Lee Pitts: A Lady And A Gentleman
A lady librarian had come all the way from Nova Scotia to meet me and was now standing at the front door of my house. I have grown accustomed to these visits from fans who enjoy my primitive writing style. I offered her my autograph but to my surprise she had come clear across the continent to see my horse, Gentleman. I have to admit I have have grown accustomed to this also. I did all the hard work and I ended up making Gentleman famous instead of myself.
As it turned out the librarian was a member of her local humane society and thought that, as a result of reading the stories I wrote, that I had been abusing my horse. She had a tattered copy of a book I’d written a decade before in her possession that had been out of print for years. I hadn’t even seen a copy in five years. The book’s cover features a photo of Gentleman and I and Gentleman appears to be laughing. The lady librarian was convinced that I had done some evil thing to get him to pose for the camera like that. “What did you do?” she demanded to know. “Did you drug him? Put a cold bit in his mouth? Make him eat something awful like chicken?”
I assured her that I would never do anything that drastic just to sell a few lousy copies of a book.
“Well then what did you do?” she demanded to know.
“The truth of the matter is,” I replied semi-honestly, “that Gentleman just likes my brand of humor. I crack him up! He is my best fan and just loves my funny stories.” I grabbed some recent snapshots of Gentleman just to prove it. “Here was his reaction to my story about when I accidentally dropped a bale of hay on my wife, and had to feed by myself and locked myself out of the truck.”
I showed her another photo and said, “As you can tell from this picture I really had him laughing with my story about my expensive duck herding dog that could herd ducks but not cows.”
At this point I thought I had proven my point but the librarian wanted to see Gentleman in person, check his condition and see if I really could make him laugh. So I loaded her up in the back of the truck and took her to the ranch.
“Is that him?” she asked.
“No that’s a cow, that is him over there eating the corral down, one board at a time.”
“Oh, he looks even worse than I thought,” said the lady librarian.
I could tell she was disappointed after meeting Gentleman in person. Most of his fans are.
“Well, the time has come for you to prove to me that you can make him laugh,” the Canadian demanded.
I performed my best material for Gentleman. I did 60 Minute Chicken, the Fear of Flatulence, Phony Baloney, What’s That Smell?, Green Meat, The Crossbred Chute, Vegetarians Anonymous, Rope A Dope and Rolling In The Chips. All of the classics. But Gentleman didn’t laugh. Didn’t even crack a smile.
I could see that the librarian did not believe my story about how I got Gentleman to pose for the book cover. “Wait a minute. He really loves my story about the Bull Named Sex. It never fails to crack him up.” So I recited that story for Gentleman and he just kind of groaned. In fact, he looked like he was in great pain. I wondered if I should call the vet.
After hearing that story for the time the librarian thought that it was cruel and unusual punishment for anyone, let alone a poor horse.
“Just as I thought,” she said. “You must have punished your horse in some cruel way to disfigure his face like that and make him appear he was laughing. I swear, you haven’t heard the last of me. I am going to turn you in to the Nova Scotia Dumb Friends League.”
And then she was gone.
The minute she was out of sight Gentleman just looked at me and broke into the widest grin you ever saw. Once again, Gentleman got the last laugh.
We don’t have many mirrors in our home, for obvious reasons, but recently I saw a reflection of this stranger in the window of the hardware store. The grotesque figure had more hair growing out…