A GARDEN VARIETY TAIL
copyright 1994 Sam Elmore

My younger brother (Baucum) is a better-than-average hand at "raising groceries", and plants a garden every year behind his house. His neighbors on the hill above let him use a plot behind their house for a second garden. The upper plot is fine for an early garden, because it has good drainage With the arrival of hot weather, though, it dries up quickly.

The soil is very loose, and a family of lizards makes their home in the upper garden, burrowing in the sand to lay their eggs each time he tills the garden. He had his Irish potatoes mounded up in beds, and on several occasions, he'd see lizards race out one hill, scoot across the middle and bury themselves in an adjoining bed without ever slowing down. He was quite amused by all this lizard activity, until one day Baucum was up at the hill garden to check for potato bugs, and to grabble a mess of new spuds. He was kneeling down, grabbling, when he felt something crawling on his ankle. He looked around, and saw about two inches of lizard tail sticking out of his britches leg. He didn't find that amusing at all!

His first thought was to go running for the house hollering for his wife…but, he remembered that Bobbie had gone to the grocery store. He just KNEW, as sure as he moved his leg, that the lizard was gonna scoot right up his britches.

So, putting his Southern State College smarts to work, he decided to reach back, grab the lizard by the tail, and jerk it out of his britches, before it meandered any further "north". He e-a-s-e-d his hand back there and… GRABBED and JERKED!

The next thing he knew, he was holding a short piece of broke-off lizard's tail in his fingers. Just as his mind registered the stupidity of that action, it felt like a two-foot-long alligator was gnawing on his right knee! About that time, things began to get a little confused.

It finally occurred to him that he was running through the English pea vines and the Irish potato beds… on his KNEES. He had no idea why he was running on his knees; unless it was, possibly, a faster mode of transportation.

He clamped both hands around his right leg, just above the knee, to keep the lizard from advancing into any "critical area". The realization that he was running on his knees, with a death grip on his leg, came at the same instant that he realized his grip was a considerable distance BELOW where the lizard was currently located.

As the lizard commenced running Olympic-class laps inside his britches, three inches below the waist-line, Baucum reached the conclusion that that particular pair of pants wasn't NEAR big enough for both him and the lizard… and, since the lizard seemed to have a bigger claim on them, Baucum elected to yield them up without further argument.

The britches were some that Bobbie had bought him, with an elastic waistband; just right for gardening work, with all the stooping, kneeling, and stretching involved. He matched thought to action and, putting a "full-load test" on the elastic parts, divested himself of the pants.

When things finally settled down, he was standing in the middle of the garden, in broad open daylight…in his drawers! He was wearing one shoe; the other one lay about thirty feet beyond the sweet potato patch. Both britches-legs were turned wrong-side-out. The lizard was nowhere in evidence.

It finally dawned on Baucum that the garden was in plain view of all his neighbors' houses, as well as the road that passed that area. He quickly put on his shirt (with no awareness of having taken it off in the first place), got his other shoe on, and retrieved his pants from the other side of the English peas, where he'd flung them.

He popped the pants in the air several times to confirm the eviction of the lizard, turned them right-side-out, and inspected them thoroughly. He eased his britches back on, as he casually peered around to see if anybody was watching. Seeing no one, he strolled nonchalantly down the hill towards his house, whistling under his breath, as if nothing untoward had transpired.

Later that afternoon, Baucum was piddling around in his lower garden when his neighbor came outside. Seeing Baucum, he bounded towards the fence with a huge grin on his face. "Boy, you sure do have FUN up 'ere in your other garden."

Baucum acted like he didn't know what the feller was talking about, and hoped he'd leave it alone…but that was not to be.

"This morning", the neighbor gleefully pursued, "I was working in my yard when I heard you yell a couple of times. I thought you was hollerin' at me, so I come over here to the fence, and I saw you running around the garden on you knees. At first, I thought you was tryin' out one of them new aerobic exercises… then, you got up and started running around on your feet, then you'd jump up and shake one leg, then jump up and shake the other'n… one time there, you had BOTH legs in the air at the same time! Wa'al, I figured you must have learnt you a new dance, and I was fixin' to call my wife out here to watch…but I thought better of it, when you started takin' all ye' clothes off."

The neighbor went on to say that he'd figgered something had gone up Baucum's britches-leg, when he saw the English pea vines being flung so high in the air.

Baucum told his neighbor what had happened, and said that he hoped no one ELSE had witnessed the debacle. The neighbor's response left little brother somewhat on the despondent side: "Wa'al, I don't THINK anybody saw it---less'n you wanna count that school bus full-a kids that parked and watched…and four-or-five car-loads of church women that had just left their weekly meeting up on the hill; but", the neighbor concluded, "…they didn't park; they just slowed DOWN considerable."