Its summer time. Cattle are turned out. There is a closed gate
between our house and the other end of the driveway. My poor wife
just cant figure out why its her job to open the gate. The answer
is obvious: Our son Wade is only three and much too small.
I refuse to open a gate when Im the driver. That would be unethical.
The code of the West calls for the passenger riding shotgun
to be the opener of the gate. Its the eleventh commandment.
There was a cowboy in Montana whose wife was about to give birth.
They lived in a remote cow camp. It was winter with two feet of
fresh snow on the ground when she went into labor. The story has
it that she opened all of the gates on the way to the hospital.
That was many years ago. This story is the foundation on which
I have built my position on gate ethics.
My wife has some pretty stiff arguments against my gate mores.
For instance she says we dont have ordinary gates. Well, that
is true. We dont actually have a gate, we have a panel. A panel
is like a steel gate with no hinges. It is wired to the post but
only at the top. This causes the bottom of the panel to drag when
she is opening the gate.
Therefore the top rests on her shoulder and sometimes her forehead
if she bends over really far while picking up the bottom. Then
she has to walk all hunkered over until the gate is open far enough
to drive through. Shell usually stop a couple times during the
process, catch her wind, blow the hair out of her face, roll her
eyes and continue on. From the drivers seat the spectacle makes
for good watching. Pookie has a fair attitude about it until Sunday
Sunday morning. When the evil ruler of this present darkness tries
to rob our joy by making my wife think its necessary to wear
a dress and high heels to church. Many gate couples have their
worst fights on Sunday mornings on the way to worship. Satan will
stop at nothing. Gates are one of his crafty devices. He sits
on the gatepost early Sunday morning with his legs crossed, smoking
a cigarette, drinking a martini and seeking whom he may devour
or at least make really crabby. However he is instantly defeated
when Pookie gets out and reluctantly begins her wobbly trip across
the dirt to the gate. I laugh good-naturedly about her style,
which is somewhat unladylike, especially for someone in a dress.
To restore her dignity I often, unselfishly, give her pointers,
Dont drag the panel on the ground, honey, youll ruin it. Shes
usually all bent over grunting so I cant hear her strained remarks.
Once back in the car she carries on about the mud or indiscretion
of some thoughtless cow. I dust her off and console her with the
fact that she has a bad attitude. Nevertheless, I promise to replace
the panel with a real gate.
There is one glimmer of hope. We were at a friends place the
other day when Wade offered to open the gate going into the barn
lot. I was apprehensive but I let him try. Through the glassy
eyes of a proud father I watched as he undid the latch and gave
a mighty pull...ever so slowly the gate swung open. This was not
a timed event mind you, so during the process I listened to a
few songs on the radio and read Lonesome Dove a couple of times,
but my son had succeeded at opening his first gate for Daddy.
Being that it was the neighbors gate it was in good working order
so Wade may need a few years to grow and possibly steroids before
hes able to open any of the gates on our ranch. I cant wait.
Until then his mother will have to cowboy up.
To read more of Tim Rawlins work, visit his web site is at <www.timrawlins.com>