Friday, April 18, 2014

The Heartwarming Story of Arnold Schwarzenegger by Benjamin Drevlow

A sheep breeder takes umbrage when the Bayfield County Fair's judge makes insinuations against the virility of his impressive specimen of a ram, in Benjamin Drevlow's hilarious tale.

We should've known that his dignity would've been hurt. Arnold was a proud old ram and he'd served us well. Bred us more lambs than we ever thought possible. Good ol' Arnie, though, just wasn't grand champion stock. At least that's what the judge at the fair said. Wasn't Arnold's fault. He just didn't have enough under the hood to compete with Raspatnik's Scottish-bred Hampshires. But I tell you what, Arnold Schwarzenegger, boy, camshaft or not, he was the most fertile damn ram we ever mated with our ewes. Arnold Schwarzenegger, he'd just about inseminate anything he could mount, and I'll tell that to the Honorable Judge Sorenson's chicken-fried face myself. Only I don't have to, because I got the fruits of Arnold's labor to prove it.

Arnold was only a yearling ram lamb back in eighty-seven, but even then, boy, what a physical specimen! Had him a stance like a nose tackle. At least that's what everybody who saw him said. Not only that, but there was his neck like an oak tree. And those hindquarters seemed big as the duelies on a John Deere 7300 series. These shoulders, too. Big and boxy like the front end of a riding lawnmower. And tall. Almost four-foot-six when he'd stand on all-fours and rise up with that big black muzzle of his to dig through your coat pockets for oats. Old Arnold could be quite persuasive with that muzzle of his.

But Judge Sorenson? The Honorable Judge Ingemar Ottar Sorenson, Head Sheep Judge at the Bayfield County Fair? Seems, all he could notice on Arnold was what didn't rise up. What didn't hang down. What didn't so much resemble an oak tree. There we were, me and Arnold and Judge Sorenson out there in the middle of the show ring and all it took was one look under the hood, one goose of the throttle, one massage of the camshaft, and Judge Sorenson came up from off one knee with a grin wide as the mouth of a New Holland haybine.

Son, he said to me as he wiped the sweat-fog off his horn-rimmed glasses, this here fella might be the finest physical specimen I seen in all my years of sheep judging. But son - he paused and took the tip of his steel-toe like a front-end loader to hoist Arnold's scrotum, hoisted it like he was stalling a hacky sack, hoisted them testes for the whole show ring crowd to see. Son, this fella here never gon' sire you no grand champion stock. Least not with BBs like these for ammunition. A smattering of giggles and sniggers reverberated around the show ring. Sure is a damn shame, though, he said. He sure do have a nice stance there. Almost like a sumo rassler or a nose tackle or something.

And maybe old Arnold never would sire no grand champion stock. Maybe he never would live to see that Bayfield Grand Champion Ram Trophy mounted high above our sheep corral. But for Judge Sorenson to insinuate that just because Arnold's testes were the size of BBs that Arnold was somehow less virile than the next ram, well... there are just some things one doesn't say in the sheepin' business. And I'll have y'all know, Arnold Schwarzenegger, little pecker or not, would eventually breed us more lambs than either me, my pops, or Judge Sorenson could imagine in our wildest sheep fantasies. Heck, more lambs than if sheep semen upped and started raining from the clouds of our clear blue Northern Wisconsin skies. Like holy, virile tears splattering down on our sheep farm from the Lord, Jesus Christ, Father, Son and Holy Ghost themselves. What I mean to say is, you can hogtie me with barbed wire, slap the chaw out my mouth, and artificially inseminate me with a twelve-inch cattle prod if you can prove Arnie wasn't the most jackrabbit potent damn ram to ever come out of Bayfield County.

And sure as church on Sunday, blizzards in March, and taxes in April, from the day we brought Arnold Schwarzenegger home and strapped that red chalk humping harness onto that pea shooter ram pecker of his, our ewes' rear flanks were red as roses come August. And Arnie didn't just inseminate - he reaped, he sowed, he fertilized! His sperms swam to them sheep eggs like little ovular-seeking torpedoes. Like heifers to a salt block and horseflies to cow shit. Like rednecks to the dump on Saturday morning! Soon enough our ewes started squatting out twins and trips like popcorn popping out the kettle. Arnold even knocked up old Patsy Cline and Tammy Wynette. And those two crossbred ewes hadn't birthed in three seasons. Pops said he figured them dams to wither away and die barren.

