Like animals


"There's more than one way to skin a cat," said the old goat when, mad as a wet hen, he set out traps in his backyard to keep rabbits from destroying his vegetable garden.

He'd thought he was being sly as a fox, putting up a fake hawk statue, but he soon realized the thing was as useless as teats on a bull and tore out of there like a bat out of hell, buying up every trap at the local hardware store. He raced around like a bull in a china shop, knocking over display cases and getting the goat of the store manager, who got his feathers in a bunch and told the old man pigs would fly before he'd ever be allowed back.

It was the dog days of summer, but folks in the neighborhood were busy as bees working in their yards. I had a bird's-eye view of this bull-headed fellow from my second-story perch and watched him like a hawk as he worked like a beaver trying to salvage his garden. Concerned neighbors hoping to help him get this monkey off his back told him time and time again that chicken wire was the answer, but they were beating a dead horse.

So that night, after it had rained cats and dogs, he set out his traps and played possum waiting for the rabbits to make a beeline for his garden at dawn.  Sure enough, near sunrise one appeared, cute as a bug's ear, quiet as a mouse, heading for the lettuce bed.

"He's a sitting duck," the man thought. "This is like shooting fish in a barrel."

But the rabbit, slippery as an eel, squeezed the bait through the mesh without going inside the cage, causing the old man to get angry as a hornet, stomp around like a rabid coon, and squeal like a stuck pig.

"You're a snake in the grass," he bellowed, "but I'm stubborn as a mule, and you won't make a monkey out of me, you dirty dog."

I had a whale of time, laughing like a hyena there in my catbird seat, and I could have stayed till the cows came home, but I had bigger fish to fry and headed off to a watering hole.

I arrived at the Loon, drank like a fish, and ended up locking horns with some salty dog who was drunk as a skunk. He'd been working like a carpenter ant, living high off the hog till the market tanked, and now he lay around like a beached whale. He didn't take kindly to hearing "Look what the cat dragged in" as he hobbled past like a three-legged horse half in the bag.

"Mind your own business, jackass," he said.  "I'm ornery as a cut snake."

Although I thought he was all bark and no bite, I soon found out he was strong as an ox as the fur flew. If you bet on me in this fight you backed the wrong horse. My goose was cooked till he finally called off the dogs. Even those coming to my aid dropped like flies.

Afterward, seeing his hang-dog expression, I offered to buy him a shot of Wild Turkey, and we sat for a bull session, where I learned he was thinking of taking a job as a grease monkey or perhaps going back to school for his sheepskin, but first he needed to get his ducks in a row, financially speaking.

He said the recovery was moving at a snail's pace, and the bear market had him feeling lower than a snake's belly. He thought of switching careers but said a leopard can't change its spots.

"It's a fine kettle of fish I've gotten myself into," he added, "and it's all I can do to keep the wolves at bay. I'm going to have to pull a rabbit out of a hat here pretty soon."

"A rabbit!" I shouted, leaping up like a bullfrog. "That gives me an idea. I may sound mad as a March hare, but if you're up for catching rabbits I could get you a job where I know you'd make more than chicken-scratch."

Then I told him about my crazy-as-a-loon neighbor with his bunny-infested vegetable garden and, since I'm running out of space here, I'll just end this shaggy dog tale by saying that before the day was out that eager beaver was catching rabbits like a gypsy hound, and he no longer had that unemployment albatross around his neck.

This ain't no cock-and-bull story, neither.  

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