“So, will his people be joinin’ us for the Rocky Mountain Oyster Feed then or should we plan on just our guests?” Peggy Sue was tired, too, but she was amazingly upbeat. What were Rocky Mountain oysters, anyway? We were far from any large bodies of water, that’s for sure.
“I reckon you’d better count on the whole gang comin’ over; he’s got a heap of stock to brand and cut. “I’ll be takin’ the new bulls, too.” Breakfast over, Peggy Sue started one of her lists. Indeed, I was not included in the everyone else, sigh.
Friday went along as any other busy day, except that some of the guests were expressing their sheer delight at being included in tomorrow’s branding. We had to put together sack lunches for them in the morning but would prepare everything that would go in the sack tonight. Not to mention the huge pile of potatoes to peel and slice for the French fries that would accompany the Rocky Mountain oysters for the double guest list at supper. Those who remained behind, mostly ladies, would need to have lunch served at the usual time, but it could be a lighter lunch without the menfolk.
I was so glad we had done a lot of the prep work on Friday because Saturday turned into a really hectic morning. There was still preparation for the rest of the fixin’s for the celebration. It was a festive mood, though, so didn’t feel so much like work, per se. Shed of their husbands for the day, the ladies were lighthearted at lunch and even helped me gather up the dirty plates and utensils.
Late in the afternoon Peggy Sue was stirring up the batter, and I was pouring more oil into the huge fryer when Wade came through the kitchen door. “Here ya go, folks. Get ‘um ready while we clean up.” Plunk! Right next to the deep sinks I knew so well, was an overflowing metal basin of little ragged, cylinder-shaped pieces. Once they were cleaned, battered and fried, though, they looked a lot like tater tots. A double mountain of tater tots, actually, since it was an enormous serving platter! The fries were in large silver bowls and the other side dishes spread around the buffet tables. Buffet is such a nice word to a one-waitress dining facility, if you happen to be that waitress! All I needed to do was re-fill coffee cups when they stopped drinking beer so not a lot of work for me while they celebrated the branding.
“Hey, Wade, the missus here wants to know just where you got these here oysters. Says they taste a lot like chicken and she loves them!” Interestingly, they did taste like chicken but it might have been the batter and hot oil more than the oyster. The loud guffawing around the room reddened my face but the guest stood her ground, waiting for an answer.
“Uh, well, this here ain’t from no chicken; I can tell ya that.” More hoots and clapping. Men can be such boys, sometimes, can’t they? Wade cleared his throat and straightened up in his chair at the head of the table. Hmmm, let’s just say that those bulls are some mighty sorry steers tonight. They’re missing what none of us wants to lose.” The men just exploded with raucous hollering at Wade’s truthful pronouncement. I had no idea people actually ate that part of the animal, let alone made such a celebration out of it! Well, the cowboys and dudes certainly did!
As the following week progressed, I was longing for the weekend. The guests from this present session would leave on Friday morning and I figured, if I really worked hard that afternoon, I could have Saturday off. In fact, Peggy Sue encouraged me that it would be possible because the next group of guests would not arrive until Noon on Monday. Sweet words to my ears and weary body!
However, Friday morning breakfast totally shattered my hopes for any time off. Seems that, while that group would not arrive until Monday, another group would be arriving tomorrow -- Saturday Noon. The reservation had just been made and, though the caller knew it was late, they had just been, unexpectedly, cancelled out of another place, would it be possible? Again, there had been no consideration for just how many beds would be needed to fulfill this reservation. It would only be a week so Lorie and I would be moved into a pup tent.
Depression was never something I had experienced in my short 14 years of life but it surely found me with this announcement of another change of lodgings. The pre-breakfast worktime passed without so much as a murmur from me. I would just have to hope I survived to see the end of summer. When a lovely Wisconsin lady was lingering over her morning coffee, she put the seed of hope in my heart. Maybe not.
*All names have been changed
****Adolescent Milestones: First Real Job, Conclusion… Coming Tomorrow