Ranch life in the Big Sky state through the eyes of one who has lived through it...so far.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Curse of the Missing Man


Among the innumerable addendums to our old friend Murphy's Law is one that reads: Whatever can go wrong will, as soon as your husband leaves for a week.

I don't know about town women, but I guarantee all you ranch wives know exactly what I'm talking about. Every horse on the place will be sound and healthy as a…well...horse, until your husband's truck disappears over the hill. Then one of them will immediately fall over and start kicking at its belly. While you're leading the horse around for the nineteenth hour straight per the vet's instructions to prevent the dreaded colic, one dog will jump up a porcupine and get a face full of quills while the other gets hosed by a skunk, and the wind will blow the satellite dish off the roof so the kid is whining louder than either of them. Right then your husband will call and ask, "Hey, honey, how's it going?"

And that's why we call it a Curse.  

The most recent incarnation was when my husband drove my car out to South Dakota to visit his mother, leaving me his 'field pickup'. This is shorthand for 'pickup consigned to the field because it's not safe at highway speed'. I didn't notice the shimmy until I was almost to town. When I parked at the office I saw a front tire was low, so I drove it straight to the tire shop. Problem solved.

Not exactly. An hour later they called me over to take a look at some big metal brace attached to the front tire and explained that it's supposed to curve down, not up, and wow, they'd never seen one bent that bad. And by the way your tire is shot, your spare is dicey and we don't have anything for under a hundred and fifty bucks that will fit it. Then I wobbled almost home (it was a lovely evening to hike that last mile after the dicey spare went flat) and Dad asked if I could haul a couple of plastic water tanks up to the horses and roping calves because the big stock tank had sprung a leak overnight.

Yep, the Curse had struck again.

Vehicle wise, the worst case was in Oregon on a Memorial Day weekend. My husband had barely cleared the state line when my pickup overheated. I watched in dismay as the radiator puked the last of its contents onto the pavement and a neighbor somberly informed me the water pump had gone out. Know how many auto repair shops are open on the last Saturday in May? Zero. That left me with nothing to drive that didn't run on hay, and I was entered in a rodeo on Tuesday night in Caldwell, Idaho.

I hitched a ride to the nearest auto parts store, bought a water pump and a repair manual for a 1989 Dodge Ram and invested two and half days and all of hide on all of my knuckles doing what would have taken my husband one afternoon. By golly, though, I made it to Caldwell.

The next time he left it was the mainline to our community water system that broke. I showered at the gym and hauled drinking and toilet water for three days while they waited for a backhoe to come and dig up the line. A backhoe just like the one my husband--had he only been around--could have immediately borrowed from his boss, saving me from missing a single flush.

Curses, again.

Then there was the evening I was home alone and heard weird, moaning noises coming from the sagebrush on the other side of our horse pasture and found a woman sitting there in the dirt, high as a kite, singing to the birdies. I don't believe even my husband would have been much help with her. I went ahead and called The Man.   

I can't help but wonder: is there also a Missing Woman Curse? Do things fall apart when I'm gone? I believe they must. In fact, from the looks of the house, it appears the minute I leave the broom and the toilet brush both malfunction. 

Curse them. 

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4 comments:

Linda G. said...

Ha! We have our own version of the Missing Man Curse around here. When the snow flies, you can bet the biggest storms (the kind measured in feet instead of inches) only happen when TG is at the theater. Since the show must go on, who gets stuck with the snow shovel at home? You guessed it. *wry grin*

Last year we finally caved and bought a snow-thrower. Didn't get more than a trace of snow all winter. Hey, whatever works...

Cynthia D'Alba said...

YES! My man has been gone for a week. I'm supposed to mow the grass. Umm, afraid to start it because I KNOW something will go wrong! So far (fingers crossed) nothing has gone wrong on this trip

However, when I'm out of town, not only does the broom run away with the toilet brush, my dishwasher doesn't work, my vacuum has no power and the dust clothes hide. Know what I mean?

Anonymous said...

Your sister Lola here. My problem is a little different. When we were living in small town Montana and I left town for a few days or more, my husband got invites to dinner every single night and was always sent the leftovers for lunch the next day. The people of the town felt so sorry for him batching it on his own. When he left for an extended period, no invitations to dinner. I could have starved to death and no one would notice!!

Kari Lynn Dell said...

Linda: Works every time. My husband blames South Dakota's drought of the late eighties on that damn neighbor who bought a tractor-mounted snowblower.

Cyndi: I have to be very careful what I say because other than his utter inability to scrub a toilet, my husband does pretty good with the housework. I'm the one who drives him nuts with how I do the dishes. Hey, when the drainboard is full, the dishes are done. I don't do no stinkin' dishtowels.