Sunday, June 16, 2013

Hi-tech Trolling For Chicks In The Barnyard

From today's Times and News-Star

Had we not been living in a pea patch, we would have been less surprised to learn that high-tech dating has reached Rural America, where “Let’s go shuck some corn” used to mean just that.

Not so sure anymore.

The reason:

This is in no way making fun of, advertised as “Online Dating for down to earth singles (and) growing across America’s Heartland coast to coast!” Whenever a farmer uses an exclamation point as above – “Tornado!” or “I b’leeve it’s ’bout to rain!” -- the situation has escalated one way or the other. Your top-shelf farmers use punctuation like they use insecticide and fertilizer: only with purpose.

But dating online? Somehow that doesn’t fit my mind’s notions of rural romance. “Did you hear the one about the farmer and his daughter and the salesman and the Windows 8 virus?”

What price purity?

I grew up way in the country next door to a man and woman who had 12 children, together, just those two. A dozen. This couple arrived on the scene long before computers and, unbelievably, after contraceptives. The point is, they needed no electronic hookup. If they’d had a computer, it’s obvious from their impressive offspring count that they would not have had time to use it.

Oh, I have heard all the farmer pickup lines: “Can I strum my banjo and sing you to sleep?” “Let’s plow.” “Nice field.”

None of them work. Back home if you asked a girl to bail hay and she agreed, she’d be sweating and itchy when you dropped her off, but it wouldn’t be because you’d taken her parking in a tick field. And it’s doubtful she’d be so eager to agree the next time. (If she did, set the wedding date.)

But times have changed. Once the boy’s been to the city and knows how to call up ESPN and the Victoria’s Secret catalog online, or even find with a punch of his cell what’s happening today in pork belly futures instead of waiting for the farm market report on AM, it’s hard to keep him down on the farm. Farmers are people too. Sure, they enjoy the simple pleasures more than most because they are surrounded by them. But remember the couple next door with the 12 children? Cows and fresh eggs, fatback and homegrown tomatoes weren’t the only things they were interested in.

Today’s farmer has open to him now a world of folks who understand what it’s like to milk at 5 a.m. and turn in long before the evening news. “City folks just don’t get it!,” suggests.

No. They do not. A city person meets another city person at the gas station, at Chili’s or Walgreen’s. How many people does a farmer or a cowgirl run into on their way back to the barn, either for more twine or see why the stupid hydraulic on the dadgum tractor ain’t goshdarn working right?

A majority of the time, the only ones who understand the effects of pest control or a faulty barometer reading – not to mention the rigors of castration day or slaughter day at the hog barn -- are your four-legged friends. Trust me: that makes for awkward conversation.

You don’t need our permission, but Mr. or Miss Farmer, if you want to date online, plow that field. It’s worked for others. Plant a seed and see what happens.

And to you ne’er-do-wells, best wishes, but if you try this stuff online after 8 p.m., we’re all gonna know you ain’t a farmer.