Like any good parent, my wife and I were involved in our children’s lives. Accordingly, I attended countless renditions of The Nutcracker in which my daughter appeared, each year in a different role. This particular year, she was to be the Rat King and, of course, the Little Woman ordered me to be present and dressed to kill as photos were to follow the performance.
Let me backtrack just a little. I was in the poultry business at the time and any good poultry farmer visits his poultry houses at least 15 or 20 times a day to make sure everything is going right. Usually, everything is fine but there is always that one time when something is wrong; a broken water line, a burned out feed motor, etc. In all of this, and for obvious reasons, a poultry man has one pair of shoes he wears each and every time he goes in the poultry house because manure and feathers soon cake them and no matter how much one scrapes them, it is to no avail. Some manure and feathers will always be there. The shoes are always left at the same place so they are always at the ready. It is just force of habit after many years of 24-7 chicken house chores and mine were always in the same exact place outside right by the door off the mud room where I always enter and exit our home.
The night of the big show, I was in a rush to finish a last minute job at the chicken ranch and after finishing up, in an even greater rush to bathe and get dressed. I washed twice in order to get every smidgeon of chicken smell off, put on my best Earl Watkins black suit, white shirt, red tie and, with ulterior motive in mind for later that night for me and Momma, splashed on a liberal dose of Aramis that I knew would be a definite turn on for her. I paused only long enough to look in the mirror at the good smelling and fine figure of a man staring back at me and then rushed out of the house, into my truck and, with the coming night of amour weighing heavy on my mind, off to South Georgia College where the play was soon to commence. Believe it or not, I found a parking place right out front of the auditorium, jumped out and rushed up the steps. Just as I opened the door of Peterson Hall, I looked down and the giddy feeling of amour I possessed only moments before flew away like borrowed money. Force of habit did me in, for there I stood in my black suit, white shirt, red tie, and chicken house shoes; manure, feathers and all.
What to do? I had to think fast. It was too late to go back home. I determined the only thing to do was remove the manure laden shoes outside the door and if anyone asked about me being in socks, tell them I had been robbed of my shoes by a shoeless vagrant lurking outside in the bushes. The problem with this brilliant plan was when I removed the shoes, one sock had a big hole in it and three toes, beginning with the big one, were sticking out.
Shades of Jesse James! I sucked it up and with shoulders erect marched into the auditorium where, thank God, it was dark as I sat down next to my wife who smelled the Aramis and gave me that little wink. Everything was fine until they turned the lights on at the end of the play.
I made sure my feet were not in sight in any of the photos but I could not do anything about the mortified look on my wife’s face that still adorns those pictures.
Though I protested that at least my toenails were clean, Aramis didn’t do me a dab of good that night!