Oh Dude!

Ever fantasize about going to a dude ranch?  Me neither.  So how did I come to find myself standing in line, waiting my turn to have lunch ladled onto my tin home-on-the-range style plate?

I’ll get to that in a minute.  But for now, just put yourself in that line with me.  What would have been on your mind?

Frankly, what was on mine was the rumor of chili.  It’s one of my favorite foods, nutritious and delicious, and one of the recipes in the sexy cookbook I’m writing.

‘Oh, I hope it has beans (and to hell with the restrictive “purity” standards of the International Chili Society).  Beef or turkey, ground or chunked?  Ratio of chili powder to cumin? What other flavors?  Bite-sized pieces of vegetable or just flecks of color that hint at some?  And what will they serve with it?’

“They” in this case were represented by the young Mexican-American man serving the chili and sides.  And these were my thoughts as I ambled behind the others and felt the slight nudge of the plate belonging to the woman behind me. Distracted by the imminence of food, I nonetheless was able to make a bit of small talk with her.

“Did you ride this morning?” she asked.



We shuffled a little bit closer to the real object of our interest.

And then I was standing in front of him with my plate held slightly forward.  I’m sure my lips were parted in a hopeful little smile, as my eyes met his in anticipation.

His were a deep brown.  They caught and captured mine.

“I waited for you this morning,” he murmured.

The woman behind me muffled a gasp.

This morning???  He waited for ME???  Was I supposed to meet up with this hunk of manboy???  Where???  And why???

I racked my brain to remember the night before.  First there was the wine reception on the patio. Pinot had flowed like horse urine.  As the sun sank lower, I felt the liquid gold move languidly from the top of my mane down through my loins.  Had he been the one who brought out the perfect guacamole?  Did I say “Thank you” – or something more?

Then there was the hayride out to the BBQ.  The sky was lit with flames of sunset, and I held the half-empty bottle between my haunches as the wagon slowly rocked us back and forth along a dirt road.  Had he been our driver, hitting a rut as he turned back to give me a meaningful stare?  Did I return a slight nod back to him?

The BBQ took place in a grove out in the middle of a field, under a canopy of cottonwoods.  It was the night of the Harvest Moon.  As we ate our tri-tip, chicken and corn, the sky turned to midnight, and the perfect orange globe moved higher through the trees.  A slight breeze kicked up so that I had to put a blanket over my withers.  Behind the huge iron grill were the dimly lit shadows of the cowboy cooks, the low rumble of their voices.  Was he one of them back there helping to char the meat?  Did I imagine it, or did he slip me an extra ear of corn?

And why did he say “this morning”?  If we had a tryst, shouldn’t it have been under cover of mysterious night?  The trail would have been just visible enough, the leaves turned to silver in the light of that glorious moon. When I thought I heard a woodpecker in the pine tree outside my door, was that actually him tap-tap-tapping discreetly at my stall?

Maybe his work continued long into the night.  And maybe, as the sky grew light, he had climbed the hill to the broken-down barn instead of going to his bunk.  There by the old pickup truck was where he thought I would be waiting for him, pawing the ground, whinnying softly.  We’d unlatch the barn door, slip out of our tack, and ride to a lather on that sweet-smelling hay…

Hey!  The woman behind me cleared her throat, nudging her plate a little more deeply into my flank.  I turned one eye on her.  She raised an eyebrow.  But I could not just trot on without knowing.

Quietly I asked him, “Where did you wait for me?”

A screen door banged.  He startled.  In a loud voice he said, “Why, at breakfast, ma’am.  I set a place for you and your sister.  I asked the cook to hold the food.  But you guys didn’t come.”

“Oh…yes…you’re right.  These ranch hours are a little early for us, huh huh huh!”  I hoped I wasn’t turning roan red as I continued to hold my plate out.  He spooned me some chili, forked me some greens, and topped the meal with a huge square of corn bread.  As I thanked him, I saw that his eyes were already looking to his next customer.

How I came to be there was that my sister is learning to ride and asked me to keep her company. I saw it as a getaway for some bonding, reading, writing, R&R.  I was not particularly looking for a dude.  And even if I were, he would not be a ranch hand half my age.  (Now if Jeff Bridges had turned up, well, that might have been a different story!)

But isn’t fantasy marvelous?  And isn’t it intriguing, in both an embarrassing but also a brain-teasing way, how we can imagine that we’re so on the same page with somebody else, only to find out we’re not even in the same book?

By the way, the chili had beans and was quite tasty.  And even though I don’t ride, horses that is, I enjoyed my weekend at Rankin Ranch for many reasons, one of which was:  Viva la dude!

horses nuzzling

In Licking the Spoon, my book in progress about food, sex and relationships, I explore the fun of fantasy for individuals and couples.

