Urbanites are always complaining about how tough life is in the big city. I say,
crime? – bah!
smog? – ha!
traffic jams? – don’t make me laugh.
You don’t know what tough IS until you’ve stared down the gaping maw of a full toilet…with no way to dispose of the contents.
Welcome to country life.
We didn’t have any water when I came home from work the other day. “You mean you ran out of bottled Evian and had to drink tap water?” you ask with a horrified gasp. That’s not what I mean. When I turned the faucet in the sink, all that came out was a gurgle. It echoed up from deep down in the pipes like your lower intestines after you’ve enjoyed the all-you-can-eat burrito buffet at Pepe’s Casa de Jalapeno.
When the water stops running, your blood starts running…cold. You’re looking at a smorgasbord of possible problems and not one of them is cheap. The worst, the very worst thing of all, is if the well has run dry. That is pretty high up there on the list of Bad Things That Can Happen To Country People. It’s just a step behind a plague of locusts or discovering your neighborhood is affectionately called Donner Pass.
What urbanites see on TV is an idealized, fantasy country life that’s a world away from reality.
In Fantasy Country, when Jed Clampett sings “up from the ground come a bubbling crude” it means he struck it rich.
In Real Country, the same chorus means you’ve got a broken drain tile in your septic field. The stuff bubbling up from the ground is crude all right, but it sure as hell ain’t oil. Eeeeeeeewwwwwwww.
In Fantasy Country it’s no big deal when the well runs dry. That Cabernet you put up with grapes from your artisanal vineyard should be mature enough to drink by now.
In Real Country, when the well runs dry you scramble to figure out who you can mooch off of for your daily needs: Drinking? Fill jugs at work. Shower? YMCA. Laundry? The in-laws. The challenge is finding enough water to wash away all the nasty waste that the average household generates.
In Fantasy Country, woodland creatures exist merely to scamper about adorably and help you get dressed.
In Real Country, wild animals want to bite and/or sting you. I’ve mentioned this tendency before.
In Fantasy Country, keeping warm looks like a page from an L.L. Bean catalog. An attractive couple snuggles in a plaid blanket in front of a massive, stone fireplace. They sip mulled cider, stare into the flames and reminisce about the quaint chalet they stayed in when climbing in the Swiss Alps.
In Real Country, when the furnace goes out the entire family (and the dog) huddles together on one bed wearing every stitch of clothing they own. Furniture is purchased with an eye less toward style, and more toward how well it will burn in a pinch.
In Fantasy Country, everyone belongs to the Farmers Co-op. They buy organic arugula and eggs laid by Home On The Range chickens. These are superior to Free Range chickens because, to ensure a good quality of life for the chickens, they live IN the home as members of the family.
In Real Country, everyone belongs to the Rural Electric Co-op. Kids have to work fast to get all their homework done in the one hour per day their parents allow the lights to be on. That’s because rates are 4 times higher than in town. Besides, the power is likely to go out at any minute. This can be due to a gentle breeze stirring the wires, a pole falling down a couple of miles away, or a squirrel scampering over a wire to come help you get dressed.
The next time you city slickers are tempted to whine about how hard it is to find a good latte that’s not too foamy, think about your country cousins and consider yourselves lucky. Given our daily trials, is it any wonder that country music is all about suffering?
Here’s the Real Country anthem, dedicated to my sisters Mary Kay, Terry and Judy, who also chose country life. What the hell were we thinking?