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Life out here by Bret Kofford: Becoming one of these guys

March 06, 2002

After a week at home away from my main job, of talking to no one but mangy mutts for most of every day, of shaving irregularly and eating heartily, of saying, "Damn these kids these days" at least twice a day, I suddenly saw myself becoming one of these guys.

You know these guys. I know these guys. And because I know these guys, I was afraid, terribly afraid, of what I was becoming.

By these guys I mean these guys who wear suspenders over pocketed T-shirts, these guys with bushy beards and thick glasses and fat guts that they proudly stick out as they walk around as if they have sticks up their bums.

You know these guys. They call their wives "Mother," and "Mother" is at their side most of the times. She's as wide as a fence section and always has her hair in a tight bun when she goes out. She wears shapeless dresses with white tennis shoes, or smocks with polyester pants and white tennis shoes. She's so pale you can see the blue, purple and green veins through the skin on her arms.

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You'll see these guys and their countless "Mothers" in the line at the buffet restaurant. They prefer the tea, sweetened, and the seconds and thirds, plentiful.

C'mon. You know these guys. And they know you, because if you ask them, they know it all. Pick a subject. Current events? History? Politics? Nuclear war? Child-rearing? Kids these days? Steel-belted radials? These guys will tell you all about it. And then some.

Need some personal advice? No? It doesn't matter. They've got opinions about life and its travails and they'll let you know, even if you don't want to hear it.

Except sports. These guys don't follow sports. "Don't have time for that folderol," they'll say matter-of-factly.

These guys are easy to find, really. Go to any anti-tax group meeting and they make up at least half the membership. "I'll not pay another dime, by crickety," you'll hear them bellow during the meetings.

You can see these guys on the roadways, too. They're driving pickups, older ones, always a bit dented up. The trucks have bumper stickers, many, many bumper stickers. The bumper stickers say things like, "Keep playing that rap music loud and you'll be hip-hopping to the rhythms of my shotgun," "Disabled (but not unarmed) American veteran," and "Men who call their wives ‘Mother' make better lovers."

You know these guys. Often these guys are in the pickups with their sons, who always look just like Dad did 25 years earlier. The genes run strong among these guys. Generation after generation has been produced in America, although these guys don't reach full blossom until they hit about 45. That's when they fully become these guys. Then these guys make up 10 to 15 percent of the population of white men over age 45, up to 25 percent in rural areas.

You know these guys. The suspender industry depends heavily on these guys. The bumper sticker industry depends heavily on these guys. The really thick glasses industry relies on these guys. The anti-tax movement depends heavily on these guys.

The buffet restaurant industry is being driven into bankruptcy by these guys.

I mulled what I was becoming as my week at home ended last. On my final afternoon of freedom, my wife came home from work a bit late. Because I had been puttering and muttering to myself all day, as these guys so often do, I had not cooked dinner.

"What are we going to eat?" my wife asked upon her return home.

"Well, Mother, I think we need to go to the HomeTown Buffet and eat generously, second and thirds at least. So I'll put on my thick glasses and on the way down in the truck I'll tell you about these damn kids these days and the horrible state of the world, and these steel-belted radials, by crickety," I nearly said.

Instead, I got hold of myself.

"How about ordering pizza?" I asked.

Whew. Yes, I had not yet become one of these guys … at least not yet … although I'll admit I am having some issues with these damn kids these days.

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