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The Book of Calvin
A Collection of Humorous Essays
Copyright 2002 by Bobby Matherne
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Cinderella's Apple and the Charlie Horse
This is one of my favorites and a good example of the fun Calvin has with the English language. Bobby Matherne
Where were you yesterday, Lloyd Christopher?" Calvin asked his lanky friend Danny as he stopped by the door to Danny's office.
"Who are you calling me, Cal?"
"Lloyd Christopher, you know, the guy on Taxi."
"Oh, that Lloyd Christopher," Danny said, accustomed to Calvin's bafflegab, "I was boiling some crawfish for my in-laws. Boy, were they good. I especially like the potatoes when they're boiled with the crawfish seasonings."
"Hey I boiled some potatoes last night myself. The ones I cooked were the finest potatoes I ever saw -- they were the blue harvest over the moon. I like to boil them live, you know, with their skins still on."
"Yep, then I amputate them," Calvin said, "so they're smaller and easier to eat."
"What kind of appendages do you cut off of potatoes when you amputate them, Cal?"
"Their eyes, Big Boy."
Minutes later Danny walked past Calvin's office and noticed a huge, dark red apple on his desk. "What kind of apple is that, Calvin? Is it live -- since it still has its skin on it?"
"I got news for you -- this is the kind of apple that Cinderella had when she was crucified!" Calvin said, proud of his knowledge of fairy tales.
"Oh yeah," Danny said, laughing with tears streaming from his eyes, "and what about the seven dwarves?"
"I know them," Calvin said, "I work with them."
"Hey, Cal," said Tim, who had just come up behind Danny, "I'm going downtown for lunch, want to come?"
"Sure, Tim, let's go get us one of those large roast beef sandwiches at Majorie's place," Calvin said, "I'll drive."
On the way Calvin, whose eyesight had never fully recovered from his diabetes, swerved wide on a right-hand turn and ran a car off the road. Later he passed a car in a curve and nearly didn't get back in time before the on-coming car sped by, its horn blasting away.
"Didn't you see him? You idiot!" Tim yelled at Calvin, "That does it! I'm driving back."
At Majorie's they decided to buy one eighteen inch Po Boy and split it when they got back to the office. A Po Boy is a New Orleans sandwich. It is made on a long, slim, almost round French bread loaf and is usually wrapped in butcher paper when it's ordered to go. The roast beef Po Boy is sometimes called a sloppy roast beef because gravy is heaped on the sandwich and usually drips all over the fingers and plate while you eat it.
While Tim drove back to the plant, Calvin held the long sandwich in his two hands with one end resting between his legs and, waving the other end in the air, said, "Oh baby, oh baby." He began moving his hands up and down the sandwich in a sexually suggestive manner and went, "ooo... aah... ." As they got out of the car in the parking lot, Calvin said, "Tim, I got so excited, I think I wet myself."
Tim, looking at Calvin's crotch, said, "I think you've got a big wet spot from the sandwich." Sure enough the roast beef gravy had leaked from the end of the sandwich onto his trousers. With his reduced skin sensitivity due to diabetes, he hadn't felt the liquid dripping out until he got out of the car.
"Tell Rusty I'm going home to change clothes, Tim, I'll be back later."
"What about your part of the Po Boy?"
"You can have it. In the meantime keep this under your skin."
"Okay, Cal, I promise not to tell anybody. See you later." With that Tim went into the office with his sandwich.
When Calvin returned from home, Charlie was waiting for him. "Hi, Cal, want to take a ride with me to pick up my horse?"
"You got a horse, Chuck?" Calvin asked incredulously.
"Sure thing. Look at this ad," Charlie said, handing a large flyer to Calvin. There in black and white it said, Lot For Sale. $15,600. Free Shetland Pony.
"Oh, that's one of them pony-sized horses."
"Right. I've always wanted a horse and we were looking to buy some property anyway, so I told myself, 'This is it, Chuck. This is your big chance.' Yesterday we bought the lot and the owner said I could pick up the horse this weekend. Can you help me tomorrow? I need somebody to drive my pickup truck back from the Gulf Coast after we load up the pony. I'll need to stay in the back with it."
"Sure, Chuck. I know all about horsies. I had a stick horsie when I was a kid myself. See you at eight o'clock in the morning -- don't be dirty."
The next morning they were at the corral with the owner who pointed to a small tawny Shetland in midst of 20 or so other ponies. "He's yours. By the way, he hasn't been broken yet. Go get him."
Calvin watched from the fence as Charlie entered the corral. He began chasing the horse around the open area, throwing his lasso at its head several times. Finally Charlie got the idea to get Calvin to chase the pony around in a circle as he waited for it to run past him.
When the pony finally came by, he looped the lasso over its head and snared the pony. It began dragging Charlie around the corral. Calvin grabbed onto the rope and they both dug their heels into the mud and leaned back on the rope. Their heels were gouging furrows in the soft dirt as the pony circled the corral several times. When the pony wore down and stopped, they walked it over the rear of the pickup truck.
Every minute brought a new problem. "How are you going to get the pony into the pickup truck?" asked Calvin.
"Here Cal, you hold the rope in the bed of the truck." Charlie lifted the front legs of the pony onto the tailgate and walked around to the rear legs to lift them. As Charlie lifted the legs, a swift kick by the pony knocked Charlie backwards to the ground.
"You alright, Chuck?" Calvin asked.
"Sure, Cal, the mud was soft enough," Charlie said a little sarcastically.
