Once upon a time, I decided to leave Los Angeles and take a road trip with a friend from Tulsa, Oklahoma up to Missoula, Montana. We would go through Kansas, and Wyoming, see the middle of the country, and hopefully meet a cowboy or two.
I’ll be honest with you: what I expected was a lot of beautiful scenery and a bunch of conservative politics. Instead, what I got was a reminder not to be a judgmental asshole, and a lesson in the fact that everybody has something to teach. Here are some of the folks I met in my travels:
The Cowboy: When I said I wanted to meet a cowboy, what I meant was a man who works on a farm or a ranch, wears Wranglers and Stetsons, and has callused hands. In all my years living in Boston, New York and Los Angeles, you might be surprised to hear that I had never happened upon such a specimen.
I didn’t have to wait long — Fletch the cowboy turned up at a pool hall in Cheyenne, Wyoming, one of our first stops. I’m a little embarrassed in hindsight by the squeal of delight I gave my friend, who also happens to be named Jessica, upon seeing him, but Fletch graciously ignored me, took a seat at a booth across from us, and ordered a beer.
I tried to ignore him and simply be happy for my good fortune, but after a while Fletch ambled on over to us and joined our game. We played pool for a good 30 minutes, and I barely spoke a word because I was so nervous. By the same token, he barely spoke a word to me, and I just assumed that was because he thought I was ridiculous in my $150 jeans, red lipstick and what I was certain was self-conscious, city-like behavior. I clearly wasn’t cut out for farm life, and I figured he could sense that and didn’t want to waste either his time or mine (it’s also possible that he wasn’t looking for a wife that particular evening, but that’s not how I read it at the time).
After the game, Fletch nodded and thanked us, Jessica and I finished our beers, and shortly thereafter we scrambled out of there. But as we pulled our car out of the parking lot, ready to head back to our hotel, there was Fletch, standing outside the pool hall and watching us drive away.
Perhaps I had read him wrong.