101: Starbuck

101: Starbuck

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Just Us Girls

Starbuck

A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles.

~Tim Cahill

It had been several months since I had seen my friend Lauren. We had worked together at a local farm for several years and had shared more than a few unexpected and unconventional times.

I spent the better half of my day making chicken Parmigiana, garlic and oil pasta, a tossed salad and garlic bread. For dessert, a lovely cheesecake. It had been way too long since I had seen my friend.

Minutes before she was due to arrive I quickly set the table and opened the wine — always a staple at our dinners. My husband Jack and daughter Emma would be joining us. When we all got together there was never any shortage of laughter, or wine!

The doorbell rang and in came Lauren with yet another bottle. She was greeted by our nine-year-old, 135-pound Mastiff, Max, who approached her with the outward appearance of a junkyard dog but the inner gentleness of a nine-month-old pup. After accepting the customary kisses from Max, she came to me for our long overdue embrace.

Emma and Jack came down from the upstairs office and the three of them gathered in the living room while I transferred the food from the kitchen to the dining room. It was already almost nine so we sat down to eat right away.

Halfway through our meal I noticed that Lauren had not touched her wine.

“Lauren, would you rather have white?” I asked.

“No, I won’t be drinking this evening.”

I blurted out the first thing that came to mind.

“Are you pregnant?”

“No, no, no,” she answered, with a surprised smile. “No! It’s just that after dinner I have to drive and pick up something for the farm,” she explained.

“What do you have to pick up at ten at night?”

“A goat.”

“A goat? Where do you pick up a goat in suburban Connecticut?”

“He’s not in Connecticut. He’s in Virginia.”

I waited, trying to process what my crazy friend had just said.

“So let me get this straight. You are going to leave here after ten and drive to Virginia? With whom?”

“Just me,” she replied matter-of-factly.

At the same moment Emma and I looked at each other and both screamed, “Road trip!”

I looked over at my husband, who enthusiastically said, “Go for it!”

Like two little kids just invited for an impromptu sleepover, we left the table, ran upstairs, packed a quick overnight bag and met back downstairs within minutes. Jack was in the kitchen preparing a snack bag because, after all, no road trip is complete without Twizzlers, Cracker Jacks and other assorted munchies.

Before I knew it we were in the truck, Emma in the backseat and me as sidekick. Despite being direction-challenged, I would serve as navigator. I estimated it would take us approximately five hours to get to the little town in Virginia, an hour south of Washington, D.C.

Adrenaline flowed throughout the ride. Emma was home for summer break. She had countless tales of classes and roommates. She shared her dreams of saving the world. For her, the world was a blank canvas and she was going to use as many colors as she could.

Lauren and I chimed in with our thoughts and before you knew it, we were thinking of things that could help Emma as well as ourselves accomplish things that had been on our to-do lists.

Soon the conversation turned towards Lauren. She had just broken up with someone after many years. Actually, as the conversation developed, we learned that her boyfriend had abruptly broken it off. Emma and I were shocked. As upbeat as Lauren was, as she described the breakup, Emma and I knew she was broken-hearted. As the conversation developed, Emma and I started the customary bashing of the ex-beau and before you knew it we were all laughing through her tears.

It was good for Lauren to be able to talk to us about this unexpected turn in her life. And to help her realize that in all actuality she had outgrown that relationship a long time ago. Her life had been heading in a different direction for some time and now she could explore her own dreams.

Along the way we learned that the goat farm that Lauren ran was looking to expand their herd and needed an additional buck to mate with the current does. We were on a mating mission! We laughed at that thought as Emma and I made mental notes of guys we knew who would be a good fit with our newly single girlfriend.

Before we knew it, four hours had passed. We decided to stop for the night at a small motel about an hour away from the farm where we were to pick up the buck the next morning.

We awoke well rested to a crystal clear sky. There was a small diner renowned for its pies down the road, so we all had pie for breakfast. To make it well balanced we ordered our pies à la mode.

The last leg of our trip had us traveling down a long winding road towards the farm. I was so in awe of the landscape, with miles and miles of undeveloped land. It was breathtaking. At the end of the road we found ourselves in front of the most majestic farmhouse.

We sat reflecting for a few minutes and then I broke the silence. “Great trip, Lauren! Thanks for letting us invite ourselves.”

She just smiled that gorgeous, dimpled smile back at me.

Getting out of the truck, we all took time to stretch. I was happy to see that a nineteen-year-old, a thirty-year-old and a forty-nine-year-old shared the same symptoms after sitting in a car for so long.

A woman in her early forties appeared from the house and asked if we had any problems finding them and whether she could get us anything.

“We’re fine. Thanks.”

Her young son, who had been hidden from view, suddenly jumped out from behind her. “Please Mom, can I take them to the stall? Please?”

“Go ahead, Joe. You can say your goodbyes to Starbuck and help the ladies get him in the truck.”

“Starbuck?” I repeated. “Is that the name of your goat?”

“Yes,” the little boy answered. “He is a star! He is so handsome and all the does love him.”

Joe located Starbuck in his stall, attached a lead to him and guided him into Lauren’s truck. Then, quite nonchalantly, he said goodbye, sending Starbuck on his way to Connecticut.

Driving with Starbuck in the back cab, we noticed a strange, unpleasant odor. Emma and I asked Lauren what it was. With a sly smile, she announced that Starbuck was ready to meet the does of Connecticut. He was in heat.

Five hours and several stops later we were back in Connecticut. We pulled into the farm, taking the service road to the goat pens.

Through the darkness we heard the restless sounds of the female goats pacing in their stalls. We realized that Starbuck’s arrival had been confirmed. The does were looking forward to their visitor.

Starbuck settled into his new home. Emma and I got back in the truck and Lauren drove us back to our house. When we arrived, Lauren looked at us with a devilish smile.

“Now that we got Starbuck a few dates,” she said, “you wouldn’t have anyone in mind for me, would you?”

Emma and I laughed. “Of course!”

We were ready for another mating mission.

~Jeanne Blandford

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