By Piper Bayard
What happens when you put a Country Mouse and a City Mouse in the same fish bowl? Two very different perceptions of reality!
Jenny and I didn’t anticipate it, but that’s exactly what happened when Jenny visited at my home on the edge of the Rocky Mountains. I’m an intellectual redneck from the Southwest, and Jenny is from L.A. (pronounced “LaLa-Land” in these parts). The result was a multi-cultural experience with lots of laughs and a certain level of “What the hell?”
I showed Jenny around my stomping grounds and gave her the full sales pitch, trying to convince her to break out of the madness she calls home in Southern California and move closer. One day we went driving through a stretch of houses spaced out on five and ten acre lots.
Jenny: “I think my hubby would like driving out here through the country now and then, but he wouldn’t want to live this far away from a town.”
Piper: “Umm . . . This IS town.”
Then we headed up to Estes Park and strolled through a golf course. Around fifty elk poured out of the forest, only a stone’s throw away, and a bald eagle joined the party, circling overhead.
Jenny: “Wow! I’ve never seen so many elk.”
Piper: “I wonder where the rest of them are?”
The day treated us to the sight of bulls defending their territory and sparring in preparation for the full-on rutting season. We thought we were going to get to see the blood sacrifice of tourists, as well, when two men of questionable IQ seemed to think it might be cool to stand IN THE MIDDLE of an elk herd.
[In case you don’t know, that’s a seriously bad idea, particularly around rutting season. Even Jenny knew that.]
In a role reversal moment, the City Mouse had the sense to sit in the car while this Country Mouse got the Elk Selfie. Note how I strategically kept a tourist between myself and the bull elk, as is evidenced by the leg coming out of the side of my head in the picture.
*Jenny, off-camera in the car thinking, “She’s out of her mind.”*
Perhaps the most telling moment was the night the two of us were driving home on a dark dirt road in the back country, i.e. three hundred yards from a large subdivision. At a curve in the road, two scrubbed and primped teenagers stood beside their white Toyota, which was pointed straight into the bar ditch.
Jenny interrupting here: I saw a car, two people and a dark road with no lights. I should note, I would never drive down this road at night, unlike my partner in crime, Piper.
[Back to Piper]
To me, they were clearly suburban high schoolers out on a date. I started to slow down.
Jenny: “What are you doing? Don’t stop! Don’t stop!”
Piper thought bubble: Hmm. Jenny must need to get home and pee really bad.
I stopped and rolled down Jenny’s window.
Jenny thought bubble: We’re all gonna die.
Piper: “Do you kids need any help? Can we give you a ride or call someone for you?”
Jenny thought bubble: Holy crap! What is wrong with this woman?
Young man: “Thanks, but we have someone coming.”
Jenny: “What happened?”
Young man: “A coyote ran in front of us, and I swerved to miss it.”
Piper thought bubble: “What the hell was this kid thinking, risking their lives that way? City boy.”
Jenny to young woman: “That’s a fine young man you have there.”
Young woman: *snickers into hands*
Piper: “So you’re okay? Do you want us to stay with you until your people get here?”
Jenny thought bubble: I am not getting out of this car on this dark road with these strangers. Young people can be ax murderers too.
Young man: “No, thanks. We’ll be fine.”
Jenny to young woman: “You have a nice young man here.”
Piper to young woman: “Watch how he treats his mama. He’ll treat you the way he treats his mama.”
Young woman thought bubble: Who the hell talks like that? *hides laughter with hands*
Young man thought bubble: Crap. I’d better be nicer to my mom.
We went on our way down the dark dirt road and managed to get home in one piece, in spite of suburban coyotes and feral teens on the prowl that night.
[Jenny jabs finger at Piper: “Hey! Sarcasm works the same in both places, you know.”]
Overall, we had a great visit. I only hope I convinced her to come on over to the dark side and join me out here in the “country.” We’ve got peanut butter banana sandwiches to go with our cookies.
Are you a Country Mouse or a City Mouse? What experience have you had out of your geographic element? [And whose side are you on in terms of stopping on unlit back roads at night? ]
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Piper Bayard is a bestselling author and a recovering attorney. Her spy thriller writing partner, Jay Holmes, is an anonymous senior member of the intelligence community and a field veteran from the Cold War through the current Global War on Terror.