Billings, Montana 2009 or "This really is the Wild West, ladies." – By Annie

We’ve been listening to a lot of “This American Life” podcasts. Here’s our story in the voice of Ira.

So. Outside of a sleepy western town called Laurel, Montana, I hit a deer at 80mph around 5 am. All I remember was hearing something loud and seeing something explode. But no damage was visible from the inside of the car. Beth was napping and woke up when I screamed and we looked at each other. “What just happened?” Beth said.

“I think I hit a deer. I don’t know.” Long pause.

Then Beth says,”We should pull over.”

I didn’t want to get out of the car. I didn’t want to look. But I did. I opened the door of the car and I could smell what had happened. I began to gag. I went to look at the car. Beth saw my face as I assessed the damage and began to cry. I should have been thinking, “Thank God we are ok. We are so lucky. This could be so much worse.” Instead I was thinking, “Fuck me. I want to die.”

We hoped that someone would pull over and lend us a hand, but to avail, cars and semis just kept whizzing by. The front driver side of the bumper, light casing, radiator and fender were totally shattered. we flagged down a semi driver to see if he had something we could cut the bumper off with. He gave us a bungee cord and drove on.

In the distance I could see a severed part of the deer. I gaged.

It was about 40 degrees and I was still wearing the sleeveless dress and sandals from my job interview in Seattle. I reluctantly went outside again. We debated on calling triple a- at this point there was no driving the car the way it was with stuff hanging off of it.

We called Beth’s dad. He picked up the phone and said, “What happened?” immediately.

“We hit a deer….no, we’re fine….it was a small one….no…..yes….part of the bumper is dragging. okay….okay…alright…bye.”

We started trying to figure out what to do with the stuff that was hanging off the car. We taped up the tubes and cords and then cut off the part of the bumper that was dragging, sawing at it with hobby knife. Beth did most of the work while I gaged in the corner from the smell.

I found a Volvo dealer on the GPS close by in Billings, Montana. Turns out, it was the only Volvo repair shop and dealer in a 4 state area. The closest next one? Minnesota. So we were lucky.

So now we are here in Billings, Montana. From yesterday (Friday) until Monday when the part comes in to fix the car enough to get us home.

People stare at us here as if we are aliens. They can tell we don’t belong. Half the people here wear cowboy hats, western shirts, and Wranglers, like, for real…to go out to live. I’ve only seen this done ironically I guess.

It’s very conservative. As we waited in the lounge at the car shop I overheard the car salesman talking to a customer about “what a shame” it was that Obama won the election and that it’s going to be a long 4 year…probably 8.

We got a rental car and hotel. We were done at the car shop by 10am but couldn’t check into the hotel until 3pm. We found a bagel shop. (Insert catchy string base measure here.)

We went to a movie. “Up” in 3D. We stopped at Target. 2pm.

By now we hadn’t had a real night’s sleep in about 30 hours.

We checked in. Ordered pizza. Fell asleep watching Across the Universe. Woke up thinking, “Shit 48 more hours and we’ve already seen a movie and gone to target. What now? Food.”

Quality Inn is the best part. Free hot breakfast, cable, 6 pillows, hot tub, pool, wireless that sometimes works, concierge with Chuck taylors and not many teeth left…

I read Twilight in the past week. I decided I wanted to watch the movie. We went to the Barnes and Noble and bought it. Watching it seemed like the most exciting thing that’s happened in ages. Except for when I found New Moon (the sequel) at TJ Maxx for $6. WHAT A DEAL!

Today we went to The Strawberry Festival downtown (after TJ Maxx and Target…again.) I didn’t see any strawberries. But we did find the most amazing vintage store ever. We asked around and ended up going to two bars. I wondered if there was a gay bar…because really, I’ve never not had fun at a gay bar. I thought …probably not. But at the second bar…we met a gay man! He told us about a couple of bars. No one was at them. It was like ghost town downtown. We came back to the hotel.

So…here we are. For one more day. And watching Suze Ormand. She’s so smart. I wonder if anyone else around here is watching…