Walk This Way?

Daryl Gay's Back Page, October 2018

Daryl Gay | October 8, 2018

Ever ask yourself rhetorical questions? Aloud? While hobbling? And bleeding?

Example: “How many times does a redneck have to walk around a tailgate before he remembers there’s a trailer hitch underneath?”

My shins ain’t got much skin. Mostly because I keep it peeled off by doing such dumb stunts as hurrying to grab a dove bucket from a truck bed and hustling into a field full of birds.

Busted shins, however, have a way of removing all the bustle from your schedule. Might as well insert a time out to gently place—don’t sling it—the bucket in an upright position in order to settle upon it and whine/groan/cuss. ‘Cause you ain’t apt to be walking real soon.

(Note: One thing nobody wants to hear is, “Who put that trailer hitch on there?” Because you did, you big dummy! Twenty years ago!)

It’s possible that, while seated, slamming a fist into the tailgate COULD assuage your temperament. But only until splintered fingers join the busted shin in a cacophony you really don’t care to experience. Especially if one happens to be your TRIGGER finger.

Besides, tailgates are fairly innocuous critters and tend to heal much faster than fists. They just kind of do their up-and-down thing when manipulated and seem to have no apparent opinion on how trailer hitches go about their business on a daily basis.

Hitches, however, have minds of their own. In devilish league with their partners in crime—2-inch balls, for the most part—they tend to strike high and low. A particular specialty is for the hitch to rip a hole in the shin while the ball takes direct aim at the kneecap.

Such tag-team action elevates both lurching and limping to new and spectacular levels. Before, you only THOUGHT you should have won the lead role in The Hunchback of Notre Dame!

My hitch features two different-sized balls for a pair of trailers—because when you hunt and fish for everything that creeps and swim you need two—but each seems to have come from the factory equipped with a nasty attitude. I’ve seen trucks with three balls on the hitches, and all I can say is them’s brave fellers, boys!

Or else heavily scarred and not very bright.

Tell you something else: you can never really know a trailer hitch, no matter how long the two of you have been together. Painfully speaking and otherwise.

Say, for instance, that you developed a personal relationship by purchasing, installing and even polishing its chrome.

Sure, it might gleam back at you in the sunshine; pull your boat or cargo trailer a million miles with nary complaint; possibly go so far as to remain faithful while chained to your stuck buddy’s 2-wheel-drive!

But every time you walk too close around that tailgate…

Consider yourself warned. Now, let’s get back to what’s left of my right laig…

While certainly no anatomist, I can clue you in on the fact that there ain’t much meat between shin skin and shinbone, even in the best of times. And what little gristle there is don’t make for no cushion a’tall.

So the sound you get when shin meets hitch is more “BONG!” than “SPLAT!” My take is that the hitch is reveling in its accomplishment with a bell-like echo. Mostly drowned out by a bird-turning beller.

Along about now is when incredulity sets in.

“Really?” (Here come those rhetorical questions again.)

“Are you truly telling me that I just walked into that ##@$&%&@$# trailer hitch for the forty-seventh time?”

“And busted half the hide and all the meat down to the bone off my right shin?”


Well, yeah. That quarter-sized flap of peeled-back skin waving in the breeze is a sure sign. On an A-positive note, my blood seems to be a bright, sprightly crimson as it courses merrily into the top of my boot. Too, due to the sheer shock of such a sudden reacquaintance, pain is running a little late. But numbness, unfortunately, doesn’t hang around long.

My fellow bird shooters? Oh, yeah; a handful of Ben Franklin likenesses couldn’t drive them away from a free show like this. Their guffawing advice—none of it helpful to a critical patient—runs out only when I begin shucking shells…

For some reason or other, my thoughts go way back to high school football and a spray product called Tufskin. Probably extinct now, but you could apply that stuff to a cut or scrape and it was like wrapping it with a roofing shingle.

And as soon as the fire went out, you’d go right back in.

I remember my favorite coach, Ben Hagan, dosing me up with a big grin, the same one he sported my very first day on the weight room flat bench: “Gay, if you don’t press that 135, it’s going to fall on your throat and kill you, because I ain’t picking it up.”

That’s real, down-home, effective inspiration, boys, and we need more of it today. But I digress…

Back in the field, I’m thinking the nearest BAND-AID is likely two states over while severely castigating myself for wearing shorts to a dove shoot in the first place. (First time ever, by the way; that hitch had it plotted out all along.)

I managed to find a spot, and on the bright side the gnats seemed to be having a fine shin party, inviting friends from miles around. Doves, too. Invoking the Blind Hog Rule, I even dropped a few (with witnesses).

And the pain gave up and left…

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