The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

Visit us on FaceBookGenerations of Memories
from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge


By Susan M. Thigpen © 1984-2012

Issue: January, 1984

The two old friends sat around Henry’s wood stove, driven indoors by the chilly January weather. They were content to sit there warm and secure except for an occasional bout of argument about whose turn it was to go to the woodpile. “I went last time.” “No you did not, you old coot, you’re just trying to get out of exercising them brittle old bones!” “Old, huh? You’re just trying to get me to show off my manly vigor so you can stay inside and not chill the arthritis in your toes!”

No one liked a good argument better than Caleb, unless it was Henry. Down through the years they had argued about everything under the sun. It seemed if one took one stance, the other one took the opposite side just for the sake of arguing. They observed unwritten, unspoken rules, never (well, almost never) really getting mad at each other but always trying to get in the last word. Neither ever admitted the other was right. Just the satisfaction of being the winner of that particular round seemed enough to suit them. They were both masters of the old familiar game and pretty evenly matched.

After Henry finally conceded it was his turn and went after another armload of firewood, he sat back down with a heavy sigh. “You know Caleb, I’m afraid we’re running out of things to argue about. I knew it was my turn to get the wood but I didn’t hold out near as long as I used to. All these years we’ve had every good argument a man could have. Remember Herbert Hoover? We had some dandies along then. We never have seen eye to eye on politics.” Caleb interrupted long enough to take his pipe out of his mouth and say, “Never will.”

Henry took this in his stride and continued, “Don’t you realize what life would be like without a good argument to get your blood up once in a while? A man might as well just lay down and die!”

Caleb knocked the ashes out of his pipe and said, “You don’t have to lay down and die. You can do that in any position.”

“Caleb, there just ain’t any good arguments anymore.”

“Henry, you know different. We argue just as good as we always did, even better. Remember just last week when we got all fired up over that new road they’s building cause they’re going to tear down the old Brown place? I said it was a good thing because the old place ain’t nothing but an eye sore and you got up on your soap box and thought it ought to be saved. We argue every bit as good as we ever did!”

“Do not.”

“Do too.”

“Do not!”

“DO too, you old codger!”

“Caleb, listen to us. We’re having one of our best arguments over arguing itself. I don’t say it often, shouldn’t be saying it now, but you’re right. If we can argue about arguing, we won’t ever run dry!”

“Henry, the fire’s a little low. How about going after some more wood?”

“Not on your life. I know it’s your turn this time for sure!”