God bless Arnold and that tiny pecker, though - he didn't bat one eye. So long as he could pull in tight enough on the hind end to offload, he'd inseminate anything he could mount. Anything. Including, as luck would have it, Pumpkin, our tan and black spotted goat who took a liking to Arnold after our quarter horse, Schnapps, kicked Pumpkin's older brother, Brownie, in the head during one of their mano-a-mano battles of who's-eating-whose-grain-in-whose-trough.

Now I say lucky cause it brought me and Pops's sheepin' business more than a good deal of local media exposure. Even more exposure than Chuck Eckholm up the road when Chuck said he'd bred Siamese twin Hereford calves (which turned out to be nothing but a big hoax because it turned out there was just one Hereford calf with one real head and one freakishly large nubbin growing out his neck that just looked like another head). But our goat-sheep was the real thing so far as anybody knew, and nobody around northern Wisconsin had ever seen a Geep before. Now personally, I wanted to call it Sheet, but Pops said Geep had more merchandizing potential, and he wouldn't mind a bit if the local Jeep dealership would offer him one of them new Grand Cherokees to ink our goat-sheep as their mascot. Anyway, nobody ever seen one is what I was saying, not even on the south shore of Lake Superior in inbred towns like Oulu or Lake Nebagamon. And I don't have to tell you, up in northern Wisconsin and even over the border into the U.P., we got more than our fair share of hayfields, hick bars, and inbred sheep-goat farms, so for us to have the first goat-sheep crossbreed, even if Geep only had one eye and three legs, was a good sheepin' omen. Like our very own albino buffalo goat-sheep.

Turns out, though, our vet, Doc J, one day he ups and tells us that even though Arnie'd done his best to pop her maternal cherry, Pumpkin didn't get knocked up by Arnold at all. Doc J tells us that Pumpkin must've bumped uglies with her brother, Brownie, before Brownie took his fateful last nibble out of Schnapps's trough and spilt all his fateful brains all over the fateful horse stall. If it was Arnold's, see, Doc J says, holding Geep in his lap like a puppy, this baby would have some thick white sheep wool growing on it. It would look more like an albino afro, you see. But with all this tan and black goat hair, he has more of a ratty half-mullet, half-ponytail thing going on. And the fact that it's Pumpkin's brother - that's why Geep only has three legs and one eye. Inbreeding, Doc tells us, not crossbreeding. And like I told you, inbreeding's pretty prevalent around these parts, and not all that interesting to the local papers or Jeep dealerships. Pops never did get that Cherokee and after the reporters stopped calling, Geep ended up dying a week and a half later anyway when Big Rosy Barr, one of the older ewes, tripped and fell on him. Poor little Geep didn't stand a chance.

Now all this is a little off the subject, I know, but there's an important lesson to be learned here. You see, no matter what you may have heard about the size of a ram's testes, it don't matter a hill of beans if you're shooting BBs with a pea shooter or cop-killers with a semi-automatic assault hunting rifle with laser sights and night vision goggles. You shoot that lame horse often enough and in the right places, some day that lame horse'll get pregnant just as if it were getting humped by the most potent, water buffalo-hung ram in the greater Bayfield County. And in the end, pea shooter or assault rifle - sometimes all you need to finish the job is a pail of oats and a truck headed to the slaughter shop. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's just say, what Judge Ingemar Ottar Sorenson did to Arnie in that show-ring would one day come back to haunt old Arnold and cause a chain of events where Arnold's jackrabbit virility would go to his head and his insecurity would eventually get him in a bit of a fix.

Those damn words of his just kept running around in my head... With BBs like these... With BBs like these... I had the inkling to let old Arnold kick the Judge's BBs right up to his tonsils. But it's like Pops always said, A man insults your sheep, you let the sheep do the talking. So I did just that. Took old Arnold right back to the fair the very next summer. Got second place. Took him the summer after that - second place. Took him the summer after that and that - second place, second place, second place - and so on until old Arnold had developed quite a following. Sure Arnold never did better than a second place ribbon, though once I managed to get a blue ribbon with him for showmanship, but that's a little like the sheepin' equivalent of a pat on the back and a Your sheep ain't worth a damn but you sure do try hard.

