My Dad, “Son of Comet,” had no siblings. Alas, Gramp and Grandaddy had only one child. However, “Son” had several first cousins who fulfilled the roles of “brothers.” This pack of wolf cubs shared tons of adventures “out in the country,” as Gene Brown’s farm and the rest of the old, “Mitchell Grove” community was commonly referred to as. As a matter of fact, their tight bond continued until their deaths, for all of the old wolves have now gone on to that greatest of all adventures: the “afterlife;” “the hereafter;” “the great beyond;” I’m talking ‘bout heaven, heaven, heaven; that old, “everybody talking ‘bout heaven ain’t going there, heaven.” But before they went, them boys made their mark in this world. Many years later, “Son” would relate many of those adventures to the eager ears of his own cubs–me and my siblings.
“Congo,” was “Son’s” first cousin on his daddy’s side. His name, of course, was not really “Congo,”that particular appellation was his sobriquet. I wished that I could tell you how he got this moniker, but I’m afraid I must disappoint, on that matter. His mother was Aunt Annie Bell. Now, Aunt Annie Bell’s husband, and “Congo’s” pappy was Uncle Croff who, in my mind, had to be the absolute coolest OLD man who ever existed, but I’ll share more about that dapper fellow in a later post. I also believe that Croff was “Son’s” favorite uncle, but when you think about it, how could he NOT be; “cool ass” Uncle Croff. But “Congo,” he was a horse of another color; what color? I’m not sure. Maybe he was “blue.” He could definitely BE “blue” at times, and I don’t mean melancholy.
“Congo’s” most defining feature, in my view, was his lack of half of his right index finger; his pointer. But the fact that part of that thing was missing, didn’t stop him from pointing it. He liked to wiggle it at us cubs, an action that always managed to send us into nervous giggles. It was weird, but funny at the same time; go figure. “Con,”as he was affectionately called by “Son” and the others, was also thin as a rail. He got that from Uncle Croff for sure. He was thin, but he wasn’t a pushover. He was a “Feist dog;” you know the kind who will bark and growl like they’re going to tear something up, but when “push come to shove,” his heart really isn’t in it. I’m told by a cousin, in that branch of the family, that his older sister, “Sister Babe,” took up for “Con” in many a brouhaha. “Con” would talk trash, start trouble, and then leave it to someone else to do the dirty work. But, what “Con” ALSO was, besides a “Feist dog”, was a master mechanic, he could fix any vehicle. He learned it in the Army. Fear not, “Congo” will be back for more adventures, but for now, I must move on.
Next, in this pack of wolf pups, is the subject of today’s post; “Tadpole,”or “Tat” for short. I think his “tag” derived from the fact that he was the youngest, and therefore the smallest. “Tat” was the son of “Son’s” pappy’s youngest sister, Aunt Babe and her husband, the “jokester,” Uncle Harry. As the youngest of the bunch he was usually at the end of any pranks and hijinks, conjured up by the other devils. In later years, “Tat” was one of the smoothest of these criminals and my favorite.
Every time I saw “Tat,” we went through the same routine; he’d take a boxing stance, crouching a la a light-skinned, super sweet, “Sugar” Ray Robinson; he’d then feint a couple of jabs and uppercuts at my midsection. I’d double over, in REAL anticipation of the FAKE “blows” which, of course, never came. “Tat” also possessed another skill, much more interesting to young cubs than a half-hearted imitation of “Sugar;” he could make his ears move at will. I don’t mean a little wiggle, I mean MOVE; like two “Sugar” Ray Robinsons dancing on the sides of his head!
What “Tat” couldn’t do, at a young age, was cuss. All of the older boys had gotten that “skill” down pat, except “Tat.” So, according to “Son,” “Tat” was standing in front of the mirror one day, brushing and rubbing his hair, in a vain and futile attempt to get it to “lay down” like “Sugar’s.” What he obviously DIDN’T know was that “Sugar” had the help of a product called, “congolene,” a hair straightener gel made from lye!
Using this product, usually resulted in a “slick” hairstyle called a “conk” (from congolene. I wonder if that’s where “Congo’s” name came from, hmmmm.) Well “Tat” didn’t have any of that. All he had was “elbow grease”, and after many minutes, that wasn’t working.
Well, as would happen, the other boys walked in on “Tat” trying to slick his hair down. Laughingly, one of them asked the young cub, “Hey man, is it slick yet?” to which “Tat” stuttered stoically, “Na, Naw man! It, it ain’t slick a DAMN!” The wolves howled that day, for sure!
THE MORAL OF THE STORY IS THIS: Some things are just not meant to be, and no matter how hard you try it still AIN’T GONE BE “SLICK A DAMN”! (Come up with your own, if you don’t like mine. I won’t be mad at ya!)
Join us next week for; “CREEK, CAN’T FISH!”