His real name was Tom but everyone called him Wimpy due to his diminutive stature; “diminutive” as it applied to his physical size and his standing in the community. Wimpy was one of those anonymous people who live good, simple lives and are taken for granted by the rest of us. The kind of folks who, after they die, people say of them, “Whatever happened to good old so-and-so?”
Wimpy was not what you’d call a “colorful character.” He was a bachelor who lived like a hermit and minded his own business. He camped out like a sheepherder in his old two bedroom shack and spent most of his time in a shop out back that he kept cleaner than his home. His best friends were his tools, many of them homemade. Wimpy had been a lifer mechanic in the Navy and when he retired he eked out a living fixing things for folks, making branding irons and running a small herd of cows.
There’s hardly any record that Wimpy existed. He led a totally unremarkable life that never merited mention in his local newspaper. He’d never been an officer of Rotary, never got arrested or received a DUI and never won an award at the county fair. There’s no evidence that he even got his name in the paper when he was born. He had nothing to advertise and he was not the type of person to write a letter to the editor. In his entire life Wimpy had never been first, best or different in anything. Not once had he ever seen his name in the newspaper. And that bothered him. A lot.
Although Wimpy was in no way an egotistical man, just once before he died he wanted to be somebody; just enough to be mentioned in the paper. He wanted some record that he tread upon this earth. Since he was well over 80 years old it was quite obvious that Wimpy was not marked for greatness so he’d have to find some other way to get his name in print. It just so happened that once a week the owner of the local auction market ran an ad in the newspaper. Every Wednesday you could read who owned the high selling animals in each category in the representative sales column and you could also see the featured consignments for the following week’s auction.
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Wimpy concluded that this was his only chance of getting his name in print, but there were two problems with the plan. First, Wimpy had a very small herd and only harvested an animal when he needed some extra cash. It was more akin to fishing than cattle raising. Wimpy never knew a week in advance when he’d be selling something, and even if he did it wouldn’t merit being featured in the advertisement of upcoming consignments. As for topping the sale, well, you could forget that. The only way Wimpy’s cattle would be mentioned is if they also mentioned the cheapest cattle.
Undeterred, Wimpy devised a plan. He had a barren young cow that he figured he’d grain until she was hog fat. Surely she’d top the cull cow sale on a slow week with not many cattle consigned to the sale. Sadly, the cow was getting close to being ripe when Wimpy keeled over dead from a heart attack. The same edition of the newspaper that carried Wimpy’s short obituary also carried an advertisement for the dispersal of his small herd. Wimpy finally made the paper!
Just as Wimpy had planned, when the barren cow sold the following week she was the high selling slaughter cow. Wimpy had gone 87 years without ever being mentioned in the newspaper and in the space of two weeks he’d made the paper three times!
Wimpy was not a church goer so he was not well known to the preacher who delivered his eulogy at a memorial service several weeks later. The only thing the preacher dug up was that Wimpy had “market topping cattle.” At least one anyway!
The auction owner was sitting in the front pew and when he heard about Wimpy’s “market topping cattle” he whispered in his wife’s ear, “Poor Wimpy was just like Van Gogh, Lane Frost and Anna Nicole Smith. He didn’t become really famous until after he died.”
email lee pitts at firstname.lastname@example.org
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