I had the funniest thing happen the other day. And funny odd, not ha ha.
Have you ever had your buttons pushed and you didn’t even know they were still there to be pushed?
Always so enlightening!
I’d just had a great hunt with my brother, extended brother, and another long-time family friend (also male). Out in the glorious sunshine, my dogs, just spectacular, with the best of life and laughter and fun.
Now, bird hunting in our part of the world—rural Texas—is somewhat restricted to a manly endeavor. In other words, pretty much the only participants are men. Or maybe, they’re all men, as I’ve never in decades seen other women out hunting. If females do attend, they stay in the warm lodge and wait on the hunters to return.
Sounds pretty archaic, no? Well, it kinda is 🙂
And this is also not only just a gentleman’s sport, but a fairly wealthy gentleman’s sport at that. Bird dogs (those used for upland game—quail, chukar, pheasant) are expensive—not just to buy but to have trained (I don’t personally know anyone who trains his own. Bird hunters employ pricey pros to get and keep their dogs in tip-top shape).
These days in Texas, quail populations have declined considerably (although as we speak, the numbers are coming up again, at least somewhat). So, hunters often go to upland-game clubs, which stock the birds, and pay for a day hunt or a yearly membership.
Which was where we were hunting as well. I get the benefit of going as I bring the dogs. And although mine are retrievers, they find the coveys, stop hard, flush for the hunters, then retrieve the downed quail.
It is fabulous fun! And getting to see the glee of my dogs doing what they were bred to do (and then some!), well, ah. Just heaven.
But I do know the culture. And sometimes . . .
So anyway, we’d had a great hunt and were back in the lodge before leaving. Another hunting party was there, a group of five or so men. And it’s always funny when that occurs, how they’ll rarely speak to me. And never, ever look me in the eye.
It’s uncomfortable for them to have a woman in their midst who actually goes on the hunt. It doesn’t fit the culture, and must be very puzzling.
But I can cause a tree stump to talk to me (as those who know me can attest!), so even though it’s a bit awkward for them, I always do at least say hi and ask about their hunts, etc. And lest one think all the men are prejudiced, those I go with are not in any way, and are always grateful for my dogs, and me. And the guy who runs the place, Terry, couldn’t possibly be more respectful.
The others, though . . .
So this day, back in the lodge, they were watching the end of the Seattle/Carolina playoff game. Which Carolina won. They were creaming them when we’d gone out, and apparently Seattle came back and made it a game, but Carolina won in the end.
“Wow,” I said, “I’da lost money on that one.” Because even though Carolina had the better record, I thought Seattle had a Super Bowl shot. And if nothing else, would beat the points.
Now, anyone who knows me also knows I’m a bit of an NFL fan. And I won’t get all-football on you, but I can go toe to toe about Xs and Os with oh, pretty much anybody.
This 60-ish man was sitting on the couch and said (and not too nicely), “I don’t know why you’d think that. Carolina’s the far better team.”
“On paper,” I agreed. “But with the matchups—“
“They’ve only lost one game, Hun,” he said with a sarcastic huff.
As if I didn’t know that!
I had just been put in my proper place. How dare me enter into a man’s world.
But none of this is really the point.
The point being: Anger surged up through my solar plexus and almost out of my mouth. The latter didn’t occur only because I bit my tongue to the root!
Because if I’da said anything, it wouldn’t have been pretty.
Now, had that anger not have occurred, I probably would have responded with a retort to make him look like an idiot. I know, not very spiritual of me. But in anger, well, who knew what would have come out.
Again, not the point. The point being that his sarcasm, and intent, pushed a deep button in me. One I thought had been dealt with decades ago.
Isn’t that just uncomfortable? When you get presented again (sometimes for the fiftieth time it seems) with an opportunity for personal growth. And by definition, those rarely come with a skip and a song.
Because of course I’ve had enough therapy to know that’s what that was! LOL.
But that the button still existed in the first place surprised me.
I grew up in a household headed by a Freudian psychiatrist. And though I loved my father, and still do now that he’s been gone for six years, he believed, along with the Freudians, that females are second-class males. I.e., women aren’t oranges to men’s apples, but rather, are defective apples.
I am not making this up. Believe me.
And while my father believed I was smarter, more accomplished, etc., etc., than other females, well, I wasn’t in any way expected to succeed in the manner that my brothers were. The only way to fulfillment for a female is to marry and have babies. That’s it. The only way. Again, trust me on this. The Freudians haven’t changed that line of thinking since, well, Freud.
I spent much of my youth and early adulthood digging out the various neuroses from all of that. And I must say, on the “other side” of it, I’m grateful as it helped spur on my drive. To be a writer in this world, you have to have a lot of drive 🙂
The thing being, I had no idea there was still a button in there to push!
Ah, what a great opportunity to revisit this issue, remember where I came from and why it’s been such a bear. And heal another piece of it.
Because I don’t believe we completely “get over” our issues. Not entirely. We absolutely can address and dig out and heal them, to the best of our abilities. But with our “stuff”—the core stuff—remnants remain to remind us. It’s like you never really resolve death, but rather, learn to live with it.
So, I thank that man. He gave me a great opportunity for more growth.
And besides—my dogs worked better than his. LOL! And I trained them my own self.
Award-winning writer and editor Susan Mary Malone is the author of the novels, "I Just Came Here to Dance" and "By the Book," as well as four co-authored nonfiction books, including "What’s Wrong with My Family?" and many published short stories. Forty-plus Malone-edited books have now sold to traditional publishers.