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Snake Up Yer Britches Leg
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Snake Up Yer Britches Leg


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I moved my own family back to live in Arkansas for a little over a year and a half back in '84 & '85.  We lived in a trailer house up in the woods across the road from my cousin, JG Dooley's house.

Snakes are very numerous in Arkansas.  Quite a few varieties actually.  And I don't know of any animal that is more feared.  The place where we had our mobile home was right in prime snake country.  It wasn't one of those run away and hide type of fears, but, it was the type of fear that was deep within, a fear of the unknown. I mean, a snake can be right beside you, even eyeball to eyeball with you, and you not even know it.

They can be in the grass, and you wouldn't know it.  You could step over one, and not know it.  Many a person has been bitten by stepping on one.

So the fear wasn't totally unfounded.  It was really quite justified.  And they were found in the most unusual places.  We found a huge snake skin where one had moulted behind the piano in our house one time.

Another time, one came up through the toilet.  Just let your mind think on the results of a snake coming up through the toilet while its you that are sitting on it.  And it's cold skin touches your warm, comforatble, unsuspecting skin.  I garantold you, all hell is about to break loose!

We've had 'em come up through the drain of the bathtub and was slithering around in the tube trying to get out.  Judy walked into the restroom one night after we'd returned home from church and I thought she was going to tear off the whole south end of the trailer house in which we lived.

Once, while Judy was a fixin' to walk out the front door, one fell down right in front of her, and was just hanging from its tail swinging back and forth right.  It was within 3 or 4" of her face.  Now, you ain't never heard anybody scream until you have heard Judy scream!

And I was just afraid of snakes as anyone else.  And, ANY snake that got within reach of whatever weapon I had in my hand was immediately dispatched to that great Arkansas in the sky!  Usually, pieces of the snake was found everywhere, because I guarantee you, that snake WAS NOT IN ONE PIECE!

Well, one day we drove over to the County Seat which was Piggot slowly following the lazy crooked and washboard rattely little County Rd 481 north from Rector through Crowlys Ride.  On the way there, we passed by a fairly large sized older gentleman who looked rather like a retired farmer out mowing his yard, looking almost identical to Uncle Jesse on The Dukes of Hazzard.  He was dressed in the garb popular to that neck of the woods; bib overalls, brogans, and blue shambered shirt.

Like I said, he was of goodly portion, not overly big, but big enough that you wouldn't think he could do anything very fast.  We waved to him as we ambled by not being in too much of a hurry and continued on our journey.  After we had all our chores done we decided to retrace our steps back and enjoy the scenery since we didn't get up that way very often.

On the way home, the old gentleman was over at the edge of the yard, and was nearly finished with his mowing job for that week.  We were not quite up to him, being about 300 or 400 ft up the road from him, and being on a gravel road, was traveling quite slowly when suddenly, the old man lunged back from his lawn mower, and did the weirdest dance I have ever seen.

I automatically stepped on the brakes and rolled to a stop right in front of his house to see what in the world was going on with him.  The recent arrival of an audience didn't seem to deter the man from his dance.  He hopped around in a circle and was stamping one foot extremely hard on the grass.

Suddenly, his arms flew up, and in one swoop, had both galluses of his over-alls down to his sides and he was pushing the overalls down his legs very, very quickly!  With lightening speed he stepped out of them, and immediately gave them a stomping of a lifetime, stumbled about 3 or 4 giant steps away, grabbed a hoe (garden tool), then proceeded to give the faded over-alls a sound beating.

Finally satisfied that whatever was in his overalls was good and dead he just stood looking at them.

Talk about funny!  Judy and I sat there in the car in full view of this poor old man laughing so hard tears were streaming.

There he was, standing there in his big ol' homemade boxers, socks rolled down to cover the tops of his lace up brogans, and skinny white legs supporting what looked like a tower of hugeness that would be impossible to support.

He was very red faced from all the hyperactive exertion he'd just accomplished as he stood there in full view of my wife and I.  But, the red face was not from modesty, or, maybe I should say in this case, the lack of it, but from the extreme effort he had just put forth a gettin' outa them there overalls then stomping the daylights out of them.

Heck, I never knew it was possible for brogans that big go through a britches leg like that!  And especially at the speed of light!

But, there was no movement whatsoever in the overalls.  He gave the offending garment laying motionless on the ground another real good beating just for perservearance.

He then lifted the overalls up, but nothing fell out.  Finally, he grabbed them and gave them a big shake; nothing.  He stuck the hoe handle up one britches leg, and using the head of the hoe, pulled it inside itself; nothing.  Then, he cautiously did the other leg.  There was the culprit!

Foxtail Weeds

In the leg of the overalls was a weed with a foxtail head.  These things will crawl like a snake from the movement of one surface rubbing against another surface.  Obviously, this thing had caught on one of the shoe laces, and had been jerked from its stalk, and from the movement of his walking, had worked itself right up his britches leg finally getting to the point of where he could feel it.

He hadn't taken the time to figure all this out; all he knew, was there was something in his britches with him!  And he was coming out!  Whatever it was in his britches, could have the britches but only after a severe thrashing.

The old man calmly reached in and pulled out the offending foreign matter, brushed it briefly with his hand, gave it a little blow for extra measure, and and with all the pomp and circumstance of a king, put his overalls back on, with a couple of swoops, had the galluses on his shoulders, and had stepped back over to his lawn mower which was sitting there still running full throttle, and took off across the lawn taking out the last section to be mowed.

By this time, the shock of what we had seen had worn off, and I stepped on the gas to go.  As we pulled away, the old man stopped, faced us, removed his cap showing his flowing white hair and bowed deeply.  We waved and proceeded down the little gravel road appreciative of the sight we'd just witnessed knowing it would be one of those things you never forget.

But the picture of that old man coming out of those overalls was something that I will never forget.  But one thing for certain; modesty has no place when something's up your britches leg what ain't supposed to be there!  I don't care who you are, you'll lose your modesty very quickly!

George Cavaness
10-09-1994



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