Or should I ask, what century are we in?
The apartment next to mine is being used as a substation for the local rescue squad on the weekends, and what started as a real pissing contest with one of the paramedics has become a pretty good friendship. Yesterday was fairly good weather-wise after four days of continuos rain, so around 2 PM I decided to sit outside on my tailgate and shoot the shit with my buddy.
We were sitting there and he was keeping up his steady but good humored pressure to get me to join the Athens volunteer fire department, and I was kindly declining (everyone else runs out of burning buildings and he want’s me to run into them? Not.) when we noticed a little neighborhood drama unfolding at the house across the street from our complex.
I had seen what we both believe is the owner of the house several times, just sitting on the front porch drinking beer. Neither of us thinks this guy has a job. As we’re watching him drink himself into his afternoon drunk, a minivan pulls into the driveway and a harried woman emerges with five kids. The kids all run into the house, and the woman starts unloading several grocery sacks. We both counted seventy-two, by the way. It took her several trips from the van to the house and back, and twice the bags broke, spilling the contents down the driveway.
Not once did this guy get off his ass to help what I believe was his wife with the groceries. Neither did her kids.
I don’t know about you, but I wasn’t raised that way. Even if I were drunk, I’d have been at the van before she even stopped and would be unloading the groceries and I would have been kicking the kids’ asses for not even attempting to help.
It gets better.
She finally gets done unloading the groceries and he yells to her to bring out another beer for him.
My buddy and I just look at each other in amazement.
The balls on this guy.
She brought out a beer for him and they exchange words we can’t hear. We see her nod and she goes off behind the house.
I so wanted to say or do something, like beat the living shit out of this guy when the wife came back around to the front of the house with a push lawnmower and started to mow the front lawn.
I’m not talking about a gas powered push-type lawnmower, but an honest-to-God pusher mower, the kind with the big cylinder blades... From the 1920’s or something.
He is not only at this time watching her mow the front lawn with this medieval grass manicuring device while he rapidly gets drunk, he starts to yell at her about missed spots and to re-mow other areas because she didn’t do it right the first time.
I’m seething at this time, and my paramedic friend is talking me though my obvious impending near-eruption... I’m about to go ballistic. He doesn’t want to have to treat this asshole for any damage I would most probably inflict, and he also doesn’t want to have to bail me out of jail for attempted homicide, justified or not. He succeeds in calming me down, and I light another Winston.
What a complete shit this guy is.
My friend and I talk this over and decide this kind of behavior is endemic in this area. The Appalachians I’m referring to. I saw the same kind of stuff, though not as blatant in Appalachian Pennsylvania also so it’s not just a southern thing, so I'm not implying that.
It was like a return to the dark ages.
I wasn’t the best husband in the world when I was married, but Jesus! I did more than my fair share of the housework and helped my ex all the time. It was the way I was raised, I guess. My father wouldn’t be caught dead acting like this asshole, and I believe my father raised me right. You’re supposed to put women on a pedestal. Open doors for them. Carry the umbrella when it’s raining. Carry the groceries in.
Mow the fucking yard.
The saddest part of this little story isn’t the asshole husband, it’s the wife putting up with this bullshit, and the very real fact that the kids will grow up to believe this is the proper behavior and the right way to treat women. It tends to be passed down from generation to generation.
I know what you’re thinking...
Why didn’t my friend and myself go over there and help? Well, from experience, we both knew it would have made matters worse for the woman and the kids. He would have taken what little kindness we would offer as an affront to his manhood, and she would have probably gotten a good beating later for our efforts.
I will tell you this though.
I’m a firm believer in that some people are alive merely because it’s illegal to kill them.
Copyright 2005 Thomas J Wolfenden