This here is bunch more of the questions I’ve been gettin’ and answerin’. Hope it’s helpful. Keep them questions coming!
I am in the Little Britches Rodeo. Every time there is a rodeo, there is this bull rider there that I really like, but I’m not the best at talking to guys in general. I danced with him at finals and totally made a fool of myself. So how do I talk to him?
Signed, Fool for Love
Dear Lovely Fool,
I am about to share a universal truth: Everyone who dances looks foolish. That is true for the worst dancers among us, of whom I count myself as one — though I have been known to impress the ladies with my over-enthusiastic jitterbugging — and the very best. Even them folks on Dancing with the Once Upon a Time Stars would look foolish if they didn’t have their fancy clothes, an audience cheering them on and carefully chosen music that matches up with their gyration. If you seen them on the street wobbling and jumping around dressed all crazy and without a song playing, you’d likely call the authorities.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that dancing, at best, is a barely controlled seizure set to music. Remember why dancing was invented in the first place: so people with romantic intentions don’t have to stand around silent and awkward with their hands stuck in their pockets, looking foolish. Plus dancing lets you get a little closer to the man or woman you’d like to know better. The reason some folks look good dancing, aside from, you know, taking lessons, is that they are confident or can at least fake confidence. If you are self conscious, chances are you are going to be a terrible dancer. If you are convinced you are a pretty good dancer — even despite plenty of evidence to the contrary — or, like me, just truly don’t care what other people think, you’ll do just fine. As for the second part of your question, talking to guys is a lot like dancing: you need to be confident, or at least learn how to fake it. I’m willing to bet that if you hitched up your Little Britches, smiled real big and asked that Bull Rider how he got to be such a good dancer, you’d more than likely find yourself right in the middle of a conversation. And just maybe you’ll wind up with a new dance partner.
I really like this boy at my school and I want to ask him out, but I can’t find the strength to. How do I ask him out without freezing up?
Signed, Big Chill
Sometimes it takes a little push to overcome our fears, but for your sake, I hope you can do it on your own terms. I’m reminded of this one time a couple pals dared me to jump off the edge of the high rocks at Browntrout Lake. Sitting on the tailgate of my truck in the sun drinking beer, it made a lot of sense. Standing on the edge of the cliff looking down forty feet at the fluorescent green algae floating on top of the shallow, stagnant water, I was a lot less certain. My friends kept egging me on though, and I kept running right up to the edge and then losing my nerve. I wanted to do it. I mean I really wanted to do it, but I kept freezing up at the last second.
On the last attempt, I guess my friends decided I needed a little help overcoming my fears, or got bored, and one of them gave me a little push so I had no choice but to take the plunge. The problem was I had already decided not to jump and slowed down. Lacking the necessary momentum, cart wheeled straight down, cursing the whole way, and landed head first in the mud and rocks around the lake. I thought I was dead. I had one of them near death experiences and floated out of my body and into a tunnel of light. George Jones was waiting for me on the other side — which was weird because he’s not dead yet — to tell me it was not my time. When I came back into my senses, I was laying there with a bloody nose, my ears ringing and sucking swamp water into my mouth, sorely wishing I had taken the leap all on my own.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that fear of the unknown is generally a pretty good thing. Humans have been perfecting it for many thousands of years as a means of avoiding grumpy saber toothed tigers and not jumping off of cliffs, etc., but sometimes we forget that some things — like possibly meeting the love of our life —are worth mustering up the courage for. So take a few deep breaths, tell your fears to shut the hell up and say something to him. Say “hello.” Say anything. Take the leap. At the very least, you’ll control how you fall. And unlike me, you won’t end up with a mouth full of pond water and gravel.
There is this new guy in my town and he seems to like me, but two nights ago I found him and my best friend kissing. I want to forgive my friend, but the guy told her lies about me and now I can’t even tell her that I want to still be her friend. What do I do?
Signed, Lover not a Fighter
The first thing you ought to do is forget about that guy. If he liked you, he ought not to have been playing tongue twister with anybody, especially not your best friend. As for the second part, I would encourage you to be the bigger person in this situation — and it ain’t gonna be easy — and give your friend the benefit of the doubt.
Love can mess your head up and, at least early on, make you do things that are out of character. Love is a kind of sickness. Sometimes it’s like a 24-hour stomach bug that hits you hard and moves on, leaving you weak and wondering what the hell just happened. Other times, it’s more of a chronic condition that you learn to live with. Either way, you eventually realize you want your friends back in your life. That said, he ought not to be telling lies about you and she ought not to be believing them. Like I said, love can mess with your head, but I’m pretty sure real friends — the kind who stick with you through thick and thin — always assume the best about each other. You need to be that kind of a friend and overlook the hurt and the jealousy you’re feeling, but she needs to be that kind of a friend to you and recognize she might have overlooked your feelings.
Tell her what’s on your mind, tell her you miss her and tell her you want to make sure there ain’t no mistruths floating around. And tell her you kind of liked him, but you want her to be happy so you are willing to get out of the way. And then get out of the way. Because there’s no place worse to be than in between two people falling love. It’s sort of like standing between the barn door and the back end of an unruly horse — speaking from experience, you’re likely to get kicked right in the tenders. Friendships are precious. Sometimes being a friend means rooting for your pal to fall in love and be happy even when it means you may lose her and the guy you liked. And sometimes being a friend means waiting until a guy who apparently lies on a regular basis breaks her heart or cuddles up with some other pretty young gal and your friend gets her heart broke and needs your shoulder to cry.
I’m a sailor and city girl, and I happened to find myself head over heels for a real cowboy: Hard-working, full of integrity, covered in muscles, and sweat. We rode tractor together, cooked dinner, rode the ridge-line and when he wrapped his arms around me I felt safe and inspired. We sat under the stars and worked out how to fix the irrigation. He recently told me that he thinks our life interests are too different to ever make it work, and that he doesn’t feel like his heart is going to bust out of his spleen for me. I think politics don’t matter, butterflies (or lack of) do. I have two questions for you: 1. It seems that in our cross-cultural relationship there were some things lost in translation. How do I make sure in the future that I don’t misinterpret nice and kind for love? 2. How do I deal with this aching heart?
Signed, “Used to be a Hon”
Dear “Still a Hon,”
Let’s start with your second question first because I know a thing or two about aching hearts. Ever heard that old saying, “time heals all wounds?” It’s a lie. There ought to be a disclaimer: “except for broken hearts.” Broken hearts never fully heal. I mean, sure they’ll work just fine, but the scar tissue will give you a twinge from time to time. That’s ok. That’s nature’s way of letting you know your heart experienced something profound and that it’s capable of experiencing it again. Like a broken bone that heals, the scar on your heart makes it even stronger than before which means you can fall for the next fella even harder. It can take awhile though, so best keep a bottle of heart medicine nearby. I’ve heard sailors like rum, but I am partial to whiskey.
