Baxter Black: The hot wax incident

Baxter Black, DVM

I had the pleasure of spending the weekend with a roundup of cowboy friends. (This means that you fed the horses and caked the cows before breakfast). Tales were told, goats were cooked, music was played and it went on for days! But the background in my grand memories of this long weekend was the ever-present “cowboy motif” at our host’s ranch house. Everywhere I turned it was like flipping through the pages of Cowboys and Indians magazine! And it all seemed to be in good taste.

The foot-high tubular clay pipe with the character of a smiling cowboy that I had assumed was to hold tennis balls, was a wine bottle holder. I guess it would be tacky just drinking out of the bottle. Cowboy Kish was everywhere; trash cans with Dale Evans on the side, saguaro salt shakers, pistol-shaped ketchup applicators, carafes made out of old rope, bowls with desert scenes in the bottom so you never knew if you were finished eating. Coyotes howled, horses bucked, longhorns stampeded, buffalo roamed and cowgirls winked from every tablecloth, curtain, bathroom rug, boot jack, statue, napkin, bed spread, towel and doily. There were times I got lost in the house. It was like waking up in a trade show at the National Western or the Pro Rodeo Finals!

But, the photos on the walls showed that I was in the home of real cowboys. Rodeo snaps of bronc riders and ropers, buckles on display and stamped saddles left no doubt. Which sets the stage for, what was referred to as the “Hot Wax” incident. One of the children came screaming down the hallway exclaiming there was “…green sludge all over the bathroom!”

“Green sludge?” I pondered. The possible catastrophes I could envision left me breathless; a plumbing problem? An algae invasion? The Jolly Green Giant?

“It’s hot wax!” She cried, “All over my perfect bathroom!” Then she muttered something about skinning the perpetrator.

I peeked in over the heads of other gawkers. It looked like Kermit the Frog had eaten something that didn’t agree with him. By then the culprit had confessed. I’ll just call him Cowboy Butch, who shouldn’t have been in the bathroom in the main house anyway and was the innocent instigator of the Hot Wax Disaster. He spilled the story. He had paused on his way out of the bathroom to check himself and primp. He deftly withdrew his pocket comb and swiped at his hair. His comb shot from his slickery grip, did a flip and landed in a cauldron of hot wax, splashing the greenish lava from the Hoppy curtains, to the rope-edged mirror, to the authentic Jay Silverheels Tomahawk T.P. dispenser!

I sat there in the living room, puzzled. What kind of family keeps a roiling tank of hot wax in their bathroom? And Why? To be ready if you just got the notion to can peaches? Maybe it was where they collected extra earwax to recycle? Or someday start their own Madam Tussauds Museum?

I later learned that the bowl-like object was an electric scented candle, except it was melted and supposedly gave off a powerful smell. The hostess explained that with three teenage boys in the house, a Clorox Smoked Oyster Deodorizer wasn’t enough and she thought striking a match would be too dangerous.