Some of you will cringe and label us ruthless. A few of you might shrug and think, “we’re not so different.” Still others will read this story and laugh like maniacs, because really, how many south-of-the-border-goat-rodeos have come through your neighborhood?
Mark King, my dad, a competitive 48 year old cyclist, has just finished thrashing the local group ride in the usual fashion. He’s tired and hungry but tonight he’ll have to fend for himself, because Mom is out of town with my little brother and two sisters. Although it’s 8:00 PM, our cleaning lady’s car is parked in our drive-way in it’s regular 8:00 AM spot. Dad looks sexy in his red spandex, but before you jump to any perilous conclusions about an extramarital affair with the cleaning lady, know that she was there for the goats.
Pet goats might sounds like fun, but when the novelty wears off, you realize that it’s just a pet goat. Not to mention that my younger brother and sister’s pet goats were… were… geldings, which means they had no reproductive organs and thus nothing to give and no purpose. The angry little animals would not let anyone close enough for companionship. However, they were smart, and no fence could contain them. No matter the height of the boards or the latch on the gate, they would let themselves out a few hours after they were fed and watered in the morning. In a black and white flash, the driveway would be scattered with turds and petals from the recently demolished rose bushes, hourglass devil eyes glaring triumphantly. For what they were, it is incredible how proud they could be. The novelty had worn off.
Ernestina, our cleaning lady, had excitedly accepted the goats when my dad offered them that morning. He was not naive about her intentions. However, they remained unsaid. The goats had broken out and were roaming the yard when Ernestina and her friend arrived to collect them. Despite her efforts the short Columbian woman had no chance of catching the delinquents, and the past hour had been wasted. Of course, my dad, being a gentleman, would help her rally them into the dog kennel in the back of her car. The goats, who were simply pestered by Ernestina, would let her get within five yards before trotting off to graze a little further away. When my dad entered the scene, they started to enjoy the chase chuckling in their throats at the brightly colored man. Their personal bubble went from five to ten yards. Another hour went by. The situation was getting more serious.
Ernestina’s friend had laughable confidence, so my dad baited him with a twenty dollar-bill if he could grab a goat. My dad went inside to put on shorts and a t-shirt, and next thing he knew, a caravan of lowered Hondas and beat up pickup trucks with spinners cruised into the driveway blaring a Spanish radio station.
My dad, Ernestina, and fifteen of her compatriots vs. two wild-eyed goats. Three Mexican children acted as translators between their parents and my dad, while the goats dodged, ducked, dipped, dived, and dodged their pursuers, like a miniature school of fish. In half an hour night had fallen and with it, the rain. A hot summer storm soaked the horse field and the surefooted goats gained an added advantage. Mexicans subbed in and out of the chase. It was a backyard futbol game in the headlights. While half of them rushed in for a slide tackle in the horse manure, the others pounded Tecate and talked with my dad through their kids.
“Shoot them in the leg!” shouted Ernestina. “Then they won’t bleed much and we can catch them.” It was getting a bit ridiculous, but my dad refused to let our pet goats go down that way (although it had crossed his mind). Instead, he brought down a lasso from my little brothers room.
Dad gave a few pounds of venison to his enthusiastic new friends.
“That’s better than goat, but don’t even look at the horses.”
The goats weren’t having fun anymore. Neither would they throw in the towel. “Stubborn as a mule” is not as stubborn as a goat. Their escape became a bored monotony. They had seen everything in the opposition’s playbook, and defense was effortless. Dad became supervisor and was searching for the right way to postpone the chase and get some sleep.
Just as hope was disappearing, a flurry of Spanish erupted and a new set of head-lights appeared on the seen.
“Papa! Papa! Papa will catch them!” the children translators exclaimed to my dad.
A 5’8” ancient Mexican stepped out of his rusty truck, and picked up the lasso. An inquisitive semi-circle formed behind him, as he approached the goats with slow confidence. Four evil eyes matched his gaze. Silently he called them out, and they faced him. The lasso that hung limply at his hip began to make easy hypnotizing circles and then flashed. Papa yanked furiously, and both goats were roped around the neck. WHAM! They were dog-piled by the spectators and loaded in the car.
That was cause for a celebration.
Every car radio cranked the same Spanish tunes. Although Papa was the only person who wasn’t covered in mud and manure, he had the same adolescent grin as the rest. Dad, Mark King, a 48 year old cyclist, sat on one of the lowered tailgates loosely gripping a Tecate. It would soon join the growing collection of empty bottles.