Not so Pretty Woman

A few years ago my husband and I made a rodeo swing through Idaho. We roped at eleven-thirty Friday night in Gooding and one o’clock the next afternoon in northeastern Washington, an eight hour trek. Driving south to north across Idaho is an adventure at the best of times, let alone the dead of night. It involves multiple mountain passes and offshoots of Hell’s Canyon. The hills are steep, the curves sharp, the deer suicidal.

We hit Riggins at four a.m.—bless them for letting wayward cowboys camp at their rodeo grounds—and bailed into the camper for a solid four hours sleep. By noon we were rolling across the Washington border, bleary-eyed and rumpled but right on schedule.

I dug out my make-up bag in attempt to avoid scaring small children. I suggested to my husband that I might be less likely to poke an eye out with my mascara wand if he would drive a little smoother.

He looked over at me and said, in all seriousness, “I don’t know why you bother with that stuff. I didn’t marry you ‘cuz you were pretty.”

Luckily, I was too tired to crawl across the console and strangle him. Once the first homicidal impulse had passed, I considered what he’d said and got warm and tingly all over.

See, in my husband’s terms, ‘pretty’ equals high maintenance. Hair and clothes and shoes and large chunks of his money and time wasted on all of the above. None of which he considers necessary. When he tells me I look great in a baseball cap, he is not kidding. And let me tell you, when you live on a ranch, a man who loves you in spite of how you look is a very good thing.

I have to laugh when I watch western movies where the women are out chasing cattle in their tight jeans, neatly pressed blouses, artfully tousled hair and full make-up. Yeah, we look a lot like that around here. Except the clothes are supplied by Carhartt not Calvin Klein; if I have anything on my face it probably wasn’t manufactured by Revlon; my four year old son has never seen an iron that wasn’t used for branding; and the only tousling my hair gets is from the wind.

Last weekend was a prime example. A winter storm blew in on Friday. We scrambled around, hurrying to get as much stock as possible provided with feed and shelter before the visibility was reduced to zilch. The horses were my job.

All sixteen of them.

I donned my standard winter ensemble: wool socks, long underwear, jeans, insulated windproof pants, turtleneck, hooded sweatshirt, men’s Carhartt coat, gloves, snowboots, wooly hat and sunglasses. Believe me, it is not necessary to ask if this outfit makes my butt look big.

After an hour and a half of battling through the wind-driven snow, dragging bales along behind, the horses all had some sort of roof over their heads and were bickering over who got the best flake of hay. I slogged back to the house, ready for hot chocolate and a warm blanket.

Inside, l peeled off my layers and went to wash up for lunch. What I saw in the mirror was downright frightening.

My hair was smashed flat, except for the parts that were standing on end or plastered to my face and neck by static. My nose was crimson from the bitter wind. The turtleneck used to be navy blue, but has faded to a dark shade of gray with a pair of large bleach spots on the front. My jeans were chosen not for style but for the ability to accommodate long underwear and still allow me to mount a horse. There is a permanent streak of black down one leg from my encounter with a bucket of used motor oil. I remembered that morning on the rodeo road and had to smile.

It’s a darn good thing that man didn’t marry me ‘cuz I was pretty.

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12 Responses

  1. Great post. See, to me, that is the essence of true love. 🙂

  2. Love this! Looks like you got a keeper:-)

  3. I’m not planning on trading him in any time soon. 😉

  4. LOL. that’s great. I love it. I can so see my husband saying that without thinking!

    I think i want to come visit you for about 2 days and then I think I’ll have my fill.

  5. I agree, he’s a keeper.

  6. Loved it!! Hang on to him, honey..

  7. He IS a keeper! True love!

  8. So, did that outfit make your butt look big? BRAWAHAHAHA

    He does sound like a keeper.

  9. Nor are you lazy. I’ve never understood a woman who sits around and does nothing because she’s afraid of getting a mite dirty. Your husband knows he’s got a good thing.

  10. KariLynn’s husband has the keeper. She has a beautiful attitude and that’s the lasting kind. Take this wisdom from one entering into his 76th Winter.

  11. Aw, thanks. That’s so sweet.

  12. Loved this because my hubbie is the same way. He equates that sort of stuff to being high maintainence! He likes me with no makeup and my hair curly.

    Gotta love a guy who doesn’t expect heels and lingerie!

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