Friday, July 16, 2010

Country Livin'

Once, in my cut-off jeans and sunburned back, I hopped in my inner-tube and floated a river (like a modern day hobo) that was relatively close to a large city.  So close that I could hit it with my empty Natural Light cans.  Which I did.  The point?  Tubing rivers is rad.  Also, and I'm not bragging, but since I've seen "the other side," I think that makes me kind of an expert on country living.

Some things have happened this summer that I'm sure wouldn't happen anywhere else but the country.  The first is the ongoing issue of "The Potty."  We have what could be construed as a liberal-potty-policy.  No neighbors = no boundaries and when Dylan has to go and we are outside, or even inside but near a door, she uses the "potty-tree."  Our "go wherever" attitude backfired last week in Ashland.  We'd spent an afternoon in Lithia Park with the passed-out hippies, the creek splashing new-age crystal geeks, and the Tai Chi show-offs.  Before we left, Regina took Dylan to the restroom while I held Grady.  Suddenly, a lion attacked ... or that's what Dylan's shrieks sounded like.  They continued, and reverberated nicely from inside the restroom where Dylan threw herself on the floor.  The screaming continued as Regina dragged her back to where Grady and I waited.  Had something horrible happened?  No.  Dylan just wanted to pee on a tree.  Granted, we were in Ashland, home of the liberal potty policy, and would have been applauded for our forward-thinking parenting skills had we let her fertilize the oaks, but we decided that we have to draw the line somewhere.

Another great thing about living in rural America is the colorful characters we have.  I know, they're everywhere; I've seen the San Francisco homeless population, but country-colorful is different.  We have cowboys, hippies, loggers, cops, mountain men (and women), addicts, saints, thieves ... and that's just in the typical family.  Take, for example, Kevin.  Recently, Kev accidently sent me this series of texts:
3:21 PM "Hey this is my second phone u can call it so save it n now I can communicate again."  
Then, at 5:05 PM, "Hey this is kevin tryn 2 tell ya I got a phone."  I don't know Kev, and I don't like how he spells, so I ignored him.  Mistake.
At 11:07 PM, I was in bed, but Kevin wasn't.  "Hey did ya get those text its kev?"
From there, things went downhill rapidly.  11:37 PM, "U goin 2 respond or am i just the guy u hate or something."  Yes, Kevin, since you keep waking me up with your texts, you are the guy I hate.
He continues.  2:18 AM,  "So u wont say anything 2 me or wht it is kev i still want 2 talk or wht i guess u just thnk whtever or something u can have any1 so i guess do wht u want with who u want because u can have wht u want."
Two minutes later:  "N btw i havent been around because u want our kids around my tweaker bro than u care about anything else besides ur freedom dnt ignore me i will blow up ur phone chick dont temp me."  Apparently, ignoring stupid people tempts them.
Four minutes later:  "so wht u got some1 else or something figures u alway had every1 u wanted instead of me i new u would never talk 2 me so f u 2 always prove ur worth never talk 2 me u dnt want me bac or otherwise u would talk n give a s@#* chick"
The next, seven minutes later, gets ugly.  I'll paraphrase.  Kevin goes insane when he's ignored and, as a cry for attention, threatens suicide.  He does this again two minutes later when he texts that he's going to drown in the "stupid water" and "u dnt care ... lol."  LOL?  Kevin, come on.  Finally, at 2:31 AM, he threatens suicide for the last time.  I know, I should have called and talked him off the ledge, but by then Regina had turned off the phone and I was sleeping.  He ends with, "... when u find this message i will b dead because ur dumb n will never look lol so whtever."  Whatever indeed.
This seems sad, right?  But there's a rainbow at the end.  Kevin called my phone the next day and immediately realized he had the wrong number.  Party on, Kevin, and stay away from your tweaker bro.  Whatever.  LOL.  When I Googled his number, I found that he was from the Jersey Shore of Nor Cal: Redding.  I'd of bet a crisp Ben Franklin on that fact.

But Kevin, with his excellent spelling and grammatical skills, doesn't hold a candle to the couple in the Raley's parking lot yesterday.  He drove some Mad Max-style import with a giant fin and racing harness seatbelts.  Cables held the hood down and I tried to guess the car's original color based on the small patches of paint between the primer and the places a grinder had hit.  The cute couple (matching black wife-beater tank tops!) ran in for cigarettes, and when they returned they sat in the car and lit wooden matches on their teeth.  Over and over.  Then tossed the spend matches out the window.  And I thought lighting matches on my fly was cool.

And finally, horses.  I love the fact that my kids learn to ride horses before they learn to ride bikes.  I love that Dylan gets excited about going for rides and named our newest foal Princess Banana.  We try to show Dylan and Grady more than just ranch work and rodeos, so for the 4th of July, we went to Grant's Pass to the horse races.  Races are everywhere, I know.  But the GP Downs are country to the core.  There are no fancy hats or juleps or even a well groomed infield.  GP had corndogs and a dead grass infield that doubles as a high school football field in the fall.  It's the only racetrack I know of where the odds of a horse finishing or breaking a leg are even.  Second, the spectator area feels like a prison-yard.  It's concrete and hot and weedy and surrounded by chain-link.  I always expect to get shanked when I'm there, which really adds to the excitement.

This country life may be weird, but it's our weird and we love it.  Dylan will teach Grady how to fertilize our trees and how to ride a horse, and the next time Kev texts, I'll send him your way.  Who knows, you might just make a country friend.

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