Angus knew something about gates—he pretty much hated ‘em.
If you’re horseback and come on a gate, it means somebody fenced you out. Can’t be a good thing, at least not in the 1880s when Angus was riding high ridgelines on the New Mexico—Colorado border. But corrals had gates. So did train yards, backyards, sluices, and cutting chutes. There were swinging gates at the front of saloons, gatekeepers at mine heads, and all of them let you in, kept you out, or put you on notice of something.
We still have those kinds of gates today, but we’ve done the 1880s one better. We rename big and small scandals as gates—such as Watergate, Monicagate, Weinergate, and the latest in 2015, Deflategate. In so-called modern times, we see scandals as embarrassing and sometimes unlawful. But back in Angus’s time, they saw all that as just plain cheatin’. A cheater then, and now, is a man or woman who is afflicted with impediments in every deal they make. They’d rather cheat than almost anything else. Most cheaters don’t “need” to cheat—they do it just because they can. Nixon was a crook. Clinton was a womanizer. Weiner was a fool who followed his tool. And the latest one, taking the air out of a football, could make the list for the stupidest of all time and the one most ill-suited to the basic notion of a gate. Hell, Deflategate ain’t even a proper scandal. It may have helped one quarterback win a game but there’s no argument about his ability to handle a football with the regulation pounds per square inch. Those boys at the back gate of Deflategate couldn’t hold a candle to Nixon who cheated his way into a second term, or Clinton who cheated his way to fame and fortune. Angus would have not enjoyed knowing about such goings on.