There is a high mortality rate among men nationwide this time of year. It begins late in the summer and gains in momentum as fall approaches.
This disease causes more widows faster than any other known ailment and I am surprised that medical science has not tried to solve the problem or that government has not spent untold millions studying it.
It’s the time of year when many women become widows to the hunting disease. There are warning signs along the way such as the outdoor magazines piling up next to their partner's chair. The disease carrier can be seen perusing the dogged-ear pages over and over again like some new convert in a goofball cult studying doctrinal teachings.
He will sit with a faraway look in his eyes and seems not to hear questions about the lawn needing to be mowed, trash taken out or little Susie needing a ride from piano practice. This eventually leads to a point where his wife/girlfriend/partner yearns to hasten his demise rather than let nature take its course.
Another sign of the dreaded disease is his over-the-top niceness leading up to the season opener. There is a twofold reason for this: while he is on extended weekend outings, she’ll be hauling the kids to all of their activities; and, also because the UPS man will become like one of the family with frequent deliveries of outdoor gear.
Everything from boots to arrows, gloves to hats will begin to arrive magically on the doorstep. The wife will suddenly find herself being taken out to dinner often which to the neophyte hunting widow means either he is having an affair with Zelda down at the local donut shop or he bought something that has yet to arrive.
Experienced widows know the game and simply sit back and milk it for all they can while it lasts. No hunter in his right mind would give up time afield for Zelda --- she can’t even shoot a gun, for pete's sake.
The cost of the hunt and gear will arise often in dinner conversations but his reasoning that 500 pounds of succulent Elk meat is well worth the money makes sense, at least early on.
With the odds of getting an elk approaching snowball in hell odds, the wife would rather take a long needed vacation to some secluded resort specializing in salt scrubs over any hunting adventure. But, she will have to wait until January to have a shot at that when his weak mind is open with no hunting or fishing season available.
“The Provider” -- we will now refer to him as that as he is getting meat for the table -- will also start to smell of weird and horrible scents as he douses himself with doe urine, elk in heat musk glands or starts to de-scent himself by not using deodorant or washing his clothes. This is all a master plan known only to him and a select few of his buddies, one of whom is known as P.U. to all the people in town.
Beards will go unshaven, trucks will take on a new color called, 'dirt', the kids will begin to ask who this stranger is that shows up at some of the meals, the in-laws will once again remind the woman of her bad choice in men, and her man, aka “The Provider,” will look at her with those sad bird dog eyes trying to assuage her sadness and she’ll wonder how she ever got into this mess.
She’ll flip on the TV for distraction and those metro guys never looked so good in their sharp duds and slicked back hair. She’ll dream of the early days when her man pursued her with promises of dining and dancing around the world, but then quickly faded away into this bearded, smelly, distant Provider.
Unlike widows who never see a spouse this side of heaven again, The Provider will return at some point as the division of wildlife has seen fit to set limits on hunting seasons in order to prevent wholesale divorce, abandonment of children and justifiable homicide.
My own Trixie seemed to bear up rather well under the duress of a joint bear-elk bow season and I am not sure if that is due to her seemingly unbreakable spirit or the one month hiatus she got from my being around.
The amazon packages did grow in number on her doorstep. And, her social life took on a new vibrant life of its own: she smiled more and, in fact, pushed me out the door each morning at 5 a.m, encouraging me NOT TO COME HOME until I had had enough fun.
I would worry about Ed down at the local barista she visits but I am way too handsome and desirable a man to be easily replaced.
And besides, what woman in her right mind would want a man that shaves every day, wears clean clothes, takes showers often, helps her select curtains, dresses like some X Factor judge, has good teeth and is loved by all her friends.
You get a man like that and the next thing you know, he will be affecting your social life by wanting to come along with you and the girls. Be smart ladies, order more outdoor magazines, encourage his pursuit of every known game animal and enjoy the peace and quiet of the weekends while they last.