Nevertheless, each time Judge Sorenson would reach under the hood and come back with that shit grin of his, me and Arnold would just stand there stone faced and proud of our little peckers. And after a while, sniggers from the crowd stopped. Some people started to actually turned in our favor. Some of them even started to boo Judge Sorenson when he'd hoist up Arnold's tiny scrotum with his boot. People would follow me back to Arnold's pen. They'd want to scratch Arnold on the head and take pictures of Arnold with their kids. "Look at that stance like a nose tackle," they'd say, and their kids would say, "Mommy, Daddy, can I ride him?" Of course old Arnold was more than happy to camel them kids around the fairgrounds on his back. So even if he wasn't a grand champion ram, Arnold was slowly becoming the star of the sheep show, which was almost like getting to let Arnold kick Judge Sorenson in the BBs even if it wasn't.

All this sheepin' celebrity wasn't bad for me, either. I got to tell the sheep fans all my stories and do a little advertising for me and Pops's sheepin' business, which as any sheep man'll tell you, is the whole point of showing at the fair every year. I'd tell them how Arnold could knock up just about anything... even a goat. I told them how no matter what Judge Sorenson said, Arnold was the most jackrabbit potent damn ram in Bayfield County - maybe even all of Wisconsin. And women, who just happened to be Arnold's biggest fan base, would always say, Ooh, sort of like Cinderella?

And I'd say, Yeah, sort of, but not really at all. Don't confuse Arnold for some cartoon pantywaist. Thank you very much for the sentiment, ma'am, but Arnold Schwarzenegger is named Arnold Schwarzenegger for good reason. And it ain't, ma'am, because he makes schmaltzy, pansy-ass Disney flicks. Would've named him Tom fricking Cruise if I wanted a nancy-boy, cry-baby ram. No ma'am, in the immortal words of Hans and Franz, 'ARRRRnoooold ain't no gurrrly maaahhnnn.' Arnold Schwarzenegger might be a sheep, but he's a proud sheep. So don't confuse Arnold's willingness to be ridden by your kids with some underlying namby-pambyness. No ma'am, underneath that soft, white wool, pumps the heart of a Turrrrminator."

And sadly, in the end, old Arnold would prove me all too right. Everything that made old Arnold the Terminator would also lead to his termination. Arnold started jonesing for this big old Hamp ewe named Big Rosy Barr. Big Rosy Barr had big old birthing hips and big old milk bag teats on her. So when she would get knocked up, especially by Arnold, she'd usually squeeze out a pair of twins, sometimes trips easy as snot down the Slip-N-Slide. Easy as artificially inseminating a five-ton angus heifer named Boss Hog while she's stuffing her muzzle in the grain bin. Like clockwork, is what I'm trying to say, and by the end of August, voilĂ  - Standard Operating Procedures - Arnold had Big Rosy Barr's hindquarters worn red enough from hump chalk to live up to her name - Big... and Rosy. Only something was different that year. Big Rosy Barr was moseying around all funny on her hind legs and a lot of the time not moseying around at all. She just sat in the barn most of the fall and ate herself into a big tubbo. A bigger tubbo than she already was.

Finally, around birthing season, me and Pops come to find out Big Rosy's plumbing is all backed up. Well, of course me and Pops are wondering what is big enough to get stuck up in them big old birthing hips. A calf? A pony? A baby Hungarian water buffalo?

Maybe quintuplets, I say to Pops, who's digging around all up in Big Rosy Barr's love canal. We're about an hour into labor and it's one in the morning, mid-January. It's twenty below and the winds off Lake Superior are whistling through the barn, through the hay, and through three layers of clothes. We got Rosy penned up with the heat lamp on her. She's sprawled out on her side, straining her neck out as if to say, Third trimester or not, get me a shot and cut me open. Pops is lying on his side too, and he's in it up to his shoulder. Working Big Rosy like she's Lamb Chop and he's Shari Lewis.

Meanwhile, outside the glare of the heat lamp, it's colder than pissing icicles in an igloo outhouse. My hands are frozen beef patties and my face might as well be those frozen carcasses Rocky used to warm up on before moving on to Apollo Creed. I'm almost itching to pull Pops out of the way and play Shari Lewis myself. Almost. But Rosy's my best dam and she's snorting like she's not gonna make it.

Don't know how many we gonna get, Pops tells me. But let's hope not more than three, because this first one's gonna suck Rosy dry before the others get a slurp. He's a big'un all right.

