What is it about air travel that is so exhausting? You spend most of the day sitting on your butt, so you think you’d be one big ball of fire upon arrival wherever, but alas no. This is why the first day of my brand new life was such a shock to my system.
Also, why do all flights seem to leave every airport at 5AM? Requiring, of course, your sleepy self to be there at 4:30. Just sets the tone for the remainder of the day. After a 4-hour flight, naturally, there is no such thing as a city anywhere near Nowhere Texas, so I had to catch a teensy weensy little piece of a plane into Austin, and then sit sandwiched in between waaaayyy too many eager relatives, all talking at once, in that inimitable Texas drawl, y’all, in a pick up truck, the entire three hours back to Nowhere.
For any of you uninitiated, let me assure you 225,000 acres of cattle ranch is GInormous. There are eight full-time ranch hands who live on and work this place, in addition to every family member who draws breath. There are cattle, longhorn steers, Barbado sheep, peacocks, and enough laying hens to produce eggs to feed all the menfolk, say about seven dozen eggs per day, and that’s not counting the four or five cakes they require for dessert every day. I don’t remember such a huge operation growing up, but that was 50 years ago, and this place has now become BIG BUSINESS. Just setting the scene, now back to my first day.
First stop on the way from the airport, a western store to procure a pair of Tony Lama cowboy boots. “Sugar britches, you sure don’t want to be stepping in any cow patties with them flimsy flip flops on, now do you? And we got to get you some proper cowgal jeans. What’s up with those damn bell bottomer thangs you got on dragging the ground? That some kinda high falutin New York fashion thang? Damn, child, where’s your common sense?” Oh yeah, first day going real well so far.
Back at the ranch, I’m surprised to see about forty vehicles around the main house. Oh God, it’s a Welcome Home party, complete with 107 pounds of smoked beef and pork and all the fixins. Did these people not know I just lost three sizes? Did I mention this supper takes place at 4PM, as in the afternoon? “Well, usually we sit down to supper at 5:30 on the dot, but we got big plans for you tonight, young un.” OH NO! After ingesting approximately eight pounds of cloven hoof and numerous slices of pie (strangely, there is a huge similarity between these Texas relatives and Jewish mothers. “Eat already; show me you love me and then eat even more!”), I learned we were off to a rodeo. That’s right, with a belly stuffed full, it was now time to go sit amongst the tantalizing aroma of cow and horse poop. YIPPEE!
Turns out, the rodeo was just a ruse to introduce me to some rodeo roper’s widowed dad. Things are NOT looking good at this point. He’s about 90 years old and has his britches hitched up to the armpits of his plaid western shirt, but he was kind enough to remove the piece of hay he was chewing on to his pocket upon our introduction. True sign of a Southern gentleman. After me yawning and apologizing profusely about 1200 times, my uncle announced at 10:30 that the real fun was yet to come. “Squire dancing”, that’s right, darlin. We’re goin squire dancing right now!” You truly have not lived until your jet lagged, exhausted self, stuffed full of BBQ and cow poopy aromatherapy, is subjected to being twirled around at high speed on a slippery dance floor in an 88 degree barn, while having Dough SEE Dough shouted in your disbelieving ears. On the trip back to the ranch, in another overstuffed Ford F150, I felt the sting of impending tears as I contemplated a future with no subscriptions to “Vogue” or “In Style”, and frocks like this one, by that famous fashion designer Laura Ingalls, hanging in my closet.
Yep, good times on my first day “Home”. That was a walk in the corral compared to what was to follow.
Stay tuned, pardners!