Lee Pitts is a freelance columnist for The and Paso Robles Press; you can e-mail him at [email protected]

I’ve only led a riot once in my life. That was years ago at our annual branding event, which eventually turned into an all-out war.

I always made sure to invite not only all the neighboring ranchers, but also some of the villagers, who were always happy to do so, not to mention a free steak dinner. A year ago, friends called to ask if they could accommodate another couple who were unexpectedly trapped in their home for an extended period of time. I said: Of course: The more, the better.

Truer words have never been spoken.

The wife of the couple was very nice and did a great job in the kitchen, while the husband was by far the most obnoxious person I have ever met. First, let me explain that I almost always wear long-sleeved shirts because I’ve had several skin cancers removed, including half of my nose and a nasty melanoma on my back. But this marking day was particularly hot, so I was stripped down to my t-shirt, exposing my non-burned arms. I can honestly say I’ve had some nice guns. In fact, my hands were one of the few things my wife liked at first. In school, I could hold 100 pounds over my head with one arm extended and shake it. These days I’m lucky if I gain 10 pounds.

The former Dirheiman looked at my thin white extensions and said: You call these hands? What are you, some kind of wimp? It’s arms, he said, rolling up the sleeves of his shirt and exposing two huge forearms, biceps and triceps the size of bowling balls, around which he could dance like Mexican jumping beans.

When I introduced the old Dirheimer to the burly breeder I was to castrate that day, the highest honor a marker can bestow, the old Dirheimer shook his hand and immediately began to fall apart like a pair of Vice Grips®. He squeezed until he saw tears coming from my friend’s eyes, and you have to remember that my friend is over six feet tall and weighs 285 pounds, almost all muscle.

You call that a handshake, amateur, said the old milkman, who was about six feet tall, wore a slide cap and had hands the size of baseball gloves. They looked more like an old tree root that D9 had dug out of the ground, with prominent veins and short, wavy, cracked nails. I was afraid my friend’s hand was so broken he couldn’t hold a castration knife.

On one morning, the former Dirheimian insulted every boy present over the age of twelve. That day I assigned this 70 year old freak of nature to the ground crew, hoping the big calves would eat his lunch. But it wasn’t supposed to happen. He grabbed the largest calf, a 350-pound mini-monster, and spun it around like it was a 50-pound bag of food!

I must admit the old Dirhaman is a real beauty.

Unbeknownst to me, my friends forged a plan to give the receipt to the man. They waited for the last calf, probably because they didn’t want to miss his hard work before moving on. My friend, who had been castrated all day, handed me the knife and stood up, flexing his throwing arm to see if the nerve damage in his arm would bother him, and proceeded to wrap the former milkman around his waist. When he called: All the men over twelve attacked them and put the old man down. It looks like a rugby scrum in the dirt. After exposing a cheek (not the face), my friend asked for a hot iron. They wanted to teach this disgusting creature a lesson.

Looking back, I don’t know why I intervened to prevent their retaliation. I had no doubt they would have made it and I would have loved to have seen them, but I didn’t want that disgusting bastard to wear my badge.

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