.
The boar immediately recognizes his new buddies and is happy to see them.
Next morning, the scene plays out again: No piglets. And it’s the same every morning for a week. After a couple of days, the farmer just leaves the wheelbarrow in the sow’s pen.
Finally, it happens that the farmer finds that he can’t get of bed. Everything from the top of his head on down hurts. He hurts in places he didn’t even know he had.
So he calls to his wife.
“Look out the window,” he says, “and tell me if they’s any piglets.”
“Ain’t no piglets,” says his wife, “but the sow is in the wheelbarrow waitin’ on you!”
I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you about Cathy and Harry, our friends who come to visit the captain and me at Gettysburg, and their daughters.
Daughter Sarah told us she has pretty much gotten over a penchant for laying her chapsticks out in a row, arranging them in an order that would be of no significance to anyone but her.
“I just put them in a jar, now,” she said.
Cathy used to move Sarah’s chapsticks around now and then, just to mess with her.
We had heard about Sarah, but never got to meet her until earlier this year.
Cathy told us, “You probably thought she was our made-up daughter.”
No, I said. Hannah is the made-up daughter. That would be the Diva Princess — age 15, or DP-15 for short. She will become DP-16 right around the time I become JG-66.
DP-15 had discovered makeup when we got together earlier this year (which makes her the made-up daughter). She seems to be concentrating on her eyes, but is doing it well. Not overdoing it.
I told her that a number of years ago, the style people thought they would try to get men interested in using makeup.
Other than appealing to some of the metrosexuals — look it up if you need to — the idea went over like a (flatulence event) in church.
“Goldy,” said DP-15, “I could give you a complete makeover, if you like.”
“Honey,” I told her, “you didn’t bring enough equipment to do that.”