Now Pops ain't a man of colorful language or exaggerations, so when he says, Big'un, I start thinking, Man-o-man, what if he's an Arnold Schwarzenegger big'un? Or even... bigger than an Arnold Schwarzenegger big'un? I start to imagine myself polishing up that bright, shiny Grand Champion Ram plastic trophy sitting on my desk right in front of Arnie's blue ribbon for showmanship. I want to tell Pops if he ever loved me at all, he better save this lamb, but I know better and anyway, after another half an hour and after another quart or so of goo and poo, Pops is finally able to finagle out a hind leg and then another. Then, with two handles to reef on like two big old drumsticks, Pops props himself up with his weight pulling against Rosy's love canal. And as he flops backwards, out spouts a huge glob of afterbirth, wool, and sheepin' prosperity.

H-O-L-Y sheep! I say.

Big Rosy Barr only ended up having one lamb that night. A ram. But it didn't matter none one way or the other, because this one ram turned out to be built big. Big. With Big Rosy Barr's hind quarters, Arnold Schwarzenegger's broad shoulders and tree-trunk neck, this ram was built like a baby grizzly bear stilted on giraffe legs, like an over-sized miniature Clydesdale, like Andre the Giant beasted it up with an alpaca and this great creature was their baby. He was a monster, a real, live Franken-Ram. But after a couple more holy-sheeps, these words - Judge Sorenson's words - flash in my mind: This fella's never gon' sire you no grand champion stock... never gon'... never gon'... not with BBs like these... not with BBs like these... And suddenly I don't care about broad shoulders or hind quarters. Only thing on my mind is what's he got under the hood... what's he got under the hood... what's he got under the hood?

So soon as Pops rolls him out Big Rosy Barr's ass and wipes off the birthing goo, I'm flipping this blob over to check the camshaft.

And then, well, there it was. The moment of truth and I couldn't help but giggle a little. Seems Big Rosy Barr must've had some - shall I say - well-equipped sires somewhere in her pedigree, because it doesn't take me very long to see that this lamb ain't a bull moose. He's hung like a water buffalo!

Even Pops agreed. Looks like he's got Arnold's frame on him, he says to me that night as we're walking back to the house. Put his hand on my shoulders and got this low, all-knowing, cadence in his voice like when Johnny Cash starts talking between verses: Nice flanks, nice hindquarters, and he's even got a fully operational power-take-off. I tell ya this 'un might just be the one that retires old Arn to greener pastures.

There it was. I didn't know it yet. Arnold didn't know it yet. But with those two words, greener pastures, Pops had put the wheels in motion, the PTO in gear, and the windrows through the cross auger - the first hint there was gonna be a day of reckoning between the Rosy's ram lamb and Arnold. Reckonin' like in those old Clint Eastwood westerns. Arnold had served us well - true. But in doing so he'd sired his replacement. A male heir just as fine a physical specimen and hung like a draft horse, something old Arnie and his pea shooter could never compete with. At the moment Pops mentioned retiring Arnold, well, you better believe, I got caught up. This lamb was gonna be my sheepin' legacy! His stock was gonna be my children's sheepin' legacy and that stock was gonna be their children's sheepin' legacy and so on and so forth. A hundred years of sheepin' all in this one ram lamb. A beautiful thing... when sheepin' karma swings back to your side of the tire swing.



Well, shoot, it's funny you should ask. There is a funny story behind naming this ram lamb. This ram needed a name that'd be remembered, perhaps even a name that'd represent a new super-breed of Clydesdale Hung Hampshires. At first I think it's only right that we call this one Arnold Schwarzenegger II, the Ramanator. But no, this one had to be new - new and improved. I think maybe Sylvester Stallamb or Jean-Claude Van Ram. But no, too second-fiddle. I needed a name that represented the times, but also the future. A name that said, Hey baby, I'm packing the seed of the future down here and hung like a draft horse to boot, so don't you forget it.

Finally it comes to me one evening a week or two after The Lamb (as we had taken to referring to him) was born. I'm watching the satellite and some special newsbreak comes on from Iraq where Operation Desert Storm has been under way for some weeks. Arthur Kent comes on with soft blue-black hair like Pops, but a better looking face, more like James Dean or something if I can say so without sounding completely homo. Anyway, Kent is reporting from some place where a shit-ton of bombing is going down. Kahhblamm over here and kahplow over there, and everyone behind Kent is running around with their heads cut off. Kent's cool. Kent's reporting with his back to everything like it's no biggie. Like it's all old hat, par for the course, been there done that. All just so we, the pantywaists sitting at home, can see and hear our troops go to work for our freedom. That's one cool customer, I say to myself. Then they flip back to the news room, where Tom Brokaw tells Kent that he's the man for braving the bombing like that to report back to America. But Kent ain't hearing it, not with the soldiers dying behind him like ants under a stampede of Clydesdales. Kent cuts Brokaw off real noble-like - John Wayne noble. Kent says he ain't the man at all. Kent's just doing his job - no more, no less. "The real men are the men and women of Operation Desert Storm," he says.

