A few years ago my husband and I made a rodeo swing through Idaho that involved starting on the southern end of the state then traveling most of the night to the northern end. Driving south to north across Idaho is an adventure at the best of times, let alone the dead of night. 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 and 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.”
Experience has taught me in situations such as this it is best to take a couple of deep breaths and fully consider your options before reacting. Given that he was behind the wheel doing sixty five on a highway clinging to the side of Hell’s Canyon, the first option that came to mind was unworkable, as I didn’t want to die with him. And once the first homicidal impulse had passed, I considered what he’d said and got warm and tingly all over.
You see, when you live on a ranch, a man who loves you in spite of how you look is a very good thing. Out here, comfort and warmth always rank higher on my list of priorities than appearance, and if I have anything on my face it probably wasn’t manufactured by Revlon. Last week was a prime example. It’s been a bit breezy at our place. Like, 100 mph gusts breezy. When it finally calmed to the usual 30-40 mph range we went out to examine the remains of the latest steel granary to join the graveyard in the bottom of the coulee.
I donned my standard winter ensemble: wool socks, long underwear, jeans, insulated windproof pants, turtleneck, hooded sweatshirt, men’s Carhartt coat, gloves, cap and sunglasses. Believe me, it is not necessary to ask if this outfit makes my butt look big.
Oddly enough, my summer ensemble is much the same, minus the insulated pants and the turtleneck, although on the two or three days a year the temperature tops the seventy-five degree mark, I have been known to switch to a lighter coat.
That night, layers peeled off, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. My hair was smashed flat, with strands glued to my face and neck by static, my nose terminally red from sun and wind. My turtleneck used to be navy blue, but has faded to a dark shade of gray with a large bleach spot on the front. My jeans were chosen 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. Yep, I was looking good.
I joined my husband on the couch for our version of date night: a beer and whatever movie was on TBS. I polished off the beer and belched happily. My husband laughed. “That’s my kind of woman.”
I snuggled up close and kissed his cheek. “I’m so glad you love me just the way I am.”
He patted my knee. “I married you for better or worse, honey. It’s bound to get better sooner or later.”
Kari Lynn Dell Montana For Real