By Baxter Black: On the Edge of Common Sense
Nicole was a tomboy. No, more accurately she was a cowboy.
She favored cow work to Barbie dolls. She was Dad’s right-hand man. By age 15, she could pull her weight, from building fence to pulling calves.
Last spring to celebrate the coming of sunshine, the community of Hanna in southeastern Alberta was having “supper and a do.” Nicole had strict instructions from her mother that her attendance was mandatory and she would be required to dress like a lady and behave appropriately.
On the big day she spent two hours at the hairdresser, (the next-door neighbor in her basement) trying to control her unruly fro.
Hair-sprayed and coifed like a maiden in King Louie’s court, she returned home where she was commanded to remain until it was time to leave.
Meanwhile, out in the barn lot, Swing Bag Betty, an aging curly-haired whiteface grandma, was shut up in the pen on calving watch. An hour before departure time Dad mentioned he was going to run her in the chute and check her before he showered to go to town.
Nicole had been trapped in the house since noon doing housework and fidgeting. Every step she took she could feel her hairdo ping and bounce like a beehive full of aluminum ping-pong balls. Finally, on the edge of a nervous breakdown, she dropped her dust rag and slipped out of the basement window.
Dad wasn’t surprised when she showed up to help. He laughed as they started pushing Betty toward the barn. It was tough slogging in the mud.
They’d had the cow on the cull list for three years due to the obvious namesake reason, plus she had hind hooves like sleds, and a horn that had to be sawed every year to keep it from growing into her head.
Betty balked at the barn door and no amount of hoorahin’, hollerin’, or tail twisting would move her forward. Then, with the quickness of a star hockey player for the Brandon Wheat Kings, she reversed direction.
Nicole gave chase down the alley through the ankle-deep mud, manure and assorted calving goobies. Overtaking the plunging cow, she whirled to make a stand. Holding out her hand like a traffic cop she realized simultaneously that the cow had the advantage of momentum and ski-traction feet over Nicole’s recently shined, leather-soled, mud-coated boots.
At that very moment, Mom arrived in search of her cow-lovin’ daughter.
She watched in horror as Swing Bag Betty ran over Nicole like a footlog.
The entire cotton candy hairdo disappeared in the quagmire, along with the rest of her body, leaving only her nose and toes protruding from the mud, like tiny islands. In departure, as Swing Bag Betty mowed her down, her pendulous moniker sma-cked across Nicole’s face as a final salute, or obscene gesture, if you will.
I’m sure there is a moral to this story, or a lesson to be learned … but for the life of me, I can’t think of one.