Milbarge has complained a time or two that I pick on him. For some reason unknown to me, Milbarge doesn’t reciprocate, though it’s not for a lack of material. Curiously, no one else really gives me a hard time either, so I’ve been forced to take on that role myself. In fact, the only time of which I am aware that people made fun of me is the time I revealed that I purchased products for my hair and skin and that, yes, I shopped at the make-up counter.
Apparently, that post convinced a lot of people that they didn’t really know me. They were confused, yet comedically (probably not a word) inspired to learn that the Fitz-Hume they thought they knew was merely an illusion, merely a construct. I’m glad that my life provides a source of amusement for everyone, but I want you to know that I wasn’t always like that. I wasn’t always the man destined to wear designer jeans. Once, long ago, I was a real person, not just a blogger who liked to use a bit of gel in his hair. A photo or two of my Bronco would probably do more to convince you of that than anything I could write, but I keep forgetting to photo the old Bronc. Thus, I have resorted to words to counterbalance some of the misconceptions about me that you might have based on that silly Clinique counter post.
The summer before law school I had to find a way to pay rent and survive until my loans and scholarship money showed up. The metropolis that was my law school town was not really a hotbed of economic activity. So I did what I had to do. What any young man straight out of college with a B.A. with Honors in Spanish and Poli Sci would do. I took a job shoveling manure. Literally. I worked for a coliseum / arena complex that featured horse shows, tractor pulls, county fairs, and rodeos. I wore Wranglers ($19.99 at the Wal-Marts), boots, and a company t-shirt. I started sweating at 7 a.m. and didn’t stop until well past dark. I smelled like a horse blanket and had the world’s worst farmer’s tan. My job consisted of the aforementioned manure shoveling, driving a tractor, hauling trash, watering arenas, and delivering hay, straw and feed to the stables. Not the most intellectually challenging work, but I got to work out of doors, I made enough money to survive, and I was constantly surrounded by horses. Contrast that experience with the one I was to begin a few months later in which I declined to accept the meager intellectual challenge advanced, I rarely saw the light of day, I was paid nothing, and I was constantly surrounded by asses. Well, they were similar experiences in that each involved shoveling shit.
Many years before that, I dropped out of college (long story involving a broken heart that we will not get into here), moved to southern Colorado, and took a job as a packer for a hunting outfitter. Yes, you read that correctly. I quit college, throwing away a career, scholarship money, readily available booze, and Big 12 football to live in the wilderness with a half-blind horse, 10 grumpy mules, and a tent full of fat, smelly, jackass hunters. I traded sorority parties for saddle sores, and tequila shooters for a Winchester 30-30. And it was fine, for a while. Actually, I had a very good time in the San Juan Wilderness. My daily routine consisted of cooking breakfast for clients, saddling my horse, and retrieving the mules that had wandered during the night. After that, I would load the pack string with whatever trash or equipment needed to be packed out, load the hunters into their saddles, and lead the animals out of the wilderness and back to the trailhead. The next morning would see me retrace the trail back to camp, this time bringing in new supplies and new hunters. That was my life for several months. There were no hair products to be found in camp. No Starbucks. No bronzer. Just a beat up cowboy hat, chaps, bug spray, and a pair of deer skin work gloves seared black from a lantern fire I foolishly tried to extinguish with my hands.
Let me tell you that as much fun as it is to ride a horse every day, 12 hours in the saddle can wear on your body. Twelve hours a day for 4 months is also a lot of time to think about your life. And when I began to think, I realized that I did not want to end up a career cowboy, broke down and broke at the age of 30. So, at the end of elk season, I packed up my truck and headed back to Texas. Older? Yes. Wiser? Perhaps. Bowlegged? Yep. Did I get a facial and a massage as soon as I returned to civilization? No comment.