My bestie showed up today with iPad in hand, hoping for a little assistance with an application that was confounding her. It went slightly better than the blind leading the blind. Both of us are writers, neither of us is very tech savvy. We should chip in and share a techno nerd—kept on call.
I made tea for us. We chatted and sipped.
I met this kindred spirit 26 years ago, when I walked into an established writer’s group for the first time, my knees knocking and palms sweating from my apprehension. She was a friendly face among many.
We are of similar age and discovered that day that we had lived uncannily parallel lives. We became fast friends and ultimately bonded over Sorel boots—we’d both received them as Christmas presents from our husband’s (my then husband) when they were still only boyfriends.
We live in the land of snow where it’s pretty much guaranteed the white stuff is going to fall for six months of the year. Sorels are to boots what Mercedes are to automobiles, top of the line and made to last. These boots can take years of licking from snow and ice and keep on kicking.
A gift of Lady Sorels from a boyfriend or fiance’ means his intentions are all kinds of serious.
Years later, when my friend’s daughter received a gift of the boots for Christmas, we celebrated; we knew there would be a wedding come summer.
The story of those boots, launched a five year writing partnership for us. As the Pearl Sisters we penned a self-syndicated weekly column that appeared in rural newspapers across the northern realm of our state. One reviewer dubbed us the twin Erma Bombecks of the farming set—part of our parallel lives was having been city bred and raised but married to farm boys, learning the art of husbandry the hard way.
My farming days are long over. She sort of wishes hers were ending. “I told him we have to cut the herd down to half,” she said. She and her husband own and manage a sizable Black Angus ranch. “Instead he breeds every cow we have and they’ve multiplied. It must be that new math. Now we have to put weaners in all the calves noses.”
That’s not nearly as hysterical in writing, because when she said it I was not thinking w-e-a-n-e-r-s as in a device that would wean the babies from their mamas. I was thinking w-i-e-n-e-r-s as in Oscar Meyer—the wiener everybody loves. Or, (god forgive me) penises of some sort.
But I know my bestie better than most. I was the editor/translator during our writing partnership and weekly had to decipher her farm lingo into every day English before sending it off to our publishers.
No matter how amusing the pictures she’d just planted in my head might be, I knew they weren’t accurate. Baby cows cavorting around with hotdogs stuck up their noses just is not right. Even more wrong, maybe some sort of prosthetic thing that only looks like a bull penis and for god-only-knows what purpose it serves as a nose plug, though surely named for the shock value because, well, you know those farmer types. They have a magazine with a Cow centerfold!
“Hang on,” I stopped her mid next-sentence. I have to ask, what are you talking about?”
“You don’t know what a weaner is?” Her face is all over serious. She is so good at this combination dead-pan and naive country turnip persona that most of her marks fall for it. I know her too well.
“I know what I think a wiener is, but I want you to describe the wiener you’re talking about.”
Her ingenuous expression slides into an impish grin. “It’s a plastic ring with pokey things on it that hurt the mother so she won’t let her baby nurse.”
“Oh, weaner,” I say. “Not wiener.”
“Right, a weaner.”
“That’s what I said.”
Write what you know, they say. This one is definitely going on my list of things to work into the next novel.