"No." a cheery older gentleman with a handlebar mustache said. "We're the Gravenstein Lions." He looked like he'd just walked out of a Wild West show.
I shook hands with him and noticed he had the grip of a farrier. "Pleasant to meet you," I said. The pain did eventually go away.
Well, the foreman gave me a shovel and pointed me to a pile of dirt. "You can help out these Lions, cowboy," he said to me and directed my attention to a pile of dirt. The plan was to move the pile to the back yard and make it part of the foundation.
I looked around to see who would be takin' over the duties after the older Lions went golfin' but they didn't seem to be there yet.
Shovel in hand I began walkin' towards the mountain of dirt and all seven Lions scampered ahead of me. When I got there, I could barely find a place to do my work.
It was at this point I noticed one of the Lions was my Sebastopol girlfriend. She moved everyone over so I could get in and thus began one of the few pleasurable times in my life I've ever had with a shovel.
I'll tell you, there was no old soldierin' with this group. We worked straight through for an hour or so until we finally took a break.
Durin' the break, I overhead a young fella who was workin' on the scaffolding say to the owner of the house, "I couldn't believe it when they put those old guys on the shovels but they're pretty good.
I was about to call it a day when my Sebastopol girlfriend said, "Now we have to put all those rocks in the driveway."
"I thought that was a natural hill," I replied, lookin' at the pile of rocks in the front yard.
So we turned to on the rock pile and, for two more hours the Gravenstein Lions shoveled, raked and broomed circles around me. I was weary at the end but I wouldn't let myself show it.
The Gravenstein Lions all looked like they'd just walked out of a cabana in Palm Springs.
"Why don't you come to one of our meetings, Ben," my Sebastopol girlfriend said sorta shy like afterwards. "You can't believe what this group does for the community."
Now I'm not the joinin' kind of cowboy normally but I was so impressed by these Lions I decided to call her bluff.
Durin' the past month, I've been to two Gravenstein Lions meetings. It was all they had and I would've gone to more. My Sebastopol girlfriend was right. I really can't believe how much they do.
Besides the Habitat for Humanity, they contribute to the Ceres Community Project, Canine Companions, a number of vision charities and they help an armload of other local organizations.
After the first Wednesday night meetin' I went to, I came home and asked by brother, J.W. if he knew about all the good things the Gravenstein Lions did.
"Are you kidding?" he said. "They have the best fireworks stand in Sonoma County. And it's really handy. It's in the Safeway parkin' lot in Sebastopol and you know how good those Safeway donuts are."
Leave it to J.W. to always look to the kinder side of life.
Anyway, I'm goin' to join the Gravenstein Lions but not for any personal reasons, no disrespect for my Sebastopol girlfriend.
I love her a lot, especially after seein' what a beautiful lady looks like when she's standin' there all glistenin' with a shovel in her hand.
Best of all, I can, maybe, work in their fireworks stand and have one or two of those Safeway donuts. They're my favorite.
Am I Pretty?