"If you wanna kill ear mites, you mix Tang with Preparation-H and put it in their ears. It works on horses and dogs." Jerry was giving us his home remedy for ear mites, and I'm thinking, "Who came up with this idea?" There were eleven of us eating dinner at the Sit-a-Spell restaurant, and the conversation was a real appetite killer. But then I was in Bubbaville. Bubbaville is the name I have given to this out-of-the mainstream Midwestern, and slightly Southern, area of the country. I was on my third visit in as many months to see my good friend Jennifer. I now had about a dozen friends in Bubbaville, and most of them were there having dinner.
"If you got arthritis, you should spray some WD-40 on your joints. It will make 'em feel like they are 20 again."This time it was Robin who provided the home remedy. Robin is 48 and married for the 6th time. Her husband Tom is 28 and it's his first marriage. I can't keep track of how many kids Robin has or who has them. She and Tom haven't had any yet, but they have two of Robin's boys (22 and 12) living with them.
A few others at the table confirmed the wonders of WD-40, and Jerry added; "If you have a horse with a runny nose that you are trying to sell, spray some WD-40 up each nostril. It will stop the nose from draining long enough for you to sell it." Jerry is a 29-year old horse trader from Missouri who has gone through more money than most people twice his age. He has nothing to show for it except his new Dodge one-ton dually and a long stock trailer.
Jerry was married for about 6 months to an 18 year-old girl he brought home from a horse auction somewhere up near Chicago. She went through all of his money rather quickly buying animals. She tried to buy a $10,000 snow monkey at an exotic animal sale, but Jerry caught her in the process of writing the check. She did buy a lion cub, which played havoc with their house and food budget. They finally sold it when it bit a hole through his wife's hand, and later they read where it had killed a child in Missouri.
Jerry divorced his wife and got a dog named Jake that he found at a horse auction somewhere. Jake rides around in the back of Jerry's truck and eats whatever leftovers Jerry brings out to him. I don't know what Jake does for water, since I've never seen Jerry give him any, but I think Jake is rather resourceful. Jerry has accidentally left Jake at auctions in a number of states, but enough people know Jerry and Jake that they eventually find each other again.
On a recent trip to Mississippi, Jerry was hauling 23 horses when the goose neck on his trailer broke and came down on the back of his truck, smashing the tail gate and fenders. He used the insurance money to buy horses. A few months later a big buck deer ran into the side of his truck, smashing in the front left fender and driver's door. Then he dented up the front of it when he forgot to set the brake and it rolled down a hill and into a light pole. None of these accidents resulted in any repairs, so his new truck looks like it has been in a demolition derby. He can only get $1500 deductible on his collision insurance coverage because he got two speeding tickets for going over 100 MPH while hauling horses.
He often writes bad checks when he buys horses and then sells the horses as quickly as he can to cover the bad checks, but recently it caught up with him when several buyers wrote him bad checks. He had to sell his trailer in order to get money. He did manage to buy another used trailer, but it isn't much to look at. The taillights don't work so at night he drives with his emergency flashers on, and the trailer license tag is one he found in a ditch.
Jerry is a great guy to have as a friend, and he will do just about anything to help you. He'd also sell his mother if the price were right. He seems to be willing and able to sell just about anything. Rumor has it that he bought an all white horse in Oklahoma and turned it into a black and white paint horse with some hair dye from WalMart, selling the horse back east for $3500 more than he paid for it.
At the table with us were Ike and Mike. I found out later that their actual names are Jimmy and Denny, but everyone calls them Ike and Mike. They are brothers in their late 40's who have grown up in the area and live with their sisters and mom. They are mentally challenged to the point that they are not employable in a regular job, but they occasionally do stall cleaning at the livestock sale barn for $20 a day. Jerry hired them for the day to help him unload hay, and he brought them to dinner. Jerry needs help with lifting work since he has broken just about every bone in his body during his rodeo days as a bull and bronc rider.
Denny is not very social, but Jimmy has a good sense of humor and does well at participating in conversations. He has upper front teeth that are brown, grotesquely shaped, and extend out in all directions like broken sticks at 45-degree angles so that his lips are rarely able to close over them. This results in a lot of drooling from his chin, but you get use to it after being around him a while.
One of the nice things about Bubbaville is that food is cheap. The all-you-can-eat buffet was $6.95 and included ribs, chicken, pasta, salad, vegetables, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes and corn bread. I don't know how they made any profit with Tom and Jerry since Tom is 6' 3' and weighs close to 300 pounds. Jerry eats like Tom does but except for looking pregnant, he is rather normally built.
The big events on Friday and Saturday nights every other week are the local horse and tack auctions. Men, wearing their finest coveralls, fill the auction house, and there is rarely standing room. It's a family affair, so there are lots of kids and usually a few stray cats and dogs running around. Most people don't buy or bid, but just go to watch and socialize.
One night Tom and Jerry took me to a strip club where $5 gets you in the door and we watched four women dancers do their acts, one-by-one, becoming totally naked in the process. The second woman to strip was a girl named Hailey who recognized Jerry and came over to sit with us after her act. She actually carried on an intelligent conversation, but I don't think she was working her way through college.
Other than the strip club, the most excitement I had was one morning while Jennifer was at work. I was alone on the farm and happened to look out the window just in time to see 20 horses that Jerry had just purchased the night before run past the window on their escape to freedom. These were horses that had no idea where home was. All they knew was that they were free. There were horses in the front yard, back yard, side yard, and on the road. I spent the next hour trying to outsmart them, but the expression 'herding cats' came to mind. I finally got them into a pasture without further incident or injury, but the six dogs that lived there were not any help at all. Neither were the chickens, ducks, geese, rabbit, or Ulysses the goat.
What my two weeks in Bubbaville did do for me was to give me some perspective on life. Having lived in urban settings much of my life, from New York City to Los Angeles, the term 'bubba' was never a flattering one, and certainly not a term I ever used as a complement. But now that I have spent time in Bubbaville, I feel close to my bubba friends, and I miss them. They are good people, at least the ones I met, and I'll be going back there the first chance I get. But first, I'm going shopping for some coveralls.