Thursday, December 9, 2010
PORFLE'S HISTORIC CATTLE DRIVE
One of the proudest accomplishments of my entire life was being the first man to lead a cattle drive from my ranch in El Paso, Texas to the train station in Abilene, Kansas. The first man in this century, anyway. I'd heard that cattle drives were no longer necessary and that, in fact, no one ever actually conducted them anymore. This only fueled my burning desire to go through with it despite the naysayers. I hate naysayers because they always think they're so smart, when really they're usually a bunch of big, fat dummies who don't know the first thing about cattle drives.
One reason I was told there was no need for a cattle drive was that El Paso now had its own train station. I, however, was unaware of this fact until my preparations were well underway, and even so I didn't believe it anyway. Sure, there was this big, noisy metal thing on wheels that went roaring past my ranch on two rails every day, but I didn't know what it was. I thought maybe it was a ride or something. I went to Disneyland once and it had stuff like that for people to ride on. And I wasn't about to cancel my historic cattle drive just because of a bunch of little kids in Mickey Mouse hats sailing past my ranch on some wacky fun ride. Yes, I found out later that this was, in fact, a train. But what if the Apollo astronauts had been ready to blast off to the moon and then discovered that they were already on the moon? Would that have stopped them from blasting off? History, of course, has totally vindicated me on this "train" of thought, so to speak.
Well, all of these various distractions became irrelevant on the day that we embarked upon my big cattle drive. My ramrod, Biff, had rented an actual horse for the occasion. The rest of my cowhands--Jerry, Mel, Frankenstein, Burt Reynolds, Pete the Shrimp, and Rabbi Horowitz--rode go-carts. I, myself, drove a '57 Buick Skylark that I'd nicknamed "Cochise." Leaning out the window, I waved my hand around and shouted "YEE-HAAA!!!" and "ONWARD, COCHISE!!!", and we were under way, leaving the cozy confines of the "Lazy P" ranch behind. It was a grand occasion and we seemed to be off to a great start until we encountered our first major obstruction--a Super Wal-Mart on Wilton Boulevard. I checked the map and sure enough, we were following the original Chisolm Trail just like we were supposed to be doing. So I took the lead and drove right through the automatic doors and into the building, with over 9,000 head of cattle following close behind.
"HYAAAH!!!" yelped my cowhands as they guided the cows through the store. After allowing them to graze for awhile in the grocery section, we passed through various clothing and hardware departments and made our way into Electronics, checking out the new DVDs along the way. Pete the Shrimp tried to ask the saleslady if she had the new Charlie Sheen DVD, but before she could answer her entire department was demolished by a sudden surge of cattle that had been spooked by seeing dozens of Larry Kings on a bank of high-def display TVs. Presently the herd passed through Automotive and emerged into the tire shop in back, ambling through the large doors and into the great outdoors once again. I looked back with satisfaction, our first big hurdle having been conquered.
Suddenly, without warning, we came upon one of the cattleman's greatest fears--the freeway. The nerve-wracking sound of high-speed collisions filled the air as we guided the herd across multiple lanes of traffic, endeavoring to avoid the exploding tanker trucks and flying automobiles that seemed to be crashing all over the place. It was as though these people had never seen a cattle drive before. As so often happens, I found myself in utter disbelief at how stupid everyone else in the world is compared to me, and pressed onward with even greater determination than before, thankful that we hadn't been attacked by Indians or rustlers yet. I kept my fingers crossed.
No sooner had we crossed the freeway, however, than we found ourselves faced with another of the cattleman's greatest fears--the mighty Rio Grande river. While pondering the best place in which to cross this awe-inspiring force of nature, it suddenly occurred to me that we shouldn't even be encountering the Rio Grande in the first place if we were headed due north for Abilene as we should be. Checking my map, I realized that I was holding it upside-down and that we had been traveling south by mistake. It was a silly oversight on my part, to be sure, but in order to avert blame from myself, I fired Burt Reynolds on the spot and sent him packing. He swore revenge and went back to Hollywood, where he was never heard from again.
We had been on the trail all day so I decided we would bed the herd down for the night before getting a fresh start. After everyone had gotten some grub from the lunch wagon--the tuna salad was on sale that day--we all sat around the fire and sang cowpoke songs and bounced a beach ball around. The next day we awoke, refreshed and rarin' to go, only to find that all the cattle had wandered off during the night. I mean, there wasn't a single friggin' cow in sight for miles around. I wasn't aware at the time that you're supposed to guard them, assuming that they knew they weren't supposed to run away, but I found out later that cows don't know things like that. So, our spirits dampened by this apparent setback, we returned to the Lazy P. As it turned out, we hadn't traveled more than half a mile from it the entire time.
The police were waiting for us there and took us all into custody, accusing us of all sorts of trumped-up infractions and violations and whatnot. Not only did the people at Super Wal-Mart fail to understand that they'd built their stupid store right smack in the middle of a major cattle drive route, but the state highway department seemed determined to blame us for that massive freeway pile-up as though it were our fault that so many people are careless drivers. During my arrest, I tried to explain to the police that I was merely trying to drive my cattle herd to the train station in Abilene. They told me that there was already a train station in El Paso, and I said "Yeah, right--like, you mean that big amusement park ride?" and they just looked at me funny.
So, instead of putting me in jail, they sent me to some kind of holiday camp where you take drugs and watch TV all day. I told the other people there stories about my cattle drive, and they were all really interested. Some of them, in fact, were so interested that they went totally freakin' nuts and started jumping around and diving off the furniture and stuff. I felt vindicated by this reaction and swore that when I got back to the Lazy P, I'd gather up another herd of cattle right away and start another cattle drive. But then I found out that I had been declared legally forbidden to own cattle in the state of Texas. So I decided to raise ducks instead, and started planning a massive duck drive to the train station in Abilene. Unfortunately, this undertaking was doomed from the start, since my entire herd flew away as soon as I yelled "YEE-HAAAAA!!!"
Well, I'm still trying to figure out what I can herd from here to Abilene that won't wander off or fly away. In the meantime, in order to make enough money to keep the ranch going, me and Biff, Jerry, Mel, Frankenstein, Pete the Shrimp, and Rabbi Horowitz are touring South Texas as the new "Beatlemania." I'm John, Biff is Paul, Mel is George, and Jerry, Frankenstein, Pete the Shrimp, and Rabbi Horowitz take turns being Ringo. But even as we're performing for birthday parties, bar mitzvahs, and other exciting venues, I dream of the day that I'll once again be out on the dusty trail, leading a herd of something besides cattle or ducks, and going down in the history books right alongside guys like Daniel Boone, Benedict Arnold, and Richard Simmons.
(originally posted at Andersonvision.com)