The Little Way of Ruthie Leming: A Southern Girl, a Small Town, and the Secret of a Good Life

The Little Way of Ruthie Leming: A Southern Girl, a Small Town, and the Secret of a Good Life by Rod Dreher Read Free Book Online Page A

Book: The Little Way of Ruthie Leming: A Southern Girl, a Small Town, and the Secret of a Good Life by Rod Dreher Read Free Book Online
Authors: Rod Dreher
Tags: General, Biography & Autobiography, Women
with so little effort. Worse, Ruthie could not understand what I studied, and what engaged me intellectually, and therefore she regarded it with suspicion, even loathing.
    One evening she shared a table in the cafeteria with my best friend Paul and me. Paul, a political theory major, and I, minoring in philosophy and political science, loved to talk about big ideas. That evening we got off on something about Nietzsche and the death of God. Ruthie listened patiently, but finally lost her cool. She told us she thought that was the “stupidest bunch of you-know-what” that she had ever heard.
    “What is wrong with y’all?” she said. “Listen to you. You sit here for hours talking about this crap, and it doesn’t mean anything. You’re just talking; you’re not doing anything!”
    We thought she was putting us on, but Ruthie wasn’t joking.
    “I’m serious, y’all,” she said. “I don’t understand the two of you. I really don’t. What good is any of this y’all are talking about going to do anybody? Do you really think you’re going to support yourselves with this stuff? What does any of it mean in the real world?”
    She wouldn’t listen to anything either of us had to say in defense of philosophy or philosophizing. At the time I thought Ruthie’s prickly anti-intellectualism was funny. Ruthie wanted to get as far away from people like us as she could. As soon as she finished her student job on Friday afternoons she pointed her big blue Crown Victoria north, left campus, and lit out for Starhill.
    Halfway through her undergraduate career, Ruthie and Mike decided to marry. They had been together for over four years and did not want to wait until she finished her degree. Ruthie expected Mike to do the traditional thing and ask her father’s permission to marry his daughter. He sat down with Paw three days in a row, but couldn’t muster the courage to speak his mind.
    Ruthie finally lost her patience.
    “I’ve had enough!” she declared. “Daddy, Mike’s been coming over here because he wants to tell you that we want to get married. And he won’t do it!”
    Mike’s abashed cowardice amused Paw. That the high school sweethearts would one day marry was a foregone conclusion. Though he wasn’t happy with the idea of Ruthie marrying while still in college, Paw knew it was bound to happen. Ruthie had put him on notice earlier. Standing in his living room during her freshman year, Ruthie told Paw that she and Mike wanted to get married at some point between semesters.
    “Well, honey, your grades are good now, but do you think you’ll be able to keep that up if you’re married?” Paw said. He spitballed a number of rational arguments against early marriage at her.
    Ruthie leveled her gaze at her father, stepped to him, put her finger in his face, lowered her voice, and growled: “Daddy, don’t you make me choose, because you aren’t going to like the choice I make.”
    That was that. On the Mike question Paw knew better than to cross Ruthie.
    All her life Ruthie had trouble making decisions. Once she started pricing wedding packages, Paw saw the potential bill growing ever longer. Intending to cut his costs early, he gave Ruthie five thousand dollars to pay for her wedding, saying it was all he could afford, and told her she would have to work within that budget. What she didn’t spend, she could keep.
    Ruthie found that flummoxing. “But, Daddy,” she said, “when itwas your money, it was different. Now that it’s my money, I don’t know what I’m going to do !”
    The girl was naturally, reflexively frugal. Ruthie found a less expensive dress than she would have chosen otherwise, and got on with it. By the time she and Mike married on December 30, 1989, Ruthie had the wedding paid for, and two thousand dollars in her purse to pay for the honeymoon. The weather was cold and wet in St. Francisville that day, but the rain stopped before the ceremony. Mike stood with the pastor at the front of

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