Now on to the first part of the question. How can you avoid mistaking “nice” and “kind” for “love.” You can’t. In fact, you shouldn’t ever try. If he ain’t nice and he ain’t kind, then he ought not to even be in the running for your affections. Think of nice and kind as the minimum requirements just to buy a ticket to the dance. Sometimes, the magic may not be there and things won’t work out the way you want, but at least you will have tried with a nice, kind guy. I guarantee you, getting your heart broke by someone who ain’t nice feels a whole lot worse. Plus it’ll scar your heart up in ways that make it harder to fall for a good guy when the chance comes along. And the chance will come along. Some folks (not many) might call me a romantic, but I am of the mindset that love can bridge any difference — politics, religion, maybe even folks who don’t like country music — EXCEPT for lack of butterflies. If you were feeling them and he wasn’t, maybe you just got temporarily confused by all the niceness … and the muscles. Also, maybe he was feeling something too, but all the scars on his heart confused the signals a little. Give him a little time, but not too much.
And I have a question for you. How does a sailor even meet a cowboy in the first place?
This year I started high school in Louisiana. I also take karate at a nearby academy. Usually, I wear my cowboy boots around with my big western belt and jeans. At my karate academy, I met this guy who is a couple of years older than me. You can tell just when he starts talking that he is 110% cowboy. He says “y’all” and “don’t” instead of “doesn’t.” To me, he’s just amazing, but I don’t know how to approach him, because it might just be too awkward and there are usually too many people around. How should I try to start a conversation with him, and what should I talk to him about?
Signed, Secretly in Love
Dear Secretly in Love,
Hmmm, that’s a tough one. What could two people who are both into cowboy-ing AND karate-ing talk about? It’s a real mystery, but I’m gonna go out on a limb and suggest you talk about cowboy stuff or karate stuff, or pretty much anything at all — quantum physics, your favorite way to eat bacon, what happened on the last episode of The Walking Dead — because it’s pretty clear you two are made for each other. That don’t make the initial attempt any less awkward, however, so I want to share a little advice based on my deep experience with awkward.
In high school, I was grounded for an unfortunate incident involving some bottle rockets, a pep rally and my poor decision-making skills (Nikki, I’m still real sorry about your hair; it mostly grew back in pretty nice). I decided to sneak out anyway to go rabbit hunting with some friends — don’t worry, the rabbits fared a lot better than my dad’s truck. One of my pals leaned across the truck to shoot at a fencepost with his thirty aught six and the muzzle blast tore a hole right through the top of the cab. I tossed and turned all night wondering how to approach the awkward conversation. During breakfast the next morning, I poured myself a cup of coffee, grabbed a plate of biscuits and gravy and tried to muster up the courage for a joke. “Dad,” I said, “did you ever think how great it would be if your truck had a sunroof?” He was not amused. A lot of bad things were said about me that day, all of which were true.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that, short of apologizing for something awful, it don’t really matter what you say to your karate-chopping cowboy, just say something. If there’s anything I have learned from the martial arts (and I have watched a lot of poorly dubbed karate movies), it’s that the most damaging blow is the one unstruck. Or maybe it’s that the greatest foe we ever face is our own uncertainty. Or maybe it’s that the pen is mightier than the sword but the fist of fury is mightier than the pen. All I know is that you need to say something because if you wait too long, you may miss your chance. The worst possible thing that could happen is that he has absolutely no common sense whatsoever and is not interested in you, but then at least you’ll know where you stand and you can stop wasting your heart on the wrong fella. Plus, it’s highly likely he’s working up the nerve to say something to you. So beat him to the punch, and suggest becoming sparring partners. Just take it easy on him at first. Unless of course he’s not interested, then hit him with your best shot.
My boyfriend’s granny won’t let him come down here and see me anymore. Neither of us has a job which means no money, and I can’t drive but he can. With no money, we can’t see each other anymore. What do I do?
Signed, Long Distance Love Affair
Dear Long Distance Love Affair,
This may sound drastic, but I think the obvious solution to your problem is for one of you to a get job so you can earn a little traveling money. And since he can drive, he’s definitely got more options. I know that jobs aren’t easy to come by these days, so I want to offer a few alternative options to hopefully keep the romance alive from a distance, least wise until granny thaws her outlook.
By phone. It’s my least favorite mostly because even though it feels almost like an actual conversation, lacking the nonverbal cues like eye-rolling or secret smiles, you can’t tell if your significant other is listening attentively or playing computer solitaire or some other fancy online games. Plus you can’t talk when you’re driving unless you’re on horseback, except for my nag-headed mule of a horse who tends to get all stumble-footed whenever I take a call.
By one of them video chat deals. I’ve never tried this one, but I’ve heard it’s real slick. And it would take care of the body language part, but it also means you have to get gussied up, least wise the parts of you that are showing. And of course, you have to have unlimited access to the internets and a computer, preferably someplace private so your family, and his granny, can’t watch you pitching woo.
By email. This is pretty good, but it tends to make romance seem a little “spammy,” and not in the delicious, processed meat kind of way that’s so good with biscuits and gravy. Plus, you never know who might be sneaking an unauthorized look at your email (meaning, granny).
By letter. This is my favorite. When it comes to long distance love affairs, don’t ever underestimate the power of a well-written, perfumed love letter. Take some time with them and puzzle out just the right sweet nothings to say and then drop it in the mail. The anticipation makes it worth the wait, as long as he puts the same kind of attention and effort into the return letters, minus the perfume of course. In this way, long distance love affairs are a good test for the up close and personal love affairs, because no matter the method you settle on to keep the spark alive from a distance, it’s important that you both meet in the middle.
I have been dating a cowboy for like a year and two months, but I don’t know what’s wrong with him. He has been acting different. More distant. I tell him we should go fishing or hunting and we go. But I don’t know, he just seems to be a jerk lately. He was never like this. I think maybe I have pushed him away. Can you please help me out here in what to do? I don’t want to lose my Cowboy :( It would just break my heart.
Signed, Heart at Risk
It sounds like you’ve been riding some rough trail of late, and for that I am truly sorry. A couple of things come to mind right away. First, even though it took awhile, I’ve learned that typically, there are two people in every relationship and we each have to do our own part to make it work. It’s good that you are asking yourself whether you are doing anything to push him away — that means you are taking a look at your side of things. Thing is, he needs to be asking himself if he’s doing anything to push you away.
I get the sense that the only thing changing in you is a growing sense of hurt and bewilderment that he’s acting like a jerk for no reason. I’m simpleminded sometimes, but in my book there ain’t a single thing we can do to justify making someone else treat us poorly. When you get on up there in years, you learn a few things. I’ve learned that people don’t change. Not really, not at their core. That don’t mean we can’t always strive to be better and minimize the less desirable parts of ourselves, but it does mean we have to work at some things harder, and we can’t ever let up.
For example, I am prone to using colorful language, language that some — all right, many — folks find offensive. I’ve made my peace with that, it’s who I am. But I only rarely curse around those who are likely to be put off by rough language because I strive to keep a tight rein on my shortcomings.
I guess what I’m saying is I that only your boyfriend knows what’s going on in his head, but if he’s treating you like a jerk, it’s possible he actually is a jerk and just hid it from you for a while because you’re pretty, and like to go hunting and maybe he’s lonely, but now he’s not doing such a good job of hiding it. Either that or he’s been taken over my mind-controlling parasites from the planets Assholium. Either way, I’m pretty sure you might want to consider putting a little bit of open range between you and him until the aliens go back to their planet or he realizes he needs to treat you better to keep you around.
