County Agent Guy
Of all the do-it-yourself projects I undertook back when I was a bachelor – including haircuts – perhaps the most difficult was the business of finding a wife.
Being a bachelor farmer isn’t as easy as a person might imagine. For one thing, without a wife or kids, you have nobody to hold responsible but yourself when tools become lost or gates are left open.
Another problem had to do with the chronic labor shortage on my farm. Living alone was a manly undertaking, what with all those opportunities to indulge in such manly deeds as eating with a Bowie knife or belching without having to say so much as “excuse my French!”
But I often wished there was someone to hold the other end of the board as I nailed it to the fence post or to help stretch the barbed wire. At the very least, somebody other than myself to blame for hammering my fingers or forgetting where I put the wire stretcher.
Dad had enlisted his eight kids to help on our dairy farm when we were growing up. As I recall, Dad’s compensation package for child laborers was approximately 25 cents per week.
My dire economic situation meant there was only one logical solution to my labor shortage: I must find a way to acquire my own set of slaves, I mean, farm kids. Cloning wasn’t an option, so I steeled myself for the task of procuring kids the old-fashioned way.
Rigid social customs dictated that my first step would involve going on one or more dates. I had sworn off that terrifying practice during high school, when I was plagued by extremely low self-esteem due to lengthy outbreaks of zits that were the size of acorns.
But the main reason I had sworn off the company of females was that I simply couldn’t understand them. And grew up with five sisters!
Being raised in an estrogen-rich environment hadn’t helped me decipher the unfathomable mysteries of the feminine mind. The female thought process remains as baffling as whatever it is that the Federal Reserve Board does.
For example, I could never understand why it takes two or more girls to go to the bathroom. What do they do in there? Discuss the effects that a sudden increase in the prime interest rate would have on industrial output and the long-term repercussions this might have for consumer confidence?
All I know for sure is that when we guys visit the bathroom, we quickly do our business and get the heck out of there. This isn’t because guys don’t like to chat; it’s mainly due to the fact that the men’s loo generally isn’t a very pleasant place. Visiting the men’s room is much like going to the dentist in that you simply hope that the disagreeable experience will soon be over.
I resolved to find a companionable female to share the joys and the sorrows, the profits and the losses – well, mostly the losses – of operating my small dairy farm. My goal was to snag a young lady who had the ability to produce little helpers and the financial means to support my farming habit.
I was a nervous nellie when it came to speaking with ladies, so I developed a set of questions that I could surreptitiously consult during an interview, I mean, date. This checklist reflected some of the hard lessons I’d learned from purchasing rickety old tractors and cars.
“Okay,” I might begin as I peeked at my list, “How’s your engine? Any glitches there?”
“I jog every day, if that’s what you mean.”
“Fine. I’ll put you down for ‘runs good.’ Any other difficulties in that area? Do you smoke? Any problems with getting started on cold mornings?”
“I sometimes feel a little foggy when I wake up, especially after a late night out with my girlfriends.”
“Let me write this down. ‘Burns midnight oil and may have bad head gasket.’ How about the transmission? Any issues with shifting gears?”
“I beg your pardon!” the young lady might retort, beginning to sound miffed.
“Never mind. I’ll put you down for ‘growls occasionally.’ Tell me about your monetary fuel levels. Do you have a trust fund? A 401(k)? Most importantly, would you be willing to cash them in should I happen to run across a really good deal on some slightly used Holsteins?”
At this point I usually found myself abruptly alone, the young lady being questioned having dumped her drink on my head before stomping off.
“Humph!” I’d mutter to myself, “There’s another one for the ‘hard to steer’ category.”
It seemed like there were an awful lot of those.
Nelson is a freelance writer from Volga, S.D. Reach him by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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