Cowboys And Indians

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 10th grade April 2001

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When I was about eight years old I lived on a cattle ranch for two weeks during the summer. My aunt and uncle owned the ranch in Orland, California. My little brother and I were asked if we wanted stay there at the last family gathering. We weren't too excited about the idea, and never made up our minds to go or not. So, it was decided for us that we were going.

My parents planned to leave our house at 7:00 am. I don't remember any exact dates or times, but I'm sure we didn't leave that early simply because I know there were two little boys going along. After what seemed like days, we arrived in San Francisco. We had some trouble navigating the maze of streets to find my Cousin Paul's house where we would meet my aunt and uncle.

Paul, although technically my cousin was more like an uncle, considering that he was actually older than either of my parents.

He lived alone in the upper half of a duplex that had a great view of the city out the front and a lush tropical garden on the hillside behind. Inside it was immaculate and smelled of potpourri and incense. He had lots of neat little nick-knacks here and there.

He gave my brother and me a tour of the house. He told us that if we saw anything we liked to tell him, because he was moving and didn't want to have to haul all of his belongings to his new place. He showed us his collection of crystals and picked one out, a purple amethyst about the size of a dinner roll. It was beautiful. The backside was dull gray and felt rough and irregular, but the front was covered with transparent violet crystals, each about the size of a thimble with six sides that turned to the center at tip. He told me to keep it. I have.

After that my brother and I covetously eyed every item in the house. I saw his camera gleaming at me from the darkness of a cupboard, but I couldn't ask for anything that big. When I saw a souvenir pencil, from the Exploratorium, with a clear end filled with tiny polished pebbles in a cup on his desk, I made my move. He gave it to me without a second thought. My brother, trying to keep up with me, picked out a pen from the cup and asked Paul if he could have it. Paul, with a puzzled look on his face, turned to my dad and asked if it was okay. My dad reluctantly approved the transaction. I wondered why my brother's selection needed clearance when mine didn't. I inspected the pen he choose and saw a tiny plastic man on the end wearing tuxedo pants, a cummerbund, and nothing else, along the side I read "Chippendales" and thought nothing of it. I just thought Paul was the coolest person I had ever met.

At my aunt and uncle's house, a few years earlier, we attended a family gathering. There, I followed Paul, who was also in attendance, into a bathroom where he was going to shave. I asked him what he was doing, because I had never seen anyone shave before in my life (my dad wears a beard). He smeared green shaving gel onto his chin and when it turned into white foam I remembered scenes from TV when men shaved and knew what was coming next. I told him I wanted to shave too. He said that I couldn't use a real razor, but he knew what we could do about it.

He had me stand in front of him facing the mirror. He squirted a pile of green gel onto my hands and showed me where to rub it on my face. It felt cool and smooth just like chocolate pudding until I rubbed it on and it turned to bubbly foam that deflated when you touched it. It felt like whipped cream. He told me to wait for just a minute.

When he returned he brought a butter knife. He shaved his face with one hand and mine with the other. I felt the serrations in the blade as he gently slid the butter knife across my face, shaving off only the foam.

I felt so mature. I ran outside and proudly announced to my mother that I had shaved. My mom laughed and wiped the shaving gel from my ear. She asked how I had shaved. I told her and she just smiled at me.

I guess that anything going on in a bathroom between a little boy and his older gay cousin sounds bad. But, I will always think fondly of all of my experiences with Paul.