By John Tinker
Most readers of my wife’s column know that I am a transplant. Some might say that I’m an interloper or intruder.
Since moving to the South, I’ve encountered only extreme warmth and hospitality. Yet, I still regard myself as the “odd man out” if only in my own home. Or is it just me?
The other day, on the bathroom vanity, beside jars of beauty cream and a tall can of hairspray, I found a bottle of Round Up Weed Killer. Is that strange or is it just me?
Ronda can work out the most complicated financial issues but she used to save a tin can of money, legally reported, buried in the back yard. Fortunately, at my request, that money is now in the bank. But is that strange or is it just me?
With apparently no concern for her own safety, Ronda will rescue any kind of animal, from squirrels to possums to turtles in the middle of the road to an apparently orphaned puppy which, when taken to the vet, turned out to be a coyote. Is that strange or is it just me?
My very stylish and appropriately-dressed wife — who has never, and will never, wear slacks to church, who won’t leave the house without dashing on some lipstick and mascara — flew cross-country in a pair of pajamas (granted, they did look rather glamorous, like something Carol Lombard wore) adorned with pearls, a lace jacket and high heels. Is that strange or is it just me?
Speaking of style, as a sports reporter and then later as a racing publicist, while running around the infield chasing stories, Ronda always wore heels. Always. I think that was strange. Or is it just me?
My sweet wife has prepared some of the most delicious meals I’ve ever eaten and yet, the other day, upon finishing dinner, I learned she’d served me green beans her mama put up more than 15 years ago. Isn’t that odd? Maybe it’s just me.
I’m not sure if it’s because she spent so much time, alone, growing up, but whenever Ronda’s by herself, especially outside, Ronda talks to herself. It’s not unusual for me to see her crossing the pasture, gesturing wildly, mid-conversation or arguing with no one at all. That seems odd or perhaps it’s just me.
Ronda is a voracious reader. She is always plowing through two books at a time. The topics range from biographies of Churchill and FDR to Kenny Stabler and Cary Grant. She reads every word of the Wall Street Journal. And yet, she also watches regularly the Real Housewives shows. Isn’t that strange? Or is it just me?
My wife is an eleventh generation Georgian who takes great pride in the integrity of her “mountain people” from whom she is descended. Ronda is a staunch defender of those ‘umble (humble) folks. And yet, she cannot watch “Smokey and the Bandit” too many times, always roaring with laughter. I find that strange. But then again, maybe it’s just me.
It’s honestly something that never occurred for me to ask before I met Ronda. And it doesn’t occur now to me, either — when someone passes on — to ask, “Did they have enough money to bury them?” I find the remark odd. Very odd. But maybe it’s just me.
It’s not unusual to hold onto keepsakes; little mementos can have such meaning. It’s understandable that sentimental Ronda has, for instance, kept every letter she’s ever received. But folding away in a square of paper towel a piece of your cat’s ear lost in a courageous fight … and then labeling it: Tenney’s Ear? Yep, it’s in the barn. C’mon, that’s strange. Or could it possibly be just me?
You know, I suppose none of this really matters. Odd or not. I love my wife. And even if I’m the odd man out, I still find my wife endlessly endearing and entertaining. Just like the South.
[John Tinker, a television writer, is sitting in for his wife, Ronda Rich, a best-selling Southern author.]