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One Woman's Opinion

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Pure Bliss, Part 6

Mary Wakefield Buxton

by Mary Wakefield Buxton
Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 7

Urbanna, Va.— We bid El Paso relatives goodbye and continued on our zig-zag journey to California. On the desolate roads of New Mexico we became hopelessly lost on unmarked mountain roads. It was there, amid the desolate rock, cliff and pine scrub, that we had our first major argument.

Perhaps the ferocity of the exchange was due to the fact we were lost, tired and hungry. Or perhaps the storm came because we had foolishly never addressed the issues before. Or maybe it was simply the old mule rule at work, which states that when one mule refuses to budge, the other mule will also solidly plant his hooves.

It seems funny now after 54 years of married life, but it wasn’t amusing then. It started when my husband happened to mention that he was a Democrat. This was the equivalent of a hand grenade going off in the car. The Wakefields were solidly Republican, almost to a man, and it never occurred to me that I could not have married one.

“What? What? Surely you jest!” I shouted, my naturally sweet nature totally faded. He did not answer and I could only stare at him in horror. This man who was now my husband sitting beside me was a Democrat! Didn’t he realize I would never marry a Democrat!  

“Well! You will just have to become a Republican!” I cried. “If my family ever got wind that I had married a Democrat, I would never be able to show my face in Vermilion again!”

This started him off on that long liberal spiel that I had heard before from all my professors in college about how socialism was the wave of the future and the capitalist world was innately evil and had to convert to socialism in order to survive the rising threat of communism and that the Democratic Party was far better posed to achieve an liberal agenda than my party . . . blah, blah, blah.

Enraged, I gasped for air, my chest heaved, and my face turned beet red. For the next hour we argued whether socialism was helping or hurting India (of all things!) with my insistence capitalism was the only way for India to eventually unleash full prosperity for all people and produce tax revenues to help the poor.

“Government can’t possibly provide jobs for every citizen so a nation must create a strong private sector so business can provide the necessary jobs!” I shouted, more like a fish wife on the streets of London than a lovely lady from Vermilion, Ohio. And so on, like a tennis ball thwacked from court to court, our conversation went back and forth with no one convincing the other party of the rightness of his argument.

“You should have told me!” I shouted.

“Well, I notice you didn’t mention your party affiliation!”

“Well! Really! I shouldn’t have to! Everyone in Ohio that is respectable is Republican!”

“Well everyone in Virginia that is respectable is a Democrat! One isn’t seen with Republicans,” he added.” And so on. Before we knew it we were back arguing the Civil War.

Then, we got on religion. It turned out he was Episcopalian and had no intention of joining my Congregational Church. “My church is my birthright!” the Virginian said looking at me coldly, as if I were a bug that had just landed on the sleeve of his shirt. “You’ll have to convert to my faith!”

I could not speak—only move my enraged lips with no sound coming forth. Oh, hang love! What a dastardly thing was marriage! He not only was a Democrat, but he would not join my church either. Oh, what a fool I was to fall for this stubborn, headstrong southerner. No wonder there was a war years ago with the South! Southerners were an unruly bunch of stubborn, impossible upstarts. There was only one thing to do . . . as soon as we returned to civilization, I would bolt and hop on the first bus back to Ohio.

A long silence between North and the South settled over us, each licking his wounds and glowering at the other party. Finally, Husband spoke. “I’ll make a deal with you, dear, if you join my church, I’ll join your political party.”

I stared icily at the Episcopalian Democrat from Virginia. How could I join a church so far removed from my church? Oh, I had heard about the Episcopalians! They called themselves “protestant,” but they catered to the Romans with holy water, incense, and priests that dressed up in robes and head gear as if they were the Pope!  

But Mr. and Mrs. Mule struck a deal that would save their marriage and last a lifetime. She would become Episcopalian and he would become Republican. As if on cue, the logging road ran into asphalt and we saw a sign for Santa Fe.

We had been lost, but now were found. As Episcopalians say, “Thanks be to God!” (Conclusion next week)


posted 04.19.2017

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