So true, Brokaw says. So true. Stay safe, Arthur. Then Brokaw turns to the camera while Kent fades away into blue screen: And that, America, is why a growing number of us are calling Arthur Kent... the Scud Stud. Brokaw smiles a wry smile, and finishes, "Until tomorrow, America, pray for the men and women of Desert Storm who are fighting for democracy, fighting for freedom. And pray for Arthur Kent."

Arthur Kent: Scud Stud. That's the name for my sheepin' legacy, I say to myself. Arthur Kent... Scud Stud. I hunt down Pops out at the barn so I can tell him all the good news. About how we can do a whole Desert Storm theme this year, and how Rosy's lamb'll be The Scud Stud - Scudder for short - and then we can have a sheep named Patriot, a George or a Georgette Bush sheep depending on how many wethers we take, and a Colin or Collie Powell sheep, hell, even a Stormin' Norman or Schwartzkopffee sheep. Everything'll be red, white, and blue. We play up the patriotism angle and they'll have to hand us that display award on a silver platter. Witty and clever my ass!

Sure son. Sounds real patriotic.

We'll have the grand champion ram and the best display.

Whatever you want.



Now I know what you're thinking. You're thinking in my zest to create the ultimate sheep display, I forgot about the horse who got me there. I forgot that my Desert Storm theme had left out one important figure - one Arnold...Schwarzenegger. In fact, it didn't fully dawn on me until Scudder, Schwartzkopffee, Georgette, and the rest of the Desert Stormers were all loaded up. Here we were about to leave for the fair that year and it hit me: this is the first time Arnold would be staying home from competition.

It's a shit day at the end of July - rainy and cold like a rained on, soggy old round bale that never got picked up from the field. The day we're supposed to leave for the fair. Scudder and the other Desert Stormers are loaded and all wearing their little camouflage, army fatigue coats and helmets that Ma sewed up special for me the night before. Look like a battalion of airborne sheep troops riding the U.S. C-47 Gooney Bird and ready for deployment, Sir! Go Joe!

Me, I'm filling the water tank and loading the feed trough with enough hay to last Arnold, Rosy, and the others for the four days of the fair when Arnie comes up behind me. Starts scratching the top of his head on the side of my pants like I'm some soft denim scratch pole. Well, I'm thinking no hard feelings, right? I'm thinking old Arnold's a better ram than I am a man. No fair for you this year, Arnie, I say, looking down at him. Don't have to put up with all that gussying, all those people this year. Just stay home and relax, old guy. Let the young bucks carry the load this year.

So I give Arnold a couple last head scratches and turn to leave, only it seems Arnold ain't quite done with me. As if Arnie wants to say, Listen here pard-ner. This is all I get? After all the lambs I've sired for you... the twins? The triplets? Humping that damn goat? Two head scratches and a thanks for all the years, but you're getting replaced by the up-and-comer - that's what you give me? Starts snorting and pawing the ground like a bull about to get him some red matador ass. It's go time as far as he's concerned. I guess he figures if he's gonna get replaced by some Scudder-come-lately, old Arnold's gonna at least let his opinion be heard. And felt. Of course I make the critical mistake: turn my back like one of them dopey good-guy wrestlers from the TV. And It don't take but two shakes of a lamb's docked nubbin for Arnold to rear up and tattoo Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom all over my turn-coat keister ass.

But like I said, it's a shit day and I'm stressed about the fair as it is, and my keister's smarting something fierce. I ain't giving one or even two shits about Arnold's five years of thankless service. I turn around to kick that ingrate sumbitch in his great big noggin. Arnold, though, is one step quicker in everything he does. And as I twist to give him the biggest crane kick of his life, that dirty sumbitch lunges straight for the crotch. Rears up his front two hooves and drops a George the Animal Steel headbutt right down on the family jewels.

Now, it's officially confirmed: I'm hurting. Gasping for air, cupping my nuts, cursing the wrath of God upon Arnold. But old Arnold's revenge is just getting started. That sumbitch's somehow lined up an old board that fell out of the ceiling of the sheep pen a while back, so that board's lined up right behind me. So when I step back after Arnold drops the headbutt on my nuts, voila: there's a snagally, old, tetanus-infested nail waiting to greet the bottom of my gottdamned foot. So of course, there I am, dumb as a whole dung heap of dumb can be. Arnold drops the headbutt, I step back, and there you go - Wham, bam, thank you ma'am, I got a gottdamned board nailed through my big toe and it ain't coming out.