111 thoughts on “Oh Dude!

  1. Hey, too bad you didn’t ride any of the horses.
    A lot of women in my family are really into horse riding.
    In fact my grandma used to own a bunch of horses when she was younger. She lived in some super rural area in Japan.
    My mom and sister both know how to ride. Unfortunately I never picked up the skill.

    • I think it’s cool when people know how to ride, but unfortunately, I’ve had several bad experiences on horses. Enough to say I don’t want to try it again. But as a writer, I was perfectly happy to have alone time with my thoughts in such beautiful scenery.

  2. I was quite entertained with your little story. Being a night owl, I sometimes forget morning activities that I have planned as well. I hope the situation wasn’t too embarrassing for you 😀

    • I’m glad you enjoyed the story, Devin. It was more funny than embarrassing. Maybe it would have been more embarrassing if I were attracted to men that young, but I’m not. Much of what I wrote about what went through my mind was pure creative fantasy later.

  3. I enjoyed reading your story! I can relate to you, I’ve had bad experiences with horses and I don’t ride them. But I also think it’s nice to know someone who can ride horses. Overall, very funny story 🙂

  4. I really enjoyed reading this. The description of the BBQ and the FOOD just about made my mouth water. I can also relate to the last paragraph, thinking we are on the same page with someone and in the end it turns out to be something completely different. I think you should give riding another shot. I ride Dressage and its amazing how athletic and obedient a horse becomes with time and practice.
    Great story and thank you for sharing.

    • Thank you Rocio! I’m glad you enjoyed it. Actually it was all fiction except the trip and the part where he said he’d waited for me. But I had fun writing it. As far as horses, I’m afraid I’ll have to let my sister be the rider in the family. Too many falls and bad experiences, and now, in spite of my story, I’m too old to risk that. 🙂

  5. I really enjoyed your story. I swear it made me picture myself eating BBQ and drinking pinot while riding on top of a horse 🙂 However, I would have also been a little uneasy as far as actually riding a horse seeing how i have absolutely no experience with them whatsoever. As far as the dude goes, i can totally relate as how our mind randomly wonders and creates intriguing little scenarios, when in reality things strike us differently. Overall, a great read. cheers!

    • Thanks for the compliments, Milton! The best compliment is that you could picture yourself there! Hey, you’re not alone about not knowing anything about horses. Well, what I know is that I’m afraid of them and they know it. I’ve been treated badly by a horse more than once! As far as the dude, the funny thing is that the only true parts are what he said to me. I actually am not attracted to men that much younger, and the rest was fiction. Fun to write, though. 🙂

  6. I found it interesting when I read how someone can be on the same page as someone else but be in different books:) because I think that’s so true

  7. Pingback: One of my posts is in the LA Times! | Licking The Spoon

  8. This story was very intriguing to me, it made me feel like I was being teleported back to the south, git tee up!!! Cowgirl.

    • Sounds like you’re from the south, Nicholas. I have to admit it felt like a little bit of the south out in the hills northeast of Los Angeles. Not just the horses but the grub, eating family style, hayride, etc.

  9. I can definitely relate to the fact that my mind has gone off on an adventurous fantasy because of the simplest comments! This also reminds me of how people say that women are like spaghetti and men are like waffles when it comes to thought processes.

  10. I really enjoyed reading your story, very intriguing with great detail, and I do own a horse, so even more interesting for the cowgirl that I am! 🙂

  11. I almost thought that a dude ranch was something like a male version of the bunny ranch haha. I had to look up exactly what a dude ranch was and it was more of a resort than what I thought.

  12. I loved this story when I read it in the LA Times! Your stories are absolutely wonderful, as you’re able to paint wonderful pictures.

  13. Howdy pardner!!! I always wanted to feel like I was in the south, sweet home Alabama where the skies are blue and you know its true. That must have been experience that could last a lifetime, giddeup cowgirl!!!!

  14. I love the article especially about the Ranch, I’ve never been to one and I would like to experience it, but only the viewing. I really didn’t understand about the Oh dude, but I had read it and try to understand it. I assume it’s about the south where they have barns, horses, a big ranch, a nice viewing, open space, and just about everything. Sorry didn’t understand the article.

    • That’s OK. It was a trip to a ranch (in Southern California, not the south!) And when a young man spoke to me in what sounded like a flirtatious way, I couldn’t help but wonder what he wanted. My imagination started running wild!

