Cowgirl Sass & Savvy Julie Carter
The story has been told around campfires, roping arenas, beer coolers and white tablecloth restaurants with an ongoing hilarity that is enhanced only by knowing the players personally.
It was the early '90s, California and a cowboy and his bride had been to a high-fallutin' paint horse sale. Conversation, a barbeque and alcohol energized the crowd and encouraged hand raising and check writing.
Paul had been drinking some, but not a lot, and his wife Ineta had only a beer before they left the party and headed home. Paul was driving when they were pulled over by the flashing blue and red lights, with a second patrol car behind the first.
The police officer told Paul he was speeding and also noted the open container of beer between his legs. He told him to get out of the pickup and proceeded to take him around to the squad car to begin the field sobriety test.
From her side of the pickup, Ineta could see Paul performing the clap, clap, clap, followed by a ballerina pose, a walk the line and touch his nose performance.
Passing the field test, Paul stayed with the officer while Ineta remained in their vehicle on the orders of the two patrolmen "guarding her," one a "buffed-up blonde cop" as she described him.
She watched as they put Paul in the other patrol car and then she saw one of the officers hit him with his flashlight. It lit a fire in the cowgirl.
As Ineta attempted to leave the pickup, a cop slammed her back and told her to keep her backside (expletive down played) in the vehicle.
Ineta's cowgirl-tough instincts came to life. With her knee, she rammed the cop and took him to the ground. This tiny 5'4" cowgirl, was on the fight and had lost any of her good sense in the fray.
The other cop, standing by, jumped in and even with two, they couldn't take the kicking wildcat down.
They called for back up and the other two cops attending Paul joined in. It took all four of them, but they finally had her in cuffs on her legs and her hands and then threw her in the back seat of the squad car.
Her only question was, "What are you doing?"
The officers ignored her, talking on the radio and the words "assault on an officer" were heard.
She and Paul were separated and she wouldn't see him again until the next day.
Ineta was put in an isolation cell for booking and fingerprinting. Later she was taken to the cell where she'd spend the night.
With the slamming of the cell door, Ineta looked around, now smarter than she'd been a few hours before.
She could see she was in a cell full of prostitutes that had been in the night's roundup. There was a bench on the wall and a toilet in the middle of the room.
The urge to pee that had seemed an emergency earlier, left her as fear moved in.
Giving her an appraising eye, the tattooed, dressed-up "ladies of the night" resumed their conversation about the events of the evening and the tricks they'd turned.
This was business as usual for them.
Ineta's hair, clothes and general appearance looked like, well, like she'd been wrestling with cops. At some point, one of the girls turned to her and asked, "What about you, what did you bring in tonight?"
Ineta, once again in possession of her full mental faculties that had escaped her earlier, stuttered briefly, recognizing that for her safety, she needed to fit in. This was a very intimidating, mean-looking bunch of women.
"Hmmmm," she thought, "what's a good number, one they'll believe."
"Twenty," she said. "I did 20."
It seemed to satisfy the group of chippies and they accepted her as one of them for the night.
As the story was told and retold in cowboy gatherings across four states, both to the entertainment and embarrassment of the couple who did best in laughing at themselves, Ineta was forever tagged with the nickname, "20 Tricks."
Almost two decades later, her debut as 20 Tricks remains legendary.
Julie can be reached through her website at www.julie-carter.com.
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