Pain shot through my pelvis and up my spine, totally incapacitating both my mental and physical functioning. I had a faint recognition of my phone ringing in the background, but my only thought was that I had broken my pelvis and that I would be out of commission for a long time. I had already spent a month recovering from a torn ligament in my knee, and I certainly didn't want another injury to kill the remainder of my summer in the mountains.
I had fallen down my stairs and was lying on my living room floor. The dirty laundry I had been carrying was strewn around as if a mini tornado had come through the house. Once the pain level came down enough to allow me minimal functioning, I started poking and prodding myself to see if anything was broken. Fortunately my bad knee was uninjured - probably because my legs were in the air as I landed on my butt. The only thing my prodding revealed was that my ring finger on my right hand was jammed and starting to hurt more as my other pains subsided. I didn't think my finger had been anywhere near my butt. I finally concluded that my pelvis was badly bruised but not broken, and I managed to stand and begin my struggle for normality.
It was Thursday morning and "the girls" were coming to visit me on Saturday morning. I had just started my house cleaning efforts in preparation for their arrival when I fell down the stairs. The timely phone call happened to be an unplanned, uninvited guest telling me that she was in Denver and on her way up to my house. Now I was to have a guest until my guests arrived on Saturday. The unplanned guest was Val, a friend from England who I had met four years ago.
Val had acted on an impulse decision to go on holiday and booked a last minute flight from Manchester, England to Denver with a plane change in Toronto. She had arrived in Denver on Monday and had been leaving messages on my answering machine for three days. Unfortunately, or fortunately as the case may be, my AT&T answering machine had been taking phone messages but not letting me know about it. It seems that both my AT&T cell phone and my AT&T answering machine had both decided to stop functioning at the same time that my truck had broken down. I wonder if AT&T had something to do with my truck.
On Wednesday, the day prior to my fall, I had taken my truck to the dealership for repair, purchased a new answering machine (Sony) and purchased a new cell phone (Nokia). Thus Val was finally able to leave a message that I could retrieve. My house-cleaning time had suddenly been reduced from two days to six hours. Val arrived later that day and departed sometime Saturday morning after I had left for the airport to meet "the girls."
Val's visit was pleasant but uneventful. I was already committed to a rather full schedule for the two days she was here, so she relaxed on my deck, read, and contemplated her future. Val is in her mid 50s, so having her here was in marked contrast to what I was about to experience with "the girls." I recalled a little ditty that W.C. Fields sang in one of his movies: "I'd rather have two girls at twenty-one each, than one girl at forty two." I began wondering whether it was true or not.
Due to cheaper airfares "the girls" were flying into the Colorado Springs airport rather than Denver, arriving early Saturday afternoon. Colorado Springs is a seven-hour, round-trip drive from my house. For what it cost me in gas, I could have made up the difference in ticket price, but I didn't know how many girls were coming. I knew Liz was coming, but she said she was bringing two other "surprise" guests. As it turned out only two girls arrived - Liz and Allison. Rayne, Liz's roommate from college, was to be the other surprise. Rayne had purchased a ticket but canceled out at the last minute. I'm not sure why she didn't come, but I prefer to think that she didn't want to share me with Liz and Allison.
I'd met Liz nine months earlier when she was a student in my Organization Theory class. The class met for three hours once a week at 5 p.m. Liz had shown up for the first class, but then skipped the next three weeks. I e-mailed her with a stern warning about coming to class, and then I planned a surprise party for her return. The front wall of the class had a large banner that said "Welcome Back Liz." On a large table I had placed cake, sodas, cups, plates, etc. It was a small class of 14 students, and I knew she would be late. When she did arrive we were all sitting down waiting for her to serve the food and drinks. She never missed another class.
This time Liz arrived on time - thanks to American Airlines. Allison was with her. I'd first met Allison at Marley's Ale House in West Trenton, NJ. Allison was a typical psychology major - drinking and socializing more than most of my business students do. She has a type AA+ personality that causes her to meet people that we type B people have sense enough to avoid. I was very glad to see both of them again - away from the academic environment that promotes scholarly interactions between professors and students but stifles other types of interactions. We were now going to have fun.
The three and a half hour drive back to my house was a challenge for Liz and Allison, who had both worked the day before and stayed up late packing. They had been up since 3-a.m. Colorado time and were starting to feel the effects of lack of sleep. Neither had visited Colorado before, so they were quite fascinated by the mountains. Allison summed it up best when she remarked, "This is bigger than bull shit," - a remark that I assumed to be a comparison of her life back home with being in Colorado and seeing the mountains. It became our slogan for the visit.
Their fascination with the scenery was soon overtaken by lack of sleep. Allison had a sexually graphic novel she was reading that kept her awake and squirming in the back seat, while Liz faded in and out of reality in the front seat.
One of the great things about women in their early 20's is that they appreciate McDonalds more than older women. I've always appreciated McDonalds, so we made a quick pass through the drive-in where Allison ordered a #2 meal (two cheeseburgers and fries), Liz had a #3 meal (Quarter-pounder with fries), and I had a cheeseburger with fries. We were soon back on our way north - revived and expectant about the rodeo we were going to attend later that evening. Allison wanted to meet a real cowboy, and they both expressed a desire to "eat their asses off" while they were in Colorado. I assumed they were speaking of dining out - which probably reflects my age.
At the rodeo I introduced them to Todd and Jason who are cowboys from New Mexico. Both are college graduates - which is unusual for cowboys. Todd rode a bull in the rodeo that night and won $400. Allison fell in lust with Todd, and Liz got bruises under both arms from hanging over the metal fence watching cowboy butts for two hours. On the way home from the rodeo I took them to my favorite bar where the assortment of characters is like something out of a bad western movie. Todd showed up just as we were about to leave and impressed her with his poetry and tight jeans, so Allison kept us there well past our bedtime.
