Quotes from The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels

Ree Drummond ·  341 pages

Rating: (17.1K votes)


“I missed the anonymity-the ability to run to the market without running into my third-grade teacher.
I missed the nightlife-the knowledge that if I wanted to, there was always an occasion to get dressed up and head out for dinner and drinks.
I missed the restaurants-the Asian, the Thai, the Italian the Indian. I was already tired of mashed potatoes and canned green beans.
I missed the culture- the security that comes from being on the touring schedule of the major Broadway musicals.
I missed the shopping-the funky boutiques, the eclectic shops, the browsing.
I missed the city.”
― Ree Drummond, quote from The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels


“My head rested on his shoulder, my heart rested entirely in his hands And in a whisper, my words escaped: "I love you." He probably hadn't heard them. He was too focused on the movie. But he heard me; I could tell. His arms enveloped me even further; his embrace tightened. He breathed in and sighed, and his hand played with my hair. "Good," he said softly, and his gentle lips found mine.”
― Ree Drummond, quote from The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels


“Still lying on the ground, half tingly, half stunned, I held my left hand in front of my face and lightly spread my fingers, examining what Marlboro Man had given me that morning. I couldn’t have chosen a more beautiful ring, or a ring that was a more fitting symbol of my relationship with Marlboro Man. It was unadorned, uncontrived, consisting only of a delicate gold band and a lovely diamond that stood up high--almost proudly--on its supportive prongs. It was a ring chosen by a man who, from day one, had always let me know exactly how he felt. The ring was a perfect extension of that: strong, straightforward, solid, direct. I liked seeing it on my finger. I felt good knowing it was there.
My stomach, though, was in knots. I was engaged. Engaged. I was ill-prepared for how weird it felt. Why hadn’t I ever heard of this strange sensation before? Why hadn’t anyone told me? I felt simultaneously grown up, excited, shocked, scared, matronly, weird, and happy--a strange combination for a weekday morning. I was engaged--holy moly. My other hand picked up the receiver of the phone, and without thinking, I dialed my little sister.
“Hi,” I said when Betsy picked up the phone. It hadn’t been ten minutes since we’d hung up from our last conversation.
“Hey,” she replied.
“Uh, I just wanted to tell you”--my heart began to race--“that I’m, like…engaged.”
What seemed like hours of silence passed.
“Bullcrap,” Betsy finally exclaimed. Then she repeated: “Bullcrap.
“Not bullcrap,” I answered. “He just asked me to marry him. I’m engaged, Bets!”
What?” Betsy shrieked. “Oh my God…” Her voice began to crack. Seconds later, she was crying.
A lump formed in my throat, too. I immediately understood where her tears were coming from. I felt it all, too. It was bittersweet. Things would change. Tears welled up in my eyes. My nose began to sting.
“Don’t cry, you butthead.” I laughed through my tears.
She laughed it off, too, sobbing harder, totally unable to suppress the tears. “Can I be your maid of honor?”
This was too much for me. “I can’t talk anymore,” I managed to squeak through my lips. I hung up on Betsy and lay there, blubbering on my floor.”
― Ree Drummond, quote from The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels


I now pronounce you husband and wife.
I hadn’t considered the kiss. Not once. I suppose I’d assumed it would be the way a wedding kiss should be. Restrained. Appropriate. Mild. A nice peck. Save the real kisses for later, when you’re deliciously alone. Country club girls don’t make out in front of others. Like gum chewing, it should always be done in private, where no one else can see.
But Marlboro Man wasn’t a country club boy. He’d missed the memo outlining the rules and regulations of proper ways to kiss in public. I found this out when the kiss began--when he wrapped his loving, protective arms around me and kissed me like he meant it right there in my Episcopal church. Right there in front of my family, and his, in front of Father Johnson and Ms. Altar Guild and our wedding party and the entire congregation, half of whom were meeting me for the first time that night. But Marlboro Man didn’t seem to care. He kissed me exactly the way he’d kissed me the night of our first date--the night my high-heeled boot had gotten wedged in a crack in my parents’ sidewalk and had caused me to stumble. The night he’d caught me with his lips.
We were making out in church--there was no way around it. And I felt every bit as swept away as I had that first night. The kiss lasted hours, days, weeks…probably ten to twelve seconds in real time, which, in a wedding ceremony setting, is a pretty long kiss. And it might have been longer had the passionate moment not been interrupted by the sudden sound of a person clapping his hands.
Woohoo! All right!” the person shouted. “Yes!
It was Mike. The congregation broke out in laughter as Marlboro Man and I touched our foreheads together, cementing the moment forever in our memory. We were one; this was tangible to me now. It wasn’t just an empty word, a theological concept, wishful thinking. It was an official, you-and-me-against-the-world designation. We’d both left our separateness behind. From that moment forward, nothing either of us did or said or planned would be in a vacuum apart from the other. No holiday would involve our celebrating separately at our respective family homes. No last-minute trips to Mexico with friends, not that either of us was prone to last-minute trips to Mexico with friends. But still.
The kiss had sealed the deal in so many ways.
I walked proudly out of the church, the new wife of Marlboro Man. When we exited the same doors through which my dad and I had walked thirty minutes earlier, Marlboro Man’s arm wriggled loose from my grasp and instinctively wrapped around my waist, where it belonged. The other arm followed, and before I knew it we were locked in a sweet, solidifying embrace, relishing the instant of solitude before our wedding party--sisters, cousins, brothers, friends--followed closely behind.
We were married. I drew a deep, life-giving breath and exhaled. The sweating had finally stopped. And the robust air-conditioning of the church had almost completely dried my lily-white Vera.”
― Ree Drummond, quote from The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels


