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Free Range: Alternative lifestyle

By Felicia Morgan

I’d been wandering the streets of a town in Wyoming, shooting riders as they cruised along in the noonday sun, when I decided to duck into a cowboy bar and soak up some shade. At a table near the door was a smartly dressed lady. The attractive man across the table smiled, tipped his hat at me and I felt my face turn red as I headed to an empty booth at the far corner of the room. I settled in and busied myself with my camera and didn’t notice when the two left.

Later, I was shooting photos in the park when I noticed Mr. Tall-Drink-of-Water in the black cowboy hat leaning against a fence, watching as I worked to get the angle I wanted. I’m not used to being observed so intently and turned around to tell him that. Which made him laugh.

“Would you like to go out with me?” he asked as he pushed his hat back off his forehead. I was immediately flummoxed. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d been asked out. I just stared at him.

“Wow, you look kinda scared, there. Didn’t mean to freak you out. It’s a pretty simple deal, actually. I was thinking supper here in a little bit, and you’ve already got your boots on so maybe a couple of dances? There’s a good band playing tonight,” he offered. I was still processing it all when I blurted out, “What about your wife?” It was his turn to stare as he took his hat off.

“Well, I don’t think she’ll mind. Rachael passed on about five years ago and she always told me she wanted me to be happy once she was gone, so I’m pretty sure it’ll be OK,” he said with a smirk. “OK, then what about your girlfriend?” I countered. “Well, I’m pretty sure I don’t have one of those, either. Not last time I checked, anyway,” he said as he put his hat back on. “You must not think too much of me,” he suggested. “What kinda man asks a woman out if he’s already attached?” I reminded him of the lady I’d seen him with earlier and he laughed as he explained he’d met his sister for lunch. She’d dared him to ask me out then and it’d been bugging him that he hadn’t done so. He said he’d seen me again two blocks over and decided not to chicken out a second time. It was my turn to laugh.

“Why don’t you just let me buy you a glass of iced tea? I have to pick up my cleaning shortly and it’s just up the street. You look like you could use a break, anyway.” I agreed to the tea and we retired to a sidewalk cantina. He told about growing up cowboy, ranching in Wyoming and what it takes to survive a winter in the Tetons before he eventually asked what I do with all the pictures I take. He shook his head as I shared road stories. “I assumed you were one of those gals that shows up in town every summer and makes those greeting cards you see in shops but boy, did I guess wrong,” he told me before he shifted the conversation. “So, you never gave me an answer about that date we were discussing. Or whatever it is they call an evening out now. Is that what they call “hooking up” these days or what?” I giggled as I explained that we were definitely not going to be hooking up, but I had a question before I could give him a dinner answer. “Oh gawd, now what? You are the most question-asking gal I believe I’ve ever met,” JD teased. “OK, let me guess first: I’m a Gemini, middle kid of a family of three boys and I wear a size 12 boot. Does that do it? That’s what ladies usually wanna know, right? I mean, I read all about that in some women’s magazine once, I think it was Cosmopolitan or something like that, and that’s the kind of questions a guy’s supposed to expect, right? See there, I’m an enlightened and informed guy.” I just smiled, shook my head and asked if he owned a motorcycle. His face returned to the blank stare I’d seen earlier. “Would it matter if I said no?” he countered. I asked if he’d ever had a bike or even ridden on a bike. “Uh, no and nope, but I’ve seen Easy Rider and I liked the music. Does that count?”

I told JD about my strict rule on dating outside my species and the fact that he wasn’t into motorcycles was a big deal to me. I thanked him for the invitation but politely passed on the date deal, explaining that it would save us both a lot of headaches. “Ah, so you’re a practical lady, then. I like that. Guess I can see your point in the different lifestyles and all, but I want you to know I’d planned to dazzle you with my two-step, and then win you over with my Benedict omelet for breakfast. Not everybody can make a good Hollandaise, you know, so you’re really missing out. I’d let you ride my saddle horse, too. He’s pretty fast, kinda like a motorcycle. You could even wear your helmet if you’d like.”

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