A Bicycle Built For Torture

People often come up to me and say, “Kendal, being as how you are such an expert on everything, not to mention the fact that you look a lot like Mel Gibson, do people ever ask you to taste their barbecue goat'” The answer is yes. As a matter of fact, I was one of the judges at the World Championship Barbecue Goat Cookoff in Brady, Texas on Labor Day Weekend. The experience was one I will never forget, at least until some of that homemade sauce quits repeating on me. As a first time judge I was a little apprehensive, and so made sure that I attended the orientation brunch at the Cafe at the Depot on Saturday morning. I normally try to avoid meals with names other than breakfast, dinner or supper, and for a very good reason. At normal meals, normal food is served; at tea, brunch, and other social affairs, abnormal food is served. The cookoff brunch featured a food-type substance known as keesh (I’m not sure how you spell that, but my wife told me to spell it sort of like ‘squeegie,’ which can’t be right). The keesh was very good, or so I was told. I waited until no one was looking and dumped mine in a nearby potted plant. About mid-afternoon the other judges and I assembled on top of a couple of flatbed trailers, in plain view of everyone in Richard’s Park, and started tasting barbecued goat meat. I am happy to report that, after about an hour and a half, one of the entries was finally declared the winner, thank goodness, and people stopped shoving plates of goat at us. I would like to express my heartfelt congratulations to the winning team, whoever they are, and point out that it is not necessary to invite me to an appreciation dinner of barbecued goat anytime soon. A simple check will suffice. The most disappointing aspect of the cookoff, personally, was that my suggestion about how to kick off the weekend was ignored. There is a holiday in Italy, or maybe Spain, called the Festival of St. Vincent, which is begun by dropping a live goat from a church tower. The goat is caught in a blanket unhurt, and I figured this would be a great opener for the cookoff. A goat could be dropped from, say, the roof of the courthouse in the middle of town, into a huge barbecue pit. Unfortunately the folks in Brady weren’t interested. Another idea I had was that, sometime during the weekend, a tomato fight could be held on the courthouse square. This is one of the events surrounding the famous ‘Bull Run’ in Palermo, Spain, or maybe Italy, every year. Several trucks haul overripe tomatos in to a designated area, and the residents pile in and start throwing them at each other, until everyone present is red, and tomato pulp and juice runs knee deep down the streets. If you agree that a goat drop and a tomato fight should be included in next year’s cookoff schedule, write to DeLaine Poe at the Brady Chamber of Commerce and let her know. And don’t mention the keesh. A couple of days after the cookoff, while I was still unable to drive by a pasture full of goats without having an emotional experience, I participated in the annual Prevaricator Triple Century Bicycle Race, a 300 mile endurance marathon from Brady to Mason. The actual distince is closer to thirty miles but, believe me, when you make the trip on a bicycle it seems like at least 300. After winning the Prevaricator last year I felt obligated to return and defend my title. In retrospect I think I would have been better off staying home and defending my backside. Riding a bike half a day would be a relatively simple, painless affair, except for the fact that bicycle seats are evidently designed by demented, sadistic individuals without even the most remote inclination to ever sit on one. Those of you with more sense than I’ve got can find out what it’s like to ride in the Prevaricator by straddling a pipe fence and bouncing up and down on it for four hours. After the race we all eat dinner at Zavala’s Restaurant in Mason, and everyone gets a chance to stand up and tell how they won the contest. You’ll be pleased to learn that I won again this year, although I cheated. For some reason, riding in the back of a pickup is considered poor form. My proctologist expects me to recover soon, which means I should be well enough to judge the Fall Fest parade in Eden on September 23. Rob Amos, editor of the Eden Echo, is in charge of the parade, and he sent me an itinerary for the weekend. There are all kinds of fun events planned but, surprisingly, I found no mention of a tomato fight . . . Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist who would like to invite all the area newspaper editors to participate in next year’s Prevaricator. Write to him at PO Box 564, Mason, Tx 76856 or email hemphill@towa.org

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