“We drove a couple of miles to a pasture near his parents’ house and met up with the other early risers. I rode along with one of the older cowboys in the feed truck while the rest of the crew followed the herd on horseback, all the while enjoying the perfect view of Marlboro Man out the passenger-side window. I watched as he darted and weaved in the herd, shifting his body weight and posture to nonverbally communicate to his loyal horse, Blue, how far to move from the left or to the right. I breathed in slowly, feeling a sudden burst of inexplicable pride. There was something about watching my husband--the man I was crazy in love with--riding his horse across the tallgrass prairie. It was more than the physical appeal, more than the sexiness of his chaps-cloaked body in the saddle. It was seeing him do something he loved, something he was so good at doing.
I took a hundred photos in my mind. I never wanted to forget it as long as I lived.”
― Ree Drummond, quote from The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels


“I can’t wait till tomorrow,” he said, backing me against the door of my car, his lips moving toward my neck. Every nerve receptor in my body simultaneously fired as his strong hands gripped the small of my back; my hands pulled him closer and closer.
We kissed and kissed some more in the hotel parking lot, flirting dangerously with taking it a step--or five--further. Out-of-control prairie fires were breaking out inside my body; even my knees felt hot. I couldn’t believe this man, this Adonis who held me so completely and passionately in his arms, was actually mine. That in a mere twenty-four hours, I’d have him all to myself.”
― Ree Drummond, quote from The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels


“Before I knew it, the first animal had entered the chute. Various cowboys were at different positions around the animal and began carrying out their respective duties. Tim looked at me and yelled, “Stick it in!” With utter trepidation, I slid the wand deep into the steer’s rectum. This wasn’t natural. This wasn’t normal. At least it wasn’t for me. This was definitely against God’s plan.
I was supposed to check the monitor and announce if the temperature was above ninety-degrees. The first one was fine. But before I had a chance to remove the probe, Tim set the hot branding iron against the steer’s left hip. The animal let out a guttural Mooooooooooooo!, and as he did, the contents of its large intestine emptied all over my hand and forearm.
Tim said, “Okay, Ree, you can take it out now.” I did. I didn’t know what to do. My arm was covered in runny, stinky cow crap. Was this supposed to happen? Should I say anything? I glanced at my sister, who was looking at me, completely horrified.
The second animal entered the chute. The routine began again. I stuck it in. Tim branded. The steer bellowed. The crap squirted out. I was amazed at how consistent and predictable the whole nasty process was, and how nonchalant everyone--excluding my sister--was acting. But then slowly…surely…I began to notice something.
On about the twentieth animal, I began inserting the thermometer. Tim removed his branding iron from the fire and brought it toward the steer’s hip. At the last second, however, I fumbled with my device and had to stop for a moment. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed that when I paused, Tim did, too. It appeared he was actually waiting until I had the thermometer fully inserted before he branded the animal, ensuring that I’d be right in the line of fire when everything came pouring out. He had planned this all along, the dirty dog.
Seventy-eight steers later, we were finished. I was a sight. Layer upon layer of manure covered my arm. I’m sure I was pale and in shock. The cowboys grinned politely. Tim directed me to an outdoor faucet where I could clean my arm. Marlboro Man watched as he gathered up the tools and the gear…and he chuckled.


As my sister and I pulled away in the car later that day, she could only say, “Oh. My. God.” She made me promise never to return to that awful place.
I didn’t know it at the time, but I’d found out later that this, from Tim’s perspective, was my initiation. It was his sick, twisted way of measuring my worth.”
― Ree Drummond, quote from The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels


“He was going to be my own private playground for the rest of my life. I almost felt guilty, like I was taking something away from the world.”
― Ree Drummond, quote from The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels


“I looked at him, giggled like a schoolgirl, and asked, “What have you been doing all this time?”
“Oh, I was headed home,” he said, fiddling with my fingers. “But then I just turned around; I couldn’t help it.” His hand found my upper back and pulled me closer. The windows were getting foggy. I felt like I was seventeen.
“I’ve got this problem,” he continued, in between kisses.
“Yeah?” I asked, playing dumb. My hand rested on his left bicep. My attraction soared to the heavens. He caressed the back of my head, messing up my hair…but I didn’t care; I had other things on my mind.
“I’m crazy about you,” he said.
By now I was on his lap, right in the front seat of his Diesel Ford F250, making out with him as if I’d just discovered the concept. I had no idea how I’d gotten there--the diesel pickup or his lap. But I was there. And, burying my face in his neck, I quietly repeated his sentiments. “I’m crazy about you, too.”
― Ree Drummond, quote from The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels


“It was so dark outside, I forgot where I was. I had no sense of geography or time or space, not even when he took my face in his hands and touched his forehead to mine, closing his eyes, as if to savor the powerful moment.
“I love you,” he whispered as I died right there on the spot. It wasn’t convenient, my dying the night before my wedding. I didn’t know how my mom was going to explain it to the florist. But she’d have to; I was totally done for.
I’d had half a glass of wine all evening but felt completely inebriated. When I finally arrived home, I had no idea how I’d gotten there. I was intoxicated--drunk on a cowboy. A cowboy who, in less than twenty-four hours, would become my husband.”
― Ree Drummond, quote from The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels


“I brushed my teeth like a crazed lunatic as I examined myself in the mirror. Why couldn’t I look the women in commercials who wake up in a bed with ironed sheets and a dewy complexion with their hair perfectly tousled? I wasn’t fit for human eyes, let alone the piercing eyes of the sexy, magnetic Marlboro Man, who by now was walking up the stairs to my bedroom. I could hear the clomping of his boots.
The boots were in my bedroom by now, and so was the gravelly voice attached to them. “Hey,” I heard him say. I patted an ice-cold washcloth on my face and said ten Hail Marys, incredulous that I would yet again find myself trapped in the prison of a bathroom with Marlboro Man, my cowboy love, on the other side of the door. What in the world was he doing there? Didn’t he have some cows to wrangle? Some fence to fix? It was broad daylight; didn’t he have a ranch to run? I needed to speak to him about his work ethic.
“Oh, hello,” I responded through the door, ransacking the hamper in my bathroom for something, anything better than the sacrilege that adorned my body. Didn’t I have any respect for myself?
I heard Marlboro Man laugh quietly. “What’re you doing in there?” I found my favorite pair of faded, soft jeans.
“Hiding,” I replied, stepping into them and buttoning the waist.
“Well, c’mere,” he said softly.
My jeans were damp from sitting in the hamper next to a wet washcloth for two days, and the best top I could find was a cardinal and gold FIGHT ON! T-shirt from my ‘SC days. It wasn’t dingy, and it didn’t smell. That was the best I could do at the time. Oh, how far I’d fallen from the black heels and glitz of Los Angeles. Accepting defeat, I shrugged and swung open the door.
He was standing there, smiling. His impish grin jumped out and grabbed me, as it always did.
“Well, good morning!” he said, wrapping his arms around my waist. His lips settled on my neck. I was glad I’d spritzed myself with Giorgio.
“Good morning,” I whispered back, a slight edge to my voice. Equal parts embarrassed at my puffy eyes and at the fact that I’d slept so late that day, I kept hugging him tightly, hoping against hope he’d never let go and never back up enough to get a good, long look at me. Maybe if we just stood there for fifty years or so, wrinkles would eventually shield my puffiness.
“So,” Marlboro Man said. “What have you been doing all day?”
I hesitated for a moment, then launched into a full-scale monologue. “Well, of course I had my usual twenty-mile run, then I went on a hike and then I read The Iliad. Twice. You don’t even want to know the rest. It’ll make you tired just hearing about it.”
“Uh-huh,” he said, his blue-green eyes fixed on mine. I melted in his arms once again. It happened any time, every time, he held me.
He kissed me, despite my gold FIGHT ON! T-shirt. My eyes were closed, and I was in a black hole, a vortex of romance, existing in something other than a human body. I floated on vapors.
Marlboro Man whispered in my ear, “So…,” and his grip around my waist tightened.
And then, in an instant, I plunged back to earth, back to my bedroom, and landed with a loud thud on the floor.
“R-R-R-R-Ree?” A thundering voice entered the room. It was my brother Mike. And he was barreling toward Marlboro Man and me, his arms outstretched.
Hey!” Mike yelled. “W-w-w-what are you guys doin’?” And before either of us knew it, Mike’s arms were around us both, holding us in a great big bear hug.
“Well, hi, Mike,” Marlboro Man said, clearly trying to reconcile the fact that my adult brother had his arms around him.
It wasn’t awkward for me; it was just annoying. Mike had interrupted our moment. He was always doing that.”
― Ree Drummond, quote from The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels


“On the beginning of the eighth run, just after Father Johnson gave us another “Nope. You’re not getting it right, kids…” Mike’s loud voice echoed throughout the wood-and-marble sanctuary.
Oh, c-c-c-c-come on, Father Johnson!
The chuckles turned into laughter. And out of the corner of my eye I saw Tony giving Mike a subtle high five.
Thank goodness for Mike. He was hungry. He wanted to get on to the party.”
― Ree Drummond, quote from The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels


You’re…you’re what? Where?” I stood up and glimpsed myself in the mirror. I was a vision, having changed into satin pajama pants, a torn USC sweatshirt, and polka-dotted toe socks, and to top it off, my hair was fastened in a haphazard knot on the top of my head with a no. 2 Ticonderoga pencil. Who wouldn’t want me?
“I’m outside,” he repeated, throwing in a trademark chuckle just to be extra mean. “Get out here.”
“But…but…,” I stalled, hurriedly sliding the pencil out of my hair and running around the room, stripping off my pathetic house clothes and searching in vain for my favorite faded jeans. “But…but…I’m in my pajamas.”
Another trademark chuckle. “So?” he asked. “You’d better get out here or I’m comin’ in…”
“Okay, okay…,” I replied. “I’ll be right down.” Panting, I settled for my second-favorite jeans and my favorite sweater of all time, a faded light blue turtleneck I’d worn so much, it was almost part of my anatomy. Brushing my teeth in ten seconds flat, I scurried down the stairs and out the front door.
Marlboro Man was standing outside his pickup, hands inside his pockets, his back resting against the driver-side door. He grinned, and as I walked toward him, he stood up and walked toward me, too. We met in the middle--in between his vehicle and the front door--and without a moment of hesitation, greeted each other with a long, emotional kiss. There was nothing funny or lighthearted about it. That kiss meant business.
Our lips separated for a short moment. “I like your sweater,” he said, looking at the light blue cotton rib as if he’d seen it before. I’d hurriedly thrown it on the night we’d met a few months earlier.
“I think I wore this to the J-bar that night…,” I said. “Do you remember?”
“Ummm, yeah,” he said, pulling me even closer. “I remember.” Maybe the sweater had magical powers. I’d have to be sure to hold on to it.
We kissed again, and I shivered in the cold night air. Wanting to get me out of the cold, he led me to his pickup and opened the door so we could both climb in. The pickup was still warm and toasty, like a campfire was burning in the backseat. I looked at him, giggled like a schoolgirl, and asked, “What have you been doing all this time?”
“Oh, I was headed home,” he said, fiddling with my fingers. “But then I just turned around; I couldn’t help it.” His hand found my upper back and pulled me closer. The windows were getting foggy. I felt like I was seventeen.
“I’ve got this problem,” he continued, in between kisses.
“Yeah?” I asked, playing dumb. My hand rested on his left bicep. My attraction soared to the heavens. He caressed the back of my head, messing up my hair…but I didn’t care; I had other things on my mind.
“I’m crazy about you,” he said.
By now I was on his lap, right in the front seat of his Diesel Ford F250, making out with him as if I’d just discovered the concept. I had no idea how I’d gotten there--the diesel pickup or his lap. But I was there. And, burying my face in his neck, I quietly repeated his sentiments. “I’m crazy about you, too.”
― Ree Drummond, quote from The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels


“It had been building for a while, starting with a tiny ache, for life as I’d known it before, and culminating--once J accepted his new job--in a full-blown resolve that I wanted to head back to the Midwest. Chicago probably. It would be closer to home--one short plane ride away rather than two, sometimes three legs and an entire day of travel. I’d be closer to friends, closer to family.
I’d be in a climate more suited to my complexion.”
― Ree Drummond, quote from The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels


“I was splayed on my bed in sweats, staring at the ceiling, when suddenly I gave birth to The Idea: one area of the country club would be filled with gold bamboo chairs, architecturally arranged orchids and roses, and antique lace table linens. Violins would serenade the guests as they feasted on cold tenderloin and sipped champagne. Martha Stewart would be present in spirit and declare, “This is my daughter, whom I love. In her I am well pleased.”
― Ree Drummond, quote from The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels


“We kissed again, and I shivered in the cold night air. Wanting to get me out of the cold, he led me to his pickup and opened the door so we could both climb in. The pickup was still warm and toasty, like a campfire was burning in the backseat. I looked at him, giggled like a schoolgirl, and asked, “What have you been doing all this time?”
“Oh, I was headed home,” he said, fiddling with my fingers. “But then I just turned around; I couldn’t help it.” His hand found my upper back and pulled me closer. The windows were getting foggy. I felt like I was seventeen.
“I’ve got this problem,” he continued, in between kisses.
“Yeah?” I asked, playing dumb. My hand rested on his left bicep. My attraction soared to the heavens. He caressed the back of my head, messing up my hair…but I didn’t care; I had other things on my mind.
“I’m crazy about you,” he said.
By now I was on his lap, right in the front seat of his Diesel Ford F250, making out with him as if I’d just discovered the concept. I had no idea how I’d gotten there--the diesel pickup or his lap. But I was there. And, burying my face in his neck, I quietly repeated his sentiments. “I’m crazy about you, too.”
I’d been afflicted with acute boy-craziness for over half my life. But what I was feeling for Marlboro Man was indescribably powerful. It was a primal attraction--the almost uncontrollable urge to wrap my arms and legs around him every time I looked into his eyes. The increased heart rate and respiration every time I heard his voice. The urge to have twelve thousand of his babies…and I wasn’t even sure I wanted children.
“So anyway,” he continued.
That’s when we heard the loud knocking on the pickup window. I jumped through the roof--it was after 2:00 A.M. Who on earth could it be? The Son of Sam--it had to be! Marlboro Man rolled down the window, and a huge cloud of passion and steam escaped. It wasn’t the Son of Sam. Worse--it was my mother. And she was wearing her heather gray cashmere robe.
“Reeee?” she sang. “Is that yoooou?” She leaned closer and peered through the window.
I slid off of Marlboro Man’s lap and gave her a halfhearted wave. “Uh…hi, Mom. Yeah. It’s just me.”
She laughed. “Oh, okay…whew! I just didn’t know who was out here. I didn’t recognize the car!” She looked at Marlboro Man, whom she’d met only one time before, when he picked me up for a date.
“Well, hello again!” she exclaimed, extending her manicured hand.
He took her hand and shook it gently. “Hello, ma’am,” he replied, his voice still thick with lust and emotion. I sank in my seat. I was an adult, and had just been caught parking at 2:00 A.M. in the driveway of my parents’ house by my robe-wearing mother. She’d seen the foggy windows. She’d seen me sitting on his lap. I felt like I’d just gotten grounded.
“Well, okay, then,” my mom said, turning around. “Good night, you two!” And with that, she flitted back into the house.
Marlboro Man and I looked at each other. I hid my face in my hands and shook my head. He chuckled, opened the door, and said, “C’mon…I’d better get you home before curfew.” My sweaty hands still hid my face.
He walked me to the door, and we stood on the top step. Wrapping his arms around my waist, he kissed me on the nose and said, “I’m glad I came back.” God, he was sweet.
“I’m glad you did, too,” I replied. “But…” I paused for a moment, gathering courage. “Did you have something you wanted to say?”
It was forward, yes--gutsy. But I wasn’t going to let this moment pass. I didn’t have many more moments with him, after all; soon I’d be gone to Chicago. Sitting in coffee shops at eleven at night, if I wanted. Working. Eventually going back to school. I’d be danged if I was going to miss what he’d started to say a few minutes earlier, before my mom and her cashmere robe showed up and spoiled everything.”
― Ree Drummond, quote from The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels


“So anyway,” he continued.
That’s when we heard the loud knocking on the pickup window. I jumped through the roof--it was after 2:00 A.M. Who on earth could it be? The Son of Sam--it had to be! Marlboro Man rolled down the window, and a huge cloud of passion and steam escaped. It wasn’t the Son of Sam. Worse--it was my mother. And she was wearing her heather gray cashmere robe.
“Reeee?” she sang. “Is that yoooou?” She leaned closer and peered through the window.
I slid off of Marlboro Man’s lap and gave her a halfhearted wave. “Uh…hi, Mom. Yeah. It’s just me.”
She laughed. “Oh, okay…whew! I just didn’t know who was out here. I didn’t recognize the car!” She looked at Marlboro Man, whom she’d met only one time before, when he picked me up for a date.
“Well, hello again!” she exclaimed, extending her manicured hand.
He took her hand and shook it gently. “Hello, ma’am,” he replied, his voice still thick with lust and emotion. I sank in my seat. I was an adult, and had just been caught parking at 2:00 A.M. in the driveway of my parents’ house by my robe-wearing mother. She’d seen the foggy windows. She’d seen me sitting on his lap. I felt like I’d just gotten grounded.
“Well, okay, then,” my mom said, turning around. “Good night, you two!” And with that, she flitted back into the house.
Marlboro Man and I looked at each other. I hid my face in my hands and shook my head. He chuckled, opened the door, and said, “C’mon…I’d better get you home before curfew.”
― Ree Drummond, quote from The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels


“We needed to drive down the road a couple of miles to meet the rest of the cowboys and gather the cattle from there. “Mom, why don’t you and Ree go ahead in her car and we’ll be right behind you,” Marlboro Man directed. His mother and I walked outside, climbed in the car, and headed down the road. We exchanged pleasant small talk. She was poised and genuine, and I chattered away, relieved that she was so approachable. Then, about a mile into our journey, she casually mentioned, “You might watch that turn up ahead; it’s a little sharp.”
“Oh, okay,” I replied, not really listening. Clearly she didn’t know I’d been an L.A. driver for years. Driving was not a problem for me.
Almost immediately, I saw a ninety-degree turn right in front of my face, pointing its finger at me and laughing--cackling--at my predicament. I whipped the steering wheel to the left as quickly as I could, skidding on the gravel and stirring up dust. But it was no use--the turn got the better of me, and my car came to rest awkwardly in the ditch, the passenger side a good four feet lower than mine.
Marlboro Man’s mother was fine. Lucky for her, there’s really nothing with which to collide on an isolated cattle ranch--no overpasses or concrete dividers or retaining walls or other vehicles. I was fine, too--physically, anyway. My hands were trembling violently. My armpits began to gush perspiration.
My car was stuck, the right two tires wedged inextricably in a deep crevice of earth on the side of the road. On the list of the Top Ten Things I’d Want Not to Happen on the First Meeting Between My Boyfriend’s Mother and Me, this would rate about number four.
“Oh my word,” I said. “I’m sorry about that.”
“Oh, don’t worry about it,” she reassured, looking out the window. “I just hope your car’s okay.”
Marlboro Man and his dad pulled up beside us, and they both hopped out of the pickup. Opening my door, Marlboro Man said, “You guys okay?”
“We’re fine,” his mother said. “We just got a little busy talking.” I was Lucille Ball. Lucille Ball on steroids and speed and vodka. I was a joke, a caricature, a freak. This couldn’t possibly be happening to me. Not today. Not now.
“Okay, I’ll just go home now,” I said, covering my face with my hands. I wanted to be someone else. A normal person, maybe. A good driver, perhaps.
Marlboro Man examined my tires, which were completely torn up. “You’re not goin’ anywhere, actually. You guys hop in the pickup.” My car was down for the count.”
― Ree Drummond, quote from The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels


“I love you,” he whispered as I died right there on the spot. It wasn’t convenient, my dying the night before my wedding. I didn’t know how my mom was going to explain it to the florist.”
― Ree Drummond, quote from The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels


“He walked me to the door, and we stood on the top step. Wrapping his arms around my waist, he kissed me on the nose and said, “I’m glad I came back.” God, he was sweet.
“I’m glad you did, too,” I replied. “But…” I paused for a moment, gathering courage. “Did you have something you wanted to say?”
It was forward, yes--gutsy. But I wasn’t going to let this moment pass. I didn’t have many more moments with him, after all; soon I’d be gone to Chicago. Sitting in coffee shops at eleven at night, if I wanted. Working. Eventually going back to school. I’d be danged if I was going to miss what he’d started to say a few minutes earlier, before my mom and her cashmere robe showed up and spoiled everything.
Marlboro Man looked up at me and smiled, apparently pleased that I’d shown such assertiveness. An outgoing middle child all my life, with him I’d become quiet, shy--an unrecognizable version of myself. He’d captured my heart so unexpectedly, so completely, I’d been rendered utterly incapable of speaking. He had this uncanny way of sucking the words right out of me and leaving nothing but pure, unadulterated passion in their place.
He grabbed me even more tightly. “Well, first of all,” he began, “I really…I really like you.” He looked into my eyes in a seeming effort to transmit the true meaning of each word straight into my psyche. All muscle tone disappeared from my body.
Marlboro Man was so willing to put himself out there, so unafraid to put forth his true feelings. I simply wasn’t used to this. I was used to head games, tactics, apathy, aloofness. When it came to love and romance, I’d developed a rock-solid tolerance for mediocrity. And here, in two short weeks, Marlboro Man had blown it all to kingdom come.
There was nothing mediocre about Marlboro Man.”
― Ree Drummond, quote from The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels


“I’ll send the nurse in here in a minute, okay?”
Waste of time, I thought. “Okay, but…do you think there’s anything we can do about my ears?” I really didn’t want to feel this way anymore.
“Marcy will be in here in just a second,” he repeated. He wasn’t acknowledging my self-diagnosis at all. What kind of doctor is this?
Marcy soon entered the room with a plastic cup with a bright green lid--the perfect reflection of my skin tone. “Do you think you can give us a urine sample, hon?” she asked.
I can give you a vomit sample, I thought. “Sure,” I said, taking the cup and following Marcy to the restroom like a good little patient. And don’t call me hon, I thought. I was cranky. I needed something to eat, and I felt like bursting into tears.
A minute later, I exited the bathroom and handed Marcy the sample cup, which I’d wiped clean with a paper towel.
“Okay, hon,” she said. “You can just head back to the room and I’ll be back in a sec.”
Stop calling me hon.
― Ree Drummond, quote from The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels


“When we pulled up to Marlboro Man’s house, I saw my Camry sitting in his driveway. I didn’t expect it to be there; I figured it was still on Marlboro Man’s parents’ road, sitting all crooked in the ditch where I’d left it the night before. Marlboro Man had already fixed it, fishing it out of the ditch and repairing the mangled tires and probably, knowing him, filling the tank with gas.
“Oh, thank you so much,” I said as we walked toward the front door. “I thought maybe I’d killed it.”
“Aw, it’s fine,” he replied. “But you might want to learn to drive before you get in it again.” He flashed his mischievous grin.
I slugged him in the arm as he laughed. Then he lunged at me, grabbing my arms and using his leg to sweep my supporting leg right out from under me. Within an instant, he had me on the ground, right on the soft, green grass of his front yard. I shrieked and screamed, trying in vain to wrestle my way out of his playful grasp, but my wimpy upper body was no match for his impossible strength. He tickled me, and being the most ticklish human in the Northern Hemisphere, I screamed bloody murder. Afraid I’d wet my pants (it was a valid concern), I fought back the only way I knew how--by grabbing and untucking his shirt from his Wranglers…and running my hand up his back, poking at his rib cage.
The tickling suddenly stopped. Marlboro Man propped himself on his elbows, holding my face in his hands. He kissed me passionately and seriously, and what started as a playful wrestling match became an impromptu make-out session in his front yard. It was an unlikely place for such an event, and considering it was at the very beginning of our night together, an unlikely time. But it was also strangely perfect. Because sometime during all the laughing and tickling and wrestling and rolling around in the grass, my worry and concern over my parents’ troubles had magically melted away.
Only when the chiggers began biting did Marlboro Man suggest an alternate plan. “Let’s go inside,” he said. “I’m cooking dinner.” Yummy, I thought. That means steak. And as we walked into the house, I smiled contentedly, realizing that the stress of the previous twenty-four hours had all but disappeared from view. And I knew it, even then: Marlboro Man, not only that night but in the months to come, would prove to be my savior, my distraction, my escape in the midst of troubles, my strength in the face of upheaval, my beauty in times of terrible, heartbreaking ugliness. He held my heart entirely in his hands, this cowboy, and for the first time in my life, despite everything I’d ever believed about independence and feminism and emotional autonomy, I knew I’d be utterly incomplete without him.
Talk about a terrifying moment.”
― Ree Drummond, quote from The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels


“Well, first of all,” he began, “I really…I really like you.” He looked into my eyes in a seeming effort to transmit the true meaning of each word straight into my psyche. All muscle tone disappeared from my body.
Marlboro Man was so willing to put himself out there, so unafraid to put forth his true feelings. I simply wasn’t used to this. I was used to head games, tactics, apathy, aloofness. When it came to love and romance, I’d developed a rock-solid tolerance for mediocrity. And here, in two short weeks, Marlboro Man had blown it all to kingdom come.
There was nothing mediocre about Marlboro Man.
He had more to say; he didn’t even pause to wait for a response. That, in his universe, was what a real man did.
“And…” He hesitated.
I listened. His voice was serious. Focused.
“And I just flat don’t want you to leave,” he declared, holding me close, resting his chin on my cheek, speaking directly into my ear.
I paused. Took a breath. “Well--” I began.
He interrupted. “I know we’ve just been doing this for two weeks, and I know you’ve already made your plans, and I know we don’t know what the future holds, but…” He looked at me and cupped my face in his hand, his other hand on my arm.
“I know,” I agreed, trying to muster some trite response. “I--”
He broke in again. He had some things to say. “If I didn’t have the ranch, it’d be one thing,” he said. My pulse quickened. “But I…my life is here.”
“I know,” I said again. “I wouldn’t…”
He continued, “I don’t want to get in the middle of your plans. I just…” He paused, then kissed me on the cheek. “I don’t want you to go.”
I was tongue-tied as usual. This was so strange for me, so foreign--that I could feel so strongly for someone I’d known for such a short time. To talk about our future would be premature; but to totally dismiss that we’d happened upon something special wouldn’t be right, either. Something extraordinary had occurred between us--that fact was indisputable. It was the timing that left so much to be desired.
We were both bleary eyed, tired. Falling asleep standing up in each other’s arms. Nothing more could be said that night; nothing could be resolved. He knew it, I knew it; so we settled on a long, lasting kiss and an all-encompassing hug before he turned around and walked away. Starting his diesel pickup. Driving down my parents’ street. Driving back to his ranch.”
― Ree Drummond, quote from The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels


“He walked me to the door, and we stood on the top step. Wrapping his arms around my waist, he kissed me on the nose and said, “I’m glad I came back.” God, he was sweet.”
― Ree Drummond, quote from The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels


“He grabbed me even more tightly. “Well, first of all,” he began, “I really…I really like you.” He looked into my eyes in a seeming effort to transmit the true meaning of each word straight into my psyche. All muscle tone disappeared from my body.”
― Ree Drummond, quote from The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels


