Forty-seven per cent! That’s almost half!

Forty-seven per cent! That’s almost half!

And that’s about the way Daddy divided up the work. Since Leon was twice as old as David and I, Dad allowed that Leon ought to be responsible for half of the work around the house. He’d send us out to mow the yard, clean the fence row or shovel out a pen and he expected Leon to lead the way. Before Daddy could get out of sight, Leon would be back on the porch eating a Moon Pie and yelling at us to get that mower moving faster. He was “directing” from afar while Dave and I were pulling weeds with our bare hands. I think the thing that still galls me to this day is that second Moon Pie Leon opened was mine!

Daddy would get home late in the afternoon with the work not finished. He would be mad as a wet hornet in a tipped over nest! Leon, of course, quickly and loudly blamed it on me and Dave. “Kesley didn’t want to get his hands dirty. David is too small. I had a gastronomical attack and had to rest a minute. The sun got in my eyes. The hens laid some eggs in the back yard and naturally we couldn’t mow all the way out to them. A space ship landed beside the clothes line and these little green men…..”

It didn’t matter how you said it, defended it, made excuses for it, blamed it on the other fellow or what actually was the root cause. At the end of the day, the work hadn’t been done! A couple of weeks of similar action and the weeds overtook the roses. 

Me and John Ingram, Marlin Hicks, Eddie Carden, Wesley Beal, Billy Barksdale and Danny Leatherwood would line up at football practice to push the seven man sled. Listen, that thing weighed three and a half tons; more if it was late in practice after we’d run ten hundred wind sprints! And on a Monday after a loss, it was like being in the Twilight Zone—that sled added weight in direct proportion as to how bad we had gotten beat Friday night.

It was tough to move even if all seven of us were working our legs like little pistons! Coach Scott would be eating that whistle if we didn’t have that thing flying across the back side of the practice field. If Eddie laid out on us and only pretended to push, we could still keep going. If Wesley joined him it slowed the process but we could still manage, barely. When Marlin quit we were down to four guys pushing that septem headed edifice. We slowed to a crawl……and every leg muscle I had was screaming no mas! With just barely over fifty percent now pushing the load we were clearly in a battle we could not win. The soft mud caused by water running off the tennis courts did us in. We ground to a halt. No amount of shouting, fussing, cussing, stomping or encouragement could get us moving again.

It was too late for help. No last second bailout could get that thing started again. Marlin and Eddie might have seen the error of their ways but the horse was out of the barn. And it didn’t matter that Danny, John, Billy and me had done our part, and then some! We went down with the ship.

Coach Scott preached teamwork. “We’re an equal opportunity outfit, men. Everybody contributes or nobody wins!” If the left guard didn’t block and Bob Cassidy came roaring through the gap and plastered Johnny Stoker in his tracks, Coach would move the left guard to running back. It didn’t take but a couple of head on collisions with Bob for the left guard to get the message. Everybody is important to the team! It’s the old “ a chain is only as strong as its weakest link” theory. We won a lot of football games so Coach must have known something.

It was the same when Miss Vincent assigned those history reports. Suzie Cozart, Beverly Sparks, Don Melton and James Hastings got put in my group. I knew Suzie would be alright; Bev, too, unless some new good looking guy moved in. James wasn’t too interested in researching anything; much less the underlying causes leading up to World War I. Don would go along if the mood struck him. But he could wander pretty quickly if things weren’t going to suit him. A couple of them would lean always to the crowd. This group assignment plan would only work if everyone pitched in. I needed to be in the group with Diana Morris, but Lord, Buddy Wiggleton was in that bunch! It would kill the most ardent student’s incentive for American History if the other team members didn’t take at least a passing shot at giving an effort to contribute. I guess the payoff of a good grade wasn’t enough to get some classmates to even fake an interest in it.

Mediocracy is easily achieved but it sure weakens the whole pot!

I have heard the unlearned (or, at least, the unwed) declare that marriage was a fifty/fifty proposition. Boy howdy, they are not married to my wife! It takes one hundred per cent of every thing I have to keep her fat and happy. And let me tell you, sometimes I drop below that threshold. I can be obstinate, lazy, no good and hard to live with. I don’t pull my fair share of the load. In football vernacular, I’m not pushing the sled. Cathy has to give a hundred and fifty percent to make up for my lack of drive. She thinks that’s not fair! I tell her I’m just making up for all those Moon Pies Leon ate when we were children.

Everybody’s got an excuse if you go looking for it.