"What About Now?" - Gene Gibbs - First Appeared in - Old McDonald
Me: Morning, Gene! So glad to have you with us today. It's a pleasure.
Gene: (Nods) Thank you, Andy. I ain't usedta' stuff like this.
Me: It's Andrew by the way, and did you know we actually don't live too far from each other?
Gene: Is that right?
Me: Oh yeah, the farm in your story is actually based on the farm I grew up on when I was a kid; barn, shed, 'n all.
Gene: I'd wager things have changed moren' you know, naw' that I live there, I mean.
Me: I'd wager you're right, Gene. Anyway, how's the new livestock workin' out for ya'? Heard you got a great deal on 'em.
Gene: Well, could be better. They, um...they been acting off lately, like sumtin's not right, ya know? They haven't been eating any of the feed I've been givin' 'em. I hadda' put one down the day before last, a goat. Started comin' at muh wife, Deanne with this...this look in its eyes, this awful, starved look. Scared the bajeezus outta' me and Dee. I told 'er I ain't wantin' her goin' back out there, not by 'erself. I dunna think she's gonna' listen to me though. She loves those animals. You want my advice, stay away from clones. Nuttin' but hassles, ain't worth the savings.
Me: I'll make sure to do that. Seems like you're ready for a few questions, yes?
Gene: (Sighs) Could go 'fer a nap actually, but what the hell, Andy, let's get these wheels greased.
Me: I don't like the sound of that.
Gene: You kids...
Me: Okee Dokee, Gene, what would you say is the secret to a happy life?
Gene: Ha! Happy? Ain't nobody happy. Least, not you folk. You got 'yer jobs in the cubes with your screens and your ties with your shiny shoes. You can't tell me anyone can be happy pluggin' away on 'dem keys, talkin' jibber jabber email shit. The secret? I got 'yer secret. You ready? Simple IS better, always has been and you bet 'yer britches it always will be. Happiness is seein' 'yer wife milkin' a cow as the sun breaks, startin' the day off with a bang. Happiness is sittin' to dinner, everynight, with a woman who loves you, and she knows a full stomach makes a happy man. Happiness is bringin' in the crop that you planted, grew, and harvest by 'yersulf, and you did it with these hands. (Raises his open palms). Andy, you got'er all wrong, pally. I'm tellin' yah. The secrets not wanting more, but less, and you can take that to the bank and cash that!
Me: While I don't agree with all of that, you make some good points, Gene. And, please, stop calling me Andy.
Gene: What's that?
Me: Alrighty, let's see here. Oh! What's the hardest thing you've ever had to do?
Gene: Ya know, Andy, I gotta' say, I have uh...I've been pretty blessed. Never had much trouble here or there, least nothin' worth shakin' a stalk 'a corn at, if ya' get muh meanin'. A pal 'a mine, Benny, Benny Waverly had a rough go this past season. Benny and I, we been friends since we used to sneak Lucky Strikes behind the Red Fox, back when Truman took over for Teddy and dropped the bomb. Anyway, his wife Wilma, she was fighting with cancer somethin' fierce, right? Went from diagnosis to the ground in less than three months. Poor thing, a day shy of her sixty-fifth birthday too. I did 'muh best to be there for 'em, Benny that is. But, you know, ya' just never find the right words to say, like you might think up something great in your head and ya' just know it's gonna perk 'em right up...but it doesn't. I feel like a Son'nbitch 'fer thinkin' this, and I hope Benny doesn't see this, but I couldn't help but thinking, thank God it's not me. Thank the Lord, Jesus, that it ain't Dee who's sick. I'd do anything for 'muh gal, go to the ends of the Earth 'fer 'er. My heart broke for Benny, still does. He's doin' good now, started a garden, keeps to himself a lot. He knows I'm here if he needs me.
Me: I'm sorry to hear that, truly. Where do you find serenity, Gene?
Gene: In the field, just before sunset. Sometimes, after a good day of plantin' or combinin', well when I was younger and had good, strong legs, I'd crawl onto the roof of 'muh tractor, with my feet hanging off the edge, and I'd sit and watch the sun set. I'd eat what was left of 'muh lunch as the clouds swelled with purple and tangerine colored swirls. If I was lucky, there'd be a nice breeze blowin' from the east, enough to cool the sweat of the day, carrying that field smell. Ya' know, that earthy, musty, grassy smell. Ain't nothin' like it. I remember one time, there was a deer on the edge of 'muh acres, watching the sunset too. He stayed there 'fer maybe five-six minutes. Every now 'n again, he'd look over at me, and I'd wave. He'd show up at least once a week, to watch the sunset with me, at least that's what I like 'ta think. He stopped showin' up a few months later, right around huntin' season.
Me: Wow. Okay, I think we've got time for two more questions. What's the best thing about getting older?
Gene: Whataya' sayin', Andy?
Gene: Just messin' wich'ya, Andy! Lighten up. 'Yer too sensitive.
Me: I hate you, Gene....
Gene: The best thing about gettin' older, lemme' see...I gotta' go back to Dee on this one. The best thing about growing older was growing older with 'er. After I met 'er, life just didn't seem as important. 'Naw, I don't mean that in a sappy way, I mean it as, nuttin' else seemed as demanding. She lightened the load, she helped me carry the weight of the world, and that's what a good partner does. They support, they encourage, they nourish, and they expect the same from you, and 'yer more'n happy to oblige. Time flew, 'fer me 'n Dee. I look at 'er and I still see the woman I fell in love with, not a day older 'n I remember. Folks don't know it, 'cuz they're used to it, but they're walkin' around, unfinished. They got this feelin' 'n their bellies, and they carry it without realizing it, just like breathing, you don't think about it. It just is. And, you only come to recognize this feeling when you meet the one, and the only reason you recognize it is 'cuz it's not there anymore. You wanna' know what that feeling is, Andy? The feeling you only know when it's gone? It's the feeling of being incomplete, and when it's gone...ya' know you can't go back. The best thing about growin' up, Andy, is not havin to go back.
Me: Okay, last question, Gene. Favorite song lyric?
Gene: I'm a big fan of the oldies, so this's gotta' go back a ways. Reminds me of the first time I danced with Dee. It goes, I'm so glad we made, you gotta'...Gimme' some 'a lovin'!
Me: Thanks for your time, Gene, and thank you guys for stopping by. Tune in next week for another episode of What About Now?
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