Thursday, April 19, 2007

What life is like when you're married to a redneck...

My husband is a redneck. Actually we're rednecks, it's just that he's better at it. I'd pass up a cocktail party for a bonfire and beer any old day, but my husband is more than that. He's thickly cloaked in redneck. Ever seen Red Green? That's him. Only he's younger of course, and I must say quite a bit better looking. In fact, I've often looked over his latest project and said, "Well, honey, if the women don't find you handsome, at least they'll find you handy."

Being married to a redneck is a challenge. I have to have a very good sense of humor and the ability to think outside the box. Rednecks come up with solutions sane people others might not have thought of, and usually it works. Looks like crap, but does the job, and doing the job is what's really important, right? Arguing with this logic is futile at best. Once the idea has begun to bloom, a true redneck won't be satisfied until they know if it will work. When you're married to a redneck, you have to be prepared to fight tooth and nail for a somewhat civilized lifestyle. "No," is simply not a strong enough word.

The second year in this house, Vic decided to build a basement under the house. This normally involves some company coming out, jacking up your house, digging underneath it, pouring your basement and then securing your house to it. It's a long-ish process and can be pretty expensive. This would have been even more complicated for us because half our house is built on a slab. But we don't need no stinking house-jacks. Vic dragged a jack-hammer into my laundry room, one part of our house with a slab floor, and jack-hammered a 4 x 6 hole in the floor. He told me it was possible to dig our basement from the inside out, and began hauling wheelbarrow loads of dirt from under my house right out the front door. The neighbors probably thought we were insane people preparing to bury a body or something. After about a week, he began construction on a belt system that would carry the dirt directly from the hole out the back of the house, powered with an old lawn mower engine. Thankfully, the mower engine wasn't working well and Vic decided it was a lot of work hauling bucketloads of dirt out of a 6 foot deep hole. We ended up filling in the hole with dirt again and covering it with leftover bags of mortar. (If the neighbors wondered about hauling dirt out, I wonder what they thought about hauling it in.) I never will know if that would have worked or if my house would have fallen down on my head (thank goodness).

We found a power tiller on the side of the road a few summers ago that needed a little work but was otherwise in good condition. Ever the tinkerer, Vic picked it up and soon was tilling my garden for me. When the tiller broke in the next week, he started making plans to convert the go-cart currently in progress into a tiller. The blades, he explained to me, could easily be fashioned to fit on the underbody of the go-cart. "Then you could just drive around and till the yard!" he told me. Luckily the go-cart was nowhere near running order yet, so I was spared the horror of a drive-able tiller. I think he's forgotten about that one. I hope.

I could to on forever. The time he cut a hole in the back of the house for a large window air conditioner, then ran duct to it so we could have "central air conditioning." How he built a woodburning heater for his tool shed. The hundreds of things fixed with duct tape and the thousands of suggestions I've had to flat-out refuse (you really, really don't want to know).

Beyond the ridiculous, though, lies an intelligent man with remarkable ingenuity. He built me a solid and sturdy bookshelf out of some old wooden doors he picked up on a job. When we took out the chimney, he constructed an entire entertainment center in the old fireplace (in a 950 sq ft house, the space that saves is phenomenal). If something breaks, I need only ask, "Can you make something to fit this?" and he'll wander around his shed full of parts and either find something, or make it for me. And we never would have made it home from North Carolina in the summer of '96 if he hadn't plugged a hole in the radiator with a bolt from the side of the road. His unbelievable redneck ability to adapt has shown our kids how to find a way to make it work, which is a pretty great thing.

I've learned to stop asking, "What will the neighbors think?" I've learned that if I'm patient enough to sit through the process, the outcome is usually worth it. I've learned to only object when the invention in his head is completely out of the question, and then to do so as firmly as possible. ("Hell no! Are you crazy?!") This, young grasshoppers, can be the path to insanity or the path to clarity. I'm hoping I come through on the end of clarity, but we still have several years ahead of us.


Lynanne said...

Your husband sounds a lot like my father. I hated it growing up. If I wanted something, he'd usually build it for me. One time all the kids in the neighborhood had cool butterfly nets. Mine was made from netting/lace from an old dress and a coat hanger. Instead of a plastic kite string winder, I had one made out of tinker toys. The list goes on and on. I hated how I couldn't have things like the other kids. Everything I had (including clothes) was hand-made. He even built our house.

Now, I miss that. I married a bit of a pampered rich kid. He didn't have a clue how fix things around the house. I ended up doing it all. At some point, it dawned on me how many skills I had learned from my father (and mother for that matter). Instead of hating my upbringing, I embraced it. I began to encourage my husband to learn. He's been great. A month or so ago he fixed a toilet (a small matter, I know) without my help.

Anyhow, your kids will learn resourcefulness and ingenuity beyond measure. You have exactly the right attitude. Who cares what the neighbors think? Even if an idea seems a little odd and doesn’t work out, you still learn so much from trying.

RegularMom said...

I think there's a fine line between redneck and engineer. My husband is a bit like yours, although I must say, he's never tried to dig out the basement. He did, however, as a child, accidentally make a working bomb in his garage. Luckily, his father found him and the bomb and dismantle it all before anything exploded. :)