Of Vinegar, Varmints, and Valentines


With a bottle of vinegar in one hand and a drumstick in the other, I chased my departing husband down the driveway.

“Wait!”  I shouted after him.  “You’re a sick man with a terrible cold… And now you’re running off without your chicken and vinegar!  You don’t even have your coat on!”   I was fuming.

I managed to overtake Michael at the end of the driveway.  I gave him a dose of vinegar.

“There now!” I said.  “Vinegar will kill every varmint in your throat!  That’s what my Granny always said.”  I handed him the drumstick.  “Eat this when you get hungry, Mr. O!  It’ll kill those cold germs—you hear?  Oh…but wait! I forgot your hot tea!”  Running back to the house, I fetched his Thermos.

I kissed Michael goodbye—reminding him to put on his coat and his seatbelt…Reminding him to get well before Valentine’s Day.  Reminding him to cheer up.

“At least,” I said,  “It’s not as bad as the last  time I gave you vinegar…Your buddies weren’t looking on, today!”

My husband drove off grumbling.  Men!  What we have to go through to keep them healthy!  And all they do is grumble.

The experts say: “A married man will live four years longer than if he were single”— but I don’t think it even matters to these menfolk!

They’re so strange and moody, at times.  They retreat into their “cave” of silence.  They don’t want marriage counseling.  No Marriage Seminars.  And when they get lost, they refuse to ask for directions—no matter how dire things might be.  Worst of all, they seldom remember our birthdays and anniversaries…or even Valentine’s Day!

“It’s a man thing…” everybody says. “Men just need a little TLC.”

Ah yes.  My Michael needs a lot of TLC.  But he’s worth it, I reckon.

To tell the truth,  folks—Michael is the best “Valentine” I’ve ever had.  Curly blond hair.  Blue-eyed. Muscular. Horridly sentimental and overprotective.  He’s all man, and part boy.  Stalwart.  Strong as a bull—and only half as stubborn.

He and I are “Soul-mates” in every sense of the word.  He reads my mind.  I read his heart.  We have the same likes and dislikes.  The same goals.  Same faith.  Same hobbies.  Same tastes.

Except for his innate stubbornness, we are just about identical.  Like clones!  It’s uncanny…Almost scary.

Really, folks—the only thing that we differ on is…. Well.  You’re not going to believe it.  We disagree about insects.  Bugs.  Varmints!…Those creepy-crawlies.

They fascinate my hubby and they upset me.  Shiny bugs.  Dung beetles.  Dragonflies.  Floppy moths that chew holes in my clothes.   Michael loves them all…(except for ants and mosquitoes.)

The first time I killed a flying critter of unknown species,  my husband was aghast:  “You killed a Skeeter Hawk!”

“Say what?!”

“A Mosquito Hawk!” Michael said.  “He’s our greatest friend.  He kills mosquitoes veraciously!”

“Hmmph!”  Veracious or not, he was big and ugly—and I didn’t care for the likes of him.

Now….On the other hand, our tiny friend, “Charlotte,” is a different matter!  She’s a gentle little lady.  Charlotte lives in our mailbox.  I don’t really mind her.  She’s not doing any harm—and like Michael says: the mailbox is big enough for everybody—which includes her brood of babies, of course.  About a million of them.

They all live at the back of our spacious mailbox.  Charlotte spins her web and brings up her children well, but her husband’s a different story, entirely.

Charlotte has one of those boorish husbands.  He has no manners.  Overbearing and arrogant, he took up residence at the very front of our mailbox so as to scare everyone away… It upset me badly.

One day, I reached inside the box to check the mail—and the little guy got feisty.  I went Postal.  SMACK!  In a split-second, the husband was dead and Charlotte was a widow—a true black widow.

“Now look what you’ve done!” Michael said.  “He was only guarding their home. That was his job—defending the home from invaders.  Charlotte’s a single mom, now…She has dozens of mouths to feed by herself.”

I felt remorse.  For about two seconds.

Hello?!  We’re talking spiders here.  I don’t know why I have to feel guilty about killing bugs.  After all, Michael doesn’t feel bad about killing ants!  He kills them by the millions.  He hates them as much as he loves all the other bugs.

In our part of the world we have a tiny invader known as the “Piss Ant.”  Sounds terrible, I know—but that’s what everyone calls them—even Presbyterians.

My husband has an sure-fire way to kill them—the ants—not the Presbyterians.   Michael uses Lemon Pledge.  Says it works better than any bug spray and it isn’t as toxic.

Well.  One day, after my hubby went to town, I was out in our secluded little yard—spraying away—going after the ants with Lemon Pledge, as usual.   I didn’t realize I was standing in an ant pile ‘til the biting varmints got in my drawers.

My hubby returned home, moments later, to find me dancing a jig and pulling off my clothes in the front yard.

Michael started to laugh.  “Just what I always wanted to see!  My wife pulling off her clothes and dancing me a jig!”

It made him right happy—much happier than when I’m chasing him down the driveway with a drumstick and a bottle of vinegar.  I don’t know why.  Men are strange.

But—enough of that.  I’m all worn out.  I’ve got to quit for now.  Before I go, though,  we’ve got one last thing  to discuss.  Just a word of advice to all you gals out there….

If you happen to have one of those “boorish” husbands, like Charlotte.  If he’s domineering and thoughtless.  If  he guards the front door of your home and scares away all your friends.  If he won’t take you to Marriage Seminars and he forgets you on Valentine’s Day.

Well—don’t sweat it.

Just go buy yourself some fine chocolates and flowers.   Perfume…your favorite kind.  Arm yourself with a romantic novel or two.  Buy some bubble bath and floating candles.  Maybe even a Foot Spa to soak your feet in.

If your man gets defensive about it….If he’s feisty and moody—get out the vinegar bottle!

And if that doesn’t work….give him the old Ant Dance.

Trust me.  It’ll work every time.


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