The Caning of Peckerwood

Valentine’s is a reminder of the love shared between my parents. It was their anniversary week. There are several tales about how it was the two came to be married on Valentine’s week, but I suspect the stories are part myth and part reality. We can be pretty certain that the date was set in part by the impending birth of my brother. The myth that exists always includes some story about my grandfather, the lawman.

This is how I always remember Grandpa Harve Mayes. That cane was a beautiful hand-carved piece of wood. I don’t know where it came from, but I remember that it felt smooth as a garden snake in my hands. The stroke rendered Grandpa’s right-hand completely useless, but he could beat a man to death with that cane with his one good hand if he took a notion to.

Depending upon who you talk to in the family, the lore takes on different formations but essentially it involves my grandfather, who was a Rogersville lawman, threatening my father. Some say he locked Dad up. Others say he just said he was going to if he didn’t marry Mama. I actually don’t think it took any handcuffs at all because Daddy and Mama were in love and remained that way throughout their marriage.

Their’s wasn’t a marriage without its share of problems. Money being the biggest one, Mama once told me. Not surprising given Dad’s career.

As far as Valentine Day stories and Rom-Coms go, Mama and Daddy had a particularly memorable love story. One that lasted them both a lifetime, albeit a brief one.

The marriage only lasted 13 years. Yet, it didn’t come to an end by either of their choices.

My parents’ marriage ended with the death of my father. Mama never stopped loving the man she married when she was just a teenager.

Such love seems rare these days.

The US has one of the highest divorce rates in the world. Only Russia and Belarus beat us. An estimated 41 percent of all first marriages end in divorce. Sixty percent of all second marriages do. And a whooping 73 percent of all third marriages end in divorce. (That explains why Grandma Jean got married eight times…Gotta hand it to the old gal. She never stopped believing… )

Infidelity is the leading cause of divorce in the US and perhaps not surprisingly, given the proclivities of the US populus, the leading cause of infidelity isn’t because one or more partner is unhappy in their marriage.

It’s because the cheating spouse met someone “hot.”


That’s right.

One day you are just going along in your marriage, thinking everything is hunky-dory. Sure, you have your share of problems, what marriage doesn’t? But as far as you know, you are happy, your kids are happy, and you are still in love with each other, The sex is good. The vacations are fun. There are dance parties in the morning before work and stories to swap over dinner at night.

But then, there it is. The errant text from the girl he’s been bonking on the side.

It doesn’t matter that she’s married, too. Or that there are children involved.

None of that matters when two people are all juiced up on the fleeting hormones of hotness.

And it especially doesn’t matter when they are telling lies to their respective spouses.

Not surprisingly, men cheat more than women but women cheat at a younger age than men.

About 20 percent of all men cheat. About 18%  of women do. I guess some of those cheating spouses must be double-and-triple dipping.

Statistically, those who cheat