And I might want to consider not falling asleep on the couch watching old black and white science fiction movies. All I know is if your guy is acting distant — and there ain’t no aliens involved — chances are he’s got one boot out the door, emotionally speaking. You might be able to slow him down, but you can’t stop him. And the bigger question is, if he’s treating you like a jerk, why would you want to stop him? Anyways, I’m not sure a real cowboy would treat you like a jerk. Lay your cards out on the table and if his answer is anything other than “I’m sorry, I’ll work on that,” find yourself a new game.
So I just started high school today. I wore jeans, a very bling cowgirl belt and my boots (and a shirt obviously). I live in a town/city with not too many cowboys, but there are a lot of hicks. I barrel race, and there’s this guy; he’s a year or two older than me and he rides bulls. I took auto class because I love trucks —ha ha — and he’s in it. He wouldn’t stop staring at me!:) So my question is, how do I start a conversation with him or how can I get him to talk to me? Thanxs, y’all.
Signed, High School Sweetheart
When I think back on my high school days — yes, they had high school back then — I would have been delighted to know that a girl of your caliber (a barrel racer who loves trucks!) had noticed me making googly eyes at her and, equally important, wasn’t alarmed by it. See, I wasn’t the most handsome fellow in those days, nor was I particularly popular with the jocks and whatnot, I was too busy working on the family ranch, but I was definitely interested in the opposite sex. And determined. I became somewhat of an expert at making conversations out of nothing. Hopefully, I can impart a little bit of what I learned. Here are a few approaches to consider:
The direct approach: Something like, “Hey there cowboy, you seem nice. We should hang out some time.” That never, ever worked for me, but it might work for you.
The humorous approach: A little humor can go a long way toward opening closed interpersonal doors. You want something that will set him at ease and give him the opportunity to keep the conversation going. It’s almost Halloween, so maybe try, “Hey, want to hear a terrible joke? Where to ghosts buy new clothes? At the boo-tique. Your turn.”
With a co-conspirator: Never underestimate the power of a wingman (or wingwoman). A pal can help you break the ice and keep the conversation going. Imagine the two of you standing next to him, you acting all embarrassed, while your friend keeps saying, “You know you do, why don’t you just say something.” Eventually, he’s going to ask what she’s talking about and you can punch her on the arm and say, “Don’t you dare tell him,” knowing full well that she’s going to.
The Mission Impossible approach: This one is trickier. You need to come up with a sneaky plan that ends up with you and the target, errrr, love interest, separated from the rest of the class and in the kind of environment that is conducive to constructive conversations, like an elevator or a closet. You’re in a shop class, so I’m thinking some sort of chemical spill or fire alarm situation. Understand, I can’t recommend this approach for legal reasons. Also, when I tried something similar involving a tractor, a bale of hay and some road flares, they had to shut the school down for the afternoon and rebuild part of the gymnasium. I ended up in detention for six months, but I did get a date to the prom.
No matter the approach you choose, keep in mind that most cowboys are shy around the ladies, which means they spook easy. They are also slow to get warmed up, which means you need to be patient. And even though they’re usually pretty rough and tumble on the outside their big old softies on the inside. If you come up with the right approach to get past the shyness, chances are they’ll stick with you like glue. So make sure he’s the right fellow, otherwise you’re going to need some heavy duty solvent to get unstuck.
I’ve brought in all the cattle from the field and so on. I’ve read all my books in my mini library and have nothing else to do. Please give me an idea on what I can do.
When I was a kid, I learned early on not to let on to mom or dad that I was bored because it seemed they could always find something that needed to be done. And usually, their solutions involved tasks that were both boring and hard, like stacking hay, digging postholes or weeding the garden … and we had a damn big garden. Looking back, I reluctantly give them a lot of credit, because I developed a pretty good sense of imagination to avoid ever letting on that I was bored. Even laying in the tall grass under an apple tree looking up through the branches at the clouds passing by was always better than shoveling cow flop out of the stalls in the barn. The lessons I learned as a kid have stood the test of time and I’m going to share the knowledge I gained the hard way. Here are some guaranteed tips for making the most of your spare time:
- Watch clouds. Pretty sure there’s an app for that now, but I like it the old-fashioned way and the best part is, you can watch them year round. The only time you can’t see the clouds is at night, which makes it tough for Vampires and such.
- Go for a nice, long walk — preferably to an establishment that serves adult beverages. (Obviously, not an option if you are under the recognized drinking age.)
- Play poker — preferably at the aforementioned establishment.
- In fact, let’s just say “going to a bar” is a fine idea if you have a spare hour or so to kill, there’s all kinds of fun stuff to do and interesting people — like the bartender — to talk to.
- Play solitaire. Again, there’s a way to do that on your computer, but it’d mighty relaxing to shuffle an actual deck of cards.
- Listen to music. Some people like country music, others like western music and there are probably other kinds as well. For a real treat, listen to the Amazing Rhythm Aces. Trust me.
- Expand the size of your mini library to a maximum library and read more books.
- Play pool. That’s kind of covered in the “go to bars” suggestion, but there are other places to rack ‘em and crack ‘em, and if you get good enough, you might just have a new career.
- Take a nap. I know it doesn’t sound particularly fun, but scientists keep telling us that we need sleep to function. A nap in the easy chair on a Sunday afternoon is a legitimate use of time. If you have trouble falling asleep, just turn on the TV and find one of them English butler kind of movies.
- Do some cleaning. And by cleaning, I mean your hunting rifles, fishing poles and the like.
- Volunteer somewhere to do nice things for people who need a little extra help. For example, if your neighbor is getting on up there in years and has a big old garden that needs weeding or barn stalls that need shoveling out, well, go tell him you’re bored.
I hope this gives you some ideas. I’m feeling like I got nothing much to do, so I think I’ll take a nice long walk … down to the Watering Hole.
I like a boy that acts country, but I am not sure if he is a cowboy. He owns and rides horses, lives and works on a farm and is in FFA and 4H. He also wears cowboy boots, but he doesn’t wear the cowboy hat. Does that make him one or not? I just wonder if he counts as a cowboy?
Dear Cowboy Counter,
It would seem from all outward appearances that your guy is indeed a cowboy. But looks can be deceiving — I once thought a rattlesnake was just another loop in a water hose and dang near picked it up to water the garden; the snake was almost as surprised as I was — so I have devised a surefire ten question test to help you identify an actual cowboy.
The Cowboy Quiz
For each question you answer with a “yes,” give yourself one point.
