Most people will tell you that long distance dating doesn’t work. Those people are right, although dating someone who can’t just show up at your door unannounced does have its advantages. I think we’ve all tried a long-distance relationship at one time or another. Mine was with a fairly famous person. While she was never on QVC, I met her at a charity event sponsored in-part by QVC. Our mutual love of music was obvious from the beginning.
We talked for hours that first night. Unfortunately, she lived in the West. Her ranch was in a very remote spot, a 3-hour drive from the nearest airport. We made arrangements that first night for me to fly out and spend a few days with her. I had my dog Mandy at the time so I bought both of us a seat on a direct flight. This was pretty easy to do back in the pre-9/11 days. Today, unless it’s a support animal, I imagine it’s quite difficult.
Turns out Mandy loved to fly. She especially loved all the attention from the crew. One pilot was particularly enamored with her. He showed me a photo of his dog who could have been her sister. Although I brought along food for the 5-hour flight, they fed her like a queen. Luckily she never had to poop during the flight, although sometimes I did have to pick up some poop in the airport when we arrived.
The ranch was great. She had 5 full-time ranch hands, a stable of horses and a couple of big Golden Retrievers. Mandy got along very well with her new brothers and loved exploring the Ponderosa-like spread with them. I found out that Mandy had an instinctive love and respect for horses. When we went riding she would walk alongside me, never venturing too close to the horse’s hooves.
Of course, the ranch wasn’t without its problems. The ranch hands knew I was an Easterner and treated me like the tenderfoot I was. Especially when I would wear my Larry Mahan 10-gallon hat and sneakers. After my first trip, I invested in some really fine boots, a leather vest and a holster for my stainless steel Ruger Vaquero Revolver, a great cowboy gun. First time out there, I thought I looked sharp. The ranch hands brought me back to reality when they started calling me “Hoss.” The nickname stuck.
During one ride, looking as Hoss-like as I ever had, we encountered a rattlesnake. Mandy went on point, obviously ready to protect me. I stink at all sports, but I have practiced with a handgun for several decades. I drew and fan-fired twice. At least one of the rounds struck the snake, blowing it in half. I wasn’t Hoss, I was Matt Dillon. Fastest gun in the West! Unfortunately, I didn’t have Matt Dillon’s horse.
The horse had obviously never heard a gun, especially one as loud as a .45 fired close to his ear. He took off. I knew enough not to try to stop him. He ran for what seemed like forever, finally climbing up what looked to be an unclimbable peak. When he was about halfway up, he stopped. I dismounted, calmed him down and looked back at my date. She and Mandy were about a mile away, just waiting for my return. I remounted and gave the horse, his name was Major, a gentle nudge with my knees.
He started down the slope, slowly and deliberately. I just leaned forward and hung on. I knew he didn’t want to fall but I also knew if he thought I was going to make him stumble he would have bucked me off in a New York minute. In a few minutes we were down. Mandy walked over to us and gave me her “WTF” look. She always gracefully suffered my stupidity.
Back at the ranch, the ranch hands had a new respect for me. They had no idea I was scared to death on the out-of-control horse and had to change my underwear after the wild ride. The day after the incident they had set up 5 bottles on a fence about 50 feet away and asked me if I could shoot them. After checking to make sure there was no civilization in the line of fire, I drew and fan fired 5 rounds. They were quite impressed that I broke all the bottles, especially from a fast draw. They still called me Hoss, but it sounded like it was with respect. Kind of like the theme from Top Cat, “Close friends get to call him T.C., Providing it’s with dignity.”
We dated for a little over a year. I was even her escort at a Grammy and Academy Awards ceremony. However, the strain of the long trip started to take its toll. She came out to visit me a couple of times. She really liked the Epicurean Restaurant which was just a few miles from my home. We even went to a blues festival in the area. But I had no desire to move out west and there was no way she was leaving her spread. Plus, most of her friends were also celebrities who kept looking at me like “who the fuck are you?” We said our goodbyes. We’re still friends but haven’t spoken in years.
Overall, I’m okay with how it wound up. After all, Daddy Cartwright is supposed to be rich, so I have that going for me. Of course, I think Adam was always his favorite.
© 2017 Steve Bryant – No portion of this or any blog can be reproduced or copied and reposted on any online site or read aloud on any audio media without the express permission of the author.