Let me start at the beginning. I discovered Ree's site on Forbes' list of top 100 sites for women. Her site is generally directed towards other moms and wives, so at first it only idly captured my interest. I liked the pictures of their horses, I drooled over a few of the recipes (while ruefully cursing my inability to cook) and then I clicked her About Me section, and started reading the posts on how she met her husband, who she terms Marlboro Man. Then I kept reading. And reading. And reading.
At about that moment, I was hooked. I finished the entire series and due to my general emotional constipation in matters of the heart, started crying. I then immediately wrote her a sappy, mushy letter declaring how much her romance with her husband meant to me. I then sent the story to Regan, who in turn read, fell in love with the story, and thus we became fangirls of a blogger's romance.
The collected blogs have recently been published in book format, entitled "Black Heels to Tractor Wheels". A very brief, not nearly enough plot summary, is how Ree, who went to school in L.A, a total city-girl, fell madly in love with Marlboro Man, a very sexy cowboy (a LEGIT cowboy, he owns a cattle ranch) she met in a smoky bar. Instead of moving to Chicago for law school, she chose to stay in Oklahoma with Marlboro Man, marry him, and move out into the country.
I have both her cook book and "Black Heels". This past weekend, I went home to St. Louis and went to her book signing. Since Regan and I read her blogs religiously (meaning, we stalk her a lot) we brought her flowers in a glass Ball jar and a Starbucks gift card. (She loves mason and ball jars, and often bemoans the fact that she isn't in driving distance of a Starbucks) She signed my book, and when I told her that her book made me cry and made me hopeful, she squeezed my arm and thanked me.
Here's a pic of Regan, me, and my mother with Ree, signing one of our books. Isn't she pretty? I wish I looked like her.
After she signed all of our stuff, I determined that I wanted Marlboro Man to sign my book too, since he plays a rather crucial role in Ree's love story. Poor Marlboro Man! I get the feeling he was innocently standing by, and somebody asked him to sign their book, and then suddenly an entire line formed behind him. I commend his patience though, he was a super good sport. And damn, people, he is hardcore good-looking.
Ree enjoys taking pictures of her husband's chaps-clad behind, and even put one of them in her cookbook. Regan wanted him to sign the chaps, but she didn't want to ask.
So once it was our turn, I said, "Hello sir, would you be so kind as to sign the chaps in my friend's book?" Really, there isn't any good way to ask an attractive man to sign a picture of his ass, so I opted for the super super polite route. But like I said, awful good sport, he signed both Regan's and my mother's photo of ze chaps and then acquiesced to a photo. He was so personable! He said, "All right, get in here!" And pulled her and I forward. Note my petrified smile.
Damn. I want one. Regan and I need to get to Oklahoma if they make them like that.
I told MM that I rode western and I loved their horses. I wore black heels to the signing (I thought I was being clever--black heels? The book's title is Black Heels to Tractor Wheels? Eh? Eh? *crickets chirp*) but I really should've worn my western riding boots so I could've been like, HA, see, I do really ride!
I was a bit star struck by both of them, to be honest. I had a crap ton of things I wanted to say to Ree, but I think I only managed one syllable words. Ah well, she's working on a second cookbook, so if she tours again, hopefully I'll get to go then too!
Now you may be wondering--why would a random love story between some random blogger woman and a cowboy in east bumf*&^ Oklahoma mean anything at all to me?
I have a hard time in the romance department. For reasons that I've explained before, I'm guarded and defensive, but a part of me still kind of wants me to be swept off my feet. Looking around me, sometimes it's hard to believe that love is real, that couples can have forever, can still thrill and exhilarate each other even after four kids and hard times.
I relate to Ree a lot. She struggled a great deal with her decision to stay in Oklahoma with MM, rather than do what her feminist conscience instructed her to do. A lot of feminists forget that feminism is essentially about choice--if a woman wants to have a career, move to Chicago, live on her own, that's okay. But if she wants to fall in love, marry a cowboy and have kids, that's okay too. There's no reason to look down on either choice.
When Ree started dating MM, her parents went through a messy divorce. For a little bit, she shut herself off, like I do, afraid to trust that what she had with MM was real or afraid that there was no point, since nothing seems to last. This is a hardcore fear of mine. I'm reminded of a lyric in a Taylor Swift song, "I was a flight risk with a fear of falling/Wondering why we bother with love, if it never lasts."
But her husband was patient. He was clear cut and honest. He told her he loved her and when she didn't say it back, he didn't demand it of her or become distant. He let her sort herself out, let her gather feelings and courage till she did say it. And in their first year of marriage, when she suffered post-partum depression, he didn't give up on her. He loved her, waited for her, supported her, and she pulled through.
Under all my feminist rantings and ravings, sometimes I forget it's okay to want to be romanced. It's okay to want to fall in love. And it's definitely okay to want someone to be there for me, to be patient with me, and to love me against all my defenses.
So in answer as to why I love Ree and Marlboro Man? Aside from her amazing recipes, her great fashion sense, her quirkiness and general awesomeness...I desperately want what she and her husband have. :) <3