- Does he wear blue jeans? (any brand)
- Does he wear cowboy boots? (any condition)
- Does he wear a cowboy hat? (don’t get discouraged, there’s ten questions)
- Does he listen to country music? (don’t get me started on how to define that)
- Does he know how to work hard, preferably from sun up to sun down? (without complaining)
- Does he drive a pick-up truck? (any condition but it should have a gun rack)
- Has ever ridden a horse or expressed a desire to ride a horse? (pleasure riding is fine, jumping ain’t)
- Has he ever been to a rodeo or expressed a desire to go to a rodeo? (or at least a county fair)
- Does he know how to rope? (doesn’t have to be proficient)
- Is he completely trustworthy? (this is kind of a deal breaker)
Scoring: For every yes, give him one point. If he scored anywhere between 1 – 10, forget about the quiz because there’s only things that should matter: When he takes you in his arms, do you feel safe and protected and that the two of you can do anything together? Can you see lightning flashing in his eyes when he first sees you because he’s so overcome by his feelings and but ain’t very handy at expressing them? Do you hear the wind whistling your name across the prairie, scattering tumbleweeds, in the silences of all the words he doesn’t say? Can you smell the sunshine after a spring rain when he smiles at you? Does he take your breath away and replace it with that high, pure air of mountaintops? Can you imagine yourself riding off with him into every sunset until you get so old you just want to sit together in rocking chairs and watch the sun go down?
If so, chances are pretty high that you’ve found yourself a cowboy no matter how he dresses, where he lives or what kind of hat he wears — unless it’s one of those goofy looking aviator hats. Also, if he scores above seven on the quiz, well, chances are he’s probably a cowboy too, but I hope that other stuff happens for you as well.
My third year anniversary is coming up in two weeks and its my turn to cook. What should I make my cowboy. Please help; all I’m good at making is cakes.
Thanks for writing Anniversary Cook, and let me first say congratulations on three years. In Hollywood time, three years is practically a lifelong commitment. As for the meal, the way I see it, you’ve basically got two options.
The first is what I call “the classic.” It’s a meal that’s bound to appeal to the hearts and stomachs of cowboys everywhere. Start with a nice cocktail — whiskey, light rocks — then add a steak, maybe a nice New York cut, and grill it medium rare. Pair that up with a baked potato with all the fixings (butter, sour cream and chives … and another potato), a vegetable to fill the plate up, maybe some green beans if you got them, and some homemade dinner rolls. For dessert, since you already said you are a pretty good hand at the cakes, maybe try something a little different like a red velvet cake with white chocolate frosting. That’s option one and, since my stomach is growling, it’s a pretty good one.
Option two is what I’ll call the Southern fried anniversary. Start with a cocktail — whiskey, light rocks — and then add some crispy fried chicken, milk gravy made with the pan drippings, mashed potatoes, fried green tomatoes (if you can find some), corn on the cob and some homemade dinner rolls. For dessert, hot cherry cobbler with vanilla ice cream. Wow, I don’t think anything says I love you and here’s to the next three years better than that spread. I guess there is one more option. The traditional gift for three years is leather so you could come up with a new tradition and go to one of them upscale restaurants with the fancy, fake leather menu covers and let someone else do all the cooking. Since you take turns, it’s a gift you can both enjoy for years to come. The red velvet cake is still a good idea. So’s the cobbler. Or really surprise him and make both!
What are you cooking for Thanksgiving? What are you thankful for this year?
Thanks for writing in turkey-lover. This year, I’m thinking about cooking up a roast turkey with fresh sage stuffing and an apple cider-pomegranate glaze. I’ll pair that with creamy mashed turnips topped with crispy bacon crumbles and zucchini boats stuffed with the caramelized onions and bleu cheese. Naw, I’m just pulling your leg. My list of recipes is pretty small. If I really want to go all out, put a roast in the slow cooker and bake some potatoes, or maybe make a pot of pinto beans and a pan of cornbread. From a mix.
Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful and I’m thankful for a lot of things, like the fact that I don’t have to cook up a bunch of food. I’m also thankful my kinfolks live far enough away I only have to see them for weddings and funerals. I’m really thankful that I live in a beautiful part of the country and it don’t take a fancy meal to appreciate that. Eating spray cheese on them chicken-flavored crackers washed down with truck-stop coffee tastes pretty good when you’re watching the sun come up over snow-capped mountain peaks. Of course, I’m also thankful for people who like to cook
- He shines his boots or at least puts on fresh duct tape
- He takes you out to a real sit down dinner in which the food ain’t wrapped in paper and served with fries
- He wears his “going to town” hat instead of his “going hunting hat”
- He introduces you to his mom
- He brings you wildflowers
- He missed poker night with his buddies (see above) for movie night with you, and let you pick the movie
- He bathes his dog before movie night
- He listens to your music instead of just country
- He lets you drive his truck (that’s one step away from an engagement, by the way)
Most importantly, the single biggest sign that your cowboy — or anyone, really — is in love with you is that he listens. I mean truly listens. Once you strip away all the other stuff, love is about caring enough to listen — all the time, on any topic and not just the ass-covering kind of “recording for playback later” listening. Listening means taking in information, thinking about it and then acting upon it if necessary. If your guy is doing that, and doing at least one of the other examples from above, he’s in love. I hope you enjoy the country life because chances are, you’re gonna be getting your fill of it.
Will Lizzie ever find her true love or be stuck in her hometown? It’s very interesting about how a cowboy is in love with a Vampire.
Hey there, Hometown Hopeful,
It is an interesting situation Lizzie finds herself in. And your question is kind of interesting, too. Wondering if she’ll be “stuck” in her hometown suggests you’re not overly fond of your hometown. That’s often for good reason. Nature has a pretty clear tendency to kick young ‘uns out of the nest so they can go off and find their own way. Most people, myself included, try to get away from their hometowns as soon as possible and then many spend the rest of their lives wondering how to get back.
I grew up in a very small town in Montana, population 2,000, with more bars than churches — and there was a lot of churches. The ink was barely dry on my high school diploma before I high-tailed it to a nearby metropolis of more than 50,000 people. I been all over since then, enough places to realize 50,000 is still pretty small, but I have to admit the day I learned the ranch house I grew up in had been turned into a bed and breakfast for rich yuppies wanting to play cowboy, well, part of me wished I’d never left.
Usually the reason hometowns light a fire under people’s behinds is on account of how small they are and the limited opportunities to do anything different than what’s expected. Makes sense. People who watched you grow up may have some preconceptions about what you’ll amount to, and some folks find that limiting.
Lizzie comes from New York City which don’t suffer from them problems. New York is pretty damn big, bigger than most states, and you can do or be almost anything or anyone you want to be. Within reason, of course. There’s plenty of drawback too. You can’t see the stars, for example, nor go to the mountains. Or go hunting right outside your front door, or know every single one of your neighbors (not saying that’s necessarily a good thing).
Big city living isn’t bad or good, it’s just different, which is probably why Lizzie found something special in the exact opposite of LonePine. It’s completely different than what was she was used to — all the hustle and bustle of New York — and the people there, though few, didn’t have no expectations of her.
Getting away from your hometown without losing the part of you that’s special is kind of tricky. Falling in love, and staying in love, is even trickier. I have this theory that the love is a semi-permanent derangement of the senses. ‘Cause really, it don’t make much sense to spend your life with another person. But I think you’re the happiest when you’re with someone who smoothes out your rough edges and vice versa. It’s like how jig saw puzzle pieces make something special when all them jaggedy edges line up. I know Lizzie and Tucker and they got a lot of jaggedy edges. But together, they’re something special. Pretty sure neither of ‘em is gonna let that go, no matter what town they come from.
