By Bob Huber
Before they come after me with that final funny jacket, I have to tell you that the night the lamb broke up our bridge party ranks as a high-water mark in my otherwise serene life. Of course, it doesn’t live up to the time our neighbor lady shut down her husband’s drunken poker party using a 10-pound bag of beans, but it was close.
You see, the lamb thought it was a dog. Everything else just fell into place.
It all began when a nephew with rural tendencies gave us an orphaned baby lamb thinking it would be great fun for our kids to bottle-feed and watch die. A year down the road that same doggy lamb won a red ribbon at the state fair and probably would have taken a blue ribbon if it hadn’t barked at a buyer and lifted a leg on a judge.
But a little background: Our yard in those days was the hunting ground for a hoard of neurotic canines we lovingly called the Wolf Pack. They were of varying breeds and relationships, because our children couldn’t stand to part with a single one.
So when we launched the lamb into our yard, the Wolf Pack went into its canine shuffle comprised of sniffing and strutting. But finally they figured that if it had four legs like a dog, smelled awful like a dog, and barked like a dog — albeit a little high pitched — by golly, it must be a dog.
The lamb, naturally, was more than happy to be initiated into the fraternity. When the Wolf Pack ran to the back fence to bark at the garbage man, the lamb did too. The dogs barked, “Arf, arf!” and the lamb bleated, “Baa, baa!”
A week or so later my wife Marilyn had to be away for a few days having babies, so I farmed out the kids, the dogs and the lamb. The bean lady next door offered to have her children feed the lamb even though I explained that the poor thing was fading fast and might go unannounced at any time to that Great Alfalfa Field in the Sky.
I should explain here that the bean lady and her family wouldn’t have fit onto a billboard. They all were enormously fat. In fact, they could have posed as “before” pictures for a whole slew of diets.
The upshot was, when Marilyn returned and I rounded up the brood, I was amazed to find the lamb also fat and sassy. “What did you feed it?” I asked the bean lady. She shrugged and said, “Table scraps.”
Anyway, months went by and the lamb grew even larger while purging our back yard of any living flora. It was at that moment in time that we had friends over for a few rounds of bridge. They brought their youngsters as was common in those days, and we imprisoned them in a back bedroom with a mountain of toys and comic books.
Little did we know that outside the natives were restless. Lightning had been seen on the distant horizon, which caused the Wolf Pack to dissolve into total pandemonium.
One animal broke through a back door screen and hid in the bathtub, shivering. Another gathered lost tennis balls and deposited them where I later stepped and experienced the agony of low-level aeronautics. The lamb, watching these antics, wagged its stubby tail and bounced around the yard, bleating and butting trees.
I suppose nothing worse would have happened except that the lamb, who by this time was big as a musk ox and twice as frisky, found the hole in the screen and entered the house, standing silently in the darkened kitchen, its eyes reflecting red.
My bridge partner, normally a placid woman of urban upbringing, took that moment to look in my direction. I smiled and said, “Seven spades.”
Instead of smiling back, she suddenly threw her cards in the air and screamed!
“Well, don’t get all riled up,” I said. “Let’s review the bidding.”
But before you could say Little Bo Peep, the lamb burst into the living room looking for more trees to butt. Cards flew in the air, coffee spilled and one woman toppled over backward, bouncing a floor lamp off of her husband’s head.
The kids, hearing the ruckus, came roaring out of the bedroom like a seething ball chasing Indiana Jones. When they saw the lamb, they yelled, “Get it! Get it!” and they chased it around the room, stomping furniture and anything else that got in the way.
I stopped the ruckus by simply whistling for the lamb. It came to me, sat up and begged, its tail wagging. I fed it a crab meat hors d’oeuvre.
Then I looked at my partner and asked, “Do you want to gather up your cards and review the bidding or what?” In those days I took my bridge seriously.
Bob Huber is a retired journalist living in Portales. He can be contacted at 356-3674.