Sunday morning was a leisure morning and no one mentioned going to church. Liz did some sunbathing on my deck and ignored my encouragement for getting an all over tan. At eleven o'clock we climbed back into my rental car, a red 4x4 jeep, and departed for Rocky Mountain National Park. About half way there the front right tire went flat. Allison was ecstatic because she had never experienced a flat tire and wanted to see how to change it. With their help we were quickly back on our way and looking for a place to get a flat tire repaired. The temporary spare was not appropriate for driving up a 13,000 foot mountain.
Sunday is not a good day for getting a tire repaired. We drove to Granby, Colorado where a guy at a gas station said, "There's no where to get a tire fixed on Sunday - not in this town or any other town around here." I thought of a bumper sticker I saw once that said: "If it's got tits or tires, it's trouble." I had double trouble. I purchased a can of flat tire fix as a safety precaution and we headed for Grand Lake, which is located at the entrance to Rocky Mt. National Park.
In Grand Lake I spotted a gas station with one bay and one pump. It was the smallest gas station I'd ever seen. I asked the woman there if "they" could fix a flat tire. If it had been a man, I would have asked if he could fix it, but I've never seen a woman fixing flat tires and a gas station."Git in line," she replied. "It'll be ready about 5 or 5:30." I dropped off the flat tire and we drove on in to town where we had four hours to kill.
Women of all ages like to shop, and Grand Lake is a shopper's paradise, so after a lunch at Grumpy's Saloon, it was "Let the shopping begin!" I have learned a thing or two over the years, and one of them is to let women go shopping and leave them alone. While they were shopping I got my dog out of the car and took her for a walk that reminded me once again how cute dogs help guys meet women. Fortunately I had all the women I needed for the moment, but it's nice to meet more anyway.
An hour later we all hooked up again, only to have Allison discover she had left her camera somewhere. They began to backtrack while I tried to imagine all the places they could have gone in an hour. I found them back at Grumpy's Saloon where Allison had recovered her camera and had me take a photo of the two of them with the bartender and the waitress. Allison's AA+ personality was in full swing.
At 5 p.m. our tire was ready and quickly installed, so we were finally on our way to Rocky Mt. National Park. At 12,000 feet we got out and hiked about 200 yards up hill. Liz didn't seem affected by the altitude, while Allison and I were breathing heavy but not having a good time doing it. We finally reached the top where I tried to get Allison to pose for a photo by straddling a sign that said "Fragile Tundra." She appreciated the idea of it, but didn't want her face associated with it. I finally settled for a photo of the two of them standing by it.
There was a lodge where Allison and Liz went shopping and purchased jewelry. Allison lost her camera again and had to backtrack once more. On the way down the mountain the sun was setting, and we got some spectacular views of wildlife. A bull elk was within petting distance of our car window, as were two cow elk and a couple of mule deer. Of course I had used up all my photos by then, which once again reminded me that I should always save something for the end - whether it be photos, money, or energy.
Back in Granby we stopped at a grocery store because the girls wanted to fix me dinner. Getting three people to agree on what to buy at a grocery store is worse than trying to agree on a video to rent. In the confusion and disagreement over what food to purchase, Liz knocked over a display and called Allison a dildo from two isles away. I think we were being stared at by this time, so I tried to look nonchalant about it.
We left the grocery store with a frozen pizza, frozen wings, and a frozen package of green beans with almonds. At 10 PM they were in my kitchen whipping up a gourmet meal. It was actually very good, but often the quality of the meal often has more to do with the people with whom you are sharing it. I probably enjoyed that meal as much as any I've eaten in a long time.
The girls wanted to see the sunrise over the mountain, so they set their alarm for 5 a.m. I told them on Sunday to watch the sunset and pretend it was morning, but that wasn't good enough, so five hours of sleep was about it for the three of us. Liz took a fifteen-minute hot shower, Allison had a three-minute warm shower, and I had a ten-second cold shower. We headed for the airport at 8:30 a.m. with a stop at the same McDonald's drive-in for breakfast.
The drive down the mountain was much the same as the drive up had been except that Liz was now sleeping in the back seat and Allison was squirming with her book in the front seat. At the airport Liz and Allison went shopping. We finally said our good-byes at 1:15 p.m., and I was very sad to see them leave.
Since I was already far from my house, I thought I would take advantage it by seeing some sights, so I drove further south and a little west to Cripple Creek, which I thought was an old historic mining town. It might have been at one time, but now it is the town of a thousand sleazy casinos, so I continued south to Royal Gorge, which is impressive but very commercialized.
The trip home was a long four-hour drive that I survived on No-Doze. Just prior to sunset I was driving into the sun and trying to pull the visor out of its bracket when my hand slipped off the visor and hit me in the nose. It wasn't a hard hit, but my nose started bleeding like a stuck pig. (I've never seen a stuck pig, but we associate the expression with lots of blood.) There were no tissues, napkins, towels, newspapers, or anything remotely absorbent, so by the time I got the car stopped and got out, I looked like road kill. I had blood all over my hands, shirt, pants, and face. Sixty miles further was a Wal-Mart where I got lots of stares as I made my way to the bathroom, and where I came as close to bathing as I ever have in a public bath room.
It is ironic that I began and ended my visit from the girls with stupid, self-inflicted accidents. Perhaps it was God trying to remind me that they were too young for me and punishing me for thinking the thoughts that I had been thinking about them. But I know that can't be true, because if it were true, I'd be dead now.
Come back Liz and Allison!