Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Queen Of The Cowgirls

My best friend Starr Ann gets a little too focused sometimes. Yesterday was Talk Lane Out of Going in The Army Day, and Starr Ann celebrated it like there was no tomorrow.

By the time Lane, Amanda, Starr Ann and I were building a fire in the fireplace after supper, I thought the subject had finally been exhausted. You'd think I'd know Starr Ann better by now, wouldn't you?

Real casual, but totally out of the blue, Starr Ann smiled at Lane and Amanda sitting there holding hands and said, "You two make such a nice couple."

Dang, Starr Ann sounded like somebody's grandmother. Never a good sign. Ever.

She put another log in and lit some rolled up paper. "Yep, real nice." My stomach clenched. Starr Ann stood up, dusted off her pants, and sauntered over to the couch. Sat right beside Lane. "All you'd have to do is walk into your recruiter's office, holding hands just like you are now." She chuckled for effect. "Maybe enjoy a nice kiss when everybody's looking." Starr Ann smacked her leg real loud. "And wham! Out of the Army." Her words got all rushed up and high-pitched. "You could get jobs. We'd help you. You could go to school. We'd help you. You could stay here, no rent, for as long as you wanted. You know we'd give you all the privacy you wanted. Please?"

Lane carefully released Amanda's hand and turned toward Starr Ann. She let out a war whoop and pounced, using the advantage of surprise to get a good tickle in before Starr Ann rolled forcefully to the right, which threw them both onto the floor. Poor Bates scooted underneath the loveseat. Lane's leg caught the edge of an endtable and knocked it crooked. From the looks of things, this was going to be one hell of a wrestling match.

I said, "Amanda, let's get to safer ground! The kitchen. Bring that glass of tea on your way out."

I grabbed our Dale Evans commemorative plate just seconds before Lane pushed Starr Ann into the table it was sitting on. Dang, Starr Ann would be mad afterwards if I'd have let them break that plate.

We closed the kitchen door behind us, and Amanda said, "What about Bates Boy?"

I took a quick glance that way, heard a crash, and told her, "He's smart enough to stay out of the way. I hope."

I took that opportunity to have a little heart to heart with Amanda. Goddess, now I sound like the grandma. Anyway, I said, "One thing I've been wondering about, Amanda, and Lane always skirts a direct answer to this, is exactly why you two signed up for the Army in the first place."

Amanda took her measure of me, and must have decided I was okay, because she got real serious. "Margo, do you and Starr Ann believe American lives are any more important than Iraqi lives?"

I said no.

"Well, then, since we are never going to leave Iraq." Amanda jutted forward a little and really gave me a piercing look. "You realize we aren't going to leave, right?"

I said, "It would take a miracle at this point. And I'm not saying I don't believe in miracles, just saying that's exactly what would have to happen."

"Okay, then given we aren't leaving, it seems to me that making sure our presence there consists of as many people as possible who value the lives of Iraqis is the best way to make a difference. A real difference."

I hadn't thought of it that way. "Is this how Lane feels, too?"

Amanda nodded her head. "That's how we got started talking in the first place. I couldn't believe anybody else looked at it that way."

"But they're going to train you to kill the so-called enemy."

"They can train all they want. I'm not prone to brainwashing. Just ask my folks."

I had to laugh. "Well, I've had my doubts about how they were ever going to make Lane conform. We just worry, Amanda, about both of you."

"I know. I do, too. But Lane and I have talked and talked about it. We have to do this."

"I wish Lane would have opened up to Starr Ann and me about this."

Amanda actually blushed. "Lane does her most confidential talking once her brain has been removed from the equation."

Something thudded in the living room.

Now I was cracking up. "Tell you what, next time you remove her brain from the equation, don't let her lie there and enjoy it. Bring her directly to us before she gets out of the mood to talk."

"Damn, Margo, doesn't anything embarrass you?"

The ruckus in the living room died down completely, so we went to investigate. Starr Ann had Lane pinned fair and square. Laughing and breathing real hard, she said, "What should we do with her? Slow death by tickling, or just let Bates lick her in the face until he gets tired?" Starr Ann looked down at Lane. "Which he never will, and you'll be AWOL from the get-go and they'll kick you out before you ever get in."

I said, "Starr Ann, you all broke the Dale Evans plate, you know. I took it to the kitchen and glued it, but..."

Starr Ann went all floppy and helped Lane to her feet. She said, "Dang. I loved that plate."

I waved Lane and Amanda to the front door. As they escaped, I got where the couch was between Starr Ann and me, then started sweet talking. "Now, Starr Ann, honey. Good news! The plate's fine. And I finally got the lowdown on why Lane joined the Army. If you don't kill me, I think you'll find it real innerestin."

Starr Ann turned all mellow and motioned toward the kitchen. "I could use something to drink. Why don't we get some wine and you tell me about it."

I led the way and right as we reached the doorway, I felt Starr Ann put a neck lock on me. Dang. Bates has some bad puppy breath. Especially when he gets to lick you in the face until he gets tired, which he never does.