The old fella’ reached up and gripped the bony hip bone of the cow in front of him then pulled himself up onto his feet, a full pail of milk in his other hand. He switched hands on the pail and reaching out he flipped the hook on the stanchion holding the cow in place. The little Jersey immediately backed up and turned for the door, out into the cool morning sunshine.
“You’re still pretty young, you got a lotta feels in your chest there boy.”
“I was just saying that I could see myself with Jessie someday.” He could still finish two cows to my one. I sped up my hands.
“Girl like that’s hard to come by. You wouldn’t be the only boy howlin’ round that back door.”
“Dad, she’s nice, and funny. She’s…she’s…she’s nice.
“She’s also easy on the eyes, that all sounds wonderful son when the sun comes up and the sap starts to rise. But when the winter comes, when the cow dies, when the rain comes in, then it don’t amount to spare change.”
“Well, she’s nice to me.” I huffed.
“Son, ‘nice’ and a girl that knows her way around a hand job are two separate things.”
“Geez Dad, stop.”
He stepped to the barn door and set his pail down. Looking out at the retreating rump of the cow he stretched his back. Then slowly fished out a cigarette from his bib overalls and struck a match on the door frame. Leaning against the frame he took several puffs, letting the exhaled smoke drift away while he focused on nothing. Finally he turned and leaned back against the door frame and alternated his gaze from the dew damp outside and back of my head. He was in no hurry.
“There’s a couple things in this world ya’ can’t change son and you’re gonna learn ‘em all sooner or later. Some of ‘em’s just common sense, some are a little harder. Some of them comes with stitches, and some with a heart pain. It’s kinda important that you learn ‘em the first time.”
“I know Dad, its not like you haven’t said that about a hundred times.”
“Well, here’s a couple that I don’t think you’ve heard, and they go together. But you’ll have to learn how.”
“Why, what do you mean?”
He took a last drag on the cigarette and flicked it into the nearest cowpie.
“Son, a woman will marry a man because she thinks she can change him; and she can’t. A man marries a woman because he never wants her to change; and she does.”
“I don’t understand Dad.”
“What about the other one? You said there was two.”
“Oh yeah.” He walked over next to my stool. When I looked up at him he said, “ya can’t push a chain.”
“What? What’s that supposed to mean?”