PEOPLE WHO ARE not in the cattle business have mental images of what real cowboys are like. Despite Madison Avenue/Hollywood stereotypes, cowboys are people and come in as many different personalities as folks in any other profession. However, one particular purebred operation where I worked did seem as though it were the set of a soap opera. In fact, at times things would happen which would boggle the imagination. Little out of the ordinary, stupid things just naturally occurred on this place, also. For example, I did a load of laundry and actually remembered to add the fabric softener atthe proper time but wondered where my clothes had gone when the washer stopped. I had forgotten to put the clothes in the washer, but at least the water was soft.
Wiley E. was our reproduction specialist and one of the best, if not the best, in the business. However, he had a problem holding both his whiskey and his women, and either one of them could give him a black eye. Other than that, he was a heckuva guy. He had been married twice, and when his second ex-wife left him, she kept cooking for the ranch. Wiley was a little upset when she started dating Yogi, a member of the clipping crew, but it became more than a little too much when he came in for lunch to find them having a late morning rendezvous in his house.
Wiley is not overly physical or violent in nature, so he settled the matter in a woman-for-woman fashion two years later. Wiley had met Dorothy and she had moved in with him. It was a match made just a little south of the South Pole, as the two seemed to be
constantly bickering over something as an excuse to kiss and make up. You could tell whenever they have a really good one because Wiley showed up for work with a fresh shiner.
The stage was set for revenge when the clipping crew experienced a labor shortage and Yogi brought his girlfriend Rebecca along to help out. Rebecca was rather a flirtatious filly, and Wiley decided to take advantage of the situation. After plying her with copious amounts of whiskey, he had her half undressed in her car and was ready to have his last laugh. The only problem with his plan, or lack thereof, was that he had decided that this vengeful act should be done on the highway at the entrance to the ranch. The retribution was interrupted by none other than Dorothy herself, and the race was on.
With Rebecca trying get dressed as Dorothy attempted to run them off of the road, Wiley sped through headquarters. Thinking he was in the clear when Dorothy stopped following him, Wiley drove another ten miles into the ranch on a dead end road. Wiley and Rebecca were both in a compromised state of undress when Dorothy showed up with the cavalry, namely the whole clipping crew, including Yogi, who chased Wiley around in the wheat stubble, thumping on him as he attempted to get his pants back on.
Rebecca headed back home that night as Wiley continued being thumped about the head and neck repeatedly until around three in the morning, when he shot a hole in the ceiling and shouted, “You’re next!” to Dorothy. Yes, they are still “happily” co-habitating or at least they were several years later.
Then there was the night of the big concert. All that Wiley, Dopey, and Pluto could talk about for months was the upcoming concert featuring their two favorite performers. As it was towards the end of the breeding season without too many cows to be bred, Wiley was able to talk our manager Mickey into covering for him that night. Dopey and Pluto made arrangements so that their circles would be ridden by someone else. Dopey and Pluto were from foreign countries far across the ocean, and this would probably be their only chance to see either of the famous recording artists.
The night before the tickets went on sale, Dopey took his sleeping bag to town so that he could camp in front of the ticket stand to ensure that they got the best seats in the house. However, he got bored being there by himself, so he hid his sleeping bag and headed for the bar. By the time he got back, he had lost his place in line to two young women. With his decidedly foreign accent he was able to con his way back into line by convincing the ladies that he had come all the way to Montana just to see this one concert.
When the night finally arrived, the concertgoers began with a late start from the ranch but consoled themselves with a quick stop at their favorite watering hole, where they imbibed more mood-altering fluids in half an hour than most drunks drink in a week. Of
course, they weren’t quite sufficiently primed, so upon entering the location of the concert, they immediately purchased beer with which to hear the music better. While the first act was warming up, the contents of Pluto’s stomach decided that it could hear better on the outside, which won Pluto an all-expenses-paid escort out of the concert. Dopey, good guy that he is, protested at the escort service and also won a free trip outside.
Dorothy managed to keep Wiley under control, that is, until the second act started. It was Wiley’s absolute favorite performer. He stood up in his chair cheering and whistling until he too won an escort. Like Pluto and Dopey, he was escorted out past the ranch’s owners. He spent the rest of the concert with his ear pressed against the building. Dorothy, devoted woman that she is, stayed for the rest of the concert, taking several excellent photographs to give to Wiley.
