February 20, 2004
We often hear folks talk about rural values, and how those may differ from those of urban people. I'm not necessarily an authority on rural values, but I can tell you a little about my husband's values.
Mel's always been very conservative when it comes to spending money for "frivolous" things, like flowers for Valentine's Day, my birthday or our anniversary, but would spend his last dime to keep his cows happy.
He balks at paying $30 for a tiny bottle of perfume, but wouldn't blink an eye if it were deer scent or Catfish Charlie.
Mel is "selectively" resourceful. I can remember once when he wouldn't pay $20,000 for a new tractor, but paid $12,000 for a fixer-upper and $6,000 for parts to get it running (he took it apart, put it back together, and had enough leftover parts to build another tractor when he got through).
My husband wouldn't dream of wasting money on bottled water or prescription reading glasses, but he's never without Blue Bell ice cream and he buys only the finest guitar strings.
Time was when he'd drive 50 miles to save $10 on a truckload of hay, and gas wasn't cheap in those days either.
Mel wouldn't dare call a professional in to fix a plumbing problemat least not until he had bought every size gasket and gadget at the hardware store, knocked two or three holes in the wall, and still couldn't make her flush.
And why should he hire help to round up cattle or stretch wire when he could draft Eric or me? "Why are ya'll complainin'? I'll double yore reg'lar pay," he'd say with a grin. "After all, there's no shame in hard work. Jist thank of it as quality family tahm."
Mel would never buy something as foolish as a chain for the gate or a new radio antenna for his truck when his got clipped by a low hanging limb.
"That's why the Good Lord made balin' wahr," he insists.
Mel is from the old school. According to his philosophy, dogs should work for their keep, know their place (which is outside), and are happy to get table scraps. Cats, he suggests, should live in the barn and keep it free of mice.
"Dawgs an' cats used to have self-respect, 'fore people turned 'em into play purdies. Now thur pets without a purpose," he says.
I'm still trying to figure out why we save all the bacon drippings in coffee cans and stack them in the pantry. People stopped making lye soap a long time ago, but forgot to tell Mel.
He complains that I fill the bathtub too full. Instead of running the heat or air-conditioning, his system is to either put on another layer of clothes or take one off.
Mel still prefers "Gunsmoke" reruns to reality TV and red beans and cornbread over fancy finger foods. Instead of bowling or golfing, he'd rather sight in his gun, strum his guitar, or play catch with our grandson. He says the only self-improvement course he needs is in the Bible.
On dealing with shysters, he says, "They may try to pull the wool over mah eyes, but they're gonna have a mahty hard tahm sellin' me swamp land, although in a drought, it'd be mahty temptin'."