We probably should not have switched up the routine. We probably should have gone down to the Alley and bowled a few games and drunk a few beers and ordered a pizza and eaten it off the shelf that ran along the wall at the back. But, no. Erline wanted to stay home and watch the Country Music show on P-BS TV. Which it is BS, if you ask me. TV is good for football and Hannity. Which is all there is now after they cut O’Reilly’s throat over patting fannies and that. Everything else is BS. Even with Hannity, the advertisements, I turn the sound off. On Sunday and Monday night our routine is Football, which I turn the sound off during the commercial breaks, and Erline sits and fiddles with her device playing Scrabble. She’s got buddies out there in the air that she plays it with who I don’t know from talc dust. Who knows what kind of people are out there influencing her mind with libber fibber BS? But the point is, she doesn’t watch the game, which is ok, she’s got her stuff, I got mine. Unless, of course it is the Saints and that short QB they had playing for them. Which now when he got hurt, she doesn’t even watch that.
The point is we should have gone bowling, which is what we usually do on Saturday night when there is only College on. I mean, I don’t mind watching College, but I never went, so except maybe when State plays, I don’t watch much. They don’t put State on TV much being as Montana is not Michigan. We are just a fly over that nobody pays any attention to unless they are going to Yellowstone or duding at being a cowboy or fishing for monster Cutthroat Trout in the Last Lost River. Well, I live here and we just go bowling on Saturday night, usually, like everybody else in this world, and watch football on TV because it is a whole day’s drive to Denver or Seattle for a live game.
Which me and Erline have done a couple of times, to Denver where I got a ticket and Erline does some big city shopping and museum stuff. Erline thought we should go to Seattle once for a game there, but I told her, “To be honest, I’m not too interested in that colored guy tossing footballs,” that Seattle QB. Which Erline rolled her eyes at. Denver only has colored guys going for passes and in the defense backfield. I maybe should not be talking like that, as it is not PC, which is just libber-fibber BS anyway. It’s not that I don’t like colored, it’s just that it didn’t used to be that way. It’s hard to explain without sounding prejudice, which I am not. No way is Libber Di going to pin that one on me. Di is Erline’s piss-head libber sister without a brain anywhere on her body who is always snide about me watching Hannity and the Sunday game and asking Erline when’s supper ready. The point is she is not a nice person and does not listen when a person tells her the facts of life. The thing is, she may have a point about Hannity, but she won’t listen to why I watch for the facts of the case and feeling good about things. So, she can’t hang prejudice on me. Hell, when I was long hauling you always ran into colored guys and they were just like us, only colored.
But the point is, things are changing so you don’t recognize your own home town anymore. Hell, there are colored tourists gawking in the gift store windows, and handling the refrigerator magnet stuff with “I been to Montana” printed on them that they will maybe buy and take back to some suburban hell hole on the coast where all the chaos really is. Never used to be anybody but us and a few Indians, which you sometimes see shopping for groceries with kids just they belonged, which I guess they do. But coloreds on vacation shopping for knick-knacks? How did it get like that?
The point is, I’m a Vet who worked forty years hauling, talc up the same road for twenty, and keeping a few cows. That was a routine that had me, and it took a year or two for me to settle into fiddling around in the shop most of the day when I was finished with feeding or helping an old biddy push out her new baby calf. I liked lathing bowls and whittling Santa Claus ornaments from pine and aspen wood and bowling on Saturday night. For her birthday, I made Erline a box for her jewelry, which she just loved as sometimes I do forget to get her something. It’s not that I don’t think about her, just that I don’t think about her when I should be. The point is you’d think after bringing home the cash we lived on for forty years, that missing a night bowling would not be that big a deal. But it was.
The point is, switching from bowling on Saturday night to watching PBS is something Erline decided to do, and broke up the routine of things that probably kept us together. “You go on down and bowl,” she said. “I’m gonna send my bowling money to Alisdia.” Alisdia is a kid in South America or Africa somewhere that she saw on here religious TV who had snot and tears on her face and who needed “Just ten dollars a week, to. . . .” whatever.
“Well, for crise sake,” I said. Which was just putting fuel on her for a couple of reasons. First, she is, as I say, religious and so she just turned away and clicked on the TV and went mum with her mouth. Also, she mummed because she thought I was being an a-hole for thinking sending money to a beggar on the streets of Laredo, or wherever, was a waste of good solid cash that could be used for gas or a new cinch for the saddle, which I need because I don’t think Olly, my horse, likes the fit of the one I got on the saddle now. I could use that money for tons of stuff I need. Which, hell, I’m not an a-hole like that, nothing wrong with giving a dollar to a guy on the street who might need it even if it goes to a whiskey or dope, we all been there done that—except the dope, I never done that. I do that pretty often if the guy looks clean and hope he uses it for a sandwich and coffee instead of a bottle, which he needs like a hole in the head. What he needs is a job, which I understand is not always easy sometimes, so it doesn’t hurt to slip him a dollar or two, even if he’ll just use it for beer.
But on a stranger snotty-nosed brown kid in god knows where Africa? We got things we need.
Like maybe supper, Erline, I think into empty air, which came about because we switched things up that Saturday night.
When I retired, she didn’t not cook so much. So, I have to drive down to the Last Lost Dollar and have a burger and a beer, which is ok, but it’s a problem when there’s a game on and no supper, and instead of a hot burger and fries, I have got to scrounge a ham and cheese and chips. Which I don’t mind much, as I make a pretty good ham and cheese with lettuce, tomato—if we got them—and mustard with a few pickled peppers, jalapeno is best, for sauce. The point is, you would think after forty years of cranking gears and hauling talc, a guy would be able to spend his money like he needs to.
The point is if we had gone bowling instead of sitting there watching P-BS TV, she would not have said anything about Alisdia, which she knows pisses me, and I would not have said “Well, for crise sake.” Which, what else are you going to say to something like that?
But the point is, that’s not the end of it. The point is, the next day, while the game is on, Erline packs up her clothes, which I did not even know what was going on until she is standing there on the living room carpet with the cat under her arm and the dog leash in her hand and she says, “I had enough. I’m going to Di’s.” Then before I can even close my mouth or think or put my beer down, she was out the door with a slam and gone.
Then on Monday, Erline is still over there and I’m trying to figure if I should do cornflakes and coffee or go down to the Dollar for a sausage sandwich and beer, when some guy drives into the driveway and gets out of a Prius and walks up the gravel to the door. He is carrying an envelope. He knocks, and when I open the door he sticks the envelope in my gut and says, “You are served.”
And the guy turns around and walks back to his libber-fibber Prius and drives off.
What the hell, I think.
Well, it turns out that what the hell is divorce papers.
The point is, none of this would have happened and Erline and me would be watching Monday Night Football, well her Scrabbling with who knows what on the air, and me watching how the Brocos are doing, which isn’t very good at this point. When things go along as normal, things don’t get messed up. Like I say, none of this would have happened if we had not switched things up Saturday night and gone bowling like usual. It seemed like even the Broncos down 3 to 28 was because of not going bowling, which is ludicrous, but I was pretty low.
The point is, I don’t know what I’m going to do without Erline. We been an item since high school sweet hearts who kept ourselves pure until we got married—well, almost until we got married, and have been together as marrieds with four kids for forty odd years. Maybe she will come around and not go through with it, and I’ll try to be a better person about supper, which I have to admit libber-fibber Di has a point there. It’s not like I’m helpless, I can make a good ham and cheese. And if I got time, I can do a good chili. But a fellow needs routine and order in his life. And here I am watching a losing game and thinking I should go on down to the Dollar for a beer and burger, which I never, ever did on Monday night before even when there wasn’t any game on.
But what I did is click off the loser game and went out to the shop and took a chunk of wood and started chopping at it till I had a great big heart which I carved into it with my Dremel:
in the middle of a great big bowling ball.
Then I sat there in my shop chair and looked at it and, let’s be honest about this, I am not ashamed. I cried like a baby. Because things that started with skipping a Saturday night bowling were so out of whack, I couldn’t see how she would not go through with it. And that was just too big a change in things for me to handle right now.