Monday, May 21, 2018

My husband, the redneck rebel...

Yesterday, Bill and I decided to stay at home.  I don't usually like to waste weekends being a homebody, but the weather was kind of icky and Bill has a new homebrew that needed to be bottled.  Also, I wanted to wash the sheets and that's a process that can take awhile, especially when I also wash the heavier duvet cover on our bed.  European washing machines are not like American washing machines.  A cycle can take a couple of hours.  Then I have to run the dryer, which is also not as efficient as an American style dryer is.

I did some writing and watched more of the barely watchable final season of Little House on the Prairie.  I think 1983 was the year for a lot of formerly decent TV shows to go down in flames.  CHiPs was also on its last legs in 1983.  Naturally, because we were at home, we also drank beer.

Sometime around 6:00pm, I started feeling kind of silly.  It wasn't a "buzz" type of silly; it was more just my non-sensical mind wandering off in different directions.  I suddenly started thinking about how Bill really rebelled against being a redneck.  It made me laugh.

I'm no lady... but I married a southern gentleman.

Bill and I both are both southerners, even if some people don't realize Virginia is a southern state.  Trust me, though, I grew up in a very southern town and there were rednecks aplenty, especially in my neighborhood on a dirt road.  My parents come from Rockbridge County in Virginia, which is most definitely rural.  I don't think my roots are quite as redneck as Bill's are.  His people are from rural Arkansas.

Bill's dad is one of several siblings.  I'm pretty sure he was the oldest and he's done very well for himself.  He worked as a bill collector at a hospital in Memphis for many years.  His wife, who is from the Memphis area, also worked in accounting at the same hospital.  Bill's dad is not really a redneck, but according to Bill, some of his aunts and uncles were.  In fact, one aunt reportedly told Bill's mom that she wanted her to name Bill "Billy Ray".  Yeah... that wasn't happening.

Bill's mom is from a very rural town in Arkansas.  She is more of a city type than Bill's dad is, though Bill tells me she's eaten her fair share of squirrels.  She wanted to see the world.  Bill's dad was not as interested in getting out of Arkansas, although he did heed Bill's mom's pleas to at least move to Memphis, where there was more work available.  Bill's dad is still living in Tennessee, while his mom is in Texas.

I look at Bill, who has a lot of very country roots, and it's almost hard to believe that he could have easily been a typical redneck.  Frankly, I could have turned out that way myself.  Not that there's necessarily anything wrong with being from a small, southern town and wanting to stay there.  I have a lot of friends who have done that.  It's just that somehow, Bill and I both wound up rejecting that lifestyle.

One thing that Bill cannot abide is guys who walk around with no shirt on.  It always cracks me up when Bill sees some guy walking around with his hairy chest on display.  His face takes on a subtle look of disgust.  The first time I saw him do that, I asked him what was wrong.  He said, "That's just a very redneck thing to do... walking around with no shirt on."  

My mind immediately flashed back to the many times my dad mowed the lawn without a shirt... or the time he took off his shirt at one of my horse shows.  It was one of the few he and my mom ever watched because they couldn't care less about horses or my career as an equestrienne.  Bill would have happily watched the whole show and kept his shirt on, to boot.  Then, he probably would have taken me out for a nice dinner at a good restaurant, rather than stopping at McDonald's, which was what I usually did after a horse show.  What can I say?  Riding is expensive.

He will even wear a skirt on special occasions...  ;-)

The first of many classy dinners with Bill...  This was the night he popped the question.

Ditto to guys who don't take their hats off when they walk into a building.  Bill thinks it's uncouth.  He isn't rude about it, though.  You just won't catch him wearing a hat indoors, going shirtless, or wearing really ugly clothes.  Actually, I buy his clothes for him because I used to work in a menswear store and am better at matching colors than he is.  But he makes sure everything is tailored, clean, and free of holes and stains.  And unless he's at a nude spa in Germany, he keeps everything appropriately covered or uncovered, whatever the occasion might call for.

Yeah... this isn't the lifestyle Bill wanted for himself...

Anyway, I started thinking about how Bill hates it when guys don't wear shirts and it reminded me of National Lampoon's Vacation, the 1983 film starring Chevy Chase.  I had to watch it last night because I wanted to see Cousin Eddie in his white spats and wife beater, cooking Hamburger Helper on the grill with no meat in it.

"Real tomato ketchup, Eddie?"

It amazes me to think about how refined and chivalrous Bill is.  Although he spent about thirty years in the Army, he's very much a southern gentleman who enjoys the finer things in life.  He's the type of guy who opens doors, pulls out chairs, and eats stinky cheese with gusto.  He doesn't care for watching sports, hanging out with his bros, or doing other "guy" things like manspreading or scratching his balls in public.  He doesn't mind dropping the f bomb on occasion, but he's remarkably civilized about it.  The only time I ever see him get really pissed off is when he's driving, but even then, he's mostly very courteous.  He even refers to other drivers as "Ma'am" and "Sir" as he politely cusses at them.  

Bill rarely raises his voice and always treats me like a lady, even though I'm not particularly ladylike.  In fact, I have a friend who has quipped on more than one occasion that Bill is a "very good wife".  I'll be sitting at my computer and he'll say, "What can I bring you?"  And he'll go fetch me a cocktail made just the way I like it and, if I'm concentrating on writing something, he'll pick up my chores where I left off.  Then, he'll make me a wonderful dinner.  