My own home life was never dull, since I shared a trailer with Goofy. He was not only a good all-around hand but probably one of the best feedlot hands ever. He was lonely, though, as his wife refused to live with him. In fact, in three years she only came to see him twice and seldom called, unless it was to tell him not to come and see her on his day off. He smoothed over the loneliness with Black Velvet. On one of his days off, he went to visit her. After he got there, she told him she didn’t have time to visit with him, so he stopped for a quick drink. The next thing he knew, the state was telling him he couldn’t drive for a year. It became my duty to drive him to town whenever he needed to go.
The first business on a quick trip to town with Goofy was to stop for a “real quick” drink, which usually lasted at least until the bar closed. It was interesting, though, for no matter when or where we stopped, there were always several people that knew Goofy and wanted to buy him a drink. Often, when one friend would get up to go and I started feeling as if we could go too, someone else would come in and buy him another drink, and of course, he would have to return the favor. More often than not, we wouldn’t accomplish whatever it was we had set off to do. Goofy would pick up a bottle to finish out the night and would wind up falling asleep at the kitchen table with the light reflecting off his bald head. This made for great entertainment whenever the crew got together for a party, because you could draw pictures on his head as he slept.
Then came the night Goofy decided to stop off at the Buffalo Breath Bar and Grill for dinner and a “real quick” drink. The night was going par usual except for the fact that he wasn’t being charged by a triple B (blonde, buxom bartender), who was really enjoying his jokes and stories. When we finally left, he thanked her and tried giving her a tip, which she would not accept. Next, he tried to get her to go to breakfast with us. She said she couldn’t because she was married, so he just thanked her and asked her name.
“Minnie,” she replied.
“Are you sure you can’t fool around?” he asked.
When she repeated that she was positive she couldn’t, he held up his thumb and index finger about an inch apart and asked, “Not even this much?”
After that the Buffalo Breath became a regular stop, and about eight months later Minnie showed up at the ranch and became one of the regulars.
When Goofy’s birthday rolled around, the whole crew piled into K. Lutz’s antique Cadillac and chugged into town to meet Goofy’s sister Em and her husband Oz for a “real quick” drink before heading to the Buffalo Breath for dinner. I was the designated driver, which was lucky for me because half of these guys came from countries famous for their alcohol consumption and the other half were busy trying to show them they didn’t know how to drink. After a “quick” half-dozen shots,we piled into the Caddie with Goofy having the honor of controlling the stereo, which meant he got to hold it in his lap.
Once at the Buffalo, we headed straight to the bar, where once more the shots flowed freely. While I couldn’t really keep track of any of the conversations, it was interesting watching 4′ 11” Em talking to 6′ 7” Stringbean. By the time we got our table, it was all
Sleepy could do to get his dinner ordered before asking for the keys so that he could go to the car to take a nap. I knew it was safe to give him the keys because even if he did decide to drive off, chances were he wouldn’t make it to the door before lying down and
going to sleep.
Minnie kept the shots flowing, and when the waitress brought us our dinners, we explained that the Sandman had caught up with Sleepy. She put his dinner into a Styrofoam container, which K. Lutz started eyeing. Presently he opened it and started burying
empty shot glasses into the mashed potatoes. When we left, Wiley was carrying four “doggy bags” containing more shot glasses and silverware than food. I held the door open for him, but as he reached it, he decided he had to make room for more beer and handed the boxes to me.
When I reached the Caddie with our liberated merchandise, K. Lutz produced a pitcher of beer and asked if anyone wanted some. Of course everyone did, so K. Lutz also produced enough glasses for all from his coat. At this point I wanted to make a quick getaway
and woke Sleepy to get the keys, but he had lost them. After a short but fruitless search, K. Lutz produced a spare set he kept hidden for this frequently recurring situation. The next stop was the Bear Den bar, which we ceremoniously closed down, minus Sleepy, who upon entering the Den had awakened long enough to find a blonde who took him to her house.
It was a good celebration for Goofy, who was also celebrating, as was I, the fact that he was getting his driver’s license back later in the week. Of course, two months later he went to see his wife for Christmas and I received a call from Minnie, who had received a call from Goofy, who was only twelve hundred dollars short of getting out of jail again. Since it was a week before
payday and we were tapped out from Christmas shopping, everyone was a little short, but we managed to scrounge up enough cash and pop bottles to get him out.
Thus, the cycle is pedaling again. There is no telling where it will end or what will happen next. Stringbean was fired, and Sleepy went back across the ocean. First he had a going-away party at which Minnie painted up his face real nice and I sewed his pants legs together, with him in them, for his last night’s sleep on the ranch. I’ve moved on down the road a piece, so I guess I ought
to give them a call to see what’s happened lately on the old SO.
This story is an excerpt from my first book, Cowboy Romance (of horsesweat & hornflies) which is available on Amazon.