After all the years I took you to the fair, I yell at Arnold. After I stood up for you and your tootsie-roll pecker, this is what I get! You're mutton chops, buddy. MUT-TON chops! You hear me?

It's no use, though. Arnold's said his piece. Meanwhile I'm hopping around like an uncoordinated scuba diver with this board on my foot like an oversized flipper. I'm reefing on this board in my foot for all I'm worth and starting to imagine the rust from the nail seeping into my bloodstream. I'm thinking I'm gonna be on Ripley's Believe It or Not as the only man ever to be killed by a disgruntled sheep. Finally, after about twenty minutes of reefing and yelling, yelling and reefing, I manage to get Pops's attention.

Now what'd ya do? he says.

I wanna say, I didn't sell that little-peckered sumbitch for mutton chops long ago, but I can't say nothing but Help.

Paps tells me to hold on, he'll get the crowbar.

No. Please, I say. Hospital.

But he lays it out for me. Son, it's forty minutes 'til fair registration ends and a thirty-five minute trip to the fairgrounds. Your decision.

Well, it's like they always say in the movies, desperate times... and after a minute or so's hesitation, I grunt and grit my teeth and whisper, Crowbar, as profoundly as possible.

And five minutes later, after me and Pops had pried the board out of my foot and wrapped my foot in the cleanest birthing towels we could find, I told Pops to go ahead and load up Arnold in the back with the rest of them. I want that sumbitch right there watching when Scudder wins grand champ, yell out the car pick-up window. I put too much time in, I tell myself. Arnold Schwarzenegger is not gonna ruin the beginning of my sheepin' legacy! No way, no how.

So there we are. Arnold with Scudder and the rest of Operation Desert Storm hitched up behind the truck, and off we go to the fair. The journey of a thousand miles begins with one rusty, tetanus-infested step.



You better believe we make it to that fair registration. Five minutes early to boot. I've never seen Pops so determined to drive sixty-miles an hour in a fifty-five in my life. And you better believe after two bags of ice - one for my nuts and one for the hole in my toe - and after four Tylenol P.M.'s and eight hours of drugged-out zombie sleep, I'm bumblin', stumblin', rumblin' but ready to go by eight the next morning.

Only... and I'm not sure if it's the drugs lingering in my system or the throbbing in my foot, but I have a little change of heart as I watch Arnold sleeping that morning. The old guy still has some peas in that pea shooter of his, I say to myself as he lies there next to Scudder in the sheep trailer. Still some BBs in the chamber. I start to rethink my whole plan to make mutton chops of Arnold.

The old guy probably deserves better, I think. Grizzled, tough, old mutton chops that somebody'll probably ground up for bird feed anyway. Maybe I should just sell Scudder, get some nice cash, and retire from competitive sheepin'. Let old Arnie keep on humping away with that little pea-shooter of his. He deserves at least that, doesn't he? Wait... wait, better yet, why not rent out Scudder to the highest bidder and let him work out his water buffalo for money. Yeah, I'll be a sheep pimp - keep Arnie as my main stud and Scudder as my stud on the side.

So as I plan out my Desert Storm display that morning, I get all juiced up about my sheep pimping idea and start to forget about the pain in my foot. I decorate the shit out those sheep pens. We got reds, we got whites, we got blues all over the place. We got streamers, we got ribbon, we got red, white, and blue Christmas lights. This is my year - out in a blaze of glory, Old Glory that is. That's my slogan. I paint it in big yellow calligraphy right above the pens. Out in a Blaze of Glory, Old Glory That Is, Support Our Troops.



I didn't have a market wether to sell at the fair that year. Scudder, as it turned out, was my only male lamb we'd had, and I wasn't about to mess with the engine under his hood. Besides, Pops said we could make enough money siring-out Scudder on the side to make up the money from market sale. So my only dilemma was where to pen up Arnold, since we hadn't planned on taking his old ass to the fair and hadn't requested an extra pen for him. Furthermore, even though I'd had a change of heart, I still wasn't fully sold on keeping Arnold, and I sure as hell wasn't ready to turn Arnold loose with any of my ewes so he could spread his little pecker seed to any more of my flock. There was a new sheriff in town and he was packing a forty-five MAG-num! As a result, though, the only option left for Arnold was pairing him with Scudder. They'll be fine, Pops said. They been corralled together since Scudder popped out the womb. Just make sure you watch if Arnold puts his head down and starts pawing at the straw. Something's fixin' to happen then.