I love him, but he’s slow to pick up my dropped hints. So how do I tell him we need a puppy running around our house?
Dear Pet Lover,
I have ridden a lot of pretty rough trails and found there’s a big difference between “want” and “need.” You say you need a puppy, but is it possible you might just want one? Sometimes it’s hard to keep the two straight.
I’m reminded of the time I got my first car. When I was a young buckaroo, I wanted a muscle car. I spent a lot of time and energy not only doing my regular chores — which some would call a full day’s work to begin with — but also stacking hay for a neighbor. After three summers of that, I saved up enough money to buy a beat up old 1972 Camaro much to the dismay of mom and dad. I spent even more time and money getting it fixed up and repainted so that it looked and ran like a dream. About the second week I’d been tooling around in it, I was driving home from school feeling pretty good about myself when I seen a couple of coyotes harassing a newborn calf out in the pasture. Without really thinking it through, I wheeled my car right out across the sagebrush and drove up onto a rock about the size of dining table. The good news was that all the noise and excitement and sparks and cussing scared them coyotes clean to the next county. The bad news was I knocked a hole in the oil pan, punctured the radiator, cracked the axle, bent the frame and popped the two front tires. I learned an important lesson: I wanted a muscle car, but I needed a pickup.
I guess what I’m trying to say is there’s lots of reasons people think they need a puppy, not the least of which is they want something more significant in their relationship. In fact, I have heard from some folks that the desire to have a puppy is sometimes an as yet unrealized desire to have a baby. Not that there’s anything wrong with babies, or puppies, it’s just that both of them tend to grow up into a whole passel of responsibilities that last for a long time. Before you start thinking about things that can keep your relationship all glued together, make sure you’re with the person you want to be stuck to for a while. If it all works out and you both decide to get a puppy, please get it from the pound — preferably a Blue Heeler. Just don’t be writing back for advice when you want to stay asleep in bed but you need to get up at 2 a.m. so someone can go do their business.
I’ve met this girl I like a lot but I don’t know how to get her attention. I’m pretty sure she’s not an actual vampire, but she dresses like one and hangs around with a bunch of Goths. I’m just a regular guy, I’m not a cowboy or anything, but I like her and I thought maybe you could give me some ideas on how to let her know it.
Dear Hot-to-Trot for Vampire Gals,
I had to look up Goth on the internet to figure out exactly what you were talking about and I learned a lot in the process. I think I understand your predicament. If you are a regular guy, next to all them folks dressed like they’re a hundred years too late to the party with their pierced this and that, you’re going to stand out like a Texas Longhorn at a goat roping contest. But that may not be a bad thing.
Near as I can tell, them Goths are trying mighty hard to be different from everyone else — and judging by the way some of us look, that’s not necessarily a bad idea — and making themselves all kinds of the same in the process. If the gal you’re sweet on is really interested in finding things that are different, and all the guys she hangs out with are a little on the moody and depressed side of things, a fellow like you might be just what she’s looking for — it’s just that she just may not know it yet. It’s all too easy to overlook what you actually need even when you’re looking right at it.
I’m reminded of the time I was working on the automatic garage door in the shop when I accidentally closed it pinched the fingers on my left hand in one of the sections. It hurt pretty bad and as I was standing there on top of the ladder with my fingers all mashed up unable to move, I kept thinking the only way out of it was to use the claw hammer within my reach to pry the door off the track. I wasn’t thinking too clearly because I actually had to move the automatic door opener to the side so I could reach the hammer. Long story short, I knocked a hole in a new door and ended up having to replace the whole darn thing when I could have just opened it.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that if she’s surrounded by claw hammers, you need to show her you’re a garage door opener. The thing about these Goth folks is they seem mighty sensitive and complicated, so I suggest you try something straightforward and confident. Next time you see her, just walk right up and say something like “I like you. Not sure why yet, but how about we go have a cup of coffee and let me try to figure it out.” If she says, yes, I think you got a real shot at making something good happen.
You will have to be on your best behavior and maybe read some poetry or listen to some music you don’t understand at first, but that’s okay because the things that make us different from one another eventually are the things that keep us together. I’m no psychiatrist, but I’ve always thought that what makes couples work for the long haul is when the jagged edges of ourselves match up in a way that makes for one smooth whole. We’re all of us anxious to find the person who matches up their positives to our negatives but if you’re always looking for someone too much like you, you’re going to overlook something special. And eventually all them places where you don’t fit are going to cause problems.
I’m surrounded by a generation of oversexed young men who prefer video games over a walk in the park. Where can I locate love? Where have all the cowboys gone?
Dear Distressed Youth,
I don’t know where all the cowboys have gone, especially the young ones, but I hope they come back soon. Cowboys seem to be on the endangered species list and I think the world would be a lot worse off without them. I know one thing for sure, you won’t find real cowboys playing any game … except maybe poker. Or pool. In fact, you’re more likely to find them already at the park when you get there.
And you don’t need to look for someone wearing a Stetson and pair of boots (although it is a good clue). Being a cowboy is a state of mind and I think you can still find men — even young men — who are honest and hardworking, who don’t play games (video or emotional), who respect you and who always have your back — always — anywhere in the country. Any state, any city, any town … there’s even cowboys in other countries. For example, buckaroo comes from the Spanish word vaquero, honoring the country where the whole cowboy thing got started.
I guess all I’m saying is “cowboy” is more a collection of qualities than an upbringing. And more than likely, a real cowboy will be looking for someone just like you, someone who aint afraid to do her own thing, someone who wants more out of life than a high score. As for you fellows, if you’ve got any interest at all in becoming a man, moving out of your mom’s basement and meeting a woman like DY, put down the joystick and cowboy up a little. If you’re not sure what do, Gene Autry jotted down some of what it takes to be a cowboy more than 60 years ago. It’s a good place to get started: The Cowboy Code
- The Cowboy must never shoot first, hit a smaller man or take unfair advantage.
- He must never go back on his word or a trust confided in him.
- He must always tell the truth.
- He must be gentle with children, the elderly and animals.
- He must not advocate or possess racially or religiously intolerant ideas.
- He must help people in distress.
- He must be a good worker.
- He must keep himself clean in thought, speech, action and personal habits.
- He must respect women, parents and his nation’s laws.
- The Cowboy is a patriot.
Good luck and keep me posted!
How do you get a guy to propose to you without telling him to?
Dear Ready 2 Pop (btw, I don’t give out folks’ real names, they deserve their privacy),
It’s a simple three-step process. First, you need to get yourself a PhD in theoretical physics from one of them fancy colleges back east, then you need to build yourself a time machine and lastly you need to go back to the distant beginning of time and tinker with evolution so that men and women end up completely different than they are today. There may be other ways, but that strikes me as the easiest.
If that all sounds like too much trouble, you could try the classic strategy of dropping hints like leaving copies of “Modern Bride” magazine laying around or maybe walking around in a wedding dress and saying, “What do you think about this one?” And while that has occasionally worked, the heart of the matter is that if the guy you’re with doesn’t want to propose, are you sure you’re with the right guy? If you have to trick him or pressure him into proposing, it makes me wonder if he’s really the guy you want to spend the rest of your life with.
