The wildfires in Colorado and Arizona have been getting a lot of print and TV time, mostly because fire has always made for good pictures. In the meantime, news analysts galore have been examining every aspect of the Terry Barton story.
Except for one – the story of the Boyfriend Barbecue.
Barton, a US Forest Service employee, first she told authorities that she’d been on patrol, smelled smoke, and discovered the fire. When they didn’t believe that, she changed her story and said that she had been on patrol when she came upon a campfire ring and decided to burn a letter from her estranged husband. Somehow, the flames spread to the dry brush, and eventually burned 135,000 acres in the biggest wildfire in Colorado history.
For a couple of days, no one questioned this story, because it seemed so plausible — she was just having a Boyfriend Barbecue and it got out of hand.
Ask any woman about this and she’ll tell you that Barton’s “Accidental Arsonist” claim is completely plausible . In fact, it’s reminiscent of a “Friends” episode in which Monica, Rachel, and Phoebe have a Boyfriend Barbecue in their apartment that got so out of control that some hunky firefighters had to show up to douse their flames, wink wink.
But what if Terry had been a man instead of a woman? No one would have believed it, because no man would ever do such a thing. There’s no such thing as a Girlfriend Barbecue. And that’s because men don’t have the kindling.
Ladies, your feelings may be hurt by the painful fact I will share with you now (please note that in so doing, I’m violating at least three articles of the Code Of Men, but the truth must be told): Men don’t carry around letters from their girlfriends or wives.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a current relationship, an ex-relationship, an estrangement, whatever. We just don’t.
I know you’ve given us all those loving cards through the years, for our birthdays, anniversaries, Father’s Day, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Arbor Day, etc. Or maybe you sat down with your personal stationery and poured your heart out in deep, heart-wrenching romantic phrases, determined to express your everlasting love for your man.
Here’s what happened when you gave it to him. He opened it, he read it, he truly appreciated the sentiment. Then, when you weren’t looking, he threw it away.
It doesn’t mean that he doesn’t share the warm sentiment, or that he loves you any less than you love him. It’s just that he can have those feelings without needing the physical reminder in his pocket at all times.
Women, on the other hand, will keep every scribble they’ve gotten from their man from the first moment they met until their last day together – and even then, most of it won’t find the trash can. It could be something as simple as “Honey, I put gas in your car this morning. Jim and I are going to the game. We’ll get something to eat there. See you later!” Still, that goes into the collection. Shows he cares. She’ll treasure it forever.
There’s nothing wrong with that. Nothing at all. It’s just that we’re made differently, and we handle correspondence differently.
If Terry were a man who had received an upsetting note from his estranged wife, odds are that he’d call her a name (most likely starting with a B), rip it to shreds, and toss it in the wastebasket. End of note. Not the end of the emotion, but the paperwork wouldn’t survive.
Hypothetically, what might happen if he did keep the letter to read again later, as the real-life Terry maintains she did?
The scenario would begin with him on the toilet — because that’s where we do most of our reading — and it would end with him wrapping his bloody foot in a towel and going to buy a new mirror.
Why? Because the note from his estranged wife would undoubtedly be several pages (the longer it is, the more unsettling it is). So, when he tried to flush the torn pieces of the lengthy letter, they would clog up the toilet. The water would overflow onto the floor. He’d grab the plunger and try to get the thing to flush, but he’d lose his balance on the wet, slippery floor, falling hard on his butt. In frustration, he’d fling the plunger across the bathroom, where it would break the mirror over the sink, sending glass flying everywhere. When he stood up, those sharp yet reflective shards would get stuck in the bottom of his foot as if he was John McClane at the Nakatomi building. The blood would flow, as would a succession of curse words not heard since Richard Pryor’s early concert movies. Once he staunched the hemorrhaging from his appendage, cleaned up the mess in the bathroom, and it was all said and done, he’d still be back at the same place he would have been if he had just thrown the damn missive out in the first place.
And that is why men don’t carry notes from their women. It’s safer that way.