Yeah, Pops. I know, I know.

It took another day or so, but I finally put all my worries about Arnold to rest. He would keep on as the main ram and Scudder could get his jollies off on the highest bidding dams from other flocks. Besides, if I had used Scudder as my main stud, I wouldn't be able to keep using Big Rosy Barr unless I wanted some more inbred, one-eyed tripods. No, sheep-pimping was where it was at. But I wasn't thinking about that either. A new problem had arisen and that problem's name was the Honorable Judge Mable Eileen Hanson. It seems Judge Sorenson had messed around and eaten one too many chicken-fried beefsteaks - got himself some prostate cancer. And as much as Judge Sorenson deserved the cancer in his ass, I felt a little less than enthusiastic that his last act as Bayfield County Sheep Judge wasn't gonna be handing me and Scudder that grand champion ram trophy - BBs my ass!

To further worry me, there had been a lot of rumblings that Bayfield County was going in a different direction with sheep judging. There were rumors that even before Judge Sorenson got cancer in his ass, that he was gonna get forced into retirement anyway. Seems the Powers-That-Be were no longer so accepting of his aggrandizing of scrotums and such. They wanted a more politically correct judge and that's where Judge Hanson came in.

Judge Mable - as she wanted all us to call her - was a self-proclaimed proactive, feminist sheep judge. A real PETA poster child. She was more interested in a ram's demeanor in the ring. She was interested in the ram's productivity in siring lambs that could interact well with the rest of the flock. In short, she was not interested in the size of a ram's scrote or pecker. This is what I had heard anyway. And this is what was on my mind that night before the showing, as I was standing in the ram building.

All it took was a muffled bleat from Scudder and I knew something was going down. Tetanus-infested big toe or not - I hauled ass over to their pen just in time to see Arnold drop the hammer on Scudder like a wrecking ball on a ceramic outhouse. Scudder might have been big for his age, but he was still less than a year old. Arnold may have been a little small down there but he was stacked up top. Scudder might as well have been little Geep getting plopped on by big old Rosy Barr the way Arnold was taking it to him. I tried to stop it, but the gate was wired tight. I finally just upped and overed the whole pen gate, but it was too late by then. The Scud Stud had done got scudded by friendly fire.

Didn't take Arnold but a few well-placed head butts to do in poor Scudder. A couple of shots to the temple, one to the back of Scudder's neck and wham, bam, thank you ma'am - Scudder's got his head planted so far in the manure and hay, we might as well fertilize his balls and grow daisies out his ass. Scudder's pimping career was done before it started and Arnold had hit me where it counted once again.

I couldn't even curse old Arnold this time. I hadn't that much will power. No, this time, all I can think is PETA be damned - where's my shit shovel?

Let's see you try to head-butt the back of a steel shovel, Arnold, I shout. I'm gonna bury two sheep this morning, goddamn you, I don't care how long I dig. Nowhere to run and hide, now, Arnold!

Arnold and me had raised quite a ruckus by this time. Pops, Ken Raspatnik, and some others had come running out of their campers, and I can't even get one homerun swing with my shovel when I feel Pops's one hand on my shoulder and other hand grabbing the shovel away.

It ain't his fault, son, he says, with Ken Raspatnik nodding behind him. He's just a dumb sheep, he don't know no better.

But -

It don't make no sense, son, Pops says, and tosses the shovel back in our show box. Sheeps is sheep. Rams is rams. They eat, they hump, and when they feel provoked, they's gonna get 'em some.

But - But it didn't matter by then. Everyone was watching and I couldn't do anything. Arnold had gotten away with it again.



To further pepper my wounds, the next day I found out Judge Mable and the Powers-That-Be had done the judging the night before - a few hours before Scudder died. The Powers-That-Be say they don't understand my slogan. Am I trying to say that Old Glory is going to die in a blaze of glory? And how does this help support our troops? But mostly Judge Mable thinks the whole idea of trivializing patriotism with Christmas lights, streamers, and camouflage sheep coats is just plain bad taste or something like that. She gives the display award to the Raspatniks' American Gladiators theme. Very patriotic, she says. Very witty. Very Clever. Bravo!

