Strong different than tough, in varying degrees

By Baxter Black: QCS columnist

There is a difference between being tough and being strong. A 600-pound roping steer is tough; a 2,000-pound Angus bull is strong.

Wrestling calves at a recent spring branding, there were several young men there to help flank calves. They were all good boys and came to lend a hand. The first hour when they were fresh it was inspiring to watch those stout young men overpower the calves.

As the morning wore on, they began wearin’ down, moving slower, stepping back, leaning on the fence, breathing heavily and lookin’ for a break. That’s when the tough ones took the lead — steady, balanced, using leverage, no wasted motion, sure-handed. That’s how we finished the day.

There is also a difference between being fast and being quick. A Boeing 747 is fast, a fruit bat is quick. A doberman is fast, a coyote is quick.

Would you rather be in a quick-draw contest with a four-minute miler or a mandolin player?

Fast people are handy to send after things, to deliver the mail and to walk dogs. Quick people are good at catching houseflies, stealing second base and dealing cards.

There is a difference between being intelligent and being smart.

An intelligent person can invent a complicated computer program that explains how to install an air conditioning unit in an Eskimo’s igloo at Prudhoe Bay. A smart person can sell it to them.

An intelligent person knows how many Brussels sprouts fulfill the average daily requirement of vitamin E. A smart person knows nobody eats them.

An intelligent person comprehends precisely the amount of UV rays per minute required to achieve a perfect tan without burning. A smart person wears sun block.

The world is made up of the tough and the strong, the quick and the fast, the intelligent and the smart — not to mention the idealistic and the pragmatic, the over-confident and the cautious, the ready and the hesitant, the blinded and the blind, the patsy and the hard sell, the forgiving and the grudge holders, the bashful and the watchful, and of course, the wordy and the taciturn.

We are all in there somewhere, in various degrees. I like to think of myself as a coyote who likes Brussels sprouts but who gets caught stealing second base.

Baxter Black is a self-described cowboy poet, ex-veterinarian and sorry team roper. He can be contacted at 1-800-654-2550 or by e-mail at: