Georgia didn’t pee on me.

Somewhere 11,000 feet above sea level, Scott is stalking an elk on a mountain in Colorado.

The air is thin.

He sleeps in a tent he carried on his back. A fire and the company of two friends keep him warm at night. He does not take a shower other than rinsing off in a mountain stream. The streams are also his source of drinking water. His restroom is a hole he digs in the ground. And flushing is a pile of leaves thrown on top. The moon is his nightlight.

Somewhere 738 feet above sea level, I got pissed on at a concert in Georgia.

Scott and I have little contact with each other during the ten days he’s in Colorado. He has an emergency texting device. It’s to be used in emergencies.

SCOTT – I GOT PISSED ON AT THE BRUNO MARS CONCERT.

I can’t imagine what Scott thought when he saw the rage text come in. Did he laugh? Was he horrified? Did he go back and make sure he definitely put leaves down over his own shit in the woods? Maybe I reminded him. I don’t know. Scott won’t be home until next week.

I always have a story for him.

I booked a flight to Atlanta, Georgia to attend a two-day music festival, called Music Midtown. My friend (and cousin-in-law), Emily, joined me. Scott and her husband are cousins. I claimed her as one of my best friends upon meeting her years ago.

Meet Emily. She’ll be your best friend too.

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Music Midtown featured Weezer, Collective Soul, Young the Giant, Bastille, and Blink 182. Mumford and Sons took the Sunday night headliner. And Bruno Mars took the Saturday night headliner.

Saturday night.

The moon shined in a crescent that night. Bruno Mars was about to start. The September Georgia night air was thick and warm. It got even warmer with a spray down the back of my thigh. A hot stream, really.

Beer is cold. Whiskey is cold too. Even the moonshine isn’t that warm. It took less than one second for me to realize the only liquid hotter than a Georgia night is a 98.6 degree one.

Urine.

I turned around.

“Did you just piss on me?”

“NO.”

I twisted to look at the back of my thigh. A stream of liquid ran down to my ankle and landed on my sandal. Emily whipped out her iPhone on 2% battery. She shined her flashlight on the flailing penis inside a pair of unzipped jeans. The man froze. He didn’t even cover himself.

“GROSS! YES, YOU DID! YOU PEED ON HER!”

“I did not.”

He stared forward, avoiding our eyes.

My hand clinched my drink, ready to throw my whiskey in his face. I stopped. I didn’t want to lose my whiskey.

“YOU are ABSOLUTELY disgusting, YOU PIECE OF SHIT. Let’s go, Em.”

Emily and I pushed our way through the crowd to another spot in the grass. My whiskey remained intact. We didn’t have napkins. There was no way in hell I was going to wipe my leg with my hand. Pee dried on the back of my leg when the stars disappeared and the fireworks come out. Bruno lifted my anger towards men. Bruno restored men everywhere.

I sang with Bruno Mars – the real Bruno Mars – not the Bruno Mars on the radio or iTunes. Bruno Mars probably used the restroom before he began his concert like a normal person.

And then he shook that penis so hard and we danced. 

 

I’m not mad at Georgia. I’m mad at a boy with a weak bladder and horrible aim that peed on me. But, no, I’m not mad at Georgia. Georgia didn’t pee on me. Georgia introduced me to cajun boiled peanuts and my first sips of Georgia moonshine.

Georgia also gave me a flushing toilet. Even Scott can’t get that.

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And don’t forget to buy my book, “But Did You Die?”

The letter S.

I have to hand it to the man.

I’ve been writing on this blog for eight years. The majority of those blog posts are starring Scott, my husband.

Scott doesn’t care what I write about on my blog. Or doesn’t know. Scott doesn’t read my blog because “I live the blog.” He’s right. He hears “blog posts” from me every day. But that doesn’t stop me from putting him in the center of some classic posts – The Jockstrap, Men Get Epidurals Too, and The Rack.

I think he’s the funnier one of the two of us. He’s the easier one to talk to and he has a quicker wit when put on the spot. You know how sappy newlyweds say, “he makes me a better person.” Well, I say Scott makes me a funnier person.

The letter S. 

Scott Duane Burton. Yes, that’s his middle name.

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Oh, wait. He won’t like that picture.

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That’s better.

I decided to interview Scott for this post. Much like our daughter, Kate, he needed a little bit of coaxing to open up.

Me: I’m going to interview you for my blog.

Scott: How long is this going to take?

Me: It’s mostly questions about hunting. Your hunting lifestyle and hobby.

Scott: Oh, ok then.

Told you.

Me: Let’s start with your name. Do you like the name Scott?

Scott: Sure.

Me: What about your middle name? Do you like Duane?

Scott: As a little kid, no, I didn’t. As I’ve gotten older, it is what it is.

Me: Adding to your boyhood – how did you imagine yourself as a man? What did your wife look like in your mind? How many kids did you think you’d have?

Scott: I never imagined myself as a man. And as far as a wife and kids, I never thought anyone would marry me.

Me: So you never had cute names for your future kids picked out?

Scott: Uh, no. I was a boy.

Me: Do you find it weird that I’m interviewing you right now?

Scott: (laughs) Yes.

Me: Are you aware I’m doing an A to Z Writing Challenge on my blog and every day I write about a new letter?

Scott: Not until the letter R.

Me: That was yesterday.

Scott: Yeah, you asked me to read it before you posted it. Then I figured out you must be writing a Sesame Street challenge or something.

Me: Who is your best friend?

Scott: Hunter.

Me:

Scott: Brett is my second best friend. Why are you staring at me?

Me:

Scott: Best friends aren’t wives! You’re my wife. Hunter and Brett aren’t my lovers.

Me:

Scott: I don’t like it when your pen starts scribbling. Hey wait, will you write Brett is my other best friend? Take out second best friend. Write other best friend. He’ll whine at me for that.

Me: I think everyone that knows you, knows you are an avid outdoorsman and hunter. I mean, look at your Instagram. We want to know – what is your dream hunt? It doesn’t matter how much it costs or vacation time or me bitching about you leaving. If you could go on a lifetime hunting trip – where and what would it be?

Scott: A limited entry tag during the rut for a bull elk. Doesn’t matter what state. Somewhere where there are only a limited amount of tags given out. I would also say I live one of my dream hunts right here in Kansas. A Kansas whitetail deer with a bow – you can’t get better than that.

Me: What do you wish more people knew about the sport of hunting?

Scott: There’s a sigma out there that hunters just go out to kill animals and maybe that’s true with some. In reality, that’s not why I hunt. I’m in it for the challenge. That’s why I only use my bow. The deer provides meat for the family. Ground beef just doesn’t taste as good as venison. Hunting is also a great way to get away and be in nature. You have a respect for the animals in nature. It brings you down to a primal level. I wish more kids would hunt. The sport needs an influx of people coming in. Look at the National Parks and public land – the government is selling this land off. The only people voicing for the rights of public land and National Parks are the hunters. The families that visit or hike on public grounds won’t advocate for their rights, maybe because they don’t know or it’s not their passion.

Me: What would you say to an adult wanting to take up hunting? Do you have any advice? You are obviously very good at your hobby.

Scott: Practice your weapon of choice. You need your shot to be lethal. The last thing you want is someone making a terrible shot and then there’s a 3-legged deer hobbling around a year later. People need to learn how to safely use their weapon and practice it. Also finding good land can be a challenge if you’re starting out. In Kansas, there’s not a lot of public ground. You’ll have to do what I did – literally go knocking door-to-door and asking permission to hunt on the landowner’s land.

Me: Is there an animal you refuse to hunt?

Scott: Africa big game hunts. I mean I would go if a free opportunity dropped in my lap but I don’t have an interest in Africa. You can’t bring the meat back. It might be cool to be able to help feed a village but in general, no, I don’t have an interest in African big game.

Me: Would you rather go sailfish fishing with me in Costa Rica or elk hunting with Hunter in Colorado?

Scott: Probably elk hunting.

Me: WHAT?

Scott: I mean, elk hunting is a dream of mine.

Me: A vacation with me or Hunter and you choose HUNTER?

Scott: NO! No, wait! That wasn’t the question! You asked which animal I’d rather hunt! Sailfish vs. elk and it’s elk. Always elk, number one.

Me:

Scott: So is this interview for the letter S?

Me: Yes. S is for Scott. My best friend that goes fishing with me.

Scott: I’m sleeping on the couch, aren’t I?

Me: No, it’s fine.

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Dear Scott, part 2.

Dear Scott,

By the time you read this, you made your way down a mountain.

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Welcome home! You’re alive!

You have stories to tell, of course. You have real mountain man stories to tell around suburbia’s fire pit of cushioned chairs and small decorative pillows. You found a handgun on a trail in the wilderness. You returned to camp greeted by two sets of eyes staring at you. The scratches on your face are from walking into trees in a pitch black downpour. Lightening cracked and exploded trees in front of your eyes. Temperatures dropped to below freezing. You only had a small fire to dry out your cold, soaking clothes. The earth shook below your feet when an elk bugled nearby.

While you lost the battle to bring home an elk, you still lived to tell the tales of your stay under the care of mother nature.

Oh, I have tales too.

I don’t want you to miss out on our adventures. Like how the dog’s antibiotics disappeared one morning. I figured I’d come across it at some point. I did. It was busted open in the backyard. For every pill that was missing, a diarrhea pile was in its place.

Or how Kate put my back against a wall and insisted on shaving her legs. Scott, she chased me around the house with a razor, screaming, “look at my hairy legs!”

But those are mere bedtime stories. I can handle being a solo parent. I reign when you’re away. I reign when you’re home too.

Scott, sit down. I have story for you. It involves my poor decision-making skills. You were indeed heroic in your efforts to provide the family with meat. You faced a hell most people would never attempt. I faced a hell too and I need a hug.

