When I was in Elementary School, I had a friend whose family were real Arizonians.
I’m a real Arizonian, too, but my parents aren’t. This guy was third generation. In other words: hardcore.
His family had a big piece of land up in Cave Creek, with a deep arroyo cutting through it. His parents lived on one side of the arroyo and his grandparents on the other. They had a few horses, plenty of guns, pickup trucks and cowboy hats.
Real fucking Arizonians.
I spent a lot of time up there, playing with his dogs and giving mushy fruit to the horses.
Apparently everybody in his family was from Cave Creek, and they were all mechanics or horse people.
His mother’s family lived on the main street of Cave Creek, in what was basically a junk yard. They had a whole dusty lot full of old cars quietly rusting around their house.
They would give us money to kill the pack rats that lived in the old chassis. Pack rats like chewing through wires and ruin cars like you wouldn’t believe.
So life in the desert being what it is, I would go to my friend’s house on Saturday morning, and we would spend the day in the junkyard, hunting rats. One of us would attack the nest with a pitchfork, and the other would stand with his pellet rifle ready.
We were little junkyard dictators, weeding out dissent, backing our enemies into a corner.
When we managed to trap a trembling bulge-eyed rat, we capped him. Execution style. And carried him proudly into the house to collect our reward money from Grandma.
P.S. For a bit more about life in the Southwest, see Bill Bryson Goes to New Mexico. And for a bit about Spain, check out cultural differences between Spain and the US. Or check out my origin story, called Back on the Ranch.