We have some friends who live on a real-live cattle ranch in Northern California. We visit them every year, enjoying our time shooting squirrels, riding around on four-wheelers and white-knuckling on horses that walk slower than a squirrel with a broken back. It is an important space for us to leave city living behind and enjoy a spectacularly beautiful area. Here are the quick hits from the weekend:
We were treated to an impromptu parade consisting of a saint bernard, a dog that antagonizes horses, a tiny dog that thinks he is a Muppet, kids on bikes and a goat named after a dead rapper. Needless to say, such a parade can have no name.
Our bid to hike the entire Pacific Crest Trail fell short when, with only 2,649.9 miles left, we went back to the car and had a picnic by a pristine mountain lake.
While offroading and sipping a fine Southern Oregon red wine, we found a horse skull with a bullet hole in it. Malcolm brought it to school, ensuring his reputation in his new class will be, “the kid who brought a euthanized horse skull to school.”
We tried to go to a cowboy bar, but it was closed because the owner got bored and went home.
I demonstrated the proper technique for opening a wax-sealed armagnac bottle by banging it against the side of the house. The wax seal on the particular bottle I brought was soft, meaning the “banging” was more a “light tapping.” Underwhelming was an understatement. (Or was it an overstatement? Either way, not impressive.)
You might be thinking, “Paul, all of these things sound rather subdued. It sounds like you had a perfectly nice time up there, but did anything really interesting happen?”
I forgot to pack underwear for the trip. It was not intentional, as our hosts have repeatedly assured me that going commando is NOT a normal part of ranch life. Upon realizing this discovery the first morning, I was forced to consider three options:
- Wear dirty underpants.
- Wear no underpants.
- Find new underpants.
Option 1 had merit. After all, most of the historical figures we celebrate went around wearing undergarments that were not so fresh. Think Thomas Jefferson or George Patton wore clean drawers all the time when the were out there making this country great? Nope. I guarantee this, too, if you ask, “What would Jesus do?” in the same situation, it would be “wear weathered skivvies.” Surely, I would have been in good company if I just decided to grin and bear it for the remainder of the weekend. With all the beef we were eating during the weekend, though, the prospect of a five hour car ride home in four day old underpants was not going to cut it. Option 1: REJECTED.
Option 2 did not seem appealing to me. Many of my good friends profess to a undergarment-free lifestyle, but it is really not something I can get behind. Call me a prude, but I really don’t like the idea of my bits flopping around willy-nilly all day. If I zig, won’t everything zag? This is especially dangerous on the ranch, where trampolines, horseback rides and off-roading are all on the table. I was not going to grin and bare it. Option 2: REJECTED.
This really only left one workable option: I had to find new underpants. This proved trickier than you might expect, as the ranch is at least 30 minutes away from “normal” underwear dispensaries, like Walmart. Was I 100% sure that I needed to make the trip? Nothing tests your resolve like having to drive an hour out of your way. (I’m pretty sure that that if Lincoln was an hour away from Gettysburg that day, we’d all be talking about the great, “Wilmington Address” instead.) My friend Regina informed me that there were a few closer places that might have what I needed.
The first place we went was a small women’s boutique and there was no chance I was going to walk in and ask whether they had anything that would fit me. The second place we went was a small grocer, and while they had plenty of pants, shirts, hats and socks, they had nothing for the nether-regions. Finally, we went to a place called Mean Genes, a gas station, deli, and, apparently, hunting enthusiast outfitter. I was ecstatic when, amongst the camouflage jackets and vests, I saw numerous packages of underpants. Success!
The ecstasy wore off a bit when I noticed that the underwear for sale was primarily directed at big, fat men. The first set I saw were for XXXL, which means size 52. What the shit? At size 52, I could share the underpants with the saint bernard, and still have room left over for the goat! Poking around a bit, I found some perfectly acceptable boxer briefs that were a mere six sizes too big and settled for those. While not being the most supportive of undergarments, the largesse of my new chonies did have one advantage: wearing underpants that are way too big really does give you carte blanche for pigging out. It’s like … well nothing actually. Facing a big weekend of eating beef while wearing underpants that are too large has no comparison; it’s one of life’s unique pleasures.
Taking nothing but underpants to a check stand at a gas station might cause other people some anxiety, but I think I handled it like a pro. Here’s how it went:
Clerk: Hi there. Is this it?
Me: Yes, thanks.
Clerk: How is it going, you having a good weekend?
Me: I’m having a great weekend, why do think I need more underpants!
The rest of the time at the ranch was great, we already can’t wait to go back. I may pack differently next year, but the good thing about ranch life is that you make do. Sometimes this means that you find somewhere else to go drink, others, you consider what life would be like with a saint bernard and a goat in your underpants. It’s pretty awesome.