The Differences between Men and Women Part nBy Bobby Neal Winters
Men and Women have different approaches to things. It’s not that one is better than the other, no sir, just different.
When Jean and I moved to Pittsburg in late May of 1989, one of the first purchases we made was that of a dryer. Our daughter was seventeen months old at the time and still in diapers. In those days, disposable diapers had been available for quite some time, and we kept a few around, but only for long trips.
Jean had been a Botany major as an undergrad and then got her master’s degree is plant physiology. As a major in the life sciences she had been immersed in a culture that was very environmentally conscious. When we had Lora, this manifested itself in the practice of using cloth diapers. Disposable diapers contain feces and feces in landfills contaminates ground water. As Lora’s diapers were particularly nasty, it made sense that wringing them out in the toilet and then washing them in the washing machine was the only responsible thing to do.
We probably saved countless lives.
The drier we bought was so that we could dry them in the winter. In the summer, it was felt that hanging them in the sunshine on a clothesline did a much better job than the drier. It’s also cheaper, doesn’t use fossil fuel, it makes clothing smell better, and Jean just liked (and still likes) to go into the out of doors.
We did need a dryer for cold or rainy weather, though, so we bought one on credit and paid it out over six months so we could establish a credit rating. As an aside, my credit rating is now better than the US government’s; I am buried every week under mail from people who want me to get credit cards from them. This is all because of having bought a dryer that my wife doesn’t like to use.
Move the clock ahead 22 years. We’ve had two more daughters with the last coming seven years after the second. Jean was 40 by that time and the third daughter was in disposable diapers from day one. I guess her poop isn’t as dangerous as the first one’s.
But even after all these years, Jean still likes to hang out laundry for all of the reasons given above. There is nothing wrong with that. It’s one of the things I love most about her. I don’t understand it, but I love it.
I can’t say for sure, but I think that one of the reasons she picked our house was the nice clothesline in the back yard. Its poles were made out of 4-inch iron pipe, the cross pieces welded into place by manly men who’d learned to weld in the mines. The poles were set 30 feet apart and set into the ground with concrete. They had been in place for at least 30 years before we bought the house.
One day in the summer of 2010, there came a great wind which blew limbs from the great walnut tree which dominates the back half of the back yard. A great limb did break off from the great tree and went down on the clothesline wires. It was at this point that the leverage--and note this term because it will come up again--of one of the poles did cause it to bend at an angle with the ground. The pole bent because 50 years worth of rain had rusted it.
I manage to put off fixing this by various stop-gap measures worthy of my forebears in the Southern, Scots-Irish influenced, honor-culture. (It sounds so much more noble than redneck, eh?) However, during the summer of 2011, it became clear that this was no longer satisfactory, so I removed the old pole, got a new pole, and concreted the new pole into the ground.
It is at this point I need to inform the reader than I didn’t use pipe. I used a long metal tube such as is use for posts in chain-link fences. Hit a minor chord on the organ.
One sunny day there were a lot of blue jeans that needed washing. They were washed and hung out on the line. Water, as those who think about such things know, is deceptively heavy. This heaviness combined with the leverage--I told you it would come up again--caused the new pole to bend.
Because the new pole was of such a flimsy metal, there was no making-do. It needed to be replaced. Before I could do that, the old one had to be removed from the ground. The previous post--the one made out of pipe--had come out of the ground with a little “wallering.” I started “wallering” the current post. Without budging, it snapped off flush with the concrete in the ground.
I uttered an Anglo-Saxon word that rhymes with a the name of a particular water fowl species. While you are figuring out why I said, “Noose,” let me continue.
This was a puzzle. I had concreted the post in with 60 pounds of quick-crete. That isn’t all that heavy but it was under ground. There was no way to get a hold of it, and the ground itself was as hard as concrete as we had not yet begun to have our fall rains.
We did another stop-gap solution that was worthy of my Scots-Irish cultural forbears. We replaced the pole with a swing set, and waited for it to rain.
When the rains finally came and I could theoretically get a shovel into the ground, it became a question of finding the time. All of the stars aligned on Thanksgiving Day.
I went into the backyard with shovel, sledge hammer, adze, work gloves, and rope. It was a bit coolish when I began so I put on a sweat shirt.
Then I began.
I dug a conical hole around the cylindrical piece of concrete. I then took the rope and rapped it many times around the concrete. I then put the old clothesline pole through a loop in the rope and began to use--you guessed it--leverage to get the concrete out.
Except it didn’t work. The blasted thing wouldn’t budge.
I took the sledge hammer and swung at it a few times. I fancied that I saw it move. I tried the lever thing again. Nothing.
I swung the sledge some more.
It is at this point that I will make myself vulnerable and share. When I swing a sledge hammer, I change. Lose control of the tone of my voice. I don’t think as clearly. I think this is because the use of the sledge hammer stimulates the male hormone man-o-dren and causes blood to flow away from the brain.
On this occasion, I began having visions of my deceased father-in-law, Jim. Jim and I had one taken out an old porch together with the use of a farm jack. The farm jack is a marvelous device that is uniquely capable of removing concrete posts from the ground.
I stood up off the ground, walked to the back door, and called to Jean.
The door opened.
“Jean,” I said, “I need someone with a brain.”
“Where is the farm jack?”
She told me and agreed to come out and help.
Lest you believe that the farm jack is a panacea, I will tell you this is not the case. It was part of the solution, but not all. Suffice it to say that after a bit of jacking around, a good bit of “wallering,” and propicious--but appropriate--use of Anglo-Saxon epithets, we were able to make use of leverage to extract the concrete from the ground.
In much less time than it took to extract the old post, I concreted a new one in.
I will now eat lunch and then go to seek symbiosis with the recliner...in a manly way.