Friday, May 27, 2011

Confessions of a Wife of a Redneck...3. Birdseed

You might be a redneck if the taillight covers of your car are made of red tape... or if people hear your car a long time before they see it... or if you think the movie Mechanic is about somebody who repairs cars...
Once when I did stand-up comedy, someone asked me how I did it.  Two things are important to work as a comedian:  you have to be able to laugh at yourself and not worry about what others think.  The one person in my life I had the hardest time making laugh was my husband--he'd laugh at others but not me. I'd make myself crazy trying to impress him with my wit. I imagine that on judgment day, God will explain to him one of his sins,  "I gave you a funny wife and you didn't laugh."  He never laughed at this story, but I am telling it anyway.

Hubby often worked as a mechanic.  When he worked all day under a hood of a vehicle, he hated to work on his own car, or more specifically he hated to work on mine. At one time I had an Audi.  I loved that car, but Hubby always put off repairing it.  He said he didn't work on "furrin" cars.  My youngest son and I did minor repairs using the owner's manual as a guide and we did a pretty good job.  It developed a problem we couldn't fix, though, the headlights wouldn't shut off; even with the engine off and the key pulled the lights stayed on; the fuse box was a mess.  I temporarily solved the problem, by raising the hood and unplugging the lights, every time I shut the engine off-- of course I'd have to plug them back in when I got ready to go again.  Eventually, I left only the high beams plugged in and turned the dimmer switch to low to turn off the lights.  I thought I was pretty clever.

When I was in college Hubby had an auto repair shop and he sold used cars on the side, he often drove home one of the vehicles for sale and I never knew what kind of car I'd find parked in the drive.  

One night I drove the Audi home and unplugged the lights--that was before I figured out the trick with the high beams--and went into the house.  My oldest son was sitting on the floor with the parakeet crawling all over him.  "Look Mama, this bird is acting weird."  It was odd since the bird was standoffish and didn't like to be touched. I suddenly realized that I had forgotten to feed it and I had been out of birdseed for a couple of days.  I couldn't even remember the last time the parakeet had eaten.  I felt like a murderer. I freaked out and ran out the door intent on getting to the store before it closed at 10.  I didn't want to bother with opening the hood and plugging in the lights of the Audi so I jumped in the car Hubby had driven home from work and raced to the store.  I parked in the parking lot and hurried inside just before the store closed.  There were a lot of people in line and I impatiently waited clutching the box of bird seed, praying the critter wouldn't keel over before I got home.

I finally got checked out and the manager opened the door to let me out.  This store was not in a good neighborhood and I had just stood in line with some scary looking people.  I went straight to the car, got in and put the key in the ignition and tried to turn it but it wouldn't work.  As I was frantically trying to start the car--with a starving bird on my mind--I glanced over to the passenger seat.  "Funny," I thought, "I don't remember that junk there."  Then I turned and looked to the left and saw the car I had driven parked 4 spaces away.  I don't even know how I'd made that mistake because I had driven a dark green car to the store and and the one I was trying to start was white.  I felt like a burglar caught red-handed in the bank vault.  And the owner of the car was one of those scary looking people still inside the store.

I jumped out and ran over to the green car, relieved that I hadn't got caught in a stranger's  car,  and as I was getting in,  I realized I had left the bird seed on the seat of the white car.  If the store had been opened I would have just bought another box and left the owner of the white car to wonder where the bird seed came from, but I had no other choice. I wasn't going home without food for the parakeet.  I hurried over to the white car,  jerked opened the door, grabbed the box of seed and ran back to the green car driving out of that neighborhood like a bat outta hell.  Sometimes things that happen to me won't seem funny until years later, but that night, once I was sure no one was in hot pursuit, I laughed all the way home.  The parakeet survived-- I can't remember if we gave it away or if the cat ate it but I assure you I never forgot to feed it again.

 Source of redneck jokes:


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Confessions of a Wife of a Redneck.... 2. The Hunt

You might be a redneck if you have the local taxidermist's number on speed dial.  Or you've ever hit a deer with your car... deliberately. Or your mother has "ammo" on her Christmas list.

It was a tradition in the family I married into that only men hunted.  A woman could go fishing--as long as she didn't out-fish the men.  I would like to say that I could fish--I especially liked to catch wide-mouth bass.  But this story is about hunting--I'll talk about fishing later.

Many times during the hunting season when the family gathered at my in-laws the scene was always the same.  All morning the men hunted while the wimen folk prepared dinner.  Dinner in the South is the noon meal--the evening meal is supper.  There were no shortcuts allowed, we cooked from scratch--Southern fried chicken, biscuits, gravy and mashed potatoes we peeled--not from a box; we were allowed to get our green beans out of a can, though.  Then the men would come in all tired and hungry from their hard day at hunting and devour the meal in 5 minutes flat and leave the table and go relax in front of the TV.  They didn't help clear the table or even rinse their plates and put them in the sink; after all that was wimen's work.  So us gals spent the rest of the afternoon clearing up the meal and cleaning the game the men had so thoughtfully provided.

