Opposites attract. It is a cliche' but no less a fact. My long and sordid sexual history is a testimony to this fact. Of all the varying women I have shared a bed with there's not one horror writing kickboxing existentialist in the bunch. And what could be more opposite than a brother like myself who has been accused of being a borderline black militant and a redneck Christian woman?
I was sitting at Red Robin a few months ago with my wife Christie, my friend Frank and his wife, when Christie began telling us a story about how her dad brought a goose home that was so big its wings touched both walls of the trailer they lived in. Then, as she continued telling us about being chased around the trailer by this goose, Frank gives me a look, a look I've seen many times since, "Dude, you married a redneck."
I think even then I knew, there were, after all, signs.
We had been dating less than a week when I got a call in the middle of the night saying that her bestfriend's mother was being abused by her boyfriend and that Christie was going to go to their house and get the guy drunk then drive him out to the middle of the desert and kick him out of the truck. I told her to let me handle it, which I did. Don't expect details. The next day she called me and asked me if I thought she was white trash because her bestfriend lived in a trailer park and had issues with domestic violence. On the whole the evening had been no different however than many nights back home on the streets of Philadelphia. The whole thing could have just as easily taken place in the ghetto as in the trailer park. The only difference was that the entire time we were driving around in her F150 with her friend we were listening to 80's glam metal. It was a black man's punishment in hell. So as she sat there concerned that I was going to look down on her because of her friends all I could think to say was, "I don't think you're white trash because your friend lives in a trailer park. I think you're white trash because of your musical taste." We laughed about it and the rest is history. I still can't stand her musical tastes though.
There was also the story of her brother and her best friend Tana fighting on the front lawn and Tana's shirt getting torn off and her father coming out and turning the hose on them to get them to calm down. Then there was the story of her father going out and shooting a rabbit and trying to pass it off as a turkey on thanksgiving. There was the fact that she had two donkeys when she was a kid named "Jack" and "Ass". I won't even discuss the fact that the biggest event in the town she grew up in was a holiday called "Mule Days". I really could not make this up folks. She barrel raced in the rodeo as a child and still dreams of being a country western singer. In fact, she's actually a pretty damned good singer. I seem to have some instinctive aversion to "twang" perhaps rooted in some deep genetic memory of my ancestors being whipped and hung by good ole boys with that same annoying twang in their voices. There's that militancy showing through again.
There are many more examples I could name. Did I mention that her Mom and Dad both have the same first name? Most of the stories she tells me tend to end with her getting drunk and kicking someone's ass. After I showed her how to drop a man with a leg kick she used the move first on her boss and then on her idiot brother. She dosn't drink anymore though. Like myself, she has mellowed with age and I am very much against alcohol so being with me pretty much requires you to be clean and sober. Still, there are stories I could tell you about my wife and her family that would make Jeff Foxworthy blush. I'll stay away from those however. You get my point. And it isn't worth sleeping alone tonight to drive it in further. Did I mention she has a cousin who was kicked in the neck by a horse?
So how does this bizarre sociological experiment work? Most days it's like living in some type of reality T.V. show with us both trying our best not to get voted off the island. When we drive together we listen to smooth Jazz or old Motown. It's the only thing we can both agree on. My idea of driving in the summertime is with the windows down and loud aggressive hip-hop music blasting for all the world to hear. Hers, is with the windows up, the A/C on full blast, and Shania Twain twanging out her country best. Barbecues present the same predicament. Her idea of a barbecue includes country music and beer. Mine is hip-hop and an ice-cold pitcher of Kool-Aide. I haven't seen one episode of Rap City since we've been together. Luckily we both enjoy self-depreciating humor so we can poke fun at one another's more stereo-typical behaviors without anyone getting their feelings hurt. I usually get the upper-hand in this since she embodies far more stereotypes than I do. After all, she has been to a Nascar race and maybe even a monster truck rally.
How it works is perhaps a lesson for society. We teach each other. We learn to understand each other. I help her to understand why Black people distrust cops and support affirmative action. She helps me to understand that not all White people are serial killers who talk like they were in a Richard Pryor skit and vote Republican. Whenever there's an issue that greatly affects the Black community that she doesn't get I explain it to her as calmly and patiently as I am able. I don't just assume she should understand. In doing so I begin to understand why White people don't understand many of the things that are so important to Black culture. I begin to understand why there is so much fear and mistrust between these Two cultures as a result of misunderstandings and honest ignorance. As I said before, there's no shame in ignorance. The shame is in remaining ignorant. The shame is in struggling to hold on to your ignorance by refusing to look at another's point of view or to entertain any evidence that contradicts your preconceived ideas. That's the type of ignorance that leads to racism.
So, yeah, I love my redneck wife. I love her country singing, horse riding, beer swilling ass. I hate her racist redneck dad. I hate her dimwitted little brother. But I love her mother and her step-father. I hate country music and Nascar and rodeos. But I love spending time with her just holding each other while the room darkens and day succumbs to night. We both love Motown music and both Black and Redneck comedy and Mixed Martial Arts competitions and boxing and sushi and barbecues and traveling and we both love each other and our daughter and my son and our unborn child and our long, long future together. Besides, it's kind of cool having a woman that is just as quick to kick ass as I am. Did i mention that she has an aunt named Clarence? I just couldn't make this stuff up.