As an observer of other people over the course of my life, I am well aware that longevity in a marriage is no guarantee of anything but longevity. Just because you’ve been married for many years doesn’t mean you are still in love with or even polite to your spouse. However, sometimes you wind up with a true partnership. Despite those times when you growl at your spouse, or want to hit him upside the head with the nearest blunt object, you know he’s got your back.
About 37 years ago, I met a man in a bar. I was in a relationship with somebody else at the time and was introduced by mutual friends. He looked to me like a typical cowboy: boots, Levis, fancy shirt and a big hat. Still, he was a nice enough guy. Over the course of the next few years, he was peripherally involved in the group I hung with, and my relationship went south in a big way. By then the cowboy was a good friend, and eventually things progressed to the point of romance between us.
I learned that he had grown up poor in terms of material things. It was make it, grow it, repair it, build it or do without. As a result, he’s one of the most all-around competent men I have ever known. He’s mildly dyslexic and struggled to finish high school and some college, but he can log, weld, mechanic, drive an 18-wheeler, shoe a horse, wire a building, install plumbing, carpenter, build fence, farm and run pretty much any kind of heavy equipment you care to name. He once lifted a cow out of a mudhole she was stuck in by using a backhoe (no chains, no sling, just the backhoe bucket), a pretty darned tricky maneuver. No injury to the cow. He can look at a pig or cow and tell you the weight to within 5 pounds. Our 80-year-old butcher declines to bet against him in weight-guessing contests.
He likes things that go fast and red velvet cake with old-fashioned flour icing and dropping a line in the water — any water, anywhere. He’s a cowboy and proud of it. His loyalty to his friends and family is complete and total, but steal from him and he’ll climb up your back and hammer you into the ground like a tent peg. He wants his hair short and his mustache long, and he still likes fancy shirts.
Drop him in the wilderness and he’ll be able to find his way out. And he’ll feed himself and anybody else well on fish or venison during the trek. He knows the woods, recognizes a tree at any time of the year and can give you a rough estimate of the board feet. I miss all sorts of things he notices automatically, just because he grew up in the mountains. He’s an expert shot and knows how to do the butchering; man enough to put his old stallion down when it has to be done and not ashamed to cry about it afterward.
Unlike other men of my acquaintance, he has never hinted by look, word or deed that I couldn’t or shouldn’t do something simply because I happen to have two X chromosomes instead of an XY pair. Admittedly, he has outright said a couple of times that I shouldn’t do something because it was stupid, but that’s another matter…
Happy 35th anniversary, honey!