He seemed old and crotchety at the time – permanently on the edge of grouchy. I guess that’s what happens to people, especially men, living in a rough and tumble physical world. He didn’t appreciate anyone questioning his opinion or word, it was an honor thing with him. If he said it, it was as good as gospel in his eyes.
The what seemed to me at the time old timer especially loathed being questioned by a wet-behind-the-ears-punk-kid… told me so personally with a sneer on his face… My question wasn’t meant to upset or provoke him, naturally curious and doubting youngsters have a way of setting off naturally grumpy elders.
I’m not sure how his goofy old time quotes didn’t ever find their way into the movies – they should have. They’re short, make the point, and are, if not hilarious, at least amusing.
The first time I heard it I wasn’t sure I’d heard it correctly, “What? – What’d you say?” I asked. The slight built man with the grey hair and whiskers who had a permanent ball cap on his head and a pair of cowboy boots on the other end that boosted him a bit taller, repeated himself slowly and deliberately in his southern accent. He wouldn’t be going into detail…
I hadn’t meant to question his integrity, but he was not even slightly amused at my question, “You sure that’s gonna work?” I asked, as much a statement as it was a question. The thin jean sportin’ man stopped his progress, pushed his glasses tight to his face, wrinkled his nose to help, looked at me intently with a hint of disgust in his eyes, cocked his head to one side, and addressed me in a faded Arkansas drawl, “Boy! – If I tell you the duck will pull the plow, you best hitch er’ up!”
I’m sure my nose crinkled and eyebrows shriveled in response when I asked him, “What?” my voice getting higher as I pronounced a hard “T”. Pretty sure that irritated him even more, but he repeated the now famous adage slowly and deliberately to return my sarcasm. I started laughing, “I can’t believe you said that! – I’ve never heard that before! – That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard!” I was belly laughing with tears filling my sockets. The old timer smiled slightly, “You get the point though don’t ya?” he asked smugly. “I get it!” I said still chuckling.
I’ve used that line a few times in the last few decades, but I just don’t seem to have the talent to deliver it the way ole’ Jim did… The adage implied that the man who quoted it was trustworthy and his word meant something. Kind of a “my word is my bond” type of mentality.
I miss people like that. He placed much value on his word… not to mention he was as tough as nails to boot. It seems that people don’t value their word like they did in days gone by. Our society now esteems and celebrates those who lie, cheat, and steal, to win and get ahead… and they don’t even blush… Honor is a lost art and an empty word in today’s society.
Truth is from our Father. There is no falsehood or deceit in He who calls us. Our word and honor are the immeasurable treasures that define us and our legacy, not to mention Who we represent…
I’ve thought long and hard about the goofy adage and the man who stated it along with all the other people that went before and carried themselves with honor and dignity… even if it cost them dearly… It might sound crazy, but if I tell you the duck will pull the plow?
You best hitch er’ up…