May 10, 2014


In his song "Red Solo Cup," Toby Keith sings about his favorite inanimate object — a red Solo cup. The first couple of verses go like this:

"Now a red Solo cup is the best receptacle

For barbecues, tailgates, fairs and festivals

And you, sir, do not have a pair of testicles

If you prefer drinkin' from glass 

Hey red Solo cup is cheap and disposable

In fourteen years they are decomposable

And unlike my home they are not foreclosable

Freddie Mac can kiss my ass, woo! 

Red Solo cup, I fill you up. Let's have a party, let's have a party

I love you red Solo cup, I lift you up

Proceed to party, proceed to party" 

What struck me most about these first few verses was not the part about him challenging the manhood of those of us who drink from a glass. It was more the longing for the barbecues, tailgates, fairs and festivals that he sings about in the first verse.

For those of us living up north, it’s hard to imagine, after this winter, that we will ever again see summer, or spring for that matter, given that at least 14 cities in Wisconsin have just endured the coldest winter on record since we started tracking this sort of thing over 100 years ago.

But we know that eventually the ice will go out and, like an old, true friend, the tulips, daffodils, robins, cranes and other fair-weather critters will return. And just like the father who embraced the prodigal son, instead of chastising them for being gone so long, we too will embrace them like an old friend we haven’t seen in a while. 

Speaking of old friends, there are a couple more verses before Toby gets kind of sappy and declares that the cup is really more than just a vessel to hold his beer. He goes on to say:

"Red Solo cup, you're more than just plastic

You’re more than amazing, you're more than fantastic

And believe me that I'm not the least bit sarcastic

When I look at you and say:

"Red Solo cup, you're not just a cup (no, no, God no!)

You're my friend, yeah (lifelong!) "

Like Toby’s red cup, we all probably have some inanimate objects we too call friends. I have several, including my Remington 870 shotgun that I bought on my honeymoon over 25 years ago (my wife loved that) and my trusty old Mitchell 300 fishing reel that my dad gave me when I was 7 because he was tired of untangling the bird nests in my Zebco 202. 

These items are two of my favorite inanimate friends because they generally don’t require much from me. 

Google the word “friends," and I guarantee that you will find a gazillion different quotes and cute posters listing the attributes of a "friend." 

For example, I came up with things from a woman named Mandy Hale, who wrote a book titled, “The Single Woman: Life, Love and a Dash of Sass.” 

Now, I am not poking fun at Ms.Hale. Truthfully, and I know this is hard to believe since I am an avid reader; I have not yet read this gem. 

My Google search came up with a bunch of quotes from her, such as, “Two things you never have to chase: True friends and true love,” and “Celebrate the people in your life who are there because they love you for no other reason than because you are YOU.” 

I'm not saying these aren't touching. They certainly are. Frankly, I have been blessed with some true friends, and although I might feel some of these same sentiments toward them, I don't think I'd buy them a poster with those quotes. 

At the risk of offending anyone, most, but not all of my dearest friends are, like me, avid outdoorsmen. All of my inanimate friends are items that aid me in killing or catching something. My friends and I don’t hang out at coffee shops and get pedicures together. We hang out in boats, and swamps, and forests and, sometimes, Jerry’s Bar in Oshkosh, where we enjoy one or 12 beverages — usually from a bottle or glass — and usually after trying to catch or kill something. I challenge Toby Keith and anyone else to insinuate we don’t have a pair. 

My inanimate objects are my friends because no matter how much I neglect them, they always come through for me when I need them. I can drop the 870 in the mud, pick it up and still miss a duck five times. Oops — I mean three times. My Mitchell 300 can sit in the corner all year tangled up with my other 75 rods and I can pull it out, blow off the dust, and still pull off the worst hook set ever. All Toby’s Solo cup has to do is hold beer. 

My human friends are the kind of folk you won’t find described in a self-help book or on a colorful poster. My true friends are the kind of guys who may not hear from me for weeks or months but, like spring, they too return, time and again, year after year, to share in the glories of the great outdoors.

If I were to make a poster of the attributes my lifelong friends possess, it would look something like this:


  • They give you the coordinates to the ice fishing hole they caught a limit of walleyes from the day before.
  • They get more satisfaction from calling a turkey in for you to shoot than shooting a turkey themselves.
  • They don't care that you haven't called them in months and are now calling only to find out where the fish are biting.
  • They understand when you have to come late or leave early to any function they may be hosting.
  • They drill your ice holes because your wife hasn't let you buy a power auger yet.
  • They pick up the decoys or tip-ups so you can hunt or fish until the last second before racing off to church or your daughter's volleyball match.
  • They let you cut a hole six inches from theirs when the battery on your flasher dies.
  • They cancel their evening plans to help you track, skin and quarter your deer.
  • They let you take a pinch from their Copenhagen can even though your fingers have recently been in and out of the minnow bucket, leech container and other not-so-germ-free places.
  • They say, “Sure . . . I’ll gladly take that bucket of white bass off your hands.”

By the time you read this magazine, the ice just might have gone out on our lakes. You just might be able to take to the woods to look for shed antlers, and you just might be able to wear something other than Carhartt clothes to barbecues, tailgates, fairs and festivals while drinking out of a red Solo cup — or glass for that matter. 

When spring and summer arrive, I will be ready and raring to go with my inanimate friends and my true, lifelong human ones who, like me, are itching to reconnect with fellow outdoorsmen and all the amazing outdoors has to offer. 

Our hope at Badger Sportsman is that you are fortunate enough to do the same.