The tale of the “Tarr Baby”

I’ve been thinkin’ of late; what with all this bad news circling and swirling about. If a body isn’t careful, it may seep into your mind like poison, darkening your thoughts and dreams. Even your very outlook on this precious gift of life; the very life given each of us by a just and Holy God. I was thinkin’ how easy it is to focus on all this “bad,” all the while forgettin’ about the damage it does. Hopes and dreams broken on the ground, relationships tattered beyond all hope of mendin’. Then a story came to me; a story about two lifelong friends, tighter than ticks in a dog’s ear they were, had each other’s backs through thick and thin. Stood proud at each other’s wedding; Godfather to each other’s children, even a world war couldn’t separate those ol’ boys, yep, they were two peas in a pod. That is until the Tarr baby came.

Elmer Cox and Jew Hicks; remember those names. Cool-weather days were spent in the same one-room schoolhouse; hot summer evenings passed as they hunted craw-dads in the cool creek. When they became men, they stood at the others side as they each wed lovely women. And when Uncle Sam came calling, both honored the call.

When they returned, Elmer picked up his daddie’s work as a blacksmith and Ferrier. Jew did the same, taking over the family farm. Practical jokers, the both of ’em. Innocent enough at the beginning, and each had a good laugh, but time and age escalated their little battles. Each joke became more serious, and each response escalated the stakes; until that day.

One frosty spring morning, Jew fired his ol’ truck up and headed to town; it wasn’t long till he noticed a horrible odor. The smell became so bad his eyes watered, and his throat began to burn. Unbeknownst to him; Elmer had filled the truck’s radiator with horse urine, and the scent was well beyond human comprehension. Of course, this made Elmer so mad his neck scorched the rear of his collar. He swore through his tear-stained eyes and urine-burned sinuses there was gonna be payback.

A couple of frosty mornings later, Jew was loading his forge, getting ready for the day ahead. He filled his shovel with coal and threw it onto the fire when the most horrendous explosion filled the shop. Smoke and fire filled the small building, and Elmer was certain he was about to meet his maker. Unbeknownst to Elmer, Jew had poured a can of black powder into the coal bucket; there was gonna be payback.

Well, as you might expect, news of this little war of attrition spread like wildfire. The talk of the valley it was. Who would make the next move? What might it be this time? Each time the story was shared, the teller would add just a little spice until, at last, the tale took on a life of its own, completely unrecognizable from the simple tale of practical jokes. A Tarr Baby was born.

Elmer fumed and fumed; he puzzled and puzzled, befuddled, it came to him. Horse piss, he told the men sitting around the coal stove. More horse piss, ol’ Jew needs a bucket dumped on him when he rides that tractor of his past the shop.

Those “friends” of Elmers couldn’t wait to get down to the store and tell everybody with ears what ol’ Elmer was gonna do. The tale grew and grew; it was no longer a bucket of urine, but a bucket of whatever the teller had in mind, just to make it worth tellin’. The Tarr baby was growing fast.

When word got to Jew, he was at the end of his tether.

“What are ya gonna do?” they would ask.

“You cain’t let this go unanswered,” they would say.

I know what I’m gonna do, Jew said. You just wait and see.

The next morning Jew climbed on his tractor, slid a shotgun down next to the seat, and headed off to his fields. The “friends” gathered at the store saw him as he chugged past.

“This is it,” they cried as they all jumped into their trucks, anxious to follow Jew and see what happens when he passes Elmer’s shop.

As Jew rounded the corner; he lowered his hand to cock the trigger.

Elmer was waiting on the roof; he strained to hear the ol’ tractor as it chugged ever closer to his shop. Then, just as Jew turned the corner, Elmer jumped to his feet, ready to cover his friend with urine.

But Jew was ready; he lifted the shotgun and pulled the trigger; birdshot sent his former friend flying off the rooftop and crashing into the weeds on the other side.

Elmer survived being shot, though the birdshot took years to work its way out of the hundreds of little wounds. Of course, the sheriff was called, and the town began to take sides. Rumors flew through the air like June bugs, and gossip grew like cancer with each telling. Funny thing, the word “gossip,” you can almost hear the hiss of a serpent when you say the word; it’s truly a filthy word.

Before long, everybody in town became polarized, the was no middle ground. Who started it? What started it? Some even went so far as to insinuate adultery. You were either on this side or the wrong side, and few would change their mind.

Tarr Baby definition; a Tarr Baby is something that the more you play with it, the more you get on you. Let me say that again; the more you play with it, the more you get on you.

You see, when we get polarized on a subject, any subject, pick sides, refuse to listen, my way or the highway. We only tend to get more on ourselves; we become our own victim by default. Tar is very difficult to get off, and sooner or later, we succumb to its weight to our own peril.

We live in a time when our money is fake, our government is rotten to its core, our elected leaders have larceny in their hearts, our rights are being stripped away, and our worth as Americans is constantly under attack. Yet here we are, playing with a Tarr Baby while the important bits go unnoticed or unattended.

As a whole, I believe we can learn a lot from Elmer Cox and Jew Hicks. A lifetime of friendship, ruined over a bucket of horse urine, birdshot, and rumor. They became so lost in the gossip (did you hear that hiss) that they forgot who their real friend was, they lost sight of the strength of unity. Something so simple, so mundane killed what survived even a world war. Think on that for a while.

The Tin Cup Clan thanks you for your valuable time. I realize many will read this without so much as a like or most importantly a share, but this time, share it, please.

Oh, and by the way; turpentine removes tar, just in case you should need to know that.

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