Sunday, 26 November 2006

"Rural Guys" published November 26, 2006

When you’re born and bred in the city it pays to take some time out once in a while. For some this means taking a helicopter to Waiheke, sitting in a vineyard restaurant and bunking down for the night in a 5 star. For others, like me, it involves a 1968 caravan and a drive no shorter than three hours out of Auckland, because that’s how far you have to go these days to rid yourself of jet skis, oxymoronic convertible four wheel drives and white shirts over jeans.
Someone happening upon my visage at the caravan will be hard put to recognise me with my salt water beach hair from the daily snorkelling excursions (oysters aplenty) and the absence of any make up. Sometimes I even forget to apply my Crème La Mer.
One friend suggested I was morphing into a Topp Twin, and another wondered if my time spent alone at the caravan was a cry for help.
Perhaps. Because when you’re an Aucklander who had kids young, there comes a time when you demand a few days to yourself in the country, alone. You can eat toast for dinner, read chick lit uninterrupted and swim naked in the moonlight (haven’t quite done that yet but fully intend to). And after two nights with nothing but a big black dog and the radio to keep you company the desire for conversation overwhelms but it’s always nice to get to the stage where you crave company rather than cope with it.
Which is when the city girl gets to sample the home made delights of the Rural Guy. He’s easy to spot in a plaid shirt (flannel with singlet combo in summer, Swanndri -not Karen -in winter).
Rural Guy will also have hair. More hair than you can spot on a good day in Ponsonby with its shaved heads and manicured lawns which pass for stylish man hair in the city. Rural Guy hasn’t had a hair cut since last summer and it’s all luxurious and bouncy and flowing and just everywhere. That goes for the face as well. Rural Guy doesn’t shave unless he’s got a wedding to attend and it’s his own. And again, it’s full beard action here, not your landing strip goatee employed by City Guy.
But by far the nicest thing about Rural Guy is his manners. Somewhere along the evolutionary chain, Rural Guy remembered the manners he was taught while City Guy just became a smart arse.
You can be having a beer with a Rural Guy and need to adjust your awning. Up he gets and does it for you: “Watch out love I’ll get that for you.” You can be having a glass of Pinot Gris with City Guy and need to adjust the sun umbrella. He’ll sit back and watch you struggle with the weight of the thing and attempt to impress you with a witty one liner about the inadequacies of the sun umbrella design. In fact take any group of City Guys in a social situation and they won’t get off their arses once, unless it’s to move under the sun umbrella to save their complexion.
Rural Guy will be up and down like a yo yo, offering a woman the last camp chair available (remember that), grabbing you another can of beer (remember that), whipping down to the beach to check the surf caster, starting up the barbie, cooking tea and lighting the bonfire afterwards. He also calls his missus “Baby” which is so sweet it hurts. And you wake up the next morning to find a flounder on your collapsible table.
Then there’s the conversation. Rural Guy has all these cool stories about near death experiences involving fishing, hunting and planks of wood at work. The kind of stories you just go: “Wow!” at. City Guy drones on about obscure movies, books, albums and how easy it is to grow rocket, all with a witty repartee rivalled only by Oscar Wilde on one of his off days wandering Europe shortly before his death. The kind of stories you just go: “Really?” at in a bored monotone.
But after a while at the caravan when your head starts itching from all the salt and your lips start cracking from lack of lipstick, you start to miss your child-minding, dinner cooking, breakfast in bed bringing, laugh-a-minute Oscar. And home you go where he flourishes a bottle of “Sensory Therapy Peace of Mind” and proceeds to massage it into your temples and neck.
“Better?” asks City Guy.

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