A couple of weeks ago I posted some photos of me and my boys paddling around on Lake McDonald. Some of my online friends were very amused to see that I was rowing while my husband kicked back and enjoyed the ride. Well, first of all, that's the only way I got him to agreed to go. Mostly because he gets a big kick out of watching me try to get two oars going in the same direction at the same time. Second, I'd just inhaled a two pound barbecued pork sandwich. I needed the workout. And third-I like to be at the helm.
For some reason, driving seems to be seen as a traditionally male thing. I like to drive. Unless I have a good book to read, or I’m in dire need of a nap, or—as is the case at this very moment—I have a column due and can’t seem to get around to it any other time, I would just as soon be in the driver’s seat. I’m not alone. I have a friend who does all of the driving in her marriage, probably because dozing off with her husband at the wheel could result in traveling to Bozeman by way of Pocatello, Idaho.
Given the number of miles the average rodeo couple puts on in a summer, everybody has to take a turn at the wheel. But aside from the fatigue factor, rodeo wives learn the value of driving early on. Here’s why:
1. She who drives can putter along as slow as she wants on the gravel road. Not that my husband and I have had, um, discussions about this recently. Or that my gravel road is so rough and rutted I either have to wait until I reach the highway to drink my morning coffee or take along a change of clothes to work. And no, going faster does not make it feel smoother, honey.
2. She who drives decides what will play on the radio. Whether it’s the Best of Eighties Rock four disc set or thirteen hours of a Stieg Larsson book on tape. Translated from Swedish, of course.
3. She who drives decides where and when you will stop. Including rest areas, Dairy Queen, and the outlet mall in Wilsonville, Oregon. But don’t tell my husband. He still thinks I was just being a good wife, volunteering to take on the Portland traffic every time we went that direction. Banana Republic was totally worth trading hand gestures with a few yuppies.
4. She who drives decides where to park. This is especially important to those of us who will be staying overnight at the rodeo grounds and do not have the luxury of restroom facilities in our campers, or of just stepping around back of the horse trailer when we have to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Want to see a total marital meltdown? Watch closely the next time you’re in Sam’s Club parking lot. I’m surprised there isn’t a one stop divorce kiosk between the snow tires and the hotdog stand.
5. She who drives does not have to tend the children. Forget the rest. This one trumps them all.
So…are we there yet?