I actually met Pamela via her husband Eric, he is often the star of her stories and I usually end up laughing at his expense. One of my favorite stories is one she is sharing with you today. Without further ado, I will let Pamela do the talking.
My super-athletic husband is a native of St. Croix. Yah, mon. When we moved to Texas, he had to learn some Texas tricks, and this old dog didn’t want to. It took a lot for him to find his inner Bubba-mon.
When we had lived in Texas less than two years, Eric and I celebrated our anniversary in Fredericksburg, a charming hamlet chock-a-full of German history in the Hill Country of Texas. Like anyone would, we planned our entire getaway around bicycling and running. However, given the fact that we’d just run the Texas marathon days before, it was very moderate bicycling and running.
We were in the heart of Texas deer hunting country, and it just happened that we were 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 back ends.
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.”
Eric’s shorts were truly short; you know, the kind that shows 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 Deeres. (My apologies to all aforesaid 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 café where we planned to meet my mother for breakfast, like anyone would on their anniversary trip.
Anyway, Eric kept humming some dueling banjos song and talking about people who marry their first cousins. Then we pulled into the parking lot of the café.
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 towards 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 underdressed,” 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, was wearing thermal camo overalls.
We hurried into the bacon-scented café, Eric tugging in vain at his shorts. They were as long as they were going to get. All eyes followed us to the table, where Mom kissed and hugged us with noisy gusto.
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 re-trod his walk of shame to the parking lot, 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?” she asked him.
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 wearing shorts. I was wondering if you could let out a big wolf whistle when he comes back in?”
He turned to his cronies, who were hanging 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 café exploded in sound, as the hunter and his buddies cackled and whooped with laughter. They pounded the table, and one of them clapped our hunter on the back with a resounding thwump.
Eric tilted his head just enough to be perceptible and made the four quick strides from the door to our table, his naked legs eye-level as he pushed between 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 our someday house on our property in Nowheresville, he didn’t include a mother-in-law suite.
But he did let me buy him a pair of longer running shorts.
By Pamela Fagan Hutchins, who knows better than to share stuff like this on the internet, but she just can’t help herself.