I’m reminded of the time I was trying to get my dog to load up for a trip to the vet. Somehow, he always seems to know the difference between a vet visit and any other kind of driving. To avoid the usual begging and pleading and arguing and debating and chasing and, ultimately, scuffling and hurt feelings as I throw him through the open window into the front seat, I decided to outsmart him, to trick him. I cooked off some hamburger patties, let them cool and just tossed them on the floorboard of the truck and left the door open. Then I set about doing some busy work, sharpening an axe and whatnot, and waiting. Eventually, his appetite got the better of his good judgment — I know how to cook burgers just the way he likes them — and when he thought I wasn’t looking, he hopped up in the truck to investigate. I slammed the door shut and he got a trip to the vet, a rabies shot in the ass and his teeth cleaned. I was feeling pretty proud of myself and how I’d tricked him, but looking back it only made him resent me and distrustful. Here it is four years later and he’s practically a vegetarian.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that if you have to plot and plan and scheme to get what you want out of a relationship, you might need to ask yourself if you’re in the right relationship. Because happy, long-lasting relationships — though few and far between — are built on trust and nurtured with communication. You ought to be someone who wants to make you as happy and knows how to accomplish that, and vice versa. If them two things are lined up, then the proposal will happen naturally enough. If it’s not, well, there’s always the time machine.
Where’s a middle-aged maven able to find herself a clean, handsome, and rowdy middle-aged cowboy?
Tess Trueheart, try Wyoming. Or possibly Alaska. I’m sure you’ll find plenty of cowboys there who will meet at least two … err, one … of your criteria. But I think what you’re really asking is how do you find yourself the right cowboy — the Roy Rogers to your Dale Evans. It comes down to two things: numbers and expectations. And luck. Ok, that’s three things.
And I reckon they are pretty much the same three things for men and women of any age. The numbers are easy and in our favor. According to reliable sources (the Internets) there are about 6.8 billion people crowding up the planet which means meeting someone is pretty easy — just walk out your door. Most people don’t want to just meet just anybody, however, they want to meet someone special, someone who makes their heart simultaneously ache and sing. That’s a whole different critter.
To meet the right person, first you got to figure out what sort of person that is, and then you need to be somewhere folks like that tend to congregate. If you like cowboys, for example, you should go to rodeos and bring beer. If you like outdoorsy types, try hiking. And if you like artists, go to fast food restaurants where they are likely taking your order … or maybe some poetry readings at your local coffee shops. The trick is to know exactly what you’re looking for in a person and then not let those preconceptions blinder you, because life is never gonna give you exactly what you want.
I’m reminded of this fellow I knew a few years back. He moved out here from back east planning on striking it rich prospecting for gold. He bought him some claims and spent a few years scrabbling around in the dirt looking for nuggets. He never found any and ended up flat busted and headed home to Baltimore with his tail between his legs. A few months later, a friend of mine bought them claims on the cheap and be damned if he didn’t find the tailings all full of fire opal that the other fellow had been tossing away as useless rocks.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that no matter your age, if you want to find the right someone, first you need to be out in the world where that person is likely to be (they won’t be stopping by your house out of the blue) and then you’ve got to keep your eyes open because you never know what you may overlook along the way. The world is full of pretty good partners that, with a little time and effort, could turn out to be fire opals or maybe even gold nuggets. Remember, the numbers are on your side but taking advantage of them is up to you. All you need is a little luck and, if you’re truly interested in catching a real cowboy, don’t forget that six pack of beer.
Do cowboys drive stakes or steaks into the hearts of vampires?
Thanks for the question. Based on my own experiences, I think it’s safe to say I’ve staked a claim on the heart of my vampire. And we have been known to enjoy a few steaks together, though she likes hers a might on the rare side for my taste. However, I’ve met my share of vampires I’m not particularly fond of and I’d drive a freight train full of pointy wooden stakes right through the middle of ‘em if I could.
I’ve been dating my own “cowboy” for awhile and we’ve fallen in love. I always knew he was a man of few words, but as it gets more serious, I find myself prying for expressions of love in ways that often lead to his frustration with me. He says, “How can you not know how much I love you?” But there are no adoring letters, no long conversations into the night, and no grand expressions of love. I guess my question is – is he telling me things through his being there that I can’t hear because I’m looking for poetry?
Dear Over-analyzing City Girl Dating a Cowboy,
I can see how getting only silence when you are expecting love sonnets could be disappointing. Expectations can be slippery and unpredictable little critters. I’m reminded of the time I rode up to investigate a cow carcass way up in the most remote part of the ranch. I wanted to find out what had done her in, so I kept nudging my horse, Coffee, up closer and closer figuring I’d take a quick look and then be on my way back home and expecting my fool of a horse to oblige.
You may not know this about horses, but they aint overly fond of dead things and apparently Coffee was expecting a much different outcome. Just about the time I kicked and prodded and cussed him up close enough I could see things, this big old turkey buzzard hopped out from under the rib cage, spread its wings out wide and kind of croaked at us. Needless to say, we were both considerably surprised. That damn old horse took off up the side of the canyon and lost me after no more than two hundred yards. I went tumbling ass over tea kettle through a patch of prickly pear cactus while he thundered off into the distance. I ended up limping home with more needles in me than a pincushion. Along the way, I had plenty of time to think about how my expectations had betrayed me. The horse, on the other hand, expected something bad and knew exactly what to do when it happened. That’s why I found him eating contentedly next to the barn by the time I got home.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that there’s nothing wrong with having expectations, everybody has them, but they aren’t always mutually beneficial. The only way to make sure your significant other knows you need something a little different now and again is to tell them. Otherwise, you’ve got two sets of thinking working independently of each other and just waiting for the vultures to show up. Communicating is the only way to make sure your expectations and your partners expectations can meet in the middle. In the example I mentioned, Coffee did a pretty good job telling me what his expectations were … I just didn’t listen very well.
Now, if you’re doing your part to share what you need with your guy, and he’s hearing you and doing his part to try and meet your needs, even if he’s only able to come part of the way, well, that sounds like true love to me. If he aint listening at all, or he aint trying at all, well that’s another story and it don’t have a happy ending. But my suspicion is that if your fellow was the kind of guy capable of bringing the poetry and glib declarations of love on a regular basis, well, he probably wouldn’t be the person you fell for in the first place.
Does your hat ever come off?
Thanks for your question, Alan. Broadly speaking, my hat comes off in one of four situations: 1) In church which, these days, is limited pretty much to weddings and funerals. I’ve never been much on believing in higher powers nor ghosts of any kind, but I do believe it’s fitting to pay respect to another man’s beliefs. I’d take my hat my hat off just the same whether it’s for the pope or the Buddha. 2) In the shower – for obvious reasons. 3) To show proper respect for old glory. 4) In bed. That can be for sleeping, of course, or hopefully for other things, but lately that second scenario is pretty rare.
I don’t want you thinking I wear the hat because I’m losing my hair either. It’s slipping a little for sure, but every one of those hairs was lost in the pursuit of some worry or another, or from hard work — and I aint ashamed of either. I started wearing a hat when I was eleven and it’s such a part of me now, I reckon I’d feel naked without it. And don’t even get me started on how to figure out which one to wear. I’ve got dress hats and work hats and summer and winter models – plus there’s a whole ranking system. It’s complicated. You’ve heard folks say that so and so wears a lot of hats? Well, I reckon they were speaking about a cowboy.
