When I arrived at work the other day, Joe’s brother, Bart, was at the house. He wanted to take Joe over to their farm to check out the Old Turkey Shed. Dot was helping Joe put on his jacket, and getting him ready to head out the door with Bart (who is ninety years old and should NOT be driving). I suggested, “Hey, why don’t I go with you guys?” Bart grinned at me and said, “Sure, you’re welcome to come along.” I offered to drive, but Bart told me that he’d better drive because, as he reminded me, “My truck is a stick shift”. (Apparently women weren’t trained to drive stick shifts back in the day, because this isn’t the first time I’ve heard reference to the inherent belief that a woman is incapable of driving a stick shift.) Dot insisted that I take my jacket as well (thank god, since the weather report said it was going to be in the mid eighties) so I took it along to humor her. I said a short prayer as I wedged myself into the back seat of Bart’s pickup. Bart took the driver’s seat, Joe rode shotgun, and we headed out to the farm at around 10am.
As we made our way up the gravel driveway with a flurry of dust at our backs, I noticed Bart pointing out the Old Turkey Shed to Joe, and it did not take me long to figure out that in order to get to the shed, we were going to have to climb under a hot-wire fence. And sure enough…
Bart said, “I’m not sure if this wire is hot or not. Here, let me check..” That said, he simply put out his hand and grabbed hold of it. I cringed, waiting to see smoke shoot out of his ears, but with a grin he announced, “Nope. It’s not hot. I’ll hold it up here so that you guys can crawl under it.” Before I could even register what was happening, Joe took off like a rocket and said, “I’ll go first so that I can help you step through here…” He put his right foot over the lower wire and began to crawl between the two wires. I thought to myself, “Wow, Joe is more agile than I thought” but of course I came to that conclusion much too soon. His left foot seemed to have forgotten that it needed to step over the bottom wire and instead he put his shoe in the precise location to best trip himself. Thank goodness that Joe is an extremely strong man, because he pretty much did a face plant and did not end up with a single bruise to prove it. Unfortunately, he landed directly in a cow-pie.
Lucky for Joe (and myself, since I who would be the one to clean him up) that it was not a steaming hot, fresh puddle of dung. It was instead an old, dried up, crusty pile of manure, but by scientific standards (and by the vast knowledge of cow feces that I gained during my childhood in Sedro-Woolley, WA: Home of the Logger-Rodeo) it would definitely still be considered a cow-pie. That being said, Joe hollered out as he was falling, “What the HELL?!” and then when he started to try to get back on his feet, he looked at the ground and then looked at his hands and said, “Well SHIT…” Then he took one more look at the ground just to be sure and added, “I just FELL in SHIT!” He looked up at me and said in exasperation, “I’m pretty sure I am completely covered in shit.” I tried not to laugh as I helped him up. I said, “Oh Joe, it’s no big deal. It’s all dried up. Look here,” I demonstrated as I began to dust the cow shit off of his pant legs, “it just comes right off.”
I know that you must be thinking that this must be the punchline of the story, but oh no, I assure you there is more…
As I was helping Joe dust off his pants, while also trying to ensure that Bart didn’t do a cartwheel right behind us in the process, I had this strange sensation that something very terrible was about to happen. That is when I looked up just in time to see that not one, but two, incredibly large and furious looking animals were heading right towards us. Being the brave and steadfast care provider that I am, always ensuring the safety of my clients, I quickly ran and hid behind Joe and yelled, “THEY’RE COMING RIGHT AT US!”
Joe and Bart looked at the creatures and time stood still momentarily as they tried to come up with the best course of action. By best course of action, I mean that they took their hats off and scratched their heads. At the last second, when I was almost five hundred percent positive that we were all going to die that day, Joe waved his bright green trucker hat in the air and shouted, “GET OUT OF HERE YOU STUPID SONS OF BITCHES!”
And just like that, the beasts stopped in their tracks. It was not good enough to Joe that the monsters merely put the brakes on, so he began to run toward them flailing his John Deere cap in their faces yelling, “GO ON – GET! You STUPID. Sons of… BITCHES!!!” Bart just stood there shaking his head and cracking up and he said, “This reminds me of when we were kids…”
Once Joe felt that the enormous cattle-type-creatures were far enough away, he put his cap back on and turned and gave us a giant smile. I shouted, “WELL YOU SHOWED THEM WHO’S BOSS, DIDN’T YOU JOE?!” He shouted back, “DAMN STRAIGHT!”
