My experience on the Metra the other day-- when I teasingly yelled at Tony and the guy sitting near him has got me remembering another story from a few years ago.
I thought I'd share it with you today.
We were going on a 2 week camping trip out west with a big group of friends. There were around 5 or 6 families that all spent the previous year planning this trip. Each family had their own itinerary but we were meeting up in certain places out west and camping together. Each day we were together we had one event planned. The husbands each picked a day, then planned something fun to do for the whole group and then planned a devotion to lead around the camp fire at the end of the day. For example, one day we went white water rafting, another was horseback riding in the Tetons, another we went to a rodeo in Red Lodge, Montana. We did a lot of sight seeing and travel as individual families but it was fun to meet up as this huge group.
Our family got to the Red Lodge, Montana campground a day earlier than everyone else. It was the most interesting group of campers we had ever seen. The entire camp ground was filled with cowboys for the upcoming rodeo. I had never seen a real cowboy before. The majority of these guys were "huge, cowboy boots and hat wearin', tobacco spittin', foul language usin', scary looking guys"! We checked in and were assigned our little campsite. After the office guy gave us the whole "don't walk to the bathroom by yourself in the middle of the night--you might get eaten by a mountain lion" lecture, we found our site and proceeded to set up our little pop-up.
It was impossible to not notice the guys at the campsite next to us. They were camping in one of those huge deluxe campers with the TV and air conditioner inside. There were 3 men and they all were at least 6'4" or taller. They each had a woman with them and a there were a few little kids running around too. I don't know who belonged to who. And then there was a very small older woman with them. We found out later that these 3 men were brothers and did an event in the rodeo as a team. They rode horses after a wild Stallion and tried to capture it and put a saddle on him and ride him. It was something they did at the very end of the rodeo. I don't know if it was an actual rodeo event but it was very impressive!
But I'm getting ahead of myself. We spent the rest of the afternoon and evening setting up our campsite getting dinner and playing games with the kids. We didn't really "socialize" with any of our cowboy neighbors. That night as we lay down and tried to go to sleep, we realized that Hubby and my side of the camper was right next to our neighbors camp fire, and they were all sitting around it talking late into the night. And I mean LATE into the night...come 3 am, Hubby and I still were unable to fall asleep. It wasn't that they were crazy noisy, firing pistols off and hootin and hollerin, but they were definitely drunk and they were talking, laughing, and swearing. Hubby and I debated what to do. He finally says "I'm gonna go out there and ask if they can just keep it down a little" I'm frightened for his life! "Are you crazy? Have you seen how big they are? And they are drunk....They might kill you!" He started climbing out of bed and pulled some jeans on "It's after 3 am....the kids will be up as soon as it's light out..."
I laid there and prayed "Please God, don't let those big huge cowboys hog tie my husband and cook him over their campfire..."
After a very long couple of minutes, which I couldn't hear anything (I tried really hard), Hubby came back in. "What happened?" I asked. It was all of the sudden really quiet outside. Hubby says "I just asked them if they could keep it down and that was it".
Wow. I was amazed. That's all it took and now it was quiet.
The sun rose way too early the next morning and I stumbled out of the camper feeling like a cowgirl who got bucked off a wild bronc....well probably not but I thought I'd throw in a little rodeo analogy. I'm figuring that I at least looked that bad, because remember the little older lady I mentioned seeing at the cowboy neighbors campsite? Well, all 4 foot nothing of her greeted me good morning and then she said "I had the air conditioner on in my camper last night so I didn't hear anything. Did my boys keep you awake last night?" I didn't want to say anything bad. I had a feeling that these guys could make our stay miserable....a list of how they could do that started playing in my head....just the thought of them giving me the "stink eye" set my knees to shaking. She could see my hesitation, "It's alright you can tell me. I don't want my boys causin' no trouble" she said. "They were just a little loud by the campfire" I finally admitted. "It wasn't that bad". Just then, my two youngest complained that they needed to use the bathroom. So I excused myself.
When we returned from the bathroom I started getting ready to make breakfast. I came around the end of the camper to plug in my electrical cord for my griddle when I saw the three cowboys from next door. They were standing in the gravel road on the edge of our campsite. I stopped in my tracks. My heart stopped for a second and then started pounding. Like I said, all three of them were at least 6'4" or taller and rough looking. "Excuse me ma'am." Said the oldest looking one. I took a tiny step forward. All three of the enormous men had their hands in their jeans pockets. One of them I could only see the top of his cowboy hat because he was looking at the ground and kicking the dirt with the tip of his cowboy boot. "yes..." I said hesitantly. The oldest one shoved his hands deeper into his pockets and looked down at his boots and began kicking at the dirt also "Our Mama says that we need to apologize for keepin' you up last night." He continues to kick at the dirt..."so... we're real sorry..." the one next to him whose top of his hat I could only see before, takes a quick look at me in the eye and then looks back down and says "yeah sorry ma'am". The third one doesn't look like he wants to be doing this at all and doesn't say anything for a moment till his older brother elbows him. He also looks up real quick and says "sorry".
At that moment these three huge guys look like tots to me. I can picture them getting yelled at by their mama and having to apologize and then scurrying off to wrestle or throw rocks or poke dead animals with sticks or whatever little cowboys do when they are young.
We had a very nice stay at that campsite. Later we had some great conversation with the cowboys and their families. We got to see them "do their thing" at the rodeo the next day and it was absolutely crazy! I just want to add that our cowboy neighbors won their event....but were later disqualified. It seems that one of the brothers (I bet I know which one) actually bit the horse so they could get the saddle on.
Seeing how those cowboy looked like little boys after being scolded by their mama, was surprising. But the thing that put me in awe was the power that little woman had over those big men and the respect they obviously had (or maybe fear) for their mama.
Upon my return from Africa and following several phone conversations with close friends inquiring about my experience, it became apparent to me I would be ...