  15. This article had me laughing because this reminds of something you would see in a movie when the main character just see’s the their love interest and just imagines their lives together. Even though I was laughing most of the timeI thought the article was well written.

  16. This was not what I expected while reading it (in a good way). I found myself laughing more than I thought and it totally reminded me of myself and other stories I’ve heard from people. It was great.

  17. That was a great story, and I could picture every bit of it. I now also am deeply craving chili. It would have been pretty interesting if you two were on the same page! Great read, I look forward to more like this one.

  18. Loved this story. Ive totally been there before when you think you and that person are on the same page but your totally not when you ask more about it aha. Hope you enjoyed your time with your sister still.

  19. The imagination you had sounded amazing that I feel like whenever I’ll go to a ranch and find a cute guy flirting with me, I would totally remember this story! My imaginations run wild too, but not as great as yours.

  20. This was very enjoyable. And boy, do I miss chili and cornbread. And loved that “think you’re on the same page with someone but find out you’re not even in the same book” part.

  21. I have a fear of riding horses just for the fact there’s a 50/50 percent chance , due to my unbalanced coordination I’ve inherited from my family, that I might fall ! Haha very cute story

  22. This was a well written article. It made me laugh a lot. I love chili as well and at least it was good 🙂 Now I am craving it…. Thanks. Great Job on this article though

  23. haha ohh my (/.\) this article is to funny. i actually recently learned to ride a horse a few months ago, i enjoy it but still find it a little nerve wrecking sometimes.

  24. You have such a vivid way with words!! You totally painted the whole scenario in my head haha

    Great read!

  25. You might want to try writing a book! The four or five scenarios where you wondered where you might have met the ranch had was a rather good read.

  26. Don’t worry about the early morning hours. It can be difficult for anyone to adjust to the ranch lifestyle in one night. I mean, their up by 5am while some city people are falling asleep by 5am.

  27. I so thought that there was going to be a love connection somewhere in there lol. It is funny how your mind can play tricks on you. I would have thought the same thing until he burst my bubble.

  28. So you mentioned this blog in your previous blog: It’s Official: I’m a Panther (Sort Of), which made me want to read this, for you said it is funny and I am in the mood to hear a fun story, and you surly didn’t disappoint. When I first started reading this all I could think of is, yea I may had a night like that, once or twice. Wine, food, a handsome looking cowboy, please your just asking people to party just a little too hard. But when I kept on reading and realized that it was just a “ranch hand,” and you were just fantasizing about this handsome man the whole time, all I could think was, “I’ve been there and done that!” Fantasizing is FUN and yes it can be embarrassing, but who really notices when that happens, except for you. I’m sure the lady who kept clearing her throat and nudging her plate didn’t note that you just fantasized about this man, she probably felt a little embarrassed for ease-dropping on your conversation! Once again a great read! you’re stories are truly one of a kind and always seem to put a smile on my face!

  29. “Frankly, what was on mine was the rumor of chili. It’s one of my favorite foods, nutritious and delicious, and one of the recipes in the sexy cookbook I’m writing..” Hmmmm… I don’t see how chili is sexy, unless you brush your teeth after

  30. This article was great to read as the descriptions of the various scenarios you thought were clear for me to imagine. Also, I can relate to not being on the same thought pattern, or not being in the same book as you put it, with someone else because my inclinations are usually projected onto someone’s unintentional actions. Perhaps watching too many rom coms has led me to believe gestures of kindness have a deeper meaning, but that is just my idea.

    • “Rom coms”! I never heard that before! But I’m pretty sure I know what it means! 🙂 I wonder how much they portray reality. I certainly have had some romantic moments of my own, but just as many that went wrong, LOL.

  31. Lol. This was hilarious. I think we’ve all been guilty of spacing out daydreaming when someone attractive catches you off guard.

  32. I think it was a very interesting story. I think it’s amazing how our minds can wander off and imagine things we would normally never think about. haha

  33. Talking about food really made me crave BBQ! I thought there was going to be a love story at the end. Its funny how our mind can play scenarios on us!

  34. That story is very funny and relatable. I find myself doing the same thing when people ask me questions that I’m not sure about and then I think, “Oh God, what did I do?” Even if I know I didn’t really do anything. My imagination takes over, dramatizing the situation, for better or worse.

  35. This post definitely intrigues me to Google it and try to find the story posted in the LA Times to see how it was changed from your original.
    As I am reading your article, it definitely makes me hungry. HAHA thank you for the smiles when you referred to your cookbook as “sexy”. Have you finished this cookbook?
    I agree that fantasy is marvelous. Its such a shame that you weren’t on the same book with that man :)!
    Great post! It made me feel as if I was actually there with you by your usage of descriptive words!

