By James C. “Chris” Williams IV
I have to tell you that he has a knack of interrupting me at the most inopportune times. “What the heck are you talking about,” you say? I am talking about Brother John Deacon, that’s what. Pam had gone out shopping with her friend and since I was alone with about four hours to kill I thought I would sneak a little nap. Just as my head hit the pillow …. the phone rang. I thought about not even looking at the caller ID and then when I did, I really thought about not answering it, but I didn’t want to regret it later…. like I wouldn’t anyway. So, I answered and immediately regretted it. At first I was a little confused because I heard grunting noises in the background and without telling you what I thought was going on I will tell you that I almost hung up right then. “Brother Chris” he finally shouted huffing and puffing into the phone. Hold on a second.” “John, what are you doing,” I yelled back. As I listened it sounded like he was in some kind of a scuffle or something. Just as I was about to hang up again he came back on and abruptly asked, “What are you doing right now?” “Well, I was going to take a nap,” I answered. But after what I heard the last thirty seconds I don’t think I could sleep if I wanted to.” “Oh cut it out,” he growled. “Why don’t you come down here and help me.” “Are you kidding,” I said? “I am not driving five hours to see you on a Saturday afternoon.” “I’m not asking you to,” he growled. “I am down here at the Stock Show and Rodeo and I need your help.” I was instantly confused….which is nothing new. I knew our Rodeo was going on but John lived a long way from here so I asked, “You mean our Rodeo?” That got him to sputtering and spitting like he swallowed something the wrong way, “Gol durnitt Brother Chris, you are wasting my time here. I am hanging on to a huge ol hog that’s dang near as big as I am and I need your help.” I have to tell you that many pictures ran through my mind on my way down to the Rodeo Grounds and none were pleasant. When I got there it took me a while to locate John. He was in the swine barn and to my surprise he was actually in the middle of the show ring judging hogs. He never ceases to amaze me and once again I was. When he saw me he waved me down to the gate where I met him. He told me that he was glad I was there and he needed help with a problem child, “Follow me,” he said. He proceeded to tell me that he was a swine judge at stock shows and had been doing that for many years and also showed some of his hogs. I followed him to another barn way back in a far corner where he stopped in front of a trailer that had been backed into the door. Inside was the biggest hog I think I have ever seen. He looked up at me and gave a little grunt and just stared at John. “I don’t think he likes you much, John,” I said. “No kidding,” John replied sarcastically. “I have been trying to get this here “pain in the rear” hog out of this trailer into a pen for the last two hours. I have used up all the boys here and now they won’t help me. This hog is just mean. I know you spent time around livestock on the ranch and you were my last hope.” “John,” I said. “I am confused. This is a show barn. This is where
they show livestock. This hog don’t look like he wants to be showed.” “Oh he’s ok Brother Chris. He just gets an attitude every once in a while. Once I get him out of this trailer and into a pen he’ll be alright.” “Yeah, right,” I said skeptically. “He looks like he has more than an attitude.” I had never done much with hogs …. mostly just horses and cattle but no hogs. I really wasn’t looking forward to this but I helped John fix up a makeshift chute that would head him into that pen once we or rather “if” we got him out of the trailer. Before we entered the trailer I suggested to John that we just use a come–a- long and pull him out. That got me a nasty look so I called Pam and told her I loved her and followed John into the trailer. I knew that one of the ways you “guide” a hog was to grab his tail and kind of steer him the way you want him to go so I decided I was going to handle that end of him. John eased up to the big guy who started to grunt faster the closer John got. John approached him like a Sumo Wrestler ready to clinch. What happened next, no one could have predicted. I want you to know, dear reader that a six hundred and fifty pound hog can move pretty quick when he wants to. Well just as John was reaching down to try to get him to stand up he shot to his feet and headed for the trailer gate at a high rate of speed grunting and squealing as he went. John dove and grabbed him around the neck like a bull dogger and I dang near missed grabbing his tail on the way by. That crazy hog shot out the back of that trailer at a full run squealing louder than ever with John hanging on for dear life and me ………well, let’s just say it was hard to steer him while I was bouncing off the sides of the fencing on either side of the chute and it was all I could do just to hang on. Everything was a blur and I could hear yelling and yes even some cheering as we were dragged …… yes dragged across that barn by that devils spawn excuse for a hog. Yup I was mad as he_ _ and when we got stopped, if we ever did, I was going to make ham and eggs out of him and then I was going to deal with my Brother