To top it all off, Pops tells me he doesn't give two shits what Arnold Schwarzenegger did to Scudder the night before. Pops says he didn't spend all that time and money, getting ready for the fair, to not show a ram. That's the only category that matters in the sheepin' business, he says. The long and short of it is I'm showing Arnold Schwarzenegger whether I like it or not.

Sure enough, come show time Arnold is back to his old docile self - like nothing happened, like he hasn't just destroyed my sheepin' legacy. Nope, he's playing all gentle giant - look at me, look what a cool customer I am, look how tiny my nut sack is and I don't even care. And here's the real kicker, the coup de grace of kicks to the nuts: Judge Mable is just loving Arnold. She can't get enough of him. And how many lambs a year did you say his dams produce? she asks. Whewboy! And just look at that stance like a nose tackle. I dare say, son, this here ram is the finest, most jackrabbit potent ram I have seen in all my years. She doesn't even bother looking under the hood. Says it's not an adequate determiner of virility. As you well know, son, she says and pinches my cheek. As you well know. No way that any other ram could hope to compete with the demeanor... the sheer physical stature of this stallion... of this Clydesdale of a ram over here. This year's Bayfield County Grand Champion Ram goes to -



In the end, I guess old Arnold ended up getting his own retribution on Judge Sorenson. Sure, not face to face, but nobody could ever take away that grand champion trophy of his or all those lambs he sired, especially not Judge Sorenson, who died that summer of prostate cancer. Seems he didn't have much to live for without sheep judging anymore. Sometimes I like to imagine Judge Sorenson lying there in his hospital bed - his last days. He's reading the Bayfield County Journal - the fair insert. He's looking at me and Arnold - front page, color photo. Headline: Grand Champion for the Ages!

I imagine the judge's meds running out at very much the same time, and searing pain shooting up from his lower abdomen. I imagine this and I can smile at it all now. After everything else fell into place, that is. The trials, the tribulations - it all seems almost worth it when I think of Judge Sorenson calling for the nurses - the nurses asking why he hates Arnold Schwarzenegger so much. It was almost worth it.

But I guess Arnold got his retribution on me, too. Guess you could say Arnold Schwarzenegger is the real winner of this story if you'd like. And I guess - if you're one of those people who watch all those namby-pamby Disney flicks - you could even say this is a real heart-warmer like Cinderella. Go ahead and think it - that suits me fine.

But if you are one of those people, it'd be best to stop here. It'd be best to stop here and imagine old Arnold humping his way off to that big green pasture in the sky - that big shiny grand champion ram trophy mounted high above the sheep corral for Big Rosy and Pumpkin and Schnapps and all the animals to see. It'd be best to pretend that in the end I learned my lesson and thanked Arnold for reminding me to respect the ram that got you to the top. It'd be best to pretend I didn't take Arnold home, wait a month, and another month - wait until the market truck was scheduled to come and take our yearling lambs off to be sold for meat, off to be slaughtered.

It'd be best to pretend I didn't slip the driver a benjamin to sneak Arnold in with the rest of them. Didn't lie to my pops. Didn't tell Pops some whopper about how Arnold had snuck out and run away while we were loading the market lambs and when he come back he'd run right in front of the truck on its way out the driveway. How it almost seemed like Arnold was ending it himself, going out on top and all that. It'd be best to pretend that a sheep man's pride does take a back seat to his business sense, that this whole tale isn't like one of them Shakespearean tragedies where almost everyone ends up dead and no one really wins. It'd be best to pretend that I didn't lead old gentle, old docile, old proud, old Arnold - stance like a nose tackle - off to the slaughter truck with one hand scratching his head and the other holding a pail of oats in front of his nuzzle. A shit grin on my face - wide as the mouth of a New Holland haybine.

Did Arnold deserve what he got? Pops and some of you probably would say no, and you have every right to your opinions. Did I have regrets about what I did - did I learn my lesson about my temper and stop sheepin' all together so I would never do something so vindictive, something so heinous, something so purely driven by revenge to another proud old sheep?

It'd be best to pretend I did. Ha! Like lambs to the slaughter... that's a good one! That's a heart-warmer. I'd watch it.

3 comments:

  1. very funny Story, absolutely brilliant use of language.I was trying to work out how to use 'silence of the lambs' in this comment but can´t. I´m sure you Benjamin can think of a way.
    Well done

    Michael Mccarthy

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  2. Thanks so much, Michael. Mostly true, too.

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  3. Freudian, Shakespearean, and very funny. Consistent voice. Loved this, especially massaging the camshaft.

    Maui Holcomb

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