Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Ranch, The Game, The Ring and other Thanksgiving Tales

From The Feast:

I took Wednesday off from work for a nice long five-day Thanksgiving weekend.

For several years my family, along with my mom's two older sisters and their families, have spent Thanksgiving on my aunt and uncle's ranch which is about halfway between Austin and College Station, Texas. The token Aggie in my large Longhorn family, I appreciate the fact that the ranch is in close proximity to whichever city is hosting the annual Texas A&M vs. Texas football game.

For two years my brother and my cousin KH drove down from Dallas with the parents, while BH, her brother who is my age, and I would drive in from school. In a humorous role-reversal, BH and I got to be the ones crammed into the back of my dad's Tahoe this year with iPods, magazines, books and laptops. Nothing says "family time" like earbuds and recorded episodes of Entourage. It literally took ninja skills to get out of the car, I kid you not.

BH swims daily to stay in shape and consumed no fewer than two and a half bags of chips, a small package of donuts and a huge Lipton Brisk tea on our three-hour drive, just as a snack. He is literally pure muscle. I could only stare and wonder how he didn't visibly gain weight or feel like throwing up afterward.

BH, myself and my brother, LH, this summer in New York:

We arrived at the ranch around sunset, ate tacos, then my cousins and I all went outside to get a fire going and watch the stars come out. There is nothing more relaxing to me than laying (on a bale of hay, obviously), listening to a fire crackle and watching the sky light up. Away from city lights you can see thousands of stars, which always makes me remember how small I am in the universe and gives me such a sense of peace.

Everyone went to bed early, and I vaguely remember waking up at 6 AM Thursday morning because I could her The Moms and BH talking in the kitchen. KH and I dragged ourselves out of bed around 7:45 and as we rubbed our eyes realized that we were the last ones awake. The Dads were already awake, showered and working on the turkeys. The Brothers were all dressed and shuffling the Sports sections of the paper amongst themselves. (The Cowboys AND the Longhorns rarely play games on the same day- there was much to cover.) Such are holidays with my family.

From the ranch:

BH and I were the only ones who wanted to go to the game this year, which the college football authorities moved to Thanksgiving Day, so we ate lunch with everyone and headed to Austin soon after. Austin was uncharacteristically not busy, or at least appeared not to be until we got inside the game with the other 98,000 people who ditched their families for the game.

I hadn't been to a college football game in two years- since A&M won in Austin two years ago, so I was overdue. We were in the student section, and for anyone who has ever called me a fair-weather fan (how dare you), this was my day to prove you wrong. I watched every play go from bad to worse, and listened to all of the insults hurling out of the stands as the 49-9 score was finalized.

Of course we stayed in Austin that night, because my dear cousin had also arranged for us to stay the night in Westlake, where some of his younger buddies from college have been "house-sitting" for a professor who is out of the country. They showed me to my room and nonchalantly told me to watch out for scorpions.

Scorpions? Come again?! Keep in mind, this was a beautiful home in the Hill Country, not just some guy's college apartment.

Me: Back up to the part about the scorpions.
BH: You know how I drink water out of the faucet sometimes?
Me: Yes...
BH: Well last time I was here, I was reaching down to get some water and a scorpion was literally climbing up the drain. I had no idea what was going on-- I may have actually screamed. I'm sure you will be fine- just be careful.

About that time the guys, being noble, decided to check the bathroom for me, killing a spider in the process. "Oh yeah, here's one," one of them said. It was in the trash can, which apparently was "not a big deal" to anyone else. I didn't want to be dramatic, so I said good night and waited until I closed my door to inspect all the corners of the room and between the sheets and blankets with the light from my Blackberry for any other perpetrators who might want to bite me.

The next morning BH and I woke up early, and our bonding time continued as we got in the car again to drive back to the ranch. He was in a "talking" mood (probably because I kept handing him various McDonald's breakfast sandwiches), which the men in my family are not known for, so I set down my book and paid attention. My cousin KH and I like to joke that we only have a certain window of time to get questions in before our brothers aren't in the mood for chatting anymore, so you have to take advantage when you can.

We are the same age and at a similar stage in life, thus our conversation ultimately turned to relationships and dating. I got to ask questions about his previous relationships; what he learned from them, what he liked and what he would change in the future. I gained valuable insights into the male mind from someone who I love, trust and respect.

If I could get him to start drinking water out of a glass, I could probably set him up with one of my friends.

*FYI this got longer than I intended so there will be a Part II supplemented tomorrow. (I know, you can hardly wait!)

"There is precious little hope to be got out of whatever keeps us industrious, but there is a chance for us whenever we cease work and become stargazers."
- H.M. Tomlinson

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