The women’s U.S. national team won the Women’s World Cup. I watched it on TV with my wife. We cheered like fools. My wife crushed an aluminum can on her forehead and shouted “GIRL POWER!”
I am not usually a soccer fan. In fact, I barely know how the game is played, but I watched the World Cup, and I hollered.
It’s hard not to get excited about a group of hometown American girls from places like Salina, Kansas, Fayetteville, Georgia, Saint Louis, and Cincinnati, beating the pants off the whole world.
The whole world.
Long ago, I dated a girl who played soccer. She was tough as nails, and drank raw egg yolks for breakfast. We were not a love connection. Primarily, because I am a baseball man myself. Plus, this girl could bench press a ‘63 Buick Skylark, and she scared me.
Anyway, my wife got very excited about all the raw girl-power being displayed during Women’s World Cup. So excited that when she high-fived me, she dislocated my shoulder.
You’d like my wife. When we first married, she had no logical reason to be with a guy like me. I was a high-school dropout who had worked construction since age fourteen. She was a college grad.
But she married me anyway—against the advice of some very smart people.
My wife helped me enroll in, and finish community college. And it was my wife who tutored me through collegiate math classes. It’s a wonder we stayed married after Algebra II. Because it took me three semesters to figure out that a coefficient was not a geographical land mass.
So she’s no world-class athlete, but she is a chef de cuisine.
When I first met my wife, she’d just graduated from culinary school. She worked in fancy-schmancy joints with menus that were overpriced, and European.
The names of the dishes they made were so upscale that nobody even knew what they were:
“Sauteed Pellegrino caps with presbytery sauce and diced Mitsubishi macrame.”
She hated her restaurant job, working beneath a tyrant head chef. Which is common in the food industry.
A lot of chefs are men who are either German, French, or French-German. They often shout things like, “Zis sauce needs more lemon zest!” while discharging a pistol into the air.
Her next job was more easygoing, working at our little hospital cafeteria. She wasn’t thrilled about it. Even so, I used to visit all the time. Not only because I liked her, but because of Fried Catfish Fridays. I love fried catfish.
When I was sixteen, I once competed in a catfish eating contest at church. I won by three filets and beat Gary the “Gallon” Harding for the gold.
So if you can believe it, this girl actually married me. And somewhere along the way, my wife wanted to open her own catering business.
It was crazy. It was irrational. It was totally insane.
There was no way we could afford it. But then, this woman helped me get an education, she believed in me. I tried to figure something out.
And we finally did. It happened when we were driving through Lillian, Alabama.
We passed a travel trailer on the side of the road. It was for sale, dirt cheap. A beat-up Airstream, twenty-one feet, with dings all over it.
We pulled over and peeked in the windows. I dialed the phone number. A few minutes later, an old man showed up in a pickup. He gave us the grand tour.
The camper’s interior smelled like the varsity football team’s laundry bag, and there were holes in the floor.
“We’ll take it,” I told the man.
“Are you outta your mind?” said my wife.
I towed it home without brake lights. When the sun went down, my wife and I parked it in a Whataburger parking lot and slept in it.
We had to burn our clothes thereafter.
And for the next year, I spent every day gutting and renovating the camper. I worked in that little sardine can by lantern light, and even ate supper while manning an angle grinder.
I pulled every wire, installed each electrical fixture, built the kitchen countertops, and I welded the rear frame with my buddy’s MIG welder.
For once in my life, my construction experience was finally paying off.
After a year, the trailer was certified as a commercial kitchen. And we had built it for pennies. For the next decade, my wife worked as a chef and caterer, and every time she cooked, she kicked major butt.
For as long as I live, I will feel the same pride for her that she felt for me when I walked down a graduation aisle as a grown man.
So chances are, you wouldn’t be reading this if it weren’t because of a woman. She’s the same woman who watched soccer beside me. She is loud, animated, independent, strong-willed, and she taught me to solve for X. She can fry catfish, mend broken hearts, scream at soccer games, and crush aluminum cans.
Congratulations to the United States women’s national team.