I have been trying new diets lately. I know there is a diet out there to eat right for your blood type. I figured you or your missus would be a good one to verify if there was any truth to it. You know, since your gal is so familiar with blood and all.
Dear Dieting diva, Thanks for the question. Eating a diet that matches up with your blood type is a great idea and since cowboying is in my blood, I’d like to introduce you to the Cowboy Diet. It’s pretty easy to follow. There’s three food groups to keep in mind:
Protein That’s science talk for beef. I reckon chicken might fit in there somehow too. Protein should make up the largest portion of your diet.
Grains This includes your bread — handy for holding slice of protein in your hands — your donuts, and your fine beverages such as whiskey and beer.
Vegetables and fruits Vegetables are generally things like potatoes, onions and carrots — a handy rule of thumb is that anything that go into stew is a vegetable — as well as ketchup, beans (not the green kind, I mean pintos) and eggs, which are vegetables from chickens. Fruits are pretty much anything that can form the basis of pies or cobblers or be turned into jelly to eat with your biscuits (which fall into the grains category — see how it all comes together). Your peaches, apples and strawberries are fruits. Now that you know the categories, here’s how the diet works. Eat two helping of proteins at every meal, and one each of grains, vegetables and fruit.
And mind your potions. Never eat more than what can fit on a plate – you can always go back for seconds. If you stick to the cowboy diet, I think you, and your blood, will see results pretty quick. Just don’t forget the most important part — life ain’t all about just eating. In order to stay healthy, you need to get plenty of exercise. By that I mean building fence, digging ditches, wrestling steers at branding time, stacking hay — you know, working. That’s how you stay trim. I know a lot of people will tell you that you need to eat salads or whatnot, but I know a lot more old cowboys than I do old vegetarians or aerobic instructors, so I just might be on to something with the cowboy diet. I say give it a try and see if there’s any cowboy in your blood.
My boyfriend and I have been dating for a year and seven months (we’re both still in high school). This is his last year there and I’ll still have two more years left. He has told me that if I can stick with him while he’s in the Air Force then I’m a good girl to marry. I’m worried that he will do things that I won’t like (strip club or drink). Please help me with some of your wisdom.
Well Good Girl,
My advice to you, despite your tender age, is the same as it would be if you’re a hundred. If you’re going to make mistakes, and we all make mistakes, make ‘em for the right reasons. True love is one of those reasons. They way I look at it, things rarely work out the way we want them to, but that’s no reason to settle for less than what you want. And one thing I know for sure is things’ll never work out in your favor if you don’t try to get what you want in life. Sounds like you want to be hitched up with your fella and he wants the same with you. If that means waiting two years, well, it’ll pass by quickly and more’n likely in your favor. The only caution I’d offer is that while counting on things going your way is a good way to look at the world, you have to keep your eyes wide open to avoid any potential trainwrecks, or better yet, learn from them.
I’m reminded of the time I came up with the perfect plan to ride a bull by the name of Boxcar in the 4H rodeo. He was a big, mean son of a gun that had yet to be ridden by anyone in my circle of friends. I was sure I could be the first so I studied him trying to figure why everyone else got bucked off. I realized that he had a habit, a tell, like they say in poker (not that you should know about that) — every time he came out of the chute, Boxcar took two little hops to his right and then would suddenly spin around sudden like to his left. That’s when he’d dislodge his riders.
Armed with that certain knowledge of the future, I figured I could outsmart him. The next chance I got, I cinched in and gave a nod. When they turned him out, he took two little hops to the right, so I leaned hard to the left confident that I knew what was coming next. I didn’t. Old Boxcar whipspun hard right and since I was leaning the wrong way, I went right over the top and landed in the mud. To add insult to injury, he stomped right in the middle of my face and pushed my nose all to one side and cracked my cheek bone. Blood was going everywhere and I was seeing stars, but I realized a few things — we can’t ever know the future because I was clearly not cut out for rodeoing.
I guess what I’m trying to say is there’s just no way to guarantee that things will work out the way we think they ought to, but I still figure we should act like they will, and hope that will. Otherwise, what’s the point of anything? At the same time, we have to make the most of whatever happens. Some of it won’t be good, but even that’s got it’s place. There are plenty of temptations in the world, strip cubs and hard drinking being just two of many, but I say always believe in love. You may end up disappointed, but to me that seems better than starting off disappointed. In the best case, two years down the road you’ll be married to a good man and having a happy life. In the worst case, you’ll get bucked off but you won’t get nothing busted except for your heart. And it will heal. Just like my nose did. A little crooked, but some might say it adds character.
Valentine’s Day is coming up and I don’t know what to get my girlfriend. Any suggestions?
Dear St Louis lover,
Beware, be very aware, Valentine’s Day is an ambush. I don’t want to sound sexist, but it’s kind of tailor-made for the ladies. They might say they don’t care what you do to mark it but fellows, be warned — they care. Oh, how they care. You have to get it right, every year, for the rest of your life. And that don’t mean getting flowers, or stuffed animals, or candy, or jewelry — and definitely nothing like a vacuum cleaner, even if she’s been asking for one (learned that the hard way).
You have to do something romantic, something that lets them know you think they are special.
Luckily, I have the perfect gift: a slow dance. Yep, it’s just that simple. It’s one-size-fits all, you don’t have to wrap it, it’ll be perfect no matter how long you’ve been together and, best of all, it’s cheap. All you have to do is turn down the lights, drape a clean bandanna over the lamp for what the French call “ambiance” (definition: something to improve your chances of getting lucky), stick a bunch of wildflowers in glass of water and then put on a nice slow song. Maybe something by Eddy Arnold or Conway Twitty. If you like the “modern” music, try George Strait. Then just pull her in close and give her a nice, long slow dance. I guarantee you, it is a gift she will always be glad to receive on Valentine’s Day.
Of course, you still have to get all the other stuff — the flowers and the candy and chocolate and the jewelry. It’s just that when you add in a slow dance, she’ll actually appreciate all them other things. And after a slow dance or two, chances are you just both might find yourself enjoying another little something nice for Valentine’s Day.
Are you making any New Year’s resolutions?
Dear wondering in Walla Walla,
Yes I am. In fact, I got it all planned out this year and it’s an ambitious list of resolutions that’ll keep the doc – and my lady – off my case. In 2011, I resolve to:
- Drink less
- Cut back on the carousing and running around
- Swear less
- Argue less about stuff that don’t really matter (that one’s just for you, darlin’)
- Watch less TV (the Country Music station, even though it’s not really country music, and the ESPN channel with all the rodeos have been problematic)
- Cut back on the whole road rage thing (to the fellas in the sports car outside Cody two weeks back, I apologize for the “hatchet” incident … but in all fairness, you were tailgating)
- Just generally have less stress in my life
That may seem like a lot to take on, and that I’m setting myself up for failure, but I have got a foolproof plan: I’m going to sleep more. That means I’ll have less time for all the other bad stuff. It’s pure genius. I figure I’ll just go to bed a little earlier than usual (9:15?) and get up a little later (5:45?), maybe take a nap on the weekend and possibly resurrect the whole siesta concept — everybody wins. For the coming year, I’ll be snoozing my way to a better me. In fact, I think I’ll get started on it right now … that couch looks mighty tempting.