The monsters, as it turned out, were called Brahman Bulls, which are some freaky type of bull that weigh more than my car and have huge humps on their backs.
After all of the ruckus in merely getting out to The Old Turkey Shed, the actual visit to the shed was pretty uneventful. Joe and Bart just wandered around the shed making comments and grunts about this and that. Joe wanted to get up and drive the tractor in the shed, but was disappointed when he realized that he’d forgotten the key (the tractor was probably 100 years old, covered in cobwebs, and had only one tire with rubber on it – the other tire had been eaten away by rats and Father Time). I told him that we’d be sure to bring the key next time and he felt much better about it.
Once we all managed to get back into Bart’s pickup I was finally starting to relax a little and able to see the humor in the events that had just taken place. But that peace was short lived when Bart said, “Hey, what’dya guys think about going and taking a look at the tree that fell over down the road there…” Joe shrugged his shoulders and said, “Sure, why not?” I said, “Well Bart, I’m pretty sure that Dot may start to worry about us because we’ve been gone a long time…” Bart: “It’ll just take a minute. You guys don’t even have to put on your seat belts because it’s only a few blocks from here.” At that, Bart put his truck into four wheel drive and started heading up the road before I could even respond.
Bart was correct about one thing: It really wasn’t a long ways away. He was also wrong about one thing: We most definitely needed our seat belts on!! Between the bumps in the road that nearly cracked my head on the ceiling, I managed to get Joe and I belted in. At one point even Joe said, “I don’t know about this Bart. This is an awfully bad road. I think we oughta turn the car around.”
I am just going to take the time to clarify one thing: If a man with fairly severe dementia and almost zero short term memory suggests that you turn your car around, you really should listen, ok? Ok.
Bart reassured us: “We’re almost there…it’s just a little further.” By the time I realized that Bart was bouncing us down a muddy road toward the Columbia River, it was too late to even say my Hail Mary’s (plus I don’t know how to say them since I’m not even Catholic). Joe saw the river at the same time and tried to find something to grab onto: “GODDAMMIT BART! YOU’RE GONNA PUT US ALL IN THE RIVER!” Leave it to Joe to find exactly the right words to say. He read my mind. Bart just laughed and reassured us: “Don’t worry, I drive down here all the time!” Not exactly as reassuring as he had hoped, I’m sure.
With pride in his eyes, Bart took us to a screeching halt and announced: “There it is. The tree.” Both Joe and I kept both hands on whatever we had chosen to cling to for safety and took a moment to take in the most exciting thing we’d ever seen: A fallen tree. Whoop-dee-do!
Joe said, “It’s a tree alright.”
Bart corrected him: “It’s a fallen tree.”
I kept my voice as calm as possible as I interjected, “Do you know how you are going to turn your truck around and get us back out of here Bart?” Bart chuckled at me like I’m such an amateur: “I told you, I drive down here all the time.” Even Joe appeared nervous, which wasn’t helping my nervous stomach, and for me – nervous stomach means diarrhea. Oh great.
For the next twenty minutes, as I tried to figure out how I was going to save two ninety-something year old men, and myself once we were all sinking in the river belted into a Chevy, Bart would back up four millimeters, get out to assess the situation, get back in and move forward two millimeters, and so on and so forth, until…
Joe: “BART GODDAMMIT YOU’RE BACKING US RIGHT INTO THE CREEK!”
Bart: “It’s not a creek. It’s a river.”
Joe: “BART GODDAMMIT THAT’S EVEN WORSE!”
One of the rear tires actually began to spin in the mud at the top of the embankment before Bart managed to get his truck turned around and heading toward home. I was pretty sure that my heart had become a permanent part of my throat by then, but with a sigh of relief I reached forward and patted Joe on the shoulder as a sort of “Congratulations! We’re Alive!” kind of a gesture. Joe responded by turning around to look at me and then asking his brother: “Hey Bart, who’s that girl in the back seat…?”