Will Rivers | A first-time dad about his first-time son.



Old Hogan’s Goat

When I was six or seven years old, on warm summer evenings I remember sitting in a swing with my grandmother as she sang…

Old Hogan’s goat, Was feeling fine
Ate six red shirts, From off the line
Old Hogan grabbed, Him by the back
And tied that goat, To the railroad track
When the train, Came into sight
That goat grew pale, And green with fright
He heaved a sigh, As if in pain
Coughed up those shirts, And flagged that train

One thing that words can’t convey, is just how badly my grandmother sang.  Nonetheless, I preferred a summer’s evening dose of that lyrical merriment to the heaping helping of sonic spiritual serenades she delivered during Sunday morning church services. But I digress.

Now you may ask yourself, “What could this possibly have to do with Will?”  Well, as you can see by the photo. Will is getting his first tooth. And through the wonders of nature, my son has now turned into a Billy Goat!  There is now nothing on the planet that he wont heave into his mouth.  My son is now a tumultuous teething machine who would test the tendrils that tether the Titanic to the mighty timber of the docks.  You know, if the Titanic hadn’t sank and all.  Anyway, every time he grabs a toy, a towel, or my finger and commences to chomping down, I just think of Old Hogan’s Goat.  Actually just thinking of a goat in general would do, but then I lose half of my story.

Now I have pause to think. What is it with childhood media and goats? Between Hogan’s goat throwing up clothes, and the Billy Goats Gruff battling Trolls, you’d think we were trying to scare kids to death! Then there was the one that starts with “There was an old lady who swallowed a fly…”  Beleive it or not, she get’s around to…..that’s right, you guessed it…she swallows a goat!  I think the line goes, “She opened her throat and in walked a goat.” And don’t forget Old Mother Hubbard!  Somehow she has a dog that she thought she was dead because she went to the cupboard to get him a bone.  Or something like that.  Anyway, long story short, at some point she went to the tailor to buy the dog a coat and when she got back he was riding a goat.  Anyone else find that kind of creepy?

Most of these stories and rhymes are of Germanic origin.  Probably has something to do with all that time they spent in the woods waiting for the Romans to come so they could kick some world-conquering butt.  I know when I’m around a campfire at night with big trees reflecting strangely shaped shadows, my imagination tends to run wild.  And I’m not evening suffering from battle inflicted wounds or malnutrition.  Also, don’t get me started on how sick the story of Hansel and Gretel appears to be?  By the way, did you know the singer Engelbert Humperdinck took his name from a German composer known for the opera Hansel and Gretal?  Too bad I didn’t dedicate the part of my brain that knows that to something usefull like how to select a good pomegranate at the grocery store, or how to calculate credit card interest when prime interest rates change.  But I digress.  Like that’s a surprise?

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