It all begins on your first night on the mountain.

While you were trying to figure out how to hang food in a tree and rub two sticks together to make fire, I was standing in our kitchen. I debated whether to treat my solo parent self to ice cream or wine. And do you know what I picked? Of course you do because you’ve been sleeping with me for 12-13-14 years now. Ice cream, of course.

And all mothers around the world gasp.

On that first night, the stars were 11,000 feet closer than you’ve ever seen them. You saw a sight that’s rarely photographed well. Mother Nature is a beautiful woman, Scott. And you of all people know behind every beautiful woman, there is a little bit of psycho.

You struggled to breathe. The hike up left you aching. The temperature dropped to below freezing that night. You didn’t sleep much because the cold made its way into your sleeping bag. Cuddling with Hunter for warmth wasn’t an option because you would never hear the end of the *Brokeback Mountain* coughing from me when you got home. The only thing on your mind that kept you going was your prize – a bull elk.

11,000 feet down and 842 miles to the east, I sprawled out in the middle of our king size bed with a small dish of my favorite ice cream, Baskin-Robbins mint chocolate chip. I was rounding up the last scoop when I felt it – crunch.

Well, that’s a big chocolate chip. 

Crunch. It wasn’t chocolate. It was poor decision-making.

My tongue pushed the hard piece forward and my fingers pulled it out. I examined it under my bedside lamp.

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It can’t be. But it is.

A fingernail.

The fingernail most likely belonging to a member of that sweet, Middle Eastern family that owns the Baskin-Robbins. I mean, other than in between my molars, I don’t know where this fingernail has been. They probably scrubbed shampoo onto their head with this fingernail. Or stroked their spouses back. Or stroked their spouses oh God. Or maybe it was the teenager. Maybe the teen picked a huge booger with this nail. Maybe they put in contacts that morning or popped a zit. Everything this person touched was in my mouth, ground down with my back molars and touched by my tongue.

There is no doubt this fingernail wiped its own ass, Scott. Everyone wipes their own ass. A member from the sweet, Middle Eastern family’s ass was inside my moist mouth – oh yes, I said moist.

I learned an important lesson while you were sleeping on a mountain, Scott.

Wine doesn’t have fingernails.

XOXO,

Bug

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An elk runs my fitness routine.

There’s an elk roaming a mountain in Colorado right now.

He’s 11,000 feet above me.

It’s a bull elk. His antlers tower four feet above his head. He eats grass and flowers. He drinks from the clear, cool mountain streams. His surroundings are majestic, a wilderness untouched by man. There are no roads. No trails. He screams a bugle into the thin mountain air, challenging another male for his prize of getting laid. They always want to get laid. 

This elk runs my fitness routine.

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I will never see this elk, not alive anyway.

I don’t have the desire to shoot an elk. I’m content with killing my meat with a swipe of a debit card at the grocery store.

Scott will see this elk. He’ll lure this elk to him with his come-hither calls. He will pull back his bow and close one eye. And he’ll release. That’s what happens when the only thing on your mind is getting laid.

Scott is an outdoorsman. That’s what they call a man like him in 2016. But back in, oh I don’t know, 1870 circa Little House on the Prairie – Ma and Pa Burton would be chatting it up with Ma and Pa Wilder while gnawing on a turkey leg.

A turkey shot by Pa Burton. His survival instincts are incredible.

Fast forward to 2016 – the era of selfies in a cornfield. The hunt Scott is about to embark on is for elite fitness levels. Imagine carrying your house for the week on your back. Now imagine you’re carrying your house on an incline, not a smooth treadmill incline but a rugged incline. You’re going 6,000 feet up. You will be whacking down tree limbs, crossing streams and losing oxygen.

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And that’s just the ascent.

If successful, descending will be brutal. Add 100 pounds to the house on your back and stumble back down the mountain. And then you do it again because elk meat weighs more than 100 pounds.

Scott will be accompanied by his friend, Hunter. They will not have any communication with the world, not even a nagging wife text. Scott and Hunter will be hunting an elk but they will also be surviving whatever mother nature decides to throw at them. A mountain lion. Freezing temperatures. Wounds that require stitches. I know how it sounds. It’s hunting at the highest level. It’s insanity.

It’s Pa Burton.

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Scott’s workout routine at the gym includes a weighted vest and hiking boots. He spends hours on the stair stepper. He hikes in local parks with rugged terrain. He hikes with his backpack filled with 100 pounds of corn on the weekends. He drags me into the oven of 110 degree heat index. We don’t hunt together but we do workout together.

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“I’m hot and this is bullshit.” – Ma Burton
Scott is training his body to handle the extreme and unexpected. And I am choosing random times to sprint towards Scott – BOOM! – to see how fast his reaction is to an angry bear. Have you seen The Revenant? He could die if he’s not prepared.

There’s an elk roaming a mountain in Colorado right now. He’s taking me to levels of fitness I’ve never felt before.

 

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