I know....you're all sick of hearing about my gigantic crush on Heraldo. I've professed my adoration of his intellect and wit here, on other blogs and on my long drive home, inserting his name into the sappiest of love songs while I bellow out the open window across the grassy range.
For the record, and just so no one thinks I'm only a one-crush girl (or perhaps a stalker,) I thought I'd tell you about my latest. You see, crushes can be on anyone really. It doesn't mean that I want to spend a hot Saturday night with them necessarily, it just means that I find them fabulous in one way or another. Those of you who are squeezing your eyes shut and shouting, "Liar!" right now; you might have a small point. There are certainly a few crushes who are worthy of a backseat makeout session, but for the most part...no strawberry gloss on the lips or Al Green on the ipod is required.
This has been the latest object of my affection: Number 24-08.
She used to wait by the fence for me everyday and refused to leave until I'd visited with her for a bit. Visiting with Number 24-08 didn't consist of much talking. She's a woman of few words and communicated mainly with her big gentle eyes. Over the past several weeks I'd gotten to know her quite well, and I now understood what she wanted and what she needed: apples. Lots and lots of apples.
I would walk around the yard gingerly picking up every apple that had fallen from the tree, braving the bald-faced hornets that were often lying in wait on the underside. I threw them one by one over the fence, and the second an apple hit the ground, Number 24-08 grabbed it with her huge black tongue and swallowed it in one bite. She did this until she'd eaten them all. The feast always ended sooner than she would've liked.
I stood on the other side of the fence and tried to explain things to her. "That's it, 24-08. There's no more. Only a few fall every day - such is the way of apples. I'm really sorry. Stop looking at me like that. Is that a tear in your eye? Come back tomorrow - there'll be more. I promise!" I always got the feeling that she didn't quite understand. Eventually, after a last effort at sticking her nose through the fence, she ambled off and joined her less ambitious pals in the far pasture.
I've never been one to form a crush on a well-mannered soul. I like the wild ones, the rabble-rousers, the ones my mom always warned me about, and Number 24-08 is no different.
Two weeks ago I awoke with a start to a horrible noise in the middle of the night. Was it thunder? A wild animal on the roof? A strapping ranch hand peeping tom? I groggily climbed out of bed and shone a flashlight out the window to see if I could determine where the sound was coming from. I swept it over the yard - not a thing seemed to be amiss. Was it a dream? I waited a few minutes and hearing nothing, walked back to the bed. I was just about to pull the covers back over my head when there it was again: Bang! Followed by a burst of small explosions. Maybe it was one of the ranchers after a mountain lion. I ran to the window and shone the flashlight into the farthest part of the yard, and there she was: my sweet Number 24-08.
Apparently she had peer-pressured some of her friends into a late night raid. They were ramming their big cow selves just hard enough on the fence to knock it against the tree. If they managed to hit it just right, they were rewarded with a shower of apples for a delicious midnight snack. I threw on a sweatshirt, ran outside and waved my arms at them.
"Number 24-08! You sneaky little thing! How dare you! After all the times I risked being attacked by wasps so you could have your afternoon treat! And this is the way you treat me! Get out of here! And take your lazy good-for-nuthin' cow friends with you!"
Number 24-08 stared at me for a long time. She finally gave one last look, inhaled, snorted loudly, turned her back to me and slowly clomped away. The others followed suit, and not one of them had the decency to show any sort of guilt or regret.
The next morning I surveyed the damage. The hoodlum cows had managed to make a hole in the deer fence just big enough so that those tricky looters were able to get in. The squash plants had been nibbled down to nubs. The cucumbers were ransacked. The tomatoes...I don't even want to talk about the tomatoes.
"Why?" I whispered to myself. "Why do I always fall for the ones with...issues?"
The remaining apples fell to the ground after the last rain. Number 24-08 still came to visit for awhile, but after several days of not getting any apples, she stopped coming.
I saw her on my evening walk tonight, and she looked at me with hardly any recognition at all as she happily munched on some hay. I was almost glad about that. This is ranch land after all, and one day, my sweet but troubled Number 24-08's number will most definitely be up.