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Irons in the fire: Today’s hypocrisy

Paul Marchant for Progressive Cattle Published on 23 March 2022

The basketball season was winding down. Actually, the winding had already wound, and we were just exhaling and catching our breath at the end of a long season.

Just a few hours earlier, my Oakley High School girls’ basketball team had wrapped up a decent season with a win in the 1A Division 1 consolation championship game of the Idaho state tournament. It was good to be just a casual spectator, and I wanted to relax for the rest of the night, as I was staring calving season square in the eye upon my return home.

As I settled in a seat next to our head coach to take in the championship games of the larger schools, several members of the team congregated around us, the girls relaxed and jovial. As always, it was refreshing to be around their youthful exuberance. Many of these girls were dealing with heavier burdens in their young lives than they should be expected to carry, yet they seemed to bear the weight with an overarching happiness that would not allow the turbulence beneath the surface to pull them under.

A few minutes into the first game, my phone buzzed. I glanced at a brief text from my wife, acknowledging an earlier message I’d sent, informing her of my expected late arrival home. She noted that she’d grain the leppies and feed the dogs so I wouldn’t have to worry about it when I got home at midnight.

The girls sitting around me jokingly chided me when I, in perhaps a semisurly manner, questioned out loud why it took my wife so long to answer my text.

“You need to send her a nice text back,” the girl to my left announced, as she swiped the phone from my hand. “Let me help you out with that.”

Within seconds, she and a couple of her teammates had authored a reply back to my wife and handed the phone back to me for my final approval. The text was, as I suspected it might be, a touch on the mushy side, but nothing too outlandish. It was, however, quite a bit more affectionate than my wife would ever expect to hear from me. It read something like this: “Thank you Dear. I’ll be thinking of you on the way home. I love you to the moon and back.”

I was in kind of a tough spot. If I didn’t send the text, the corresponding message to the young ladies around me would be that it’s completely out of the ordinary to offer any sort of sentimental affection to my wife. If I did send the text, my wife would undoubtedly figure that something was afoot. I played it cool and chose the latter, hoping to keep up appearances and that my wife had laid her phone aside and wouldn’t see the text until I was away from my present company.

But alas, I lost that bet. I didn’t even have time to casually slip the phone back in my pocket before it rang. It was my wife, of course – and I had little choice but to answer it, what with a half-dozen girls I adored like my own daughters anxiously looking on.

“So, who’s had your phone?” she wryly asked.

Still hanging on to the thread of hope that suggested I might still pull off the charade, I feigned ignorance and asked in the most pathetic tone I could muster, “Whatever do you mean by that?”

The jig was up, and I’d been had. It was impossible for me to hide the conversation from my young co-conspirators, so I had to ’fess up. My bride was, of course, not surprised, but I thought I may have detected a touch of resigned disappointment in her voice as she retorted with a loving, “You’re a knothead” reply.

After the call ended, there was no avoiding the playful scolding I rightfully received from the girls who surrounded me. They made it clear my wife should not be surprised by kind words from me. I may be wrong, but I think they, like my wife, had secretly hoped for better. Maybe they really didn’t care, but I couldn’t help but think they and my wife each deserved better from me.

Hypocrisy abounds in today’s world. But we can do better and rise above it to be better versions of ourselves. Every today needs to be better than yesterday. And if it doesn’t happen to turn out right today, try again tomorrow.  end mark

Paul Marchant is a cowboy and part-time freelance writer based in southern Idaho. Follow him on Twitter, or email Paul Marchant.

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