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It’s the heat and the humidity

Country Roads

It was one of those humid 97-degree days in August and I was sitting at a drive-in restaurant patio table sipping an ice tea when I heard a familiar voice behind me.

“So this is how the retired city boy spends his afternoons… sipping on ice tea? Can’t handle a cold beer like a real man?”

It was my prickly old pal, Ebenezer Griper.

“Well, howdy, Eb. No, I’m not much of a beer drinker. Gives me gas.”

“So?”

“Never mind. How are you handling the heat?”

“I ain’t. Heat don’t bother me much but it sure makes a grouch out of Hilda.”

“Have a chair, Eb,” I offered. “By the way, how is the better half?”

“Owly,” he replied as he wiped his brow with his red handkerchief and sat down. “Darn heat always makes her owly.”

“Air conditioner broke?”

“Air conditioner? Why would I want to spend hard earned money on an air conditioner? I suppose a sissy like you has an air conditioner!”

“You bet. Couldn’t sleep in weather like this without one.”

“That’s the problem with the country today,” Eb whined. “Too many sissies. Why when I was a kid we lived without all those fancy things. Slept out on the front porch if it got too hot in the house.”

“Does Hilda share your opinion?”

“What difference does that make? I’m the one who makes the decisions in our house. What I say goes.”

“I take it that Hilda’s not a libber, then.”

“Darn right she’s not a libber. She’s a good conservative like me. She votes like I tell her to.”

“No, I don’t mean a liberal. I mean libber, as in Women’s Lib. Hilda apparently hasn’t burned her bra?”

“God forbid! Every fire department in three counties would have to answer that call.”

“I was speaking figuratively, Eb. Many women, even older ones, are demanding an equal voice in their marriages. Hasn’t Hilda ever said she’d like an air conditioner?”

“Well, sure. But women want everything. Just last week she was whining about wanting to take a vacation. For pity sake, I took her to the state fair last year. She acts like she never gets to go anywhere.”

“I can tell that you’re a real romantic, Eb. Do you ever surprise her with a gift?”

“Well, she was surprised when I bought her a birthday present last month.”

“What did you give her?”

“A new chain saw.”

“Why in the world would you give your wife a chain saw, Eb?”

“To cut the fire wood, stupid. What do you think she uses it for? To trim her toe nails?”

“Did she like it?”

“She was so happy, she cried.”

“Don’t you think that she might like an air conditioner, too?”

“Well, sure she would. But you just can’t start with a woman. If I got her an air conditioner, the next thing she’d want is running water… then it would be an automatic wash machine. They just don’t quit.”

“Eb, may I ask you a personal question?”

“I doubt you could aggravate me any more than you do already.”

“Why did you marry Hilda in the first place?”

“I had to.”

“Oh, well, I didn’t mean to pry.”

“No… not that way, dummy. I had to marry her to get enough money to buy the farm. Her dad was loaded.”

“So you marry a gal for her dad’s money and then you’re too stingy to buy her an air conditioner. Frankly, Eb, I think you deserve whatever kind of ‘owliness’ Hilda dishes out.”

I slurped up the last few drops of tea and began to leave.

“Sorry to cut our visit short, Eb. But I have to get going. Got big plans for the evening?”

“Well, I told Hilda we’re eating out tonight.”

“That’s great, Eb,” I interrupted. “Hilda deserves a break. Which restaurant are you taking her to?”

Eb looked at me with disgust. “You dummy. We’re not going out — we’re eating out. It’s too hot to eat in the kitchen so I told Hilda to serve supper on the back porch tonight.”

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