There is a crowd of us standing at my window gawking at a cowboy who has been pacing the sidewalk below for the past 20 minutes.
Most of the group consists of unattached females who remain unattached by choice and are ostensibly proud of this choice. There is much babble about the joys of independence and not having to answer to anyone.
Yet the instant an even mildly attractive male is spotted around the building, estrogen-fueled pandemonium ensues. It starts with a pressured psst! and builds momentum until we have a situation like the one we have at the moment.
There are too many women at the window now and sooner or later some excessively eager lady, probably Myrtle from down the hall if she finds out about this, which she will for sure, will whistle or yell something lewd and draw attention to us.
Myrtle is a problem.
I have explained before how Belinda and I do not like our covert activities detected by those we watch from our window. These friggin women with their suppressed, unmet needs are not helping and Myrtle is the worst of them all.
Belinda is the first to notice the cowboy, which until recently, outside of fishing charter season when oil rig workers and other Albertans with money to spend drive their enormous gas guzzlers and boat trailers through the Rockies into BC’s recreational wilderness, were a relatively rare sight to behold in our coastal town. There is nothing to drill for here and nowhere to keep a cow or mount a horse with all the muskeg, crumbling streets and tractor-sized sinkholes.
There is, however, a natural deep-water, strategically situated port with superior access to the Asian market that industry lusts after, specifically gas and oil, at least that’s been the case lately with all the LNG buzz, hence the sudden Albertan draw and consequent increase in cowboy sightings. Even so, we do not normally see them as up close and personal as the cowboy we are currently staring at, particularly right outside our window, isolated from the herd for easy, undetected scrutiny.
Thus, because of the rarity of the situation, when Belinda initially notices the cowboy, she becomes so excited that she falls out of her swivel chair in the process of spinning around to tell me about it and injures herself. I jump up to help her, but she impatiently waves me off. Her minor injury is nothing compared to the cowboy.
“Go to the window! There’s a REAL cowboy out there! Oh my god,” she gushes, “I’m flushed!”
As I go to the window to see what all the fuss is about, Belinda pulls herself together long enough to phone Karen from a few floors up to come down immediately. There’s been a cowboy sighting.
Karen will be interested in this. She is off fishermen after being cheated on one too many times, but has a thing for cowboys because, well, who doesn’t? She also loves herself a “silver fox with good shoes”, as she is fond of saying, and is constantly on the prowl for a man, although we suspect this is more talk for the sake of an all-female audience than any real desire to “catch” a fresh one, as she hasn’t gone on a date in years. At this stage of the game, she’s come to realize the reality and the fantasy are NOT the same thing.
Nevertheless, we keep up the pretence and whenever we spot what seems to be a suitable specimen, we have a habit of notifying Karen. Plus, in this particular circumstance the three of us had just, maybe an hour beforehand at coffee, finished a “hot and bothered” discussion regarding the sex appeal of a good, old-fashioned cowboy, with Belinda breaking out in a rendition of Paula Cole’s, “Where have all the cowboys gone?” and Karen insisting Canadian cowboys are every bit as appealing as any American cowboy you can find to the south.
Belinda vehemently disagreed, saying, “If you want the real McCoy, you have to go to Montana”. I don’t know where Belinda gets her information, but I’m pretty sure she’s never been to Montana.
In any event, in light of this earlier conversation, Belinda figures Karen will appreciate the coincidence of a cowboy outside our window only a short while later. In addition to ogling strange men, we are big on coincidences, synchronicities and serendipities and keep a running tally.
“She will want to get in on the action,” Belinda tells me and I agree.
When she gets Karen on the line, Belinda is downright giddy as she repeats the bit about there being a “real” cowboy down here. But then before my incredulous eavesdropping ears she gets carried away in her description and says something about him wearing chaps “and he’s built, Karen, like a scene straight out of Magic Mike!”
No, he is not in chaps.
I also don’t know what Magic Mike spoof she must be referring to, but as I take my first scrutinizing look at the spindly cowboy in question I can see why a little embellishment is necessary.
He does not hold up under careful observation.
That however doesn’t matter anymore, as intrigue has now been created and the cowboy effect, much like a bewitching halo effect, has been initiated. At this juncture, Belinda could claim he’s the cover model for a Lori Wilde romance, and regardless of what he actually looks like, no one would bat an eye; the cowboy effect is that strong.
Belinda, who by this time is completely under the control of the cowboy effect, gets off the phone with Karen and informs me, as if she’s sharing an important piece of CSIS intel, “She’ll be right down”.
We stand at the window waiting for Karen, taking in the cowboy’s tight jeans, spurred boots, tucked in western style shirt, ornate belt buckle and black cowboy hat, until the sound of Lenore’s high-pitched squeal destroys the spell.
Belinda angrily shushes nosey Lenore who has barged in to check out what we’re looking at. She sees the cowboy straight away and turns to Henrietta who unbelievably has also appeared out of nowhere at the window and quips, “I’ll tell ya what, Henrietta, I wouldn’t be kicking him outta my bed if he farted under the blankets!”
