Have I mentioned before that my husband is a native of St. Croix (yah mon), and a triathlete for the last 25 years?  Here in Texas, he’s found his inner bubba, hence the nickname Bubba-mon, but he didn’t come by it easily.  Oh, no he did not.  Which reminds me of a story.  This one is about his legs instead of the usual ones about his butt.  I know he feels immensely relieved after reading that sentence.

So, once upon a time, Eric and I celebrated our January wedding anniversary in Fredericksburg, a charming hamlet chock-a-full of German history in the incomparable Hill Country of Texas.  Like anyone would, we planned our entire getaway around bicycling and running.  Um, yeah.  Anyway, we had lived in Texas less than a year at this time, and Eric hadn’t quite adjusted yet.  Don’t get me wrong.  He liked Texas, but let’s just say public outings with him scared me to death, each moment a breath away from Eric getting his ass whupped by a cowboy; Eric is an incurable smart ass.  Case in point: Eric and I met at work, and soon after we met, he informed me, “Don’t expect me to treat you like your shit doesn’t stink just because everyone else here does.”  Charming.  And then he asked me to marry him.  I guess we know who won that round. 🙂

Where were we?  Oh yes, in Fredericksburg.  Except we weren’t.  One morning we drove to Llano, just up the road and in the heart of Texas deer hunting country.  Yep, we visited Llano smack in the middle of deer hunting season.  As we drove into town, Eric put on his thickest, most sarcastic drawl and estimated the IQ and body weight of each thermal-camouflage-clad, beer bellied hunter we passed.  We pulled up to a gas pump, surrounded by converted SUVs and ATVs, tricked out with gun turrets and swiveling Lazy Boys in their hacked-off backends.

Eric put the car in park.  “You’re going to have to pump the gas.”

Not to be a princess, but, “‘Scuse me?”  My husband never lets me lift a dainty little finger if he can help it.  He’d have to be vomiting up a lung to ask me to pump gas.

He gestured at his bare legs and running attire.  “I can’t go out there like this.”

“Because it’s too cold?”  I could understand this, seeing as it was January and all.  That’s why I had on full length running tights.  Duh.

“No, because…”  He jerked his head toward the nearest hunter, garbed head-to-toe to withstand an arctic blast.  “People will stare at me.”

“Ahhhhhhh.”

Eric’s shorts were truly short; you know, the kind that show 99.9% of your thighs?   You see shorts like these on real runners in city parks.  You do not see them in Llano, Texas.  In Llano, real men don’t wear sissy running shorts.  Hell, real men don’t run at all, in short shorts or anything else.  Real men don’t need to run (unless it’s to the Allsup’s for a six pack of Lone Star beer).  They get their exercise the manly way; they hunt and field dress deer after they poke their dogies and till the back forty in their John Deere.  My apologies to all said real men, ’cause I know there’s a difference between a farmer and a cowboy, and never the twain shall meet.

Well, I may have giggled and made a comment or two at this point, I dunno, but I did pump the gas.  We passed more hunters on our way to a cafe where we planned to meet my mother for breakfast, like anyone would on their anniversary trip.  Um, yeah.  Anyway, Eric kept singing some dueling banjos song and talking about people who marry their first cousins.  Then we pulled into the parking lot of the cafe.

Eric put the car in park.  He turned a stricken face to me.

“Lotta hunters in there,” I said before he had a chance to speak, gesturing first into the tiny, crowded restaurant and then at the giant vehicles around us.  And I coughed to cover a chuckle.

“Har-de-har-har,” said Eric.

“I think you’re a little under-dressed,” I said and this time I burst out laughing.  Every person in the restaurant except my mom, who by now was waving cheerily at us through the window, wore thermal camo overalls.

We hurried into the bacon-scented cafe, Eric tugging at his shorts in vain.  They were as long as they were going to get.  All eyes followed us to our table.  Mom kissed and hugged us.  As soon as we sat down, she asked Eric to run to her car and get something.  Well, a man doesn’t ever say no to his mother-in-law, does he?  Eric took a deep breath and made his Walk of Shame to her car, wishing, I’m sure, for Harry Potter’s Invisibility Cloak.

When he was out of earshot, I leaned in and whispered, “Mom, Eric is mortified about his running shorts.”

“Why?” she asked.  “He looks fine.”

“Look around, Mom.  Hunters.  No short running shorts.”  I giggled.  “He feels conspicuous.”

My mother never wastes an opportunity, and the woman is quick.  She turned to the nearest hunter, a healthy fellow of 270-pounds or so, 8.6 pounds of it in facial hair.

“Would you do me a favor?”  Have I mentioned that my mother is a great source of genetic material?  She is charming and pretty, and all men love her.  This hunter was no exception.

“Why sure, ma’am, what can I do ya for?” he said, and damn if his voice wasn’t a dead ringer for Eric’s imitation hunter-drawl earlier.

“See that man in the running shorts out there in the parking lot?  That’s my son-in-law.  He is a little embarrassed about his shorts.  I was wondering if you could let out a big wolf whistle when he comes back in?”

* Yes, I often ask strange men to come on to my husband.  NOT.  My mother is a piece of work.  You gotta love her gumption, but watch your back around her, I tell ya.  {Some say my blogs resemble her sense of humor} *

He turned to his cronies, who hung on every word of this interchange.  He brayed a laugh, and after a split second, so did his two friends.  “I’d be delighted to help ya out, ma’am.”

“Thank you sooooo much,” she said, and turned back to her menu, a Mona Lisa smile on her face.

The front door opened, sounding its bell.  My clean-shaven husband with his mighty fine exposed gams stepped in.

Without hesitating as long as it would take to load his 30.06 deer rifle, the hunter yelled out, “Hey Boy, NICE LEGS.”

Eric looked around slowly, hoping the hunter was talking to someone else.  His face lost all color.  The restaurant grew so quiet you could almost hear the steam hissing out of Eric’s ears.  After a few beats, the cafe exploded in sound, as the hunter and his buddies cackled and whooped with laughter.  They pounded the table, and one them clapped the hunter on the back with a resounding thwump.

Eric tilted his head just enough to be perceptible and made the four quick steps from the door to our table, his naked legs eye-level as he pushed through two tables on the way.  The hunter reached out and clasped his meaty paw around Eric’s arm.

He hooked his thumb at my mother.  “Yore mother-in-law put me up to it.  I don’t normally comment on another feller’s legs.”

“They are awful nice, though,” one of his friends said, and they all set to hee hawing again.

It is possible that Eric now finds this story humorous.  At the time, he may or may not have planned the slow and painful death of his mother-in-law in the near future, although you’d never have known it then.  Let’s just say that when we drew up our house plans for Nowheresville, he didn’t include a Mother-in-Law suite.

But he did let me buy him a pair of longer running shorts.

Pamelot

p.s.  I always get a little Deliverance nostalgic when I tell this story.  I think I’ll have to put it on the Netflix queue.

p.p.s Eric would like me to point out that I failed to provide context for his “stink” comment, and, in so doing, he appears ass-like.  Whoops.  My bad.  🙂

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