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Thursday, November 17, 2011

No. 86 "Pickin' Mule Hairs"

One of my older cousins was really into “rooster fighting;” not the “dances” that we had on the Island (see post no. 77, My Rooster that was “Chicken”), but the real ones that even then were illegal. Several times every summer he would borrow his father’s car and be gone for a day or more. Traveling to places as far away as western Virginia and central South Carolina, he would come back home with a set of stories that would entertain his friends for weeks to come. How he learned about these covert events in the days before modern mass communication remains a mystery.

One time, while headed to South Carolina late one evening, he had the misfortune of hitting a stray mule that had wandered onto the highway just outside of Whiteville.

He was not badly hurt, but the mule paid the ultimate price, and his father’s Plymouth was totally ruined. The car’s front end was smashed from the bumper to the steering wheel, and the mule itself crashed through the windshield.

The next day, my cousin was back at home, but with a story much different from the ones he usually related. And this time, for a long time after the accident, my cousin was constantly spitting, seemingly for no reason. Eventually, when asked why, he laid the blame directly on the car wreck as he explained, “It seems like all I’m ever doing is pickin' the mule hairs out of my teeth.”

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