Reverb 12 | Prompt 4 | Laughter

I gifted myself this prompt. Because laughing is fun and it is fun to think about and it is fun to laugh ragain, remembering the things that made you laugh.

What made you laugh this year?

Oh boy, was 2012 a good year for laughter. I imagine that if we could invest our money into the things that matter– laughter, skipping, sunny days, bike rides– laughter would pay the best dividends (although some serious bike riding would give you a nice booty, and that’s valuable too).

In August, my family went to Yellowstone– Mom, Dad, my sister (Kim) and her husband (Erik), myself and pre-husband (Aaron). Aaron and I had just become pre-husband and pre-wife about 3 weeks before this trip.

[Let me take an aside from funny things to share with you this public service announcement: If you have not been to Yellowstone National Park, Go. Go now. Go fast and go far. Hike off the beaten path (with a buddy and bear spray). Climb to the top of the peak and when you get there, climb to the next one over. Stop to look at the bison (but do not cuddle with one). Seriously, go.]

Trips with my family are already inherently full of laughter. There are lots of funny people and everyone’s personality is so different that we get a genuine kick out of one another and the interactions within the group. But there are 3 stories from this trip, that when I think back, make me laugh pretty hard.

Story 1: ‘We bought a house. Online. From the airport.’

Every couple traveled to Yellowstone separately– my parents driving leisurely across the Midwest, Kim and Erik flying in to Jackson Hole and spending a day in the Tetons before driving north to Yellowstone, and Aaron and I flying in to Bozeman, Montana and driving passed Big Sky south. When we arrived at the cabin we rented in West Yellowstone, my parents were already there. We did a few minutes of the general pleasantries– “Hi! How are you? How was your trip?” “Isn’t this cabin lovely?” and so on. And then I just couldn’t contain myself and said, “Hey, guess what? We bought a house. While we were waiting for our bags at the Bozeman airport. From our smartphones!”

The day before our trip, we put in an offer on our house, knowing that there was another potentially interested buyer. We told our realtor, “So, here’s our offer, but, uh… we’re leaving town for 7 days.” Thank goodness for flexible and accomodating realtors and for technology! He was totally willing to communicate via email with us and could send us all of the documents over a secure, password-protected website. The following day, en route to vacation, we received a counter-offer from the seller when we landed in Salt Lake City for a short layover. We chatted about the amount of money and balanced that against how much we omigodlovedthishouse! and called the realtor to say we accepted the counter and would like to buy the house. By the time we landed in Bozeman, maybe 90 minutes later, the electronic documents were waiting for us to be signed, which we could do with a individual password and the tap of a smartphone screen. At the baggage claim carousel. In another state. In another time zone. I’ve never bought a house from an airport before. And I probably never will again. That’s funny.

Story #2: The Covered Wagon Room

When you are hiking and wondering through a vast a beautiful wilderness all day, you can really build an appetite. And, sometimes, when I am hungry I can be a really snarky, short, brutish b*itch bit disagreeable. After a great day in Yellowstone, Aaron and I headed back to the town of West Yellowstone, where we were staying, and stopped in the downtown to grab a bite at one of the restuarants. We decided on a kitschy-looking place called Buckaroo Bill’s Wild West BBQ. After all, ‘when in Rome,’ right? We walked in, and it was as kitschy in the inside as it appeared to be. There wasn’t a waitress or hostess around, but it seemed to have this sort of laid-back-diner-seat-yourself feel. Aaron, the more polite of the two of us, was willing to wait for a hostess, but my hunger had me in rare form and I demanded that we sit IMMEDIATELY in one of the cheap booths.

The service was so-so, and the food about the same but it satisfied our need to rest our feet and fill our bellies just the same. Before we left, Aaron asked the waitress where the restroom was and she pointed to a door that we had hardly noticed because it was covered with some cheesy fabric with a cowboy decal affixed to it. When Aaron returned, his eyes were as big as saucers. May I remind everyone that Aaron is quite possibly the most even-keeled person, the least likely to show shock or surprise, even if he has woken up with his head sown to the carpet*.

