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On the Edge of Common Sense: Tolerance

Baxter Black for Progressive Dairy Published on 31 December 2020

When our opinions get as immovable as a granite outhouse, God has a way of shaking the foundation.

I was searching for an artist who could lend just the right feeling to a book I was putting together. I found such a person. He lived in a remote mountain town and had no phone. With the help of the local postal worker and several letters, he agreed to illustrate my book.



Besides his unique artistic style, he was a good cowboy. Over the months of correspondence and our occasional visits on his local pay phone, I developed a genuine liking and respect for him.

We agreed to meet at the Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada.

I arrived Thursday night and began to test the limits of my envelope. I had the makin’s of a personal best brewing when I spied an old friend, a big man whose effort had done much to promote cowboy poetry. I shook his hand warmly. It was then I noticed he was wearing a little short ponytail. I was overcome. I dressed him down for his uncowboy fashion statement and finished by removing the decorative ribbon binding his furry polyp.

Just then I felt a tap on the shoulder. I turned and a young man reached to shake my hand. He was decked out in his buckaroo finest. He introduced himself and remarked that he enjoyed my work. He explained that he was an actor.

As he talked, I focused on his earring. Earring! I became incensed. I lectured him on manly pride and ended up trying to bite off his earlobe.


In retrospect, it occurred to me that I might have overreacted. Fortunately these good fellows merely escaped my grasp rather than permanently disfigure me.

The next day, I was walking through the crowd when I heard a voice call my name. I turned. A hand pressed into mine and the voice said, “Hi, I’m yer new artist!”

He had blond hair braided into a pigtail that reached his waist. Eight (count ’em, eight) earrings decorated his left ear.

I was dumbfounded.

He continued, “I’d like you to meet my wife.” I looked to his side, where an attractive woman stood wearing a bowler hat and a gold ring in her nose.

Looking back, I suspect God set me up. He said to Himself, this boy needs a lesson in tolerance. He was right. I was due. I’ve learned that a closed mind is like lookin’ at the world with one eye closed. I guess we could use a dose of kindness and understanding in our nation’s capital … Washington (sorry George), D.C.  end mark