burn bans and doggie toothpaste

CampfireThings are heating up at Headquarters of the World Problem Solutions Society and Coffee Klatch at its undisclosed location in Texas. We’ve had five days of triple digit temperatures and an unbelievable 72 inch deficit in rainfall since Hurricane Ike. Now we’ve got another hot issue getting Walter hotter under the collar.

Our County Commissioner, Bubba Eakes, has issued a county-wide burn ban. To insure that there was no miscommunication or misunderstanding, he sent his cousin, Sheriff Bubba Taylor, to deliver the news to Walter personally.

I walked into a situation that was shaping up to make the Zombocalypse look like a school yard scrap. Walter was leaned back in his chair with his boots up on the fire ring in what I choose to think of as his “expounding” position. Sheriff Bubba stood across the fire from him with twitching fingers hovering near the grips on his granddaddy’s Peacemaker. Lurlene Sue was easing up behind Bubba with a 12 inch Lodge frying pan in her fist.

Now, Sheriff Bubba might be a fair hand with that Colt, but I’ve seen that gal fling a skillet across the room when she was vexed or feeling put upon by me or Walter. A cruise missile should have a guidance system that good. Bubba didn’t have enough hat to cover the lump I could see heading his way.

I’ve gotta give Bubba an A+ for situational awareness and combat poise. He never took his eyes off Walter when he said, “Miss Lurlene Sue you might wanna think before you whop me with that fryin’ pan. That would be assaultin’ a peace officer and interferin’ with his professional duties. And if I’m able to get up, I’m gonna have to arrest you.”

Walter looked up at Lurlene Sue and said, “G’wan, Baby Girl. Me an’ Bubba T is just havin’ us a discussion about the burn ban an’ how it don’t apply to us.”

“Walter,” Bubba said, “the burn ban is county-wide and you is in the county. That means that it applies to you, too.”

“Well, you just go back and tell Squeaky that I cook on a campfire, make my cowboy coffee on a campfire, work by a campfire and stay warm by a campfire. If he wants to feed all of us and bring us coffee and do our chores and tuck us all in with a nice comfy blanket, then he can come on out and do it. Otherwise, it ain’t happenin’.”

Sheriff Bubba tried appealing to Walter’s common sense and good nature. I could have told him to save his breath because Walter sometimes lacks all of the above, but he was, after all, a lawman doing what he’d been sent to do.

“Whatcha gonna do if that fire gets away from you, Walter? What about all your neighbors?” Bubba asked.

“I guess I’ll just throw a little of my cowboy coffee on the flames. It’s been known to kill lesser things than a li’l ol’ fire. Now get on outta here and tell Squeaky what I said.”

“Why you gotta keep calling the Commissioner Squeaky?” the Sheriff asked.

“‘Cause Eakes is the sound a little girl makes when she sees a mouse, that’s why.”

The sheriff drew himself up into a stiff quasi-military posture and stomped off in a huff. At least, I think it was a huff. I’ve never seen a huff before, but it appeared to be what I thought a huff would look like.

I pulled up my favorite stool and poured a cup of coffee. I was about to ask Walter to explain all the fireworks when I heard caliche crunching and looked up to see a spit shined DPS cruiser skid to a stop. Trooper Shiny popped out, all duty belt and Stetson, and trotted our way.

“Hey, Walter! Hey, Yak! Pour me a cuppa that coffee before you put the fire out. You heard they got a burn ban going, ain’t ya?”

I pulled my head in like box turtle and decided it was time for me to go check on Lurlene Sue. Hopefully she’d have some groceries for me to gnaw on while Walter gnawed on Trooper Shiny.

The last I heard as I walked off was Walter saying, “Shiny, you is a State Trooper. Shouldn’t you be out troopin’ the state and not stickin’ your nose into local affair?”

When I heard the cruiser pull out of the driveway I went back outside to find the campfire still merrily flickering in the twilight. I asked Walter about Trooper Shiny’s reaction to the campfire issue and he allowed as how Shiny had no problem letting it drop as long as he could get enough coffee each night to get him through his rounds.

Quick to drop the unimportant, Walter began to fill me in on the latest project he and Lurlene Sue had come up with.

Many of you know that this enterprising couple have been long involved with alternative health care. They are now branching out into natural pet care products.

“Well, it’s like this, Yak,” Walter said. “When last you wuz here, you kept pushin’ Lil Harry away when he tried to lick your face. It got me to thinkin’ that we need to add a doggie toothpaste and mouthwash spray to our line of products.”

In my most sincere voice, I said, “Uh huh.”

“Well, me and Lurlene Sue got to thinkin’ that if you want a dog to use our product we gotta appeal to their nature and make ‘em wanna use it.”

“Uh huh,” I said again.

“Well, to get a dog to let you brush his teeth, the toothpaste and mouthwash has gotta have a universal appeal. And that means that it has to be a flavor that dogs can’t resist.”

“Gotcha,” I said, warming up to the subject. “Something like bacon. Lil Harry and Chaz love bacon.”

“Now, Yak, that just shows that you ain’t observant. Me and Lurlene Sue watched Rufus, Chaz and Lil Harry for almost a week and we noticed the one thing that they all three like the taste of.”

Pondering where this was going, I said, “I still think it would be bacon. That’s one thing that me and the boys agree on.”

“There you  go, trying to thrust your interjection into their world. Naw, Yak. The one thing that all dogs love the taste of is butt! Watch ‘em. Every time they sit down, whatta they do?”

“Right,” I said. “But having butt flavored toothpaste seems like it’s kinda defeating the purpose of the product. Their breath already smells like a dragon’s backside.”

“Yeah, I know,” he said while scratching his head. “That’s one of the things we’re still workin’ on. We’ve figured out how to get the flavor they crave, but we’re still having a bit of a problem with the breath sweetenin’ part of it. That’s why they call this stage R and D. We’re still researchin’ and developin’.”

Walter sliced of another cup of his world famous cowboy coffee and we settled back to ponder how we would solve yet another world problem.

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