Thorn in My Butch Paw

This weekend I did some work in the garden. Dirty, difficult work. Adding sprinklers to each rose bush that we planted to keep our dog off of the back hill. Julia Childs’ Roses, in case you are curious. I am not a rose kind of Butch. Not much into gardening. I have a black thumb, or maybe it is tartan. It certainly isn’t green. Anyway, our dog is very … energetic. He likes to run. Unfortunately, when he runs on the back hill, his paws tear up the ice plant that is keeping the hill from sliding down.

So, take our energetic dog, the rainiest season I can remember, and now we have a naked hill that is slowly sliding down. We need to get the hill planted to keep it stable. That means we need to find a way to keep my energetic dog off of it. “Why don’t we surround the hill with rose bushes?” I suggest. “Then, the thorns will act as a natural barrier and keep the dog out. After they get big enough, we can go in and plant stuff again.” Don’t worry, I thought about access and we left two of the roses in their pots so we can move them when it is time to go onto the hill and replant it.

The beautiful, hearty, yellow Julia Childs’ Roses went in. But there was no sprinkler system. This weekend was the time to address that. Out into the garden I went with my dad. In case you don’t know, because perhaps you are not a professional landscaper or sprinkler installer, there are a lot of special tools involved in sprinkler installation. This appeals to me as a Butch. I’ve always joked:”Need something done? If it requires new tools and I can go get them, I’m in.” There are big PVC cutters, a specialized hole punch, several types and sizes of tubing, and, of course, the sprinklers themselves. We also needed a large screwdriver, a hammer, and my pocket knife (on at least 5 occasions). Throw all of that into a big orange bucket and you have one butch project!

So there I am, crawling around on the ground, up and down the hill, cutting, hole punching, digging, and fitting the sprinklers. I crawl through bushes, get covered with a variety of spiders, and let’s not forget the roses! Recall that we planted them to keep my energetic dog out? Because of the thorns. Well, those same thorns tried hard to keep me away from giving them water. I am literally covered with cuts and scratches on my arms and legs. [Of course my dad got scratched up too, and was helping a lot, but it’s my blog so I will focus on my labors here. Ok, dad?] We broke the work into two days. At the end of each day, I called for my wife. I wanted her to see what we did! She came out today (to humor me, I think) and I was like a proud craftsman.

I proudly  proclaim, “Look at what we did, baby!”

“What am I meant to see?”, she asks.

“The water! Each bush all the way up and down the hill has its own sprinkler. See the little puddles?”

She nods her head, smiles, says something encouraging and then goes back into the house. My need to have her see what we had accomplished got me thinking. Why is that so important? I was super chuffed with what we did. I saw the puddles of water. Right where they were meant to be. I marvelled at our ability to take water from one place and direct it to another. Power over nature in this small way. She was, well, less impressed. I went into the house and asked her if she was pleased. “What was I meant to see?” she asks again. “I wanted you to see how butch I am!” I blurt out.

Now, I ask you. Would I not Be Butch if she had not seen the work I did (with my dad)? Would I be any less competent or amazed at what we had achieved? Nope. So, I guess it is as important for me to have my wife see and appreciate my more butch qualities (strength, capability, ingenuity, handiness, willingness to do the dirty work) as it might be for her that I notice a new way she is wearing her hair or a new technique she used to master another stunning make up look. Neither of these things belongs to one of us. But we each love different things. And, I guess we love them more when the other of us appreciates them. Am I talking crazy?

As I was cleaning up, I realized that I had a thorn in my arm. It was small and I couldn’t see it all that well, so I grabbed the tweezers and went to my wife. “Baby, I have a thorn in my arm.” She immediately called me over and tended to me. Of course, I could have taken the thorn out myself (it wasn’t that small), but having her do it was extra validating. Look how dangerous what I did was! I am scarred by my efforts. I imagine that wanting to be taken care of and tended to like this is not exclusive to our Butch Femme relationship. It doesn’t have to be. She still made me feel big and strong. And very, very Butch.

It’s butch to roar like a lion and still get help pulling a thorn out of your paw. Be Butch.

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