Want to hear a dirty joke?

A white horse fell in the mud.

Long ago and far away, I’ve seen grown (and sober) men almost roll on the ground over that little bit of silliness. It’s just something we humans do when situations get tense or have been tense for a very long time.

We laugh or we cry; or sometimes we laugh until we cry.

You’ve just got to do something.

Talking with a reporter buddy of mine a little bit ago, we were kicking around memories of the probably not-so-smart places we’ve been and the things we’ve done.

It was a good many years ago, but we were working in a Texas summer when turning your face into the wind was like opening the door to an oven.

High wind, no moisture and lots of heat equaled a whole lot of grass fires that year. Dozens. It seemed like the fire departments would barely get one doused and two others would pop up.

The two of us had gone to lunch as I recall and heard a call for a big fire, threatening to go from bad to holy heck.

We got there and the heat from the road made the metal of the truck hot enough to burn your hands.

Grabbing cameras, we crossed over a ditch, through a break in a thorny hedge and into this field where the wind was pushing flames about four-feet tall to the north. We trudged across the already burned ground to get in close for photos when all of a sudden you could hear this howl and the wind changed directions.

What was a medium-sized grass fire steadily marching away from us suddenly became something out of a movie as the flames raced across the thorny hedge encircling the area.

We couldn’t see the road anymore or any break in the flames that were half a skyscraper tall. I knew fire could make its own wind and spin off little tornadoes of flame. Knowing that and seeing one of those buggers come flying at your face, however, is a whole different ball game.

The firefighters, my buddy and I were surrounded. The flames were close enough that it seemed like day was turning to night.

Not a good situation. At that point, there was only one thing and one thing only that we could do, and all six to 10 of us somehow, without any discussion at all, made the same decision.

That’s right.

We broke into song.

I don’t know if Johnny Cash would have been proud of our version of “Ring of Fire,” but it got us through a mighty tense situation.

A few minutes later, the wind shifted again, more firefighters arrived, and the sky began to clear. It was then that the laughter started.

Nope, there was nothing funny about that day, nothing at all.

That’s probably why it was so freaking hilarious.

The memories had us laughing again on the phone as they seem to every time we think back.

There’s not a dang thing funny about this situation we find ourselves in right now either.

So, maybe you’re nowhere that you’d see a white horse stumble in a mud puddle, but there’s bound to be something out there to laugh about.

Just give yourself the chance.



– Shannon Crabtree is editor & publisher of the El Campo Leader-News.

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