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Hand Me The Chips, Please

Hand Me The Chips, Please by Gary Benton
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When I was young, my cousin Bubba got the idea for a days activities from watchin’ television. It seems some gov’ner and special big city folks were seen on the tube a-throwin’ cow chips. I had then, and still do, a difficult time understandin’ why anyone would want to throw a cowpie. But, that afternoon we all headed down to the pasture to discover what all the excitement was about over throwing pies.

“All right,” Bubba said “find y’all a pie and let’s see why it’s so neat to toss ’em.”

I like things organized, so I informed him that we couldn’t just start throwin’ pies, we had to get arranged. Things like, a foul line, person to measure and certain rules had to be established. I felt this was important if we wanted a professional lookin’ pie tossin’. Not that I had any idea what the rules should be, or even what a professional pie tossin’ should look like. But, small things like that never stopped me before or since.

A heel dragged across the pasture soon established the foul line, my cousin Alan was designated the judge and jury for all throws, and the only real rule was that no pie could be thrown at anyone’s, chest, back, or face. Bubba added the last part of the rules because he was still kind of skittish from his run into the rearend of that cow a couple of weeks before. He didn’t want to ru’in another tee-shirt.

We soon found that all cow chips are not suitable for throwin’. Some were soggy and when you attempted to pick ‘em up they drooped and fell, leaving a smelly memento in your hands. Others were too dry and when you picked them up they just simply disintegrated into dust that blew away in the wind as they fell to the ground. The ideal chip was still semi-fresh, not too dry and yet definitely not too recently deposited.

I noticed many different technics as each of us selected pies to toss in our competition. Bubba would pick a pie up, run his hand around the edges to remove residue, tap it against his boots to remove worms and other creepy crawlers, and grasp the pie like a frisbee. P.K. would pick up a pie, raise it to eye level to check it’s aerodynamic quality, and then place it down by his left foot. Larry would invert the pie and insure the bottom was smooth and even. He would then place it on the ground next to the foul line. I didn’t care much what pie I used, as long as it wasn’t too fresh, and thoughtlessly threw them into a pile at my tossin’ point on the foul line. In a few minutes competition began.

P.K. threw his pie first and Alan called out his estimated distance, “Eight feet.”

With a devilish grin P.K. stepped aside to allow Larry to throw. Larry twisted his entire upper torso like a discs thrower at the Olympics and just when I thought his spine would snap he released.

“Seven feet and a half.” Was Alan’s judgement.

I walked up the line, brought my hand back and threw the pie like a baseball, overhanded. “Six feet,” Alan judged.

Now came the moment we were all waitin’ for, Bubba’s throw. Bubba didn’t just walk up to the foul line, he strutted like a cocky old barnyard rooster. His head was held high, the pie was held in his hand like a frisbee, and his chest was pushed out.

He stood at the line waitin’ for the crowd in his mind to quiet down. Bubba’s left hand was held out, extended upward, as he attempted to hush the unheard crowd. Course the only crowd there was the four of us, a few cows, and I didn’t hear a sound. I’m pretty sure the cows didn’t say much . Nonetheless, in Bubba’s mind it was the 1968 Olympics and he was soon to be the gold medal cow pie throwin’ winner.

Slowly walkin’ away from the foul line so he could get a good run, Bubba’s face was set in fierce determination, or possibly his chip was too fresh. Anyway, after walkin’ about 10 paces he stopped, slowly turned and then started runnin’ madly at the foul line. Just prior to reachin’ the line his right arm came back and then quickly forward. His pie was airborne! I noticed his right hand came up to his eye and he resembled an indian checkin’ the horizon line for intruders. It was then I heard a horrible scream and it was Alan.

“Ya id’jet! Ya hit me! Ya done fouled out! Mom is a-gonna kill me! This shirt is brand new!” Alan screamed over and over as he stood there shaking his head.

Bubba’s pie had struck Alan with plenty of force and a brown, gooey mess was drippin’ down his chest.

“Foul!!” Alan screamed once more and started for the house running.

Bubba just stood there in shock. He had gone for the gold and had lost. With an self determined inner sense of pride, he raised his head, squared up his shoulders, turned and walked toward the barn. He had decided he would show us how to lose with dignity.

As soon as Bubba had left, Larry looked at me and started laughin’. “I knew his chip was too fresh.” was all he said.

I was stunned that Bubba had lost and in this manner. I mean when it came to throwin’ bull, everyone in the hills knew my cousin Bubba had no equal. Shakin’ our heads Larry and I started to walk slowly up the cow path toward the house. We were in no hurry, but we wanted to be there before Bubba got home.

The discipline that Bubba would receive for hittin’ his brother in the chest with a cow chip was sure to be entertainin’. Bubba was one of those guys who cried, screamed, and begged, even before he was touched (Yep, this was back in the days when spakin’s were common). But when it came to receivin’ discipline, like everything else he did, he was a real gold medal winner.

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