“Go. Look. Back. There.”

“No,” I said, imagining that he wanted me to look at the world’s least-hygeinic bathroom or something equally disturbing.

“Look.”

“I don’t need to see it.”

“You are not going to BELIEVE what is back there.”

Because I am so curious as to what has Aaron, He of Little Shock, Excitement, and Wonder, so worked up, I decide to peek behind the cowboy decal.

My eyes could hardly believe what laid before me. In an entirely separate section of the restaurant was a dining experience quite opposite of what we had experienced under the flourescent lights at the formica table we were occupying. Back here… back here you were transported to the pioneering days of the Wild West. In a dimly lit room, 12 or so dining tables were nestled under their very own covered wagon, all circles around a roaring (but fake) campire in the center. There were little hanging lanterns, and boxes of cargo, and a tiny fake bison calf being chased by a stuffed coyote giving the room a really neat feel, if not still a little cheesy. I had spent the last 40 minutes eating cold tater tots, staring at a Beanie Baby dressed like a park ranger literally 10 feet from the doorway to participating in an eveningtime wagon circle.

I felt as if my own head had been sown to the carpet.

I walked back to our table, where Aaron was patiently waiting, and exclaimed, “Omigosh! Did you SEE that?!”

“I did, yes,” he replied, having regained his unflapple, calm demeanor but with his classic hint of snark.

It could not have been more than 30 minutes after we left the restaurant in which Aaron made some small, casual comment about exercising some patience…

Story 3: We Have to Own This

For every natural wonder that Yellowstone National Park has to offer, the city of West Yellowstone will offer you a ‘shit shop’ full of western-themed crap. Pajama bottoms with moose antlers on the butt? Comes in 8 sizes. Shot glasses with Grizzly bears on them? A whole wall full. There were walking sticks made in China, bear-butt Christmas ornaments, and even a cross-stitch pillow that said, ‘Home is where your cat is at.’ (Aaron said we couldn’t get it).

Of course, as a tourist, it was essentially mandated that we wonder into each of these shops, hold up funny t-shirts to each other and put on raccoon-skin hats. As we walked one evening from one shop to the next, a painting of a wolf that was just out on the sidewalk with a bunch of clearance items caught my eye. It was so… colorful? And the purple mat and teal frame were so… Miami Vice?

“Check this thing out,” I said to Aaron, “We should get it.”

“Dude, what is that?”

“It’s a painting. Of a wolf. See?”

“We have to get this.”

Mind you, dear reader, we are talking a painting that is in the range of 3 feet tall, by 4 feet wide, in a frame. This is a large totem we are considering purchasing. I was a bit more cautious. Plus art can be expensive, sometimes, right? Especially big art.

Aaron pointed out the purple Post-It note in the corner that had “$10” handwritten on it in Magic Marker.

We let it go for the night, but the next day in Yellowstone, Aaron kept saying, “Kate, we gotta go back in time to buy that painting. What if someone else gets it by now.”

Something about the fact that it was sitting unattended on a sidewalk with a $10 price Post-It said to me that the problem for the shop owner had, in fact, been that no one else had gotten it by now.

So, back we went that evening, this time with my dad. Dad took one look at the painting, lifted his eyebrows and said, “That?!”

“This!” we each said, beaming with pride that our treasure was still waiting for us.

When we went in to pay, the woman at the register said, “This?”

And we exclaimed “This!”

“I didn’t think anyone would take this,” she chuckled.

And we did take it. And my parents were gracious enough to haul that absurdity across the country back to the Twin Cities. And that painting, that patiently waiting for us to come to West Yellowstone, again patiently waited 2 months for us to move in to our new home. Where it now proudly hangs over our bar.

Yes, with the price Post-It still on it.

P.S. If you are worried that the photo quality from my ancient cellphone is causing you to miss one or more of the finer details of this painting, don’t worry, you’re not.

I realize these stories may have been a bit “you had to be there” moments, so maybe you aren’t finding them as funny as I am. But you can take it from me, because I was there, these are some of the greatest laugh-worthy moments of the year.

*Name that movie!
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