My friend, Barbara, lives in a sexy mountain cabin in a remote, isolated wilderness with two dogs (Sheba and Lucky), two barn cats (no official names), a horse, Mr. Ed (she says he curses when unhappy), and a cow named How Now Brown Cow. Her cabin has a gourmet kitchen and a winding staircase leading to a jacuzzi overlooking the Rockies.
Barbara does get lonely out there in Paradise. She confided that her ideal partner is a rugged Mountain Man… a species bountiful on Pakistani dating sites, possibly.
She’s the quintessential “outdoor person” who would rather be hiking, biking, skiing to town, or spotting wildlife. The wilder the better, she insists.
Strangely, she’s had three successive boyfriends named Michael. After the second disastrous Michael, I suggested she move on to the next letter in the alphabet — Nathan… Nils… Nehemiah?
Enter Michael III. Cute. A psychologist to boot, and adventurous, so I thought Okay, maybe this Michael will stay.
Everything went fine in the honeymoon days. He loved cooking, caring for the animals. They read poetry in her four-poster bed made from oak tree trunks. They adopted a kitten and named her Pussy.
Later, some noticeable tension developed. At a dinner I overheard: “Michael, where’s the pasta bowl? You rearranged my whole damn kitchen! I can’t find anything but your crap.”
Minor bickers became major quarrels. Then, shouting matches. The first time he backed away, he called her cell phone. “Barb,” he said. “I think we need a break. I need some time.”
She gave him five minutes, after she hung up on him. There was a frenzy of reciprocal calls followed by wild make-up sex. “It was wonderful,” she sighed, when we met for wine spritzers. “He’s a wolf.”
It’s a dilemma, isn’t it, when you can see something your best friend can’t? There’s no telling her, especially about a guy. If she were making a big career mistake that would be easy. But a man? No way.
He emailed his next intent to break up. A predictable parade of heart-rending messages marched across their screens. Michael returned immediately, just in time to feed the zoo. I saw them the next day, glowing with sun-kissed cheeks and that bed-hair look.
Sweet, yet in that moment, I read their future like a gypsy fortune-teller. Call me intuitive.
Weeks later he sent Barb a text: “It’s over, we r done.” (R was the lower case letter r.)
Christmas bliss inspired them to couple, yet again. For one day. Then radio silence.
On New Year’s Eve they arrived, holding hands at a party. They wore flashing holiday lights on matching hats.
Just after the midnight kiss they parted ways, for good.
January 1st: Barbara woke to hear How Now baying or wailing, whatever cows do in distress. She ran to the barn and was stunned to see the poor bovine desperately banging her head, thrashing, mooing, trying to rub a string of Christmas lights off her giant lyre-shaped rack of horns. Barb had decorated the barn door with festive lights and the cow had somehow blundered into them, getting all tangled.
In vain she struggled to soothe How Now but this was one crazed cow which repeatedly lunged at her, jabbing her throat with horn tips. Frightening! Sheba and Lucky became frightened, too, and circled them, barking, yelping in terror. Mr. Ed got in the act and raced around the pasture neighing curse words, stopping only to kick the barn.
The cats nervously paced the rafters. Pussy jumped with open claws onto How Now’s back, riding like a bronco. The scenario went on for a quarter hour until Barb managed, frantically, to flip a rope around the cow’s neck, tightening it enough to still her. She and How Now locked eyes in a panting stare-down. After she cut off the string of lights, Barb lost it. She pulled out her phone and speed-dialed Michael.
“How dare you leave me at the holidays! You left me alone with all these animals. You dumped me with a text ? What kind of psychologist does that ?”
Without a break she began to heave, sob, weep, and shriek: the cow had gored her; the horse and cats had gone berserk; she was insane.
Barb didn’t have to tell me – a fellow woman — I knew she was begging for tender mercy, a kind word. Sympathy. Compassion. When finally she silenced her tirade, he gave it to her.
“Would you like me to call 911?”