Jimmy was a good ol’ boy, and proud of it.
From his standard-issue John Deere ball cap to the solid silver belt buckle riding low under the beginnings of a beer gut, and right on down to his snakeskin boots, he was country through and through. Jimmy stood a solid 5-foot-10, what his momma called “husky,” and he carried himself with all the swagger of a well-heeled country boy.
He was raised south of town on 600 acres of wheat and a pair of producing oil wells, the only child of a loud daddy and a quiet momma, and as such, Jimmy had never wanted for much.
Back in high school, he drove a cherry red ’85 Dodge Ram short bed, and he took great pleasure in cruising the cobbled mainstreet of Amos with his windows down on a Saturday night, HWJ blaring from his cassette deck. He would touch the brim of his green hat and nod to the ladies, always polite, real gentleman-like, just like his daddy taught him.
“You’re a real catch, Jimbo,” his momma would say. And if his momma believed it, so did he.
Still, for all his money and manners, Jimmy never did manage to find a girlfriend despite his best efforts. Rebuffed at every turn, he ended up taking his cousin to prom.
His parents never could work out what the problem was. “You’re too good for these girls, Jimbo,” Momma said. “Nothing but a bunch of lightskirts anyhow. These girls don’t even know what a lady is, much less how to behave like one.”
“Maybe I need to lose some weight,” Jimmy said, patting his gut and reefing at his uncomfortably tight belt, the one with his name tooled in leather across the back. Now that it was on its last notch, the letters of his name sat well to the right.
Momma tutted. “Stuff and nonsense, Jimmy, stuff and nonsense! You’re big boned is all. Girls like a man with a little meat on his bones. Look at your daddy!” Jimmy looked at his old man, a 6-foot 2 wall with legs. “Here,” said Momma, “have some more bread and butter…”
Jimmy was inclined to believe that, as always, Momma was right. Amos girls were uppity and conceited and shallow. This was an opinion he continued to hold right on up to graduation and beyond, his four years at K-State only serving to add more evidence to the pile of anti-female sentiment. After graduation, he returned home to the accepting arms of his parents and life carried on, a series of summers in the field and Saturday nights cruising alone up and down Main hollering to what few of his buddies remained in town, and the occasional keg party in the city park.
But after a while Jimmy no longer bothered to polish up his pickup for a Saturday night cruise. The older he got, the younger the girls in Amos appeared to be, and he decided at some point to give up the chase. He could cope with being a lonely man, but he drew the line at becoming the town creep.
And so life carried on. Jimmy was bravely facing his “lonely rich man” destiny. But at least he still had his momma and daddy. They were a destiny he could live with.
But all of that changed the day his father came rumbling down their quarter-mile driveway in the most massive, black RV known to man. It was a virtual hotel on wheels. Jimmy and Momma didn’t know quite what to think as they stood there on the porch, eyeing the gleaming black rectangle with a mix of wonder and surprise.
James Senior parked the monstrosity up and stepped down from the driver’s seat with a huge bouquet of red roses in his left arm. “Honey,” he said to his open-mouthed wife, “I’ve decided we’re retiring.”
Momma burst into tears on the spot. But after much cajoling and reassurance that Jimmy had the farm in good hands and that he wouldn’t starve to death without her, she was brought around to James Senior’s idea of retirement: One year on the road, discovering the wonders of this beautiful US of A.
Jimmy was perplexed. He was thirty years old now, and sure, the farm was in good hands. But… now what?
The reality of his parents’ retirement hit him precisely four hours after they had rumbled off into the sunset, bound first for Denver and then all points beyond: Jimmy was hungry. There was no one to cook.
Within the week, he realized he was out of clean underwear, so he went and bought more. There was no one to do laundry.
By the end of the month, Jimmy’s trips into town for clean underwear were becoming the subject of local gossip. What was worse, the farmhouse, always so neat and tidy and smelling of lemon, was fast becoming a parking lot for pizza boxes and empty beer bottles. There was no one to clean.
As the months wore on, Jimmy became more and more reliant on the internet for communication, since there was no one to talk to.
It was on one such evening that he stumbled across an advertisement for foreign wives. Normally, Jimmy would have sent such an ad straight to Junk, but… this one caught his interest. Perhaps it was the loneliness or the need for clean underwear, he was not entirely sure. But the seed of an idea went in to Jimmy’s mind and rapidly took root.
And for the first time in his adult life, Jimmy made a decision independent of his parents: He was going to take a wife. But not an American wife. American girls, he decided after lengthy internet research coupled with his own experience in the dateless game, were not proper ladies. They were not submissive enough. They were too materialistic. They were shallow and silly and cruel to sensitive souls like his own. Apart from his momma, there were no decent American women left to be found. His daddy had found the very last one.
After hours and hours of tireless research, Jimmy decided he was going to take a Filipino wife. He was entranced by lines about “her commitment to her man and to her family.” He wanted a wife who was “devoted, cooperative and family-oriented!”
Oh, how quickly the dream-woman figment of his lonely imagination took shape.
His new wife would be a woman who knew her place, a woman who could cook and clean and sew; a helpmate on the farm, and baker of bread. His Filipino dream girl was going to be naturally slim, but with the ability to lay on a feast fit for a prince every night. And then, there would be the nights… As a bonus to all of that, she would also be Mother to his Children.
Yes, Jimmy was getting married.
The legal network and financial aspects to taking a foreign wife were lengthy and time consuming, and while Jimmy was enthusiastic, he was also naturally careful. He got his passport and travelled back and forth to the Philippines three times before the decision was made, the dotted line signed, and arrangements made for the Paragon of Virtue that would be his Filipino wife would arrive.
He met Anita at Kansas City airport with a bunch of roses in his left hand, exactly as his daddy had done for his momma. She smiled widely, and his heart leapt. She had been pretty when he first met her, but now, here, ready to go home with him, she was the most beautiful thing he could remember seeing, with her long black hair and wide smile.
He handed her the bouquet, which she took and largely ignored. She fixed him with her smiling black eyes and nodded her thanks.
Her English was actually very good, good enough to give her first blunt appraisal of him. Anita looked him up and down. “You too fat, farm boy,” she said without preamble, her smile never wavering. “Don’t worry. I put you on diet.” Anita handed him her suitcase. “Let’s go,” she said firmly, looking around him to the glass doors behind. “Where you park? It getting dark out.”
A shocked Jimmy clutched her suitcase and followed his Paragon of Virtue to the exit, his smile widening with each step. It occurred to him that he wasn’t sure momma would approve. But Jimmy? Oh, yes. He felt absolutely certain he had just found exactly what he was looking for.
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