This is difficult for me to admit, having gone to grad school to study literature– but sometimes I find myself getting swept away into fantasy-land by these crappy, Harlequin-style romance stories.
My latest beach read (well, cubicle read, if we’re being honest) was this story called “Black Heels to Tractor Wheels: A Love Story,” by Ree Drummond.
Let me just give you a wee bit of background info on Ree Drummond: she’s this big city, heels-wearing girl who lived in L.A. for 4 years and was about to move to Chicago to be a lawyer when she met this cowboy from a ranch near her hometown, fell in love with him and married him. So now she lives with this cowboy and her four kids on a ranch somewhere in the Midwest, writes cookbooks, takes beautiful photos, and writes a very popular blog called “Confessions of a Pioneer Woman” about her adventures as a city girl living on the prairie.
Now, as anyone who knows me at all knows, I’m from a small town in Louisiana and have always felt a little torn between city life and country life. I’m happy living in the city at the moment, but I’ve always had this fantasy of “living off the land,” having a million animals, getting up early to milk the cows and make farm-fresh scrambled eggs for my brood of man-boys, and snapping pics of them as they ride off into the sunset on their steeds to round up cattle. Wow, it sounds really dumb when I put it in writing.
Anyway, the point is, someone linked this blog to me because she knew it would be RIGHT up my alley. I immediately navigated my way over to the love story, “Black Heels to Tractor Wheels,” which is the actual true (or mostly true) story of how Ree met and fell in love with her cowboy husband, whom she calls “Marlboro Man.” Here’s an excerpt, so you can see how ridiculous it is:
“Instead of continuing on the highway to the gravel road that led to his house, Marlboro Man took an alternate route. “I’ve got to turn some cattle out of the horse trap,” he said. I didn’t even know what that meant. He drove through a series of twisted, confusing roads—roads I could never imagine understanding or negotiating myself—and stopped at a pasture full of black cattle. Swinging open a couple of gates, he made a few gestures with his arms—and in no time at all, the cattle had gone where they were supposed to go. This man had a way of getting creatures of all kinds—whether it be bovine animals or red-headed humans—to bend to his influence.
We took the long way back toward his house, and drove past the northernmost point of the ranch just as the sun was beginning to set. “Gosh, that’s pretty,” I exclaimed, as I beheld the beauty of the sky.
Marlboro Man slowed to a stop and put his pickup in park. “It is, isn’t it?” he replied, looking over the land on which he’d grown up. He’d lived there since he was four days old, had worked there as a child, had learned how to be a rancher from his dad and grandfather and great-grandfather. He’d learned how to build fence and handle animals and extinguish prairie fires and raise cattle of all colors, shapes, and sizes. He’d helped bury his older brother in the family cemetery near his house, and he’d learned to pick up and go on in the face of unspeakable tragedy and sadness. This ranch was as much a part of him as air and water, and his love for it was tangible.
We got out of the pickup and sat on the back, holding hands and watching every second of the magenta sunset. It was warm that night, and perfectly still—so still we could hear each other breathing. And well after the sun finally dipped below the horizon and the sky grew dark, we stayed on the back of the pickup, hugging and kissing like we hadn’t seen each other in ages.”
Yea, yea. It’s bad.
ANYWAY, I was g-chatting with my brilliant cousin yesterday who happens to be from a small town in Alaska, and I made the mistake of showing her the story I’d been reading and sharing my secret fantasy of living out on the range. Cow-milking. Etc.
Here’s a slightly edited version how the conversation went (it was actually much longer than this):
me: i want to live on a ranch, many miles from civilization
cousin: not me. no cultural events. no pubs. no starbucks. dumb cowboy
me: read books, weave baskets, ride horses
cousin: who’s probably a Republican
me: i can get a french press.
cousin: probably not really educated. so you’ll be shoveling horseshit and talking about fags.
cousin: her husband looks like a serial killer
cousin: ugh. everything is a subject for her. and there is definitely one thing this stupid bitch cant live without, and thats money. id like to see her be a real pioneer woman on a pioneer budget.
cousin: ooh look, a fence, a fence is so exotic. and so hard and complicated, watch my marlboro man (who probably doesn’t smoke because that would be too harmful and unyuppie) make a fence. isn’t he fascinating? look what this rural virile man can do. its like he is the first man to have ever built a fence, dont mind me im documenting it with my 3,000 dollar camera while being sponsored by clinique and sephora and shopping for coordinated pillows at a home decor store
cousin: “Here, the father of my children is unraveling the bright yellow string as he makes the long, long walk to the other corner post.” hahahahahahhhh. people do this every day
cousin: she is a smart capitalist who made money off of her family like they are zoo animals. i think im going to write her and tell her. and give her my parodies of her already farcical captions.
cousin: here’s what I wrote her:
“this is the saddest patronizing of a husband, rural porn site ever. like ‘the marlboro man’ is the first person in the history of people to ever build a damn fence. seriously what is the point of exoticizing every mundane activity? the only people who could ever get excited about this entire site are people who have never traveled, grew up only in cities and work in cubicles. i would hate to be anyone affiliated with this as you treat your husband and kids like damn zoo animals for public consumption with your detached anthropologist observations and everything is your subject while you document it on your 5k camera sponsored by sephora and clinique (very pioneer-like). Im sure your marlboro man doesnt smoke, as that would clash with your middle upperclass elite urban upbringing. people do this stuff every day, so stop thinking you are the star of your own movie needing public validation for a life that millions of people live, with nowhere near your corporately subsidized budget.”
So much for my ranch fantasy, she blew it to bits. It’s probably for the better.
What are your unrealistic life fantasies? I know you have them. Now’s the time to come clean.