In 1960, 39% of licensed drivers in America were women, with that number growing to 40.8% in 1965. We were starting to see the fork in the road, relative to male and female roles, merge into blurry intersections requiring lots of signage to get through. Gender specific roles still exist, of course, but one needs to tread carefully if one is prone to broad generalizations regarding the women in our lives. I like it that way and would not change a thing. It wasn’t apparent at the time, but I married Beth Dutton, of Yellowstone fame. Let me explain.
First of all, I married a country girl, raised on a farm where you are toughened by the reality that folks eat animals that must be killed. You learn that getting dirty, I mean really filthy, is a daily occurrence. Grain dust and dirt are unforgiving companions and gun grease on your hands means you are maintenance inclined with your machinery and equipment. Sharon’s father was hard as flint. He was a night hunter, kept hounds, and raised more than one coon to train his pups with. When it rained you got muddy and when it didn’t you got dusty. His vocabulary was colorful, a huge understatement. When little Sharon mashed a toe, he reached for pliers to pull the offending nail out. He was, by today’s standards, a Neanderthal. Sharon can handle a very big 350HP tractor pulling monster equipment as well as any man out there. This is an environment that will make you tough, irrespective of your gender. All this aside, she will fool you into thinking she is refined, articulate and a work of feminine art. Appearances can be deceiving, just ask the car salesmen who have crossed swords with her.
I carry Sharon’s lunch when we shop for “her car”. She begins her association with the poor devil who thinks she is a cultured lady and knows nothing about the car business, helping her. She usually begins her dialogue with a warning. “When we get to the bottom line, if my husband enters this conversation and is able to reduce the price by a single thin dime, I am out of here in a heartbeat”. She means it and has walked. When a store clerk miscalculates a sale price, Sharon, the professional teacher, is more than happy to help with the math, one time. She will ask for a manager at the drop of a hat, knowing full well where the buck stops. Disrespect her, and you will pay a price.
A recent experience prompted this writing. Sharon was talking with a dear friend and related how she responded to an error code on our clothes dryer. She called an appliance repairman, ascertained what the code meant, and then moved the washer and dryer to gain access to the vent hose on the dryer. She then unscrewed the face plate on our exterior wall, assembled a fiberglass extension rod with a brush, and proceeded to clean out the line. She then reassembled the vent hose, at both ends and the error code went away, just as she anticipated. The friend asked where Steve was. Uh-oh. My Sharon will point out rather quickly that when Steve is needed, she will call him, but Steve isn’t needed for 90% of what happens around a house. Two years ago, I went to the deer woods for a few days, and Sharon tore out all the racks and shelving in our master closet, patched and textured the sheet rock and repainted the walls, getting everything ready for the design and installation of new racks. I was involved only in the installation of the new, much more substantial racks, my only contribution. This lady will cut grass, hook up the Rv, trim hedges, prune trees and haul rock in a wheel barrow. She can dress a limit of crappie with the smoothness of a surgeon. She thought nothing of tying onto our Airstream and delivering it to a waiting doctor in coastal Mississippi where she closed the deal with him and returned home with a check, a trip I could not make because of a back issue.
Where does Beth Dutton come in? Sharon goes about life as any educated lady would. She is pleasant, conversational and usually a step ahead of those she is associating with. She can turn into a wolverine when others might withdraw and cry out of frustration. She cannot stand to be high hatted, despises a liar and is profoundly practical. She is loving and is moved to tears over human tragedy. Just don’t disrespect her and avoid, at all costs, lying to her. She can handle the truth as she is a country girl with an education, and country girls get it.
Beth Dutton channels her inner being……and I wouldn’t change a damned thing!
Have a great week.