Henrietta snorts she laughs so hard at Lenore’s stupid joke. Belinda also chuckles, but I do not have it in me. This is not the first occasion I’ve experienced Lenore say this, and I cringe every time it comes out of her mouth. It wasn’t clever the first time and definitely not this many times. It’s too much.
I wish Lenore would stop coming into our office.
But then here comes Marge. She is a round, over-inflated-bouncing-ball of a woman with penguin flipper arms and a plump tomato-looking head, who at this moment decides to accompany Henrietta’s little sound-bite there with, “Oh yeah! Ride me cowboy!”
Marge can’t even ride a bicycle or sit in a chair; she just kind of rolls off of everything. To tell you the truth, I’m not sure how she manages to walk. I cannot BEGIN to imagine the logistics of anyone riding her. The thought of it leaves me feeling uneasy and in combination with Lenore’s fart-themed commentary not a little queasy.
“Good lord, Marge, get a hold of yourself!” Henrietta scolds.
Henrietta only finds Lenore funny for reasons I am not equipped to appreciate. To everyone else, Henrietta is a miserable spinster who despises “amoral” behavior and speech, yet always seems to be around avidly listening when these “amoral” conversations are going on.
She is also the self-appointed mentor of people who do not know she’s mentoring them. Apparently she’s mentoring me, for example. I had no idea until Lenore mentioned it in passing. I hate Lenore.
Both Lenore and Henrietta are single, like everyone else of course, but it seems to bother Henrietta the most. She tends to defensively ramble on and on about all the men who wanted to marry her, but couldn’t due to a series of convoluted rationalizations that no one is interested in hearing and only Lenore can follow. I suppose that’s why Henrietta likes Lenore.
But Marge isn’t affected whatsoever by who Henrietta likes or doesn’t like and continues to drool over the cowboy with an unfortunate litany of lecherous statements I do not care to repeat.
The noise level is already becoming distinctly elevated by this point when Karen finally materializes. She is a fit, youthful woman in her late 50s with a confident stride who can be a lot of fun, but in this environment has a no-nonsense attitude. She comes storming into our office with two frightened women I’ve never seen before trailing behind her.
“I brought Betty and Martha,” Karen reports to the room, “they need to see this, too”.
Things are getting totally out of hand with this cowboy. Word of his presence is spreading faster than word of the free mammogram clinic that was randomly thrown together at the start of the day.
If they really want to attract more women to a clinic where unpleasant things are done to sensitive body parts, they really should consider inviting the cowboy as bait. Every breast in a 100-kilometer radius will surely follow.
There are now seven of us standing at the window. This is ridiculous.
And if that’s not enough, Megan, who is 21 and has no suppressed, unmet needs, comes into the office next and asks, “What’s going on?”
Lenore, encouraged by Marge’s string of vulgarities and still vibrating from the high of her own normally well-received signature phrase, rushes to inform Megan of the cowboy, mentioning the thing about not kicking him out of her bed for the 49th time in 7 minutes.
Megan does not laugh.
She pushes past Lenore, takes one look at the cowboy, crinkles up her nose and says to the rest of us, all over 30, most over 40 and beyond, “Eww, he’s old!” and breezes out of the room as fast as she came in, leaving Lenore deflated.
I note Lenore’s fallen expression and fight the urge to moan and roll my eyes. She looks so dejected that I don’t have the heart to openly belittle her and suggest instead she ignore Megan. I awkwardly pat her on the shoulder and say, “Don’t worry, Lenore, Megan’s young, she doesn’t know what she’s talking about. I wouldn’t kick him out of bed, either”.
Lenore brightens and I feel like a traitor who has soiled her own soul. However, I like hurt people even less than I like redundancy, which is probably why I can’t stand myself most of the time. It makes life problematic as there is no way to get away from yourself. Wherever you go, there you are.
Anyway, the straw that breaks the camel’s back comes in the form of Myrtle. She, as predicted, has caught wind of what’s going on here and comes whistling in. She hasn’t even seen the cowboy yet and is already catcalling.
By the time she reaches the window, her presence has caused such a commotion that the cowboy senses he’s being stalked. Suspicious, he looks up to discover much to his surprise and visible terror, us, a clutch of predatory ovaries, glaring down at him.
He nervously lights what we later decide must be a Marlboro cigarette and anxiously looks around, uncomfortably glancing up every now and then and giving us a better opportunity to make out his facial features and take in the rest of his skeletal physique.
No one staring at the cowboy is a fan of smokers and there is nothing arousing about a skeleton. As a result, the cowboy effect quickly evaporates and a disappointed crowd of sexually frustrated females disperse in a flurry of renewed man-hate, which is nothing more than a defense mechanism. You malign what you can’t have even as you yearn to have it. It’s utterly absurd, but what isn’t utterly absurd?
Belinda, who is noticeably trance-free now, loses her creepy enthusiasm and addresses Karen, the only one left with us, in a flat, accusatory tone, “There’s no way THAT cowboy is from Montana. He must be one of your oily cowboys from Alberta. He looks sickly”.
Belinda’s disdain is palpable and Karen is thoroughly insulted, which is weird that she’d take Belinda’s comment so personally since Karen has never lived, worked or dated anywhere other than BC. Me? I just watch the show.