    • I am not planning to finish the book until I have some interest from an agent or publisher. Right now I have enough finished to send to them, but I lack the time to work on it the way I should.
      As far as how the article changed, the Times DID take out two of my favorite sentences. But I was happy they wanted to published it!

  36. This post was really funny, unfortunately at your expense, about how simple fantasies spin out of control in times where you need to concentrate like moving along in the line. The Jeff Bridges part cracked me up and you left us hanging on your last line with “one of which was: viva la dude!” I have to admit I laughed out loud when you said you “don’t ride, horses that is.” It reminds me of the joke “save a horse, ride a cowboy.”

    • Unfortunately, when the Times published my story, they left out a few of my favorite lines. One was the “don’t ride, horses that is” line. Another was the “Pinot flowed like horse urine.” I guess those lines offended their delicate sensibilities.

  37. This is really funny! People who enjoyed it on the Times, should read THIS version. Leaving out those couple of lines definitely takes away some of the humor! I definitely had times were I daydreamed and fantasized about someone who was just doing their job and don’t even realize it until someone pokes me and tells me to get moving! 😛

  38. As I began to read this story I was skeptical of the topic; however, by the end of it I was rolling with laughter. Even for a man, this story is relatable. Thanks for sharing and congratulations on its publication.

  39. I couldn’t imagine the embarrassment you must have felt!! It’s a good thing you didn’t express more of an interest in the help!! Although, I can only imagine the thoughts that raced through your mind.. I once saw a show on a late night cable channel that involved a dude ranch but this was of a sexual nature and what was served on a platter was definitely NOT chili lol!! The ending was muy caliente though!!

    • You know the funny thing – I wasn’t really fantasizing about him, it was about the food! But that led me to the fantasy about the fantasy, ha ha. Like ‘What if I HAD been thinking these things?’ I guess that’s what writing fiction is like!

  40. Who doesn’t love cumin. . This post was hilarious above all else and was a great read. Please keep them coming! More sexy recipes and sexy talk please served by a cow-girl!

  41. I enjoyed reading your story😊 I’ve never been on a ranch before but your description of the food and the BBQ made me hungry and I love food😋😋

  42. I could’ve sworn this story was going a different route. I find myself daydreaming and making ridiculous scenarios out of situations that are so small. Some bad and some good. But I also forget many things that I would have planned the next morning. This definitely sounds like something I would do, it could go both ways for a man or female. Im hungry now.

  43. It’s those moments I love the most. I mean sure you create this while different scene in your head but it’s great for writing and inspirations! The moment your eyes lock with a stranger’s– oh the stories you could tell~ ❤ :3

  44. It’s really interesting how interests can escalate to being the same. Small world we live in right? And I love me some bbq ribs!

    • That’s an example of just taking a moment in time and turning it into the story. Other than my description of the place, the only truth in the story was his comment about waiting for me. Which I took out of context and then turned into a story, voila!

  45. This article was indeed a very entertaining read. I too have had been caught in some awkward situations before, mainly due to my tendency to over think things; to see that someone else has also had such moments makes me feel happy that I’m not the only one who gets myself into such situations. Great article!

  46. I’m so glad I found the story! It was a good one. I like riding my cousins horses but am scared of them for me to ride on my own. I would like to one day fully learn without being scared.

  47. I really enjoyed reading this story. I have grown up around horses and am now a Certified Riding Instructor, I love all the little horse terms you put into the story.
    I saw your comments about not wanted to ride and all the bad experiences people have had with horses and it makes me sad. It is very common because a lot of people put people on horses that just should not or on horses that they should not put anyone on and they get hurt or have a bad experiences and it ruins something that can be so magical. Its really sad to me that people have to be certified to cut peoples hair but you do not have to be certified to put your kid on an 1000 pound horse. Just wrong!
    All that being said I really truly enjoyed your story!

    • Good point! I was put on a horse at 5 years old, with a group of strangers, riding on a narrow trail above a canyon. The horse started turning around to go back home and I freaked! I’m sure my mom meant well, but that feels like child abuse! But I’m glad you liked the story and my horsing around with the language. 🙂

  48. haha it is so uncomfortable getting stuck in a situation like that. you defiantly handled the situation a lot better than i would have, i would have blew it. kuddos to you!

  49. LOL. “I waited for you this morning.” I definitely would have had some awkward comeback. I especially enjoyed the “I don’t ride, horses that is” comment.

  50. That hunk of a man boy hahaha a hahaha I died.
    I can see how this made its way to the la times. Sorry they changed the title!

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