I’m always on the lookout for a *good* beverage to quench my thirst after a long day. I’m not partial to dark grain spirits and would appreciate some suggestions.
Thanks for the question, Corin. Since you said right up front that you aint partial to dark spirits, of which whiskey is one, and since whiskey is pretty much my go-to drink, your question presented me with somewhat of a quandary. At first, I wasn’t entirely convinced a person could live a full, rich life without whiskey, but quitting aint in my nature so I decided to do some research. For me, that meant four straight nights at the Meat Hook, the only gourmet restaurant in town, where Jimmy the bartender hit me with some of the most popular drinks in his extensive and woefully underused repertoire. This is what I found out: 1) I am no longer a young man. 2) There are many, many varieties of cocktails available to the dedicated drinker. 3) The body don’t like surprises. I say that last part because I kept waking up late with my head feeling split open.
It reminded me of this time I got kicked in the head by a horse that I thought kind of liked me. It was my own stupid fault. He’d cut up his back foot pretty bad and the vet got him all patched up, but he had a big old cut that needed regular medicine — an iodine kind of spray stuff. Rather than go to the trouble to tie him up and hobble that leg, I decided to just sneak in and give him a squirt when he wasn’t looking. While he was occupied with a bucket of oats, I crept in close and gave him a big old squirt right on the wound. Well, what they didn’t say on the bottle was that it might sting a wee bit. Bent over as I was, I had little recourse but to watch with slowly dawning horror as he cocked his leg and kicked out instinctively at someone who meant him no harm and was in fact, trying to help him. Knocked me ass over teakettle. Even though he was fond of me, and probably felt bad, he couldn’t help himself. The body don’t like surprises. I come to realize painfully that many of the fanciest drinks — your Sazeracs and your Manhattans and whatnot — have so dang many ingredients all tangled together, the body don’t know what to make of them all. Too many surprises tangled up in the interactions between different kinds of liquor, and the sugar water, and reductions of this and that and the muddled whatnots.
I guess what I’m saying is that, depending on your tastes, stick to the uncomplicated drinks with no surprises. When I’m feeling carefree, which aint often, I put a little ice in my whiskey. You could do the same with vodka or gin, for example, and maybe add a spritz of seltzer water or throw caution to the wind and add a twist of lime. Speaking of lime, I stopped by Loca Cabeza for dinner last night and Jesus, the owner, shared some top shelf tequila that was pretty damn good and not whiskey. I realized even though I’m not a young man anymore, and I certainly don’t like surprises, I’m not too old to learn something new.
I have a boyfriend whose work makes him cranky, he feels bored and he is surrounded by idiots who spend most of their time trying to get out of the work they are too incompetent to perform. I am tired of our weekends being ruined by his rants. How can I get him to leave work at work?
Sara, thanks for writing. Your boyfriend’s situation reminds of this fella I know, we all call him Lefty … now. Anyways, Lefty was up in the mountains working on a section of fence. He had one hand wrapped around a strand of barbed wire and was cranking on the fence stretchers with the other (which, for the uninitiated, is a toothy sort of jack thing used for stretching sections of fence taut).
Well wouldn’t you know it, them stretchers gave out unexpected and as he stood there watching in surprise, about a quarter mile of barbed wire went zipping through his fist. Even though he was wearing gloves, it took pretty much every speck of flesh off of his palm right down to bone. It was a bloody mess, and it just goes to show that knowing when to let go is pretty important. Now as Lefty would tell you, that’s not always as easy as it sounds and it would seem you’re boyfriend doesn’t yet understand. I know work can be tough and letting go of all the little things that seemed so important during the day can be challenging. It helps if you have some sort of ritual to ease the transition.
Take me for example. When I’ve had a bad day, I like to enjoy a tumbler full of whiskey. Apparently, I’ve been having a bad day for 18 straight years now. Nevertheless, when I take that first sip I know that it’s time to let go. What works for one doesn’t always work for someone else though. We all need something to separate work from life. For some it’s listening to music, for others it’s reading the news, for some it’s just some quiet time and for still others it’s something call yoga, which – as I understand it – is like what cats do after a nap. It must work because I have yet to see a cat that appears overly burdened by life. You’re boyfriend needs to find out what it is he needs to make that transition. You can help. If he comes home all tired and wrung out and maybe snaps at you right off, take him by the shoulders and look him loving in the eyes and say, “Darling, I know you had a rough day, but that’s between you and your day. I had nothing to do with it. So stop acting like a boiled ass to me.” Hopefully, between finding his own ritual and this loving support from you, he’ll realize that while it does indeed take two to argue, it only takes one to act like a boiled ass.
I’ve been living with my girlfriend for about two years now and she’s dropping some subtle hints that we should get married (for example, “if you don’t propose by the end of the year, I’m leaving you”). I’m pretty sure I love her, but getting married is so … final. What should I do?
Sometimes it’s hard to take the first step, even when you know it’s the right one. I remember once I was building fence and there was this long stretch of wire that, in order to get to it, I had to sort of stomp down some sagebrush grown up around the fencepost. As I was standing there banging a staple into the wood, I heard something funny that at first I couldn’t place. I wrote it off as the humming of the wire but when I stopped hammering, it kept on singing. I realized with a queasy stomach that what I was hearing was a rattlesnake. It was kind of muffled on account of I was standing on top of it and had it kind of trapped under the sagebrush all bunched up under my boots.
I stood there for a minute or two, looking down at my feet and knowing there was a pissed off rattlesnake underneath them. I realized there was really only two things I could do: stand there forever without changing a single thing, or else take a little bit of a risk and take a first step – and a big one – and hope that things would turn out right. I chose the latter, and was able to stretch the laws of physics a little and jump straight up while simultaneously leaping about ten feet to the side. I’m not sure who was the most relieved at the new circumstances.
Now I’m not saying your girlfriend is a rattlesnake, nor am I saying that not getting married is like stepping on someone. I’m just saying that if you like this gal enough to live together for a pretty good stretch of time, maybe it’s time to shake things up a little bit and take that leap. Long as you don’t get bit in the heel and end up poisoned and dead, that first step might be just what you both need. And no matter where you land, at least you’re moving.
Are the boots really necessary? They look uncomfortable.
They are, least if you’re on foot … which is a situation most cowboys try to avoid at all costs. I’ve heard it said that if you can’t do it on the back of a horse, it aint worth doing. Obviously, that’s a little extreme. There are a number of fulfilling activities you can engage in that do not require a horse, like shooting things, for example (though it is mighty fun from horse back as well). Another good example is dancing. Swing dancing, to be precise. That’s why you should always own a good pair of ropers. Made specific for jumping down off your horse so’s you can tie up a calf, they have rounded toes that don’t furrow down into the dirt and low heels so you aint all pitched forward. Perfect for swinging a lady around on the dance floor.