I thought that was just wrong!  I was the first city girl to marry into the family and they thought my ideas were a tad progressive.  I wanted to go hunting.  I thought it would be better'n being stuck in the kitchen on a Sunday.  

I pestered my husband until he bought me a gun.  It was a 410 Shotgun; he thought the light gun would be easier for me to handle and I bristled because he thought a girl couldn't shoot a 20 gauge.  I burned off a lota ammo annihilating stationary targets.  I could hold the gun against my shoulder so it wouldn't kick, sight down the barrel and fire without closing my eyes. I was ready to HUNT.  Hubby took me hunting trips to the barn to shoot pigeons.  Then he insisted I clean them, cook them and taste the meat.  I think it's an acquired taste.

Then the day arrived that he took me hunting with his brothers.  My father-in-law wouldn't had stood for it but he wasn't there that day.  We were hunting quail.  If my husband really loved me I think he could have chosen larger game for me on my first expedition--like a mule deer... with a target painted on its head ...previously shot with a tranquilizer gun.  But, nooo! it had to be quail--little bitty birds hardly worth bothering with.  I was gonna show 'em, though.  I determined that I would hunt so well they would realize that women could be good hunters and I'd be able to go all the time.  I would liberate the Simmons women from the bondage of the kitchen!

Hubby showed how to find quail and sent me off to hunt on my own.  I  tiptoed through the underbrush like Elmer Fudd. I'd approach the thicket where I knew quail were hiding--I knew they were in there, I knew it, I knew it! I'd get closer and closer tightly gripping my four-ten shotgun and ..whoosh!  The birds would explode from the thicket, scaring the daylights out of me and by the time I recovered from my heart attack they were gone.  This happened over and over-- even knowing they were gonna do it, it still startled me so bad I couldn't get a shot off.

When it was time to head back to the cars, I dejectedly trailed behind the men. I never even fired my gun. Then the worse thing possible happened--I tripped; with a loaded shotgun in my arm and my brother-in-law right in front of me! As I fell I turned the barrel down so the gun wasn't aimed at Hubby's brother; he was a nice guy and I didn't want to kill him.  Why I was so quick thinking then but not when I flushed the quail, I don't know. When I fell I rammed the gun into the ground driving dirt two inches up into the barrel. It was God's grace that it didn't go off.  Right then I had what 12 Step Recovery calls a "spiritual awakening."  I knew I had no business running around with a gun and decided never to go hunting again.  I no doubt kept hunters everywhere safe.  The game was never in any danger.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Confessions of a Wife of a Redneck.... 1. Culture Shock

You might be a red neck if you mowed your grass and found your car.  Or if you've ever filled your deer tag on the golf course.  Or if you've ever bar-b-qued Spam on the grill...

I was a city girl.  I'd never been hunting and I watched my dad clean a fish --once; it grossed me out.  My only experience with a farm was at my grandparents' place where I played.  I never mucked out the stalls, milked cows, bucked hay or gathered eggs--Grandpa did all that. I didn't even ride the horses or the tractor.  We lived a few blocks from the grocery store and gas station and I lived near a wonderful downtown area where I could seriously shop or go to the movies. If I wanted to talk to a friend I just called her on the phone or walked the short distance to her home.  I was definitely a city girl.

Then I  married a redneck.  Oh, I didn't know he was one-- I'd never even heard of the term; I thought he was a cute charming ex-sailor who was going to be my prince. In time, being a redneck has become a status symbol--  a fella wearing a t-shirt with the sleeves cut off, jeans with a Skoal ring on his back pocket, and of course cowboy boots. He drives a bad-assed pick-up truck with a couple of guns in a rack on the back winder.  And somewhere on his person, pick-up or in his home you'll find a Rebel flag.  Always country music is playing somewhere in the background, like Charlie Daniel's The South's Gonna do it Again.  His lady calls herself a redneck woman. I never used that moniker in reference to myself.  I was raised better'n that.  I was always quick to point out that I was married into that family, not born into it.

I grew up around the forests and waterways of the beautiful Pacific Northwest, but I let  myself be talked into moving to West Texas and Oklahoma.  The culture shock was beyond belief and I was extremely homesick.  The Plains were flat and treeless; the fields of grain moved with the incessant wind like waves on a green or gold sea. It took me years to get used to the wind.  The family we initially stayed with didn't have indoor plumbing and for the first time in my life I had to use an outhouse.  Hubby scared me with tales of rattlesnakes making trips out to the privy terrifying. After hearing  Hubby's tales of twisters, storms frightened me as much as the snakes.  We we lived in Tornado Alley where the storms are violent--wind, hail, nasty lookin' green clouds-- it was like nothing I had ever seen before. Almost every home had a storm cellar, often inhabited by snakes and spiders, so when we heard a storm warning, I'd have to decide which would be worse-- encountering a tornado or a snake.  It was a tough choice but in the end, I'd go into the cellar; I'd stand smack dab in the middle of the room not touching the dirt walls, checking out every crevice.  While I never really got over my fear of snakes--I still have it, it diminished to manageable levels and I eventually grew to love storms.

