I was never a popular kid at school… Always kind of a country kid through and through. So a lot of my experiences resulted from having older friends who were nice enough to take me to horse shows and rodeos on the weekends.  I was badass.  Or, probably just a typically slightly rebellious teen girl and a bit of a tease at worst.  Hey- bad decisions lead to good stories.

It was the weekend of Kitchener rodeo- it was just brought to my attention last weekend that the only thing the guys remember is “WOO-WOO” shots.  Everyone was going to party at the stampede coral.  I was sixteen.  I was also lucky enough to have a newly nineteen friend with an extra licence.  Thanks Candace!  At that time, I was dating a bullrider (I know; shocking.) Coincidentally, he had dated Candace prior to me. (Also. Shocking… Sharing is caring.)

When the cops showed up at the bar my attempts to “act normal” apparently failed, and despite not being the youngest one there: I was the target. (a 14 year old roper had the benefit of still being six foot and solid enough to blend in…) My only real recollection of dialogue as the cops asked me to come outside was a somewhat slurred statement about not being drunk and having to barrel race in the morning; neither of which were true by the way.  The poor boyfriend at this point, is not only having his night and woo woo shots interrupted… but he’s also now being forced to call me by his ex-girlfriend’s name in keeping with the story!  They ask me for my home phone number.  Knowing my own mother would be woken up, confused, and eventually pissed (plus and more importantly: blow my cover) I rhyme off Candace’s number.  She is still inside the bar at the time.  Her mom’s boyfriend answers. They tell him they are concerned that the girl with them looks nothing like the photo, and also that though she appears to be about 165cm tall despite the 120 noted on the I.D.  He somehow guessed it was me, and said something like “Oh yeah I’ve been telling her to get that corrected for a long time, and it’s an old picture.”

WOOO!!! Thank you dude I barely know!! Thank you Thank you!

Whoever said “the truth shall set you free”- clearly never spent hours rehearsing someone else’s full name, address and birthday just for the chance to two-step and drink WOO-WOOs with the cowboys.


Setting off the Ex’s House Alarm

Perhaps it’s odd that I still have a house key to my ex’s place, and even odder that when he goes on vacation I check on the house, and look after his kids’ hamsters… but he’s a friend, and it’s not really a big deal.  So this past winter when he went to Jamaica, I wished him Bonne Voyage, and didn’t ask for a lot of details – it seemed like a simple gig.

On the first night, I pulled into the driveway, hopped out of my truck and unlocked the back door.  The alarm began to beep, and it was not until I was face to face with the panel, it occurred to me that it has been about a year since I punched in that code, and my mind was completely blank.  I tried one.  The alarm kept beeping. I tried another…still the little red light glared at me threatening.  Sixty seconds of terror… I knew what was about to happen.  I was certain I had the first two digits right, but for the life of me the other two were missing somewhere in the depths of my memory. The alarm began to scream. Poor hamsters were probably wondering what the hell was with all the racket.

My mind is racing, and I am pissed at myself, for not remembering. And not asking!  DAMNIT!  How am I going to explain this?? “Good evening Officer.  It’s cool- this is my ex-boyfriend’s house.”  ??? Yeah. Cuz that sounds awesome.  I rack my brains knowing I can’t call him.  Maybe there is a chance he is on facebook!?  Feverishly I type the first words that come to my mind:  “FUCK!” “I just set off your alarm…I’m retarded. Code!?!?”  … Yeah right. Cuz in Jamaica he’s totally sitting on Facebook.  Who else can I call?? Who would know?  Julie.  Julie “the ex-wife.” Coincidentally I’ve known her longer than I have known him, but this still certainly requires the swallowing of some pride.  I dial her number.  God I’m an idiot.  No answer.  Panic is setting in. I leave a voicemail which I can only assume must have made her laugh a few days later:  “Uh Hey…It’s Courtney, uhm. So I’m at Darren’s and I just set the alarm off because I’m a moron and I forgot the code. Sorry to call – call if you get this. Sorry!! Thanks! Sorry! Bye… Sorry.”  What’s worse is three seconds after I hang up I remember being told that she was going away the same week… So no help coming from that direction.

Minutes are passing and the “what will I say to the cops dialogue” happening in my head is building and sounding worse and worse…  “I’m really sorry, honestly- this is my ex-boyfriend’s house, he’s in Jamaica with his new girlfriend. I called his ex-wife for help.”  Right…Nothing like a stalker seeking an accomplice! “But Sir…I’m here for the hamsters.”  … Right. Bet you are. You like to boil them?

