The Humor and Life, in Particular Web site
author:  Margie Culbertson

August/September 2003 Humor Writing Contest Winner
Best "Short" Humor!

About Dogs and Beer


Tim Coles

My Grandmother owned a farm in another state. But we went there every summer while I was growing up for at least two weeks and some times for a month. The farm raised wheat cattle, dogs, ducks, chickens and kids. It was a blast. We could go fishing in the river or hunting in the hills, swimming in the pond, or even in the river, provided that my mother did not hear about it. My cousins would all show up at one time or another during the course of our visit, and together we could find fascinating new ways to get into trouble. We caused mischief up and down the whole valley, raining troubles down upon the heads of the neighbors and in general having the time of our lives.

My cousin Larry was several years old than I, but I was the nearest boy cousin in age to him. All the rest were two or three years younger than me. So Larry and I would pal around together. Naturally Larry, being several years older would, most of the time, take the lead in our adventures. Not always, of course because I inherited a lot of Welsh genes from both of my parents. So I was not always easily led.

One day Larry informed me that our Grandfather had secreted in the root cellar, some–home brewed beer and that Larry knew exactly where it was at. Now I was only eleven or twelve years old and I had never tasted any real beer. This was home–brewed beer, stored in a root cellar. I thought it might taste some thing like root beer, only better. I realized, even then, that parents, say rather adults in general, only refused to let their children have things which were especially good, or extremely fun.

Larry led me to the back of the root cellar and began rummaging around, behind some jars of pickled beets. In the course of my travels since this time I have yet to discover a more likely hiding spot. You put something behind some jars of pickled beets and the odds are very good that it will not again see the light of day, at least until the next seven–year famine (perhaps even then.) In any case, Larry eventually pulled out a couple of pint bottles of home brew, which we opened up with my Boy Scout knife. Larry took a big drink of his bottle, sighed, sat back on a pile of burlap sacks, burped and said go ahead take a big drink, which I did. I filled my mouth with home brew, when I realized that a mistake had been made. Larry had apparently handed me a bottle of cow urine, instead of a bottle of beer.

It tasted awful. I was in a quandary. I couldn't spit it out, but swallowing was equally out of the question. In a moment the question resolved itself. I got rid of the beer and about half of my lunch too. Larry laughed so hard he gave himself the hiccups.

He said he had felt the same way the first time he had tasted it. He said you got used to it by sipping a little bit at a time. I told him I did not want to get used to it and he would have to drink it himself. He said he really couldn't because one bottle made him dizzy. He was afraid if he drank two that he would be unable to walk.

Now Larry's father was a minister, so his being found drunk at the age of 14 might turn out to be a less than pleasant experience for both him and his parents. Upon reflection I decided that having Larry return to his parents in a state of inebriation would probably not be good for me either. For one thing, Larry would undoubtedly spill the beans, that is confess to my participation in the crime so my parents would feel honor bound to punish me right along side him.

It was an unfortunate fact of life in those days that if the parents of one child discovered that some transgression had been committed by their offspring while in the presence of, say one of his or her friends or relatives, why the aforementioned parents of the first child would have no compunction at all about calling up the parents of the second child and ratting them out, so to speak. Thereby spreading the guilt in the widest possible circle, incrimination by association, no trial, no jury, you were guilty unless proven innocent. That I was in fact guilty most of the time should not detract from the basic unfairness of it. However, as I said this was a fact of life in those days. And I spent a good deal of my time being in trouble just because some other kid got caught and then violated the basic law of kidDom "Thou shalt not tell."

In any case, we now had a problem. The beer was open and could not be closed. We didn't want to waste it; after all we had stolen it in the first place and pouring it out on the floor just did not seem right. But the beer had to go somewhere. We were ruminating upon the problem when we heard a scratch on the door. It was Shep, the dog. Larry's face lit up like a ten–watt light bulb.

My Grandmother always had at least one dog on the place, sometimes two or three, but always at least one. Since dogs came and went, quite often Grandma had adopted an especially practical method of naming them. She always called them Shep, even when there was more than one of them at the same time. It didn't seem to bother the dogs much and it certainly didn't bother Grandma. In any case the current incarnation of Shep was a fairly large collie–type dog with an easygoing personality and no redeeming characteristics, except he would eat or drink anything he thought was even remotely comestible. "Here Shep come here boy, take a nice drink of the beer boy."

Shep lapped up a little of the beer we poured into a jar lid for him, then shook his head, sneezed and woofed, and then refused to drink any more, thereby showing good taste for the first and only time in his life. It was, however too late for him. He was within our clutches. We grabbed him, held his mouth open, and poured the rest of the beer down his throat. When we let him up, he gave us an injured look and scratched at the door to get out.

Larry had finished his beer, so we let Shep out and cleaned up the area. The bottles would not give us away. We put them in the box with the other empties And hoped Granddad would probably not notice, just think that he had drunk a few more beers than he thought he had. We began walking innocently back toward the barn.

When we got there Granddad was standing at the corner looking out in the field shaking his head. He turned toward us and said, "What in the Hell has got into that crazy dog." We looked past him out in the freshly bailed alfalfa field, we saw Shep running in a zigzag pattern across the field as if his front and hind end were being operated by different control centers. Every once in a while one end or the other would lose control completely and he would fall over or run into a hay bale. When that happened, Shep would stagger back to his feet then sit back on his haunches, point his nose to the sky, and howl.

Larry snorted, tried to laugh, and hiccup at the same time. This came out with a sound sort of like an alley cat trying to mate with a hedgehog. Granddad turned to look at him with suspiciously, "You boy's don't know anything about that do you?" he asked. Larry let out a titter "hee, hee, hee, hee." Granddad was so startled by this response that he involuntarily swallowed most of his plug of chewing tobacco. Granddad coughed and whooped trying to work the chewing tobacco loose from where it had lodged about half–way down his throat.

Larry dissolved into hysterical giggling; a strange high–pitched noise sounding something like a rat in heat. The tension of the situation, Larry giggling like a lewd rat and Granddad bouncing up and down on his head in what was apparently a last ditch effort to dislodge the tobacco, finally got to me and I too began laugh, then giggle in a kind of horrified manner. By the time Shep managed to work his way back towards the barn, all three of us were lying, gasping on the ground. Larry and I were recovering from the hysterical giggles, holding our sides and letting out with an occasional hee, hee, hee.

Granddad, having finally gotten rid of the tobacco, one way or another, lie on the ground, red–faced and gasping. Shep staggered up and sat down beside Granddad, leaned over, licked his face and let out one of the world's more heroic belches. Granddad cringed back and then sniffed with a puzzled look on his face. At that point I knew that the game was about over. The jig was up.

The end result, of course, was that we were punished not for sneaking the beer, but for getting the dog drunk. This cost Larry and I two days of unpaid labor. Granddad was always good at getting free labor anyway, and under the circumstances he felt justified in working us really hard. It was many years before I could look a beer in the face.

©Tim Coles
I am of indiscriminate age, old enough to know better but too young to care. Actually I'm older than that. I turned 52 on my last birthday. I am a Supervising Engineering Technician 40 hours a week, and a humor writer for about 10 hours a week. I'm hoping to reverse those hours eventually. In my past I have been a logger, trapper, miner, forester and a survey Party Chief. I live in the great Pacific Northwest. I have a wife who is quite a bit smarter than I am, at least that's what she tells me, and three children. My youngest son is 22 years old and my daughter, who is the oldest, is 25.

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