After several unsuccessful attempts Charlie began looking around for a better way. He saw a shallow ditch nearby and had an idea.
"Calvin, back up my truck to that ditch - just halfway into it so I can rest the tailgate on the other side."
That did the trick. He walked the pony right up the tailgate into the bed of the truck. As Calvin drove off, Charlie was sitting on the spare tire, leaning against the cab of truck, and holding tightly his new pony facing him.
Charlie figured the pony would probably jump out of the truck since it was not enclosed for carrying horses -- that's why he decided to sit on the spare tire on the bed of the truck and hold the rope attached to the pony while Calvin drove them back to his home, a forty-five minute trip. Charlie held the pony close to him to comfort the frightened creature, but as the truck picked up speed, the pony became jittery and Charlie pulled harder on the rope.
Finally the pony was so close to Charlie that he could feel its warm breath on his face. Out on the highway Charlie's anxiety level was raised by two things: the horse began foaming at the mouth and dark clouds began forming on the horizon. As they neared the long bridge over Lake Ponchartrain the foam from the pony's mouth began dripping on Charlie's shirt and large pelts of rain fell on Charlie's head.
Calvin slowed down the truck and yelled back at him, "Charlie, you want me to stop?"
"No way!" Charlie yelled back, "if you stop, he'll jump out for sure. Let's get him home!"
The rain made the already slippery bed on the truck even more so and Charlie held on for dear life. He knew if he relaxed his grip for a second the pony would jump over the side of the truck into the lake. Just then Calvin passed a family in a station wagon. The kids waved at Charlie and the pony. Charlie waved back with his free hand.
He remembered how much he had wanted a pony when he was their age. He had seen some horses in the country when he spent the summer at his grandmother’s house, and he’d begged his dad to get him one. He remembered the horse he wanted: it was a palomino with an almost all white head. One day he snuck out to the back pasture and rode the palomino bare-back. What fun that was. But his dad lived in the city, and a horse of any kind was out of the question.
He was brought sharply out of his reverie by a large eighteen wheeler that bore down on the pickup truck causing Calvin to swerve from the passing lane to right in front of the station wagon. Charlie could see through the windshield the kids climbing over the front seat to wave at him and the pony.
When the semi-tractor pulled alongside the pickup truck, the driver reached up and pulled his air horn giving out one long blast. The horse shuddered in fright and Charlie looked back to see huge globs of horse manure covering the windshield of the station wagon. The wipers came on, splashing the thick brown slush from side to side, and Charlie watched as the family pulled over into the breakdown lane. Charlie was wet, cold, smelled of horse urine and manure, embarrassed and humiliated, but he held tightly onto his new pony all the way home.
When they arrived home, all three were nervous wrecks, Charlie, Calvin, and the horse. The pony's legs were shaking, his knees quivering from exhaustion. Trying to stand in the slippery truck bed for almost an hour had worn out the pony. Charlie put his pony in his backyard and left it alone for several days to recover.
He stocked up on feed and hay and began in earnest to teach the pony to accept riders. Using half full feed sacks on the pony's back, Charlie walked the pony around the above-ground swimming pool. The pony bucked at first but gradually got used to carrying full feed sacks on his back.
One night after supper Charlie called Calvin, "Cal, I'm gonna ride the pony tomorrow after lunch. Why don't you come over?"
Unknown to Charlie, his daughters had also called their friends to come over, and there were several eight year-old girls hiding in the bushes to watch him ride the pony for the first time.
The pony was low enough that Charlie's feet could almost touch the ground on both sides when Charlie sat on his back. Calvin held the reins while Charlie lifted his right leg over the pony and sat down. When his right leg touched the ground, however, his left leg lifted from the ground.
At that exact moment the pony pulled the reins from Calvin's hands and with Charlie's arms waving wildly in the air, the pony bolted towards the swimming pool. At the edge of the pool, the pony stopped suddenly and Charlie took a swan dive into the pool.
When Charlie raised his head from the water he was greeted by a gaggle of young girls giggling through their fingers.
"Tumble, tumble, toil and trouble, huh, Big Boy?" was all Calvin had to say.
The next several months were exciting for Charlie's daughters. Their pony was now ride-able and they began offering their friends pony rides around the pool for a dollar a ride. During that time, it was becoming evident to Charlie that the pony would have to go as he was running out of storage space for the huge globs of manure this one small horse was producing daily. So Charlie put an ad in the paper, "Shetland Pony For Sale, $500."
Several days later a black man appeared in a pickup truck who wanted to buy the pony. Charlie looked at the pickup truck and shook his head, "No, I can't put that poor pony through that again. You need to come back with a stake body truck." Several hours later the same man was back, in the same pickup truck, but as Charlie walked out to the truck, he noticed that freshly cut saplings had been jammed in the holes of the side panels and horizontal braces had been lashed in place making a crude but effective pony carrier. Charlie gave his pony a long last hug and said goodbye.
"Calvin," Charlie said over the phone, "I did it. I sold the pony finally. I don't know it I did the right thing or not, but I did it."
"Well, Chuck, it all depends on what the future lies," Calvin said. "It just goes to show -- you can't squeeze blood out of a tournament. Am I right or am I lying?"
"Yes, Cal, I do believe you are right."
In Calvin's own words, quoting Holy Moses: So let it be said, so let it be written.
Now that you've read one of my favorites, try another one from this Collection of 20 Humorous Essays.
For background information on how the Book of Calvin came about, read Book 1.
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