John for bringing me down here in the first place. Well it seemed like twenty minutes had passed but it couldn’t have been more than forty-five seconds at the most, as fast as he was running, and then I bounced off a fence post as he passed through the gate into his pen. Then, as quick as it started…… it ended. I just laid there for a few seconds catching my breath and when I looked up I saw that unholy monster laying down as calm and as peaceful as anything. To my left was John who had released his death grip from that hogs neck and rolled over on his back breathing hard. I pushed myself up to my knees and realized that both my arms were scratched and rubbed raw from that seventy-five yard dragging across the swine barn – and the front of my pants was filled up with a mixture of dirt, hay, and pig manure. All the buttons on the front of my shirt had been rubbed off, and if that wasn’t enough I had lost one shoe and my hat somewhere along the way. As I finally got to my feet I became aware of the noise around us, and when I looked I saw a bunch of people gathered around the pen. Some were clapping and some were hootin and hollerin, but most were just downright laughing at us. I shook my head and cleared some of the cobwebs out just as John stood up. He looked around with a sheepish grin on his face and turned to me. He started to say something just as my anger surfaced again and I charged that mean mound of
pork with the full intent on doing major damage. I really don’t know what I thought I was going to do to that huge blob of blubber, but I was so mad I was going to do something. I launched myself at him as John tried to catch me. I landed hard on top of him and started punching and kicking as hard as I could. After a few seconds I looked up to see him just calmly looking at me. I was totally out of breath and I just laid there on top of him sucking in big gulps of air. Finally John came over and picked me up and carried me out of the pen and closed the gate. People were still talking about our warp speed trip from trailer to pen, and one old timer stopped laughing long enough to ask us if we could get his hogs out of his trailer. He stepped back quickly when he saw the look in my eyes and John reached out and grabbed me. “Come on Brother Chris,” John said quickly. “Let’s go clean up a bit.” I was completely unprepared for the person that was looking back at me from the mirror. There was no doubt I was going to be plenty sore tomorrow. We washed up as much as we could and John offered to buy me some good old Rodeo food. Right outside the swine barn was a Texas BBQ stand where he bought four BBQ beef sandwiches and a half a rack of pork ribs. I thought we were going to sit and eat, but I was wrong. He grabbed the food and walked (with everyone we passed staring at us) over to a little stand that was selling roasted corn on the cob where he bought three ears which he added to the BBQ, and continued on a ways further where he bought two roasted turkey legs. After handing them to me, he crossed to the other side of the pathway to a funnel cake stand for three cakes with cinnamon, and then next door to a drink stand where he talked them into selling him a gallon of tea. There was almost too much stuff to carry as we started to hunt for a place to sit and eat. Finally, we found an empty picnic table, sat and dug in. It was all I could do to eat one of the BBQ sandwiches and an ear of corn. I don’t know what it is about Rodeo food but it just tastes sooooooooo good. I sat there patiently while John ate everything else. Apparently, Rodeo food was to his liking as well. As I sat there I could feel all the bumps and bruises starting to hurt and all of a sudden I felt like violating a couple of obligations with respect to the big guy sitting across from me. Heck I was going to take a nap and now I was beat up severely and it was all his fault. All because of a stupid hog!! I said, “John, before I get so sore that I can’t walk, is there anything you want to talk about to put in the newsletter this month?” “Yup,” he replied. “I sure do. There is something I have been running around in my head for a while that I need to talk about. I want to talk to you about a goat. “A goat? What do you mean a goat? I just got through with you and a hog. I don’t want to have anything to do with a goat. I am sick of animals right now, just stop it,” I said. He just shook his head sympathetically, gave me a sad look, and continued on. “You know Brother Chris, I travel around the State a bit and I sometimes get to see degrees being done by other Lodges and heck sometimes I get to work in some of those degrees. When all the Brothers are out in the fellowship hall eating and socializing before the degree there is always one or more of the Brothers warning the new Candidate to “watch out for the goat.” When I hear that I just shake my head in sadness. Can you picture this? Here is a man who doesn’t know what is going to