“Now, did you really mean that about not wanting to do this the rest of your life?” he asked. That familiar, playful grin appeared in the corner of his mouth.
I blinked a couple of times and took a deep breath, smiling back at him and reassuring him with my eyes that no, I hadn’t meant it, but I did hate his horse. Then I took a deep breath, stood up, and dusted off my Anne Klein straight-leg jeans.
“Hey, we don’t have to do this now,” Marlboro Man said, standing back up. “I’ll just do it later.”
“No, I’m fine,” I answered, walking back toward my horse with newfound resolve.
I took another deep breath and climbed back on the horse. As Marlboro Man and I rode back toward the thicket of trees, I suddenly understood: if I was going to marry this man, if I was going to live on this isolated ranch, if I was going to survive without cappuccino and takeout food…I sure wasn’t going to let this horse beat me. I’d have to toughen up and face things.
As we rode, it became even more clear. I’d have to apply this same courage to all areas of my life--not just the practical, day-in and day-out activities of ranch life, but also the reality of my parents’ marital collapse and any other problems that would arise in the coming years. Suddenly, running off and getting married no longer seemed like the romantic adventures I was trying to convince myself it would be. Suddenly I realized that if I did that, if I ran away and said “I do” in some dark, hidden corner of the world, I’d never be able to handle the rigors and stresses of country life. And that wouldn’t be fair to Marlboro Man…or myself.
As we started moving, I noticed that Marlboro Man was riding at my pace. “The horses need to be shod,” he said, grinning. “They didn’t need to trot today anyway.”
I glanced in his direction.
“So we’ll just go slow and easy,” he continued.
I looked toward the thicket of trees and took a deep, calming breath, grabbing on to the saddle horn so firmly my knuckles turned pasty white.”
― Ree Drummond, quote from The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels


“Marcy soon entered the room with a plastic cup with a bright green lid--the perfect reflection of my skin tone. “Do you think you can give us a urine sample, hon?” she asked.
I can give you a vomit sample, I thought.”
― Ree Drummond, quote from The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels


“The cotton swab softly moved across my face, leaving a pleasant coolness behind. It swept over my forehead, down my nose, on the sides of my cheeks, and across my chin. It relaxed me and I melted. And slowly, I began to fall asleep. I considered reupping for another hour.
But then I felt the burning.
“Oooh,” I said, opening my eyes. “Cindy, this doesn’t feel right.”
“Oh, good,” Cindy said, sounding unconcerned. “You’re starting to feel it now?”
Seconds later, I was in severe pain. “Oh, I’m more feeling it,” I answered, gripping the arms of the chair until my knuckles turned white.
“Well, it should stop here in a second…,” she insisted. “It’s just working its magic--”
My face was melting off. “Ouch! Ow! Seriously, Cindy! Take this stuff off my face! It’s killing me!
“Oh, dear…okay, okay,” Cindy answered, quickly grabbing a soaked washcloth and quickly wiping the nuclear solution from my skin. Finally, the intense burning began to subside.
“Gosh,” I said, trying to be nice. “I don’t think that’s something I want to try again.” I swallowed hard, trying to will the pain receptors to stop firing.
“Hmmm,” Cindy said, perplexed. “I’m sorry it stung a little. But you’ll love it tomorrow morning when you wake up! Your skin will look so fresh and dewy.”
It better, I thought as I paid Cindy for the torture and left the tiny salon. My face tingled, and not at all in a good way. And as I walked to my car, the floodgates of wedding worry opened once again:

What if my dress doesn’t zip?
What if the band doesn’t show up?
What if the shrimp taste fishy?
I don’t know how to two-step.
How long is the flight to Australia?
Are there tarantulas in the country?
What if there are scorpions in the bed?


The facial had done little to decompress me.”
― Ree Drummond, quote from The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels


“Despite the rocky start, I wound up enjoying a beautiful day on the ranch with Marlboro Man and his parents. I didn’t ride a horse--my legs were still shaky from my near-murder of his mother earlier in the day--but I did get to watch Marlboro Man ride his loyal horse Blue as I rode alongside him in a feed truck with one of the cowboys, who gifted me right off the bat with an ice-cold Dr. Pepper. I felt welcome on the ranch that day, felt at home, and before long the memory of my collision with a gravel ditch became but a faint memory--that is, when Marlboro Man wasn’t romantically whispering sweet nothings like “Drive much?” softly into my ear. And when the day of work came to an end, I felt I knew Marlboro Man just a little better.
As the four of us rode away from the pens together, we passed the sad sight of my Toyota Camry resting crookedly in the ditch where it had met its fate. “I’ll run you home, Ree,” Marlboro Man said.
“No, no…just stop here,” I insisted, trying my darnedest to appear strong and independent. “I’ll bet I can get it going.” Everyone in the pickup burst into hysterical laughter. I wouldn’t be driving myself anywhere for a while.”
― Ree Drummond, quote from The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels


“When we pulled up to Marlboro Man’s house, I saw my Camry sitting in his driveway. I didn’t expect it to be there; I figured it was still on Marlboro Man’s parents’ road, sitting all crooked in the ditch where I’d left it the night before. Marlboro Man had already fixed it, fishing it out of the ditch and repairing the mangled tires and probably, knowing him, filling the tank with gas.
“Oh, thank you so much,” I said as we walked toward the front door. “I thought maybe I’d killed it.”
“Aw, it’s fine,” he replied. “But you might want to learn to drive before you get in it again.” He flashed his mischievous grin.
I slugged him in the arm as he laughed.”
― Ree Drummond, quote from The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels


About the author

Ree Drummond
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