I’m not going to say it’s just cowboys that do it, but it’s just cowboys that I know that do it. They have an uncanny knack for making a day of celebration that belongs to someone else into a plan to get something done they want or need done or simply to shortcut the effort into something less than first valiantly planned. My narrative will explain.
They weren’t newlyweds by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, just days after this birthday event I’m going to tell you about, they celebrated their 35th anniversary. They are now, amazingly enough, on year 41. Keeping that in mind, these tales will give a glimpse of the depth of love and tolerance honed over that period of longevity.
It was his bride’s birthday and since her favorite thing was to go somewhere and see something notable, preferably historical, he offered a blank check in the “travel” department.
“Where would you like to go?” he asked, knowing she understood that didn’t include destinations that required travel agents or airports. She wasn’t caught off guard with the request but truly didn’t have a burning desire to visit anywhere in particular. So he decided for her. Also not a surprise.
“We’ll go to East Texas,” he announced helpfully. “Pick a town in East Texas.” The only town she could think of was Jefferson, selected because it had a rich history and would not require six months of travel time. They loaded up and headed east, getting as far as Fort Worth. After lunch at Joe T. Garcia’s and $7 margarita for the birthday girl, they were back on the road.
“Any place in Fort Worth you’d like to see?” he asked her. She remembered the Fort Worth Water Gardens downtown and suggested that she would like to see that again. “It is truly beautiful,” she recalled. “A waterfall, a river, a stream, a pond, a cascade and anything else you can imagine doing with water.”
Aiming to please, the cowboy headed the pickup that way. He drove around the block a half dozen times looking for a place to park and finding none, he quickly lost interest in this particular destination. His bride heard it coming as much as saw it. Knowing that when he’s about to turn to a “silver-tongued devil,” the timbre of his voice changes. So she takes a deep seat because what is next is always a “suggestion.”
“You know baby, you have this wonderful memory, actually an amazing memory,” he said with a glib smoothness to his words. “Since you have already seen this water display once before, how about you just remember it.”
Being married to a cowboy for 35 years will teach a gal how to say with a straight face, “It was a wonderful birthday.” However, he did end her day by going to a roping, winning a dinner-plate- sized buckle and presenting it to her with the endearing words, “It’ll keep you from getting gut shot.”
This year’s celebration involved a mission to a bar in Grapevine but not for the reasons one might seek out a bar on a birthday, anywhere. The cowboy has collected rocks for most his life and finally found someone with a rock saw to cross section them and reveal the formations inside.
That led to the need to make a table top with these dissected rocks embedded in epoxy and lit from the underside. Said bar in Grapevine had a bar top with rock chips in epoxy and the cowboy deemed that worth viewing. Only a coincidence the trip happened on his bride’s birthday.
They navigated the overpasses and traffic jams through Fort Worth and Dallas to get to Grapevine. The trip was redeemed with a wonderful lunch ending in a chocolate truffle cake, after which they visited a couple of rock-embedded bar tops and headed home.
The topper for the day was the skunk in the feed room that greeted them as they went to do chores. Evicting him involved moving a pallet of feed, locking up the dog who wanted to help, a pistol and of course, none of it happened without everybody and everything getting a good dose of polecat perfume.
Eventually, the skunk was disposed of, the clothes in the washer, everybody cleaned up and a cocktail on the patio. The cowboy went to refresh his drink and called to his bride to come to the kitchen. She complied; he put his arm around her and pulled her tight to his chest.
She was about mid-sigh of contentment and thinking, “What a perfect ending to a beautiful birthday,” when he says, “Do I still smell skunky?”
Julie can be reached for comment at email@example.com.