December 17, 2018

Humorous Mischief Maker, J.C.

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J.C. Wrangle is a Doodlebug Island rancher who surrounds his land, cattle, and other holdings with barbed wire and advertises himself as living in a gated community. Claims it’s the finest on the Island. J.C. himself, however, is as open-handed as his property is enclosed, and he has an irrepressible humor about him which bubbles over in his dealings with other ranchers and residents.

Now, it happens that part of J.C.’s land lies parallel to the fourteenth fairway of the Doodlebug Island five-star resort golf course, so he finds a good many golf balls lost by players fighting a vicious hook. Purely in the spirit of fun, J.C. gathers these balls and throws them a few at a time back onto the fairway, right after a foursome has teed off. Says he likes to learn how people handle ambiguity. Regular players simply gather them up and yell greetings to J.C., who is doing his best to remain out of sight. But it’s something of a scramble for the uninitiated who imagine their actions go unobserved.

In a companionable sense, J.C. has also been known to drive some of his own cattle over to one or another of his neighbor’s spreads then show up the next morning to accuse them of rustling. In the ribbing which always follows, these neighbors retaliate by charging him for feed, or by telling him he can have the hides and a hind quarter–the rest represents trespass damages.

A variation of this practice is played out when J.C. takes a prize bull or a registered mare from one of his neighbors and conceals it at his place. He has even been known to paint his brand on whatever livestock he’s “borrowed.” Only once did he regret his actions. A range-loving Brahma of regal descent took exception to being corralled at J.C.’s place, and put a horn into the soft tissue of his backside. J.C. formed a lasting dislike for Brahmas about then, and he let this one go with no further argument.

Folks invited to eat with J.C. and his wife require socially thick skins because they’re likely to be met with a bit of rough handling. “There it is,” J.C. might say, “plenty enough of what it is and good enough for who it is!”

Or, he might say, “Think you’ll like these vittles; the pigs seem to do well on ’em.”

But his favorite line is sometimes unsettling to newcomers. “There it is! If you want to eat it up from my wife and kids, go ahead.”

Those whom J.C. likes to invite back include guests with a ready response, something like, “Well, if you’re not man enough to provide ’em more, let ’em starve!”

Once this mental jousting is over, visitors are invariably treated to great food and the warm solicitude of a couple devoted to each other and appreciative of the company.

On one Sunday morning in April or May of each year, the community of Doodlebug awakens to find that the name of every church on the Island has been switched with that of another, so that Catholics might find themselves attending services in a building now labeled Presbyterian, while the rightful owners of the latter might find themselves worshiping in an edifice called The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. These folks, euphemistically called Mormon, might find their quarters renamed Kingdom Hall. And so it goes among the thirty-four denominations. People can stay in the same building and within their lifetimes learn how it feels to be labeled everything under the sun. And, if they live long enough, they can experience a repeat lesson. It is suspected that J.C. doesn’t do this deed alone, but it’s past certainty he’s the prime organizer.

With disarming modesty, he disclaims responsibility but applauds the effort. “The thing breeds tolerance and understanding, don’tcha think?”

And maybe it does. Island residents are annually amused, perhaps as much by the traditional aspects of the thing as by the results themselves; and they live their new roles for several days. Eventually, preferred labels find their way back, but not before much good-natured kidding takes place.

“I paid tithing and quit smoking,” a rightfully labeled Presbyterian might say to his Mormon friend, “So, when can I expect my recommend to the Temple?”

“I’m sorry, it doesn’t appear you’re predestinated to go,” might be the reply.

Well, now that you know what a humorous mischief maker J.C. is, maybe you’ll want to stick around for the latest and most imminent explosion. I just saw him dig up a parking meter and watched as he put it in the back of his friend Yancy Carter’s pickup and then disappear into police headquarters to report the theft!

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