Around here, autumn is heralded with the making of hard cider. The apples are pressed. The top secret ingredients are mixed in with the apple juice. Then, barrels upon barrels of cider are buried in the ground to work their magic over a year or more.
If you are a hard cider master brewer, the end result is a sweet, alcoholic beverage that will discombobulate the biggest of men. If you are the old timer up the road, you end up with a somewhat fruity flavored, yeasty smelling, vinegary tasting beverage with unidentifiable bits floating on the top.
Faced with an over-abundance of pears this fall, I stopped up at the house to drop some off for his cider concoction. I found him around the back of the barn, shovel in hand and waste deep in a “cider barrel hole.”
“Need some pears?” I asked.
“Yep,” he replied between huffs and puffs. “Put them over there by the barrels. And get Mr. Sh*thead away from the apples!” he barked at me.
Now, Mr. Sh*thead is a stray cat that showed up at the old timer’s barn a while back. Contrary to his ornery ways, he actually likes the cat and enjoys its company, although he would deny it if you asked him.
Mr. Sh*thead got his name purely by accident. A few days after the cat arrived, I received a phone call from the old timer. He was agitated because his daily chores were being interrupted by the cat constantly circling his legs. He demanded that I bring up some cat food because, “I got this sh*thead cat that won’t go away and he’s damn hungry.” So, up the road I went with a container of cat food in hand.
Before I even opened the barn door, I could hear him grumbling, “Get away, get away, GET AWAY, you sh*thead!”
“Geez,” I said, “show the cat a little respect. He’s probably killed a lot of the mice for you.”
Without missing a beat, he spun around on his heels, gave me an annoyed look and said, “Well, la-de-da, then how’s MISTER Sh*thead sound to you, princess?”
And the rest is history.