happen to him who is most assuredly a little nervous who has been made to listen to a mandatory reading from the monitor which among other things asks him to open his heart and mind and receive the “light” that is going to be offered to him in his initiation. He is also told that there is no horseplay and that the degree is very solemn and serious. Heck everyone worries when they have to go through an “initiation” that they will be made to do something demeaning or be made fun of and to hear that everything is serious and without any games is a comfort to that candidate. And, then someone walks up to him and asks him if he brought food for the goat and his stress level goes up. And, when he is going through his degree and we want and need him to listen and absorb the words and lessons presented, he instead is thinking about a dang goat.” “I know what you are talking about Brother John. I have seen it myself. I don’t think the Brothers that do it mean it to be mean but it has the same effect.” “You’re durn right it’s mean.” You know we don’t ride goats or have anything to do with goats in any of the degrees. Do you know that the goat or “riding the goat” was started by anti-Masons to ridicule the Craft?” I must have had a surprised look on my face because he said, “It’s true.” “I read that there were men in England who had been rejected for membership in the Fraternity that made up stories about Freemasons “raising the devil and riding on his goat.” Even though it was completely false it was told over and over by anti-Masons and it really hurt our Fraternity. I also read that early Masons referred to the supreme being as the “God of all Things” Once again those enemies of Masonry used the first letters of those words to spell GOAT and claimed it was proof positive of their claims And then we have Brothers who are ignorant of the real meaning of the “Masonic Goat” who think it’s funny to have a little fun with the candidate by making him think there really is a goat. I think if these Brothers knew what they were doing to Masonry by continuing this they might think about not doing it at all.” Then he pulled a folded note out of his pocket and slid it across the table to me saying, “Look at what I found in a book that is an anti- Masonic book.” I unfolded it and there was a picture of a goat on its hind legs with a sinister look on his face and a poem called “When father rode the goat.” I decided to print it:
When Father Rode The Goat
The house is full of arnica And mystery profound; We do not dare to run about Or make the slightest sound; We leave the big piano shut
And do not strike a note;
The doctor’s been here seven times Since father rode the goat. He joined the lodge a week ago — Got in at 4 a.m. And sixteen brethren brought him home Though he says he brought them. His wrist WAS sprained and one big rip, Had rent his Sunday coat — There must have been a lively time When father rode the goat. He’s resting on the couch to-day! And practicing his signs — The hailing signal, working grip, And other monkeyshines; He mutters passwords ‘neath his breath, And other things he’ll quote — They surely had an evening’s work When father rode the goat. He has a gorgeous uniform, All gold and red and blue; A hat with plumes and yellow braid, And golden badges too. But, somehow, when we mention it, He wears a look so grim We wonder if he rode the goat Or if the goat rode him.
“Well that’s a cute little poem Brother John,” I said. “But when you think about it, it really is pretty offensive to Masons or should be.” “Exactly my point Brother he said. “ Here we have had people bashing Masonry who have no clue what we do or who we are (and who don’t really care) who just wanted to tear down our Fraternity because of jealousy, or fear, or maybe even anger, and the worst part is that our own Brethren have perpetuated this ridiculous story by using it as a hazing tool.” I just nodded and he got real quiet and got a sort of pained look on his face. I said, “I didn’t realize it bothered you as much as it does.” He looked at me kinda
funny and said, “As much as it aggravates me I was just realizing that my whole body has just tightened up and the pain is tremendous and I don’t think I can even stand up much less walk.” I don’t understand Brother John. I’m the one who got hurt the worse. I was being dragged …… you were riding.” “Riding, my foot,” he muttered. I was bouncing around like a rag doll on top of that monster.” “Well I don’t remember seeing you as I had my own problems to worry about,” I said laughing. “You do look like you’ve been rode hard and put up wet.” He pointed to my shirt and started chuckling, “At least I’ve still got my clothes on.” By then we were both laughing. I think the people walking by thought we were intoxicated. Not only were we laughing at each other’s appearance we looked like 100 year old men trying to get up and walk. I had to help John up and he almost fell twice which for some reason that I can’t explain both of us thought was pretty funny. We must have been a sorry sight walking back to the barn very, very slowly …….. trying to hold each other up. I left him at the barn leaning against his hog pen. I told him good bye and shuffled as best as I could towards the parking lot trying not to think badly of him. I got just about to the barn door and a thought came to mind. I turned and called to John and asked, “Hey John what is your hog’s name anyway?” He got a real goofy look on his face, shook his head, and said – “You are not going to believe this but his name is Jubelum.” I just laughed and turned away. What a perfect name for that mean old hog. I hope I can walk tomorrow. Ya’ll have a good month.