I look at the alarm company sticker on the door.  Anything is worth a try.  I dial the number.  A very chipper lady answers, and knowing how stupid I sound I give it my best.  “Hi.  My name is Courtney.”  I give her the address and try to explain:  “I just set the alarm off at the side door, I know how stupid I’m about to sound, this is my friend’s place- we used to date.  I’m here because he asked me to feed his kids’ hamsters; I thought I remembered the code, but apparently not. I have left him and his ex-wife a message telling them what I have done but his family all live out of town (obviously or he wouldn’t need his ex to house-sit?) and I have no one else to call.  There is silence on the other end of the phone for a minute as she processes (and probably tries to decide how to handle) what I have just said.  She asks me a number of questions about him, his phone number, and birthday; all of which I answer.  The lady now sounds sympathetic, as clearly I am not a burglar; just some chick who is a) Pathetic enough be feeding the ex’s pets while he is in Jamaica with the new woman and b) Dumb enough to set off the alarm and be calling her with this insane story… and she knows my night is about to get worse because although she is compassionate about my situation; she has obligations, and despite my story; no code and no password means she still has to dispatch police… she tells me I can leave or stay, it’s up to me.  I tell her I may as well do what I came to do; so in the event of my arrest, at least the hamsters will have had their dinner.  We hang up.

I walk back into the house, covering my ears.  I close the door behind me, and stare at the alarm pad like the evil enemy it is with its’ little red beedy eyes.  I’m exasperated and defeated.  I raise my hand up to the pad.  I take a deep breath……..

I enter the code successfully as if not a day has passed.  Yep. Seriously.  Three little beeps, the red flashing retreats, and replaced by a solid, happy green, and silence surrounds me. Five minutes later, hamsters have food and fresh water and I have found the wine left for me with the happy little note thanking me for being so helpful.  Man… he’s going to get a laugh out of this one…  I call the alarm company back, and begin re-explaining my story assuming there must be a high number of agents working there.  The lady cuts me off enthusiastically asking:  “Is this Courtney!?!” Yes… “HI it’s Jackie from earlier!! I see that you got the code!!! Good for you!!! I have canceled police dispatch and was going to call you back but I didn’t have your number.  I am so happy you remembered.”  (At least my new ADT friend Jackie is proud of me.) “Have yourself a good night.” (Uh huh. Yeah. Thanks.)

So…What do you do when you feel like a complete ass, and have just narrowly avoided arrest? –   You change your Facebook status… and laugh harder than everyone else.

The Hostage Situation

When my aunt moved away out west, my cousin’s at the time girlfriend became my new coach. She kind of took me under her wing, exchanging lessons and riding time for my helping her out with younger students, and being her stablehand. She had rented a barn just outside of Brantford, and after a few months, things started to go down hill with the Landlord; who also still lived in the house on the property. Those who have any familiarity with “horse people” can vouch this is not a rare occurence.

My friend made the decision to move out and on. At fourteen, I was not privy to exactly what was said or how this all came to pass… But this is my first hand account of the fallout; certainly one for the record books…

At some point the day we were leaving there was a discussion about a hundred dollars that my friend owed the Landlord. Collectively, we had seven or eight horses there at the time, and we were making a couple of trips. We had sent the first load on their way, and we were loading up tack when the Landlord, henceforth referred to as “Nutjob,” came outside to discuss collection of said money. At no point in my recollection, was there an argument about this money, my friend gladly offered to drop it off the next day, or meet up with Nutjob. This seemed to escalate the situation. She then offered to write a cheque, which was immediately refused and seemed to enrage the little beast. She was somewhere just over five foot, probably 115 pounds with graying hair to her hips. Her eyes actually seemed to pop out from her leathery face when she announced “nobody leaves ’til I get my money.” She then proceeded to park her truck across the driveway, and walk into the house, only to return moments later to claim her look-out position on the back porch: holding a shotgun.

So there we were. My mom, my cousin, and our friend, held captive at an old farm by a nutjob with a long gun. Being the 90’s with cell phones being still somewhat rare our connection to the outside world was a rotary dial phone on the wall in the barn. My cousin blew the dust off, and dialed 911. He had gotten as far as telling them she was refusing to let us leave, and that she had a gun when she, having realized he was on the phone, stormed in a ripped it from the wall. Somewhere amid the yelling and threats my cousin decided she likely would not actually shoot him, and risked walking out the driveway hoping to flag down police.

Minutes went by. Then more minutes. Then hours. No return trailer. My cousin had disappeared. I guess we had resolved that something would break eventually… Darkness fell. I had dawned a hoodie when the sun went down. This inspired my comic relief side, and I started re-enacting scenes from Beavis and Butthead Do America. (We all react differently in a crisis situation!)

It was over three hours elapsed time when darkness was broken by flashing lights, and just like in the movies, a voice said “drop the weapon and come out with your hands where we can see them.” Things were a blur for a few minutes as more flashing lights, and uniforms began to appear. As things unfolded, we learned that from the moment the 911 call was placed and it was shared she was armed- actions were put in place; the entire concession was blocked off and the London Swat Team (over an hour away) had been called in to assist. My cousin had been picked up at the road, and had been hidden in the crops of the surrounding fields watching all of us, waiting to move in safely. I bet my Beavis and Butthead “Cornholio” routine was hilarious at two hundred yards through a scope!

Nutbar was arrested. We all gave statements. Mine started with an Officer telling me to repeat verbatim the things she said- and promising I would not get in trouble for swearing. Through this process we also learned she was a former stripper, and fairly well known to police. We moved on and up and luckily never went to Court. I’m not sure if she was actually criminally convicted, but I did run into her “former” husband some years later and learned that he never saw that gun again.