Yesterday, he made the bed while I wrote a travel blog piece.  He makes the bed better than I do, probably because he's been well-trained in the art of making hospital corners.  And if he gets the laundry out of the dryer, he folds everything... including my underwear.  That always cracks me up, since I usually just throw my unfolded undies in my top drawer or on the bench at the end of our bed.  Not Bill.  He always folds my underwear three ways, very meticulously.  And he very carefully folds my bras.  I always smile when I put them on after he's so neatly folded them for me.  

I think about Bill growing up in rural Arkansas and near Memphis, Tennessee among people who lived in tin roof shacks and regularly ate squirrel stew.  And yet he went on to graduate from American University, where he majored in international relations, learned how to fence, became very well read, and took English riding lessons.  He did spend about ten years in redneck hell when he was married to his ex wife, who was determined to live beyond her means in a rural town, collecting Disney plates and eating Swiss Colony snacks.  During those years, Bill worked in factories and wore used clothes from garage sales purchased by his ex wife.  But then, after his divorce, he came back on active duty and slipped into his own brand of chivalrous charm.  

Bill has become even more refined since I first met him, probably because his financial situation has really bloomed during our marriage.  I remember when we first got married, he was perfectly happy drinking Barefoot Merlot and eating cheeseburgers at fern bars.  Now I watch his face light up when he eats a really pungent piece of French cheese or drinks a particularly sophisticated wine.  It's hard to believe he didn't grow up eating fancy food and visiting foreign countries.

Bill eats cheese like a boss.  Notice how he holds his silverware.  He eats European style.  Apparently, his mom taught him to eat that way rather than the American way.

Bill reacts to a Belgian beer.  Do not give this man a Miller Lite.

I'll tell you what else is also hard to believe.  He married me.  Granted, he also married his ex wife, who makes me look like I spent years in charm school.  But I have a mouth like a sailor.  I'm loud, opinionated, and obnoxious.  I have been known to fart and belch in public, sometimes at the same time.  He thinks I'm hilarious, though.  Or, at least that's what he's told me.  I often joke that this should be my theme song...

We probably should have played this at our wedding.

Whenever I need to buy someone a card, I get Bill to pick it out.  He's a lot better at finding classy cards.  I usually find the ones that are gross, crass, or employ sick humor.  My mom has been a lot happier with her birthday cards since I got Bill to start buying them.

It's true that I grew up in better economic circumstances than Bill did.  My parents were/are well traveled and liked cultural things like concerts and going out to dinner at nice restaurants.  I spent a lot of time around well heeled horsey folks.  Some of that rubbed off on me, although I was just as influenced by some of my country friends.  As a kid, I didn't care about good food, good wine, or even travel.  When I eat, I hold my silverware like an American.  I don't eat stinky cheese or truffles and never had an interest in fencing.  I have never been one to be pretentious, although some people in the military community probably think of me that way.  It's only because I talk about my education, though, which I got mainly so I wouldn't have to live in a van down by the river.  I figured I was going to be an old maid... but then weeks after I started graduate school, I met my knight in shining armor.

A couple of days ago, I was watching Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding.  Bill asked me what I wanted to drink.  I said I wouldn't mind having white wine.  He said we didn't have any chilled, but we did have champagne.  He brought it to me just as Harry and Meghan were walking down the aisle together.  Then, he brought me a bowl of fresh strawberries.  Clearly, Meghan is not the only one who married a prince.  

I tell you, I don't know what I did to earn this lifestyle of a pampered cat in a sorority house...  I'll take it, though.  It's definitely not how I pictured my life to be and Bill is not the type of man I pictured marrying.  However, I am smart enough to know that we will never be divorcing, because I will never find another one like him and I wouldn't want to.  He's perfect for me.  I hope I'm perfect for him.

"Bill"... is probably grateful that I don't sit on his knee.  And I'm grateful when he steps on my back.  He gives a mean massage.


  1. Considering Bill's previous wife, he probably considers you every bit as perfect as you consider him if not more so.

    What is a fern bar?

    I suck at picking out cards and often manage to offend relatives. My friends and a few of the more cool relatives can laugh at the cards, but the majority of my relatives are humorless. I once picked out a syrupy sweet religious card for my aunt as a joke. She took it seriously and loved it. A more normal person would probably take that as a cue and continue to purchase cards of the same genre for her, but I can't do that. It bothered me that she didn't get the joke.

    I want a prince, too, though I'm willing to wait a few years for him. It would be best if I could get through the bulk of my residency without having to deal with a serious relationship.

    1. A fern bar is a casual restaurant with a bar area featuring ferns. Think Hamburger Hamlet or the like.

  2. P.S. A guy in my cohort wants to have an arrangement with me that is similar to the one made by the two main characters in the movie "My Best Friend's Wedding," meaning that if neither of us is in a relationship in five years, he wants us to meet up and see if it would work between us. I told him he's free to stay in contact but that I'm obviously promising him nothing.

    1. Yeah, it’s best to let nature take its course. Don’t marry for the sake of marriage. Marry someone you love. Divorce sucks.


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