Six large and two small Herefords grazed quietly in the assigned area beside and behind our house for almost three months, and it was time for their owner to move them into their home pasture 600 feet down the road.

Here in St. George, we don’t round up cattle with ropes and horses, nor do we have one of Temple Grandin’s exotic pens. Farmer Tim Polky, the cow man, parks his cow hauler in the pasture. Then he sets up a metal corral that functions like a huge purse seine that he attaches to the end of the thing. Inside the corral he sprinkles cow candy in the form of grain. When the cow friends go in to get the grain, he collapses the portable corral until the cows have no place to go but into the box on wheels.

Watching Tim capture his cows gave me the shivers because 31 years ago, I was also brought in from pasture by a similar system. It was called The Camden Singles Club, it met in the cellar of a church and it was also baited with food. The challenge was to get in, eat and get out. Not many of us did.

In my case I was fascinated by a club member who, at the end of the meal, was able to wave her hand over the table and clean up the wreckage without any visible effort. For 20 years I’d been eating my rolled oats out of a pan and my daily spaghetti off a plate that I rinsed off and left beside the sink. The only things in my refrigerator were a bottle of milk and a jar of Ragu meatless spaghetti sauce. I invited her down so she could pick up some pointers on efficient single living, and she was so captivated that she never left.

I met my wife by chance at a supper. Back then those actually looking for companionship or simply adventure would run personal ads in the Maine Times. I’ve always looked down on that kind of thing, but I understand that it was popular before online dating.

You can ask me about online dating because a friend told me quite a bit about it. From time to time he’d trot out an individual he’d met online. They usually dropped him when they discovered that he was only looking for someone who would care for his dog while he was out of town. He said it was just as well, as most of them had posted photos that were taken before the Watergate hearings.

Nowadays city boys still meet girls by walking dogs. They might not like dogs. They might even be allergic to dogs. But if they want to meet the girl who walks her golden retriever every morning, they’d better get a similar beast, put a line on him long enough to tangle with the leash of any other doggie in the park and walk the path.

Old people looking for companionship are not likely to walk dogs. They might realize that dogs are a bother. They might not have money enough to feed a dog.

Even more likely, they had two or three dogs and more than once had a shoulder dislocated when Doggie saw a cat. Or broke a kneecap when Doggie pulled them down. So they have arrived at an age where walking a dog is a life-threatening proposition which they are willing to forgo.

So what is a lonely old man to do? Wander about in Walmart and bump into prospects with a shopping cart?

I inadvertently discovered a much more subtle way to make female fingers itch as you shuffle past them in the big-box store.

Have one of your suspender straps twisted. The twist should be right abeam of your shoulder blades. This requires no effort on your part because suspenders naturally twist every time you put on your pants.

Most old men live in a constant state of twisted suspender strap. For a long time I have known that my wife, Marsha, The Almost Perfect Woman, cannot bear to see me with a twisted suspender. And it was only by accident that I discovered that this need to straighten a twisted suspender is an inborn condition of the female of the species.

The other day in Walmart, a woman approached me with outstretched hand and said, “Excuse me. I’ve got to straighten out your suspenders.”

I said, “Thank you. But you should know right up front. I’m happily married.”

The humble Farmer can be heard Friday nights at 7 on WHPW (97.3 FM) and visited at his website:

www.thehumblefarmer.com/ MainePrivateRadio.html


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