Friday, January 27, 2012


By Stephen Bly 

Pete’s quite a talker, so his friends avoid him if they don’t have hours to spare for a chat. But I made the mistake of asking, “How’s Ernie doing?” 

Pete’s wife’s brother visited for Christmas and never left. Pete hauled him everywhere.

“Well, I’ll tell ya,” Pete began, “I figured his cinch was getting mighty frayed, so I sent him on his way.”
That stirred a long diatribe, until I finally made my escape. But my mind got stuck the rest of the day on that old cowboy phrase. 

When a man’s cinch gets frayed, he’s worn out his welcome. In fact, the Old West boasted a whole gunny sack full of phrases to describe an unwanted guest. 

He was “as welcome as a polecat at a picnic.” 
Or she was “as appreciated as a rattler in a prairie dog town.” 
Or “folks go ‘round ‘em like a swamp.”

You might think that smacks against western hospitality. Wasn’t it the practice  to offer a man a meal and a place to sleep?

But that included one supper. . .one night’s rest. . .and one breakfast. After that, a man either worked for his keep or rode on over the hill.

That’s not too different from biblical hospitality: “For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule,” said St. Paul, “If a man will not work, he shall not eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10).
This didn’t apply to the truly needy, like widows or orphans. They could most often receive support. But all others -- whether a grown child, your neighbor, a relative or a stranger riding through -- had to gather their own goods. You worked for your room and board.

It was the Code.


Do you find it difficult or easy to offer hospitality to folks you don't know all that well?  


Stuart Brannon: The Final Shot
Coming March 2012 -- hardback & ebook
Stuart Brannon: The Final Shot
by Stephen Bly (1944-2011)

Finishing Dad's novel was a family affair.

It's 1905. 
Two orphans flee Oregon's Tillamook Head. One of them is branded a hero. Do they tell what really happened & risk a dangerous man's wrath?
Meanwhile, Brannon searches for his missing U.S. Marshal friend & grapples with the game of golf on behalf of a charity celebrity tournament.
Paperback edition releases August 2012.

No comments: