This is a story of a summer love, full of everything romantic–from sipping Evan Williams around camp fires, 30 racks of PBR, horses humping in the window, stolen birth control, broken hearts, and violence. Luckily B has already told her shotgun wedding story so I can focus on other things in the post below, since that clearly deserved its own post!
Two days after I turned 21, I moved to a ranch in western Colorado. I was in a bunk with 4 other girls, and I’m pretty sure it was smaller than an elevator. I was there for approximately 3 hours before I was dressed like someone from the 80’s, slamming drinks, and having a dance party with only one other person — my new bff, Kameron. Everyone else was looking at the two of us ladies as if we were crazy, which was and still is very accurate.
Looking back, most of the summer was a blur, but what I remember goes something like this: the next day I started work, which until the ranch opened, was spring cleaning the three dozen guest cabins. I then met one of the wranglers (read: horseback riding guides), Brody, who was a good ol’ Texas boy and only 20. I am not sure if we became friends because I was old enough to buy beer or because I am so fucking irresistible, however whatever the reason, we hit it off. We run to town and I seal our friendship with cheap whiskey and a 30 rack of Pabst, which I made him carry to the cabin for me.
I am not even sure what happened next, but before I knew it I had laid my claim to Brody, despite this advice from Kameron:
“Do not fill up on the appetizers before the entrees come!” (she was referring to the fact that all of the seasonal workers hadn’t even arrived yet)
At first I was confused because I was not hungry. Then I realized she meant my hunger for men, and I understood, but still ignored her advice. The best part about her advice is that she had laid her own claim to another feller on the ranch, a tall, lanky guy named Ben. Her advice was sound, however it was too late for the two of us. We had made our beds and now had to lie in them — literally, we worked housekeeping for part of the summer and we made the beds and then laid in them. When B and I were lucky enough to get assigned a housekeeping shift together, our activities included short-sheeting one out of every three beds, getting drunk, and jumping on beds topless while yelling out Garth Brooks lyrics. But I think that is your pretty typical summer job experience, right?
My average day on the ranch went something like this: I would wake up (still drunk) for the breakfast shift in the dining room and because I am a responsible adult, I would continue drinking to avoid a hangover. Then we would have a break before lunch, and usually this was time to smoke some weed with the cooks before heading back down for lunch. After lunch, Kameron and I would sit in the walk-in behind the bar and drink liquor. Eventually I would mosey over to the boy’s bunk where we would smoke cigarettes and drink beer until dinner, then after dinner everyone would get together for beer pong and usually a ridiculous themed party–anything from Rock Star Party (where I spun in circles and let a chair fly through the air, because that is what rock stars do!), Redneck Party (where I feel inclined to let you know that Kameron was the pregnant drunk ‘priest’ who conducted B and Josh’s wedding), Cowboys and Indians (where everyone was a cowboy [real fucking original] except Kameron who was the lone Indian), and even Costume Party where B was the perfect Dwight Schrute. Then came the infamous Birthday Party, however you must wait a minute for that tale…
Brody and I had gotten to the point where we were cuddling up to each other every night, all 6 feet 2 inches of him, and all 5 feet 4 inches of me, in a twin size bottom bunk bed. Brody was a virgin (which at the time I respected, however those shenanigans would no longer fly–I can hardly be a virgin for a week before I want to murder someone). Nonetheless, we would cuddle, make out, fool around and use our hands, and I would use my mouth to eat. I am obviously talking eating sausage…meanwhile my little virgin Brody was saving tacos for his wedding night (that fucker), so I would get a couple fingers but that was it.
Still, the attention and connection was nice, even adorable sometimes. Before I go further…it is necessary to share a night that B was in our bunk putting together what seemed to be a million piece puzzle. Brody and I stopped in to say hi, and with his cowboy boots he pretended to step on the puzzle–a joke that B was not ok with. She looked at me as if she would murder him and as we left she expressed her concern that one day Brody would actually ruin her puzzle. We reassured her that it would be okay as we went to the nightly bonfire and cracked a beer.
A few days later I was working the dinner shift and there were not any guests in the kitchen, which was normal, however there were also not any employees around, which was very odd, especially because it was Taco Tuesday. I sat there with nothing to do, drinking a margarita (in a soda can for disguise) and ate until I was interrupted by B who came running into the restaurant. She was looking for me–upset because Brody got hammered, and in a drunken attempt to find me, stepped onto the deck of our bunk, tripped, fell, went straight through the window, and landed directly on B’s puzzle. Glass and blood everywhere!
Note that my very favorite part of this story is that B did not run all the way to the restaurant to inform me that Brody had an accident and that he was being stitched up. She did not even tell me this all occurred because Brody was looking for me (which I found adorable!). She came in and simply wailed, “Brody fell through our window! I told you he would ruin my puzzle!!!” before she grabbed a plate and made herself something to eat. I stared at her for a moment and then ran down to check on him. When I got to our bathroom, he was covered in blood, and his drunk boss was trying to wrap his arm up with vet supplies for the horses. Brody was completly obliterated and the situation was too obnoxious to stay around, so I went back to work and apologized to B as the maintenance crew started cleaning up the broken window and the causality that was her puzzle.
As the summer went on there was other nonsense around the ranch, which included a dumb twat named Laura stealing birth control from another girl. This was extra stupid since you can’t just take birth control on the days you have sex and have it work–but this dummy was 18 and didn’t know that. Luckily, she had no pregnancy issues that summer. However, the victim whose week of BC was stolen was soon knocked up. At the time, it was pinned on the guy she banged most, but by the end of summer it came out that it had actually been her boss’ baby, which was especially problematic because her boss was engaged–to her other boss. Oops!
Other ranch shenanigans included Ben (Kameron’s man) getting beat up and hit with a crowbar in the ranch’s bar, one employee packing up and leaving in the middle of the night (when the ranch manager called the girl’s mom to ask why she’d left so abruptly, the mother wasn’t the least bit concerned and just said, “Well, she is strange”), one of our foreign housekeepers hitting a tree in the housekeeping van, one girl arriving from Connecticut and leaving the next day because she thought Colorado was located where Ohio is and she didn’t want to be so far away from home, and me waking up one morning to two horses getting it on in the window to the room–because the bunk was obviously located in the middle of the horse pasture.
By mid-summer Brody decided that he did not want to date me anymore. I told him that was fine, as long as I did not have to see him hook up with anyone else, which he agreed was fair. I was sad, but lucky for me, the rodeo was in town and I headed to the bar with the girls. I got motorboated by cowboys all night, and made out with man after man.
The next day, my broken heart was still not healed. First, Kam tried to give me a pep talk, which went something like this:
“You do not want to spend your life with Brody anyway! It will be a life of oats and grains, in the heat of Texas!” She then started to chant it, “OATS AND GRAINS! OATS AND GRAINS…..OATS AND GRAINS!!!”
That did not make me feel better so next, my girlfriends pooled their money together and took me to town to get my hair cut and colored, which was so sweet! On the way back to the ranch, we picked up hitchhikers (only for a couple miles), before turning onto a dirt road shortcut back to the ranch. We stopped when we saw a cow in the middle of the road. B, being the outdoors woman she is, got out of the car to get the cow to move, however the cow was very frightened. B thought it would be funny to chase it, and indeed it was hysterical! When I thought it could not get any funnier, the cow jumped approximately 6 feet over a fence into the pasture. B turned around, confused and full of laughter, which made my heart even happier!
The very next day I had promised to throw a birthday party for two of my friends and the dumb-dumb Laura who stole the BC. There were enough jello-o shots to feed a third world county and enough beer to fill the fishing pond. I left in the middle of the party, and the next day Kameron calmly told me that Laura and Brody were making out. This was not OK and I looked at Kam and said, “I am going to beat this bitch up!”
But first I was responsible and made a plan. I borrowed $100 from B for gas money, asked a friend to drive me home to Denver that night, and called my old boss at Olive Garden asking for my job back (he said yes). Then, as everyone came in for lunch I walked up to Laura and asked if we could talk. She was actually shaking in her boots and agreed. I calmly looked at her, asked her how the party I threw for her was, and then I got ready to swing. At that same moment she turned and ran away. Kam ran after her, pulled her by the shoulder and yelled, “Face her like a man!” but Laura she got away, ran in the bathroom and locked the door.
Kameron and I walk angrily back to our bunks when one of the ranch owners came tearing down the dirt road in his minivan, got out and started yelling, telling everyone, “They do not get a crumb of food or drop of water for the rest of the day!”
That is right. We had left work, tried to physically attack someone, and we were still employed. I looked at this joker and said, “I don’t care if I cannot eat, what makes you think I am staying here? I fucking quit!”
His response was, “Quit! You cannot quit, you are fired! You have acted like a high schooler since you got here!…and Kam, no food or water for you!”
I looked back at him and said, “You can’t fire me…I just quit…and I am leaving!”
Next thing I know, I’m packing my clothing in trash bags, thrilled to be leaving yet trying to comfort my girlfriends who are crying. As the summer goes on I am back at Olive Garden, mailing presents for my friends at the ranch, including an extra phone (on my phone plan) for B–almost a decade later we are still on the same family plan and everyone seems to think its bizarre, but she and I know it makes perfect sense!
I also made another trip back to the ranch, staying in my old bed, eating in the employee dining area, talking to the owners (who legit did not remember I had quit)! That night, we all went out to celebrate the summer solstice with a stolen bottle of tequila from the bar. Ironically, the name of the tequila was “Two Fingers,” and after a round of shots, Kameron held up the bottle and said, “Hey guys! This is all J got this summer…two fingers!”
With Love, J!
PS: This ranch was by far the most fucked up place I have ever worked and it is by far the place I loved the most, as I made some of the best friends I have ever had, who I still have to this day! Looking back, I would not change anything about that experience!
PPS: A few months ago I saw on Facebook that Brody got married, and I really do wish him and his wife the very best (including all the oats and grains their hearts desire)!