We lived in the country with no phone and the mailman became my best friend as he was my contact with the outside world---him and the one or two TV channels brought in by an antenna.  Going to town for groceries was the high social event of the week.  However I didn't have to do much farming.  I flatly refused to learn to milk a cow--cattle scared me-- and the one time I tried to drive a tractor was a fiasco.  Hubby was moving equipment from one field to another and thought it would be helpful if I could drive one of the tractors.  It was his way to rattle off directions and expect the listener to understand immediately what he said.  He fired off  instructions on how to operate the tractor, telling me to follow him and he strode off to the equipment he was driving.  I did OK until we arrived at our destination and I realized I didn't quite get the part about stopping it. There was no brake pedal, I had to pull a lever or  some thingy, but which one?  I went barreling through the gate screaming "I can't stop it!" He chased me down and jumped on the tractor to stop it. He did not think it was funny.  That was my last tractor driving lesson, which was probably a pretty smart move on my part. 

I married into a family of hunters, and I learned how to clean game and fish against my will.  A redneck rule-- and there were lots of those-- was that if you bagged it you cleaned it... unless you were married, then you made your wife do it.  And she had to cook it too.  Not long after I had my first baby, we had just settled into a farm house and I was happy being the little housewife.  One afternoon Hubby opened the back door and tossed a couple of cottontail rabbits on the floor that he'd shot from the tractor.  He said, "You need to clean these and cook them for supper," and he hurried back to his plowing.  I approached the rabbits and one of them moved.  I jumped back.  He expected me to clean it, but did I have to murder it too?  And rabbits didn't have the decency to closed their eyes when they died, and how was I to be expected to dress out something that was looking at me?  That night Hubby found the rabbits right where he left them and he was not pleased--he had his mouth set on fried rabbit.  I didn't get away with that behavior very long.  I was soon skinning, gutting and scaling with the best of them.  I never got used to it, though, especially not the big soft brown eyes of the cottontails.  

I know I wrote "winder," and a few other words--trust me, the spell checker was all over them with red squiggly lines, but the language is appropriate to redneck stories.  I have much more to tell.. stay tuned...

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Part of a Wolf Pack--Repost

The wolf, which hunts in a pack, has a greater chance of survival than the lion, which hunts alone. Christian Lous Lange

I was thinking today about a wolf I once knew. No, not the two legged kind, though I have known those too. I mean a real wolf.

I know that wolves have a bad reputation, maybe justly so, but I became friends with one. In a small town in N E Washington, we moved into a house that was next door to a man who owned a wolf--there was someone in the area who raised and sold wolf pups. This wolf was no longer a cute pup but a grown animal who was chained in the neighbor's yard. 

The guy told me that the wolf's name was Buddy and not to approach him.

I will never forget my first encounter with the animal-- there he was standing in a classic wolf pose with his head lowered, looking at me with those incredible eyes which seemed to look into my soul. Then he snarled at me. That is when I started talking to him. Every time I was in the yard, I spoke to him and he started to settle down. He spent his time pacing as far as his chain would let him or sitting on top of his dog house, staring off towards the woods that were only a block away. I thought he lived a cruel existence; since wolves are pack animals, he must of been lonely. I got permission from the neighbor to feed him table scraps and started sharing our meals with him. After that Buddy was always happy to see me. I still never approached him--I couldn't imagine petting him like a dog; I respected his wildness. As I went about my business in the yard, carrying on one-sided conversations with him, I enjoyed knowing he was there.

One day, while working in the garden, he broke his chain and got loose. He didn't run for the forest down the street as you'd think he would, or run anywhere at all, except over to me. He raced around me like a frisky pup and then snatched up a glove and ran off with it dancing about out of my reach. I told him to bring it back but he dropped it and raced in to grab a plastic pot and took off with it, then he dropped it and came back to where I was standing to steal something else. For the first time ever Buddy looked happy; he was playing with me and I realized then that he had made me part of his pack, and he wanted to be with me more than he wanted to be free in the woods. His owner noticed him loose and caught him and our game was over, but I was deeply moved by this animal, and sad that he had to go back on the chain. He seemed to become distraught after that and started howling at night, and the neighbors complained, so Buddy went to a new home, but I still wonder about him; I hope he was happier. 

I would like to draw a picture of a wolf. Someday, I hope to show you a picture of a wolf titled Buddy.