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For me, said Dud, "it was the biscuits. Never had so many in my life as I did this year."

"Mashed potatoes," Steve said. "And gravy. Lots of brown gravy. Gravy oozing here and there all over everything. Love gravy."

Maizie always gets real butter at Christmas," Bert said. "Puts it on everything. Puts it under everything. Puts it in everything."

"I'll bet the biggest thing she puts it in," said Doc, "is you."

"That's the truth," Bert said during the laughter. "I'm up eight pounds."

"Five here," said Steve.

"Almost ten," said Dud.

We all looked at Doc. With his spare frame, he couldn't gain five pounds if you filled his pockets with rocks.

"Why are you looking at me?"

"Did you gain any, Doc?"

"Tried. Oh how I tried. Just couldn't get 'er done."

"I'm going to start walking every day," Bert said.

"Walking? Don't you know walk is a four-letter word," said Steve the cowboy.

"So is ride, Steve," Bert said.

Steve grinned. "Yeah, but it's more fun.

"I'm going to drink lots of water," Dud said. "I hear that's a good way to lose weight. Isn't that right, Doc?"

"Well I heard the same thing," Doc said. "But what I know is, if you're out in the field drinking lots of water, you'll lose weight by walking back and forth to the bathroom."

"You guys could always start waiting on tables," said Loretta, coming by to fill our coffee cups. "That would leg you up quite well."

"You look real good, Loretta," Dud said. "I'll bet you never had a weight problem."

"You'd be wrong. I once had to lose 180 pounds to stay healthy."

We were astonished. Bert spoke for all of us. "You? You have to be kidding! How did you lose 180 pounds?"

She grinned and winked at us. "Got a divorce."

Brought to you by "Ol' Slim's Views from the Porch," available at www.unmpress.com.

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