Ever notice how whenever you have a problem, friends and family proceed to tell you about their similar difficulties that are much worse?
I’d like someone to explain to me exactly how that is supposed to make me feel better. If so, I’m here to tell you it does not work. When my pickup is stuck in the arroyo, the water gap has washed out, and it’s raining up the creek I do not want to hear about so-and-so’s adventure when his pickup washed down the Rio Grande all the way to El Paso, thank you very much.
Notice the stories are about disasters, not good times. Country people don’t brag about the good things that come their way. They just smile and say something like, “I got lucky,” or “Maybe it’ll rain on your place next time.”
I think we’ve gotten so used to bad luck — or no luck at all — that if something good happens to come along we figure it’s an accident and we probably ought to feel guilty about it.
Let something bad happen, though, and we can’t wait to broadcast it at the coffee shop, the sale barn or even by the side of the road — with a bit of embellishment added, of course. Then we have to let our listeners tell about their even worse disasters. If they can’t come up with something personally, they’ve for sure got an uncle or cousin that had an outstanding, unbelievable calamity much worse than yours.
Sometimes we get in a wreck because we did something…stupid. Those events don’t get broadcast if we can help it, but if word happens to get out, a “better” version must be dreamed up.
We’ve got a friend named Johnny who fell off the arena fence at a rodeo. Broke his leg. That was tough to explain. After he had a few days to think about it, the story became that a saddle bronc hit the fence down the way, 14 people sitting on the fence between the bronc and Johnny all fell (heavy on the word fell) off the fence and jiggled it so much the whole thing tumbled over on top of poor, innocent Johnny. Uh-huh. We know better, and still ask him, “Bucked off any fences lately?”
A cowboy I’ll not name didn’t notice his old pony swelled up while he was saddling up, so of course the cinch didn’t get tight. Out in the roughest part of the pasture, big rocks scattered everywhere with cactus in between, the saddle slipped — all the way under the horse’s belly. The old horse did his job and bucked real fine. Our unnamed hero ended up hugging that horse around the neck while his feet waved like upside down flags above the action.
His pard loped up and yelled, “You in trouble?”
Between jumps our cowpuncher hollered back, “Naw, naw, I ain’t in no jam. What makes you think that?”
I understand the “better version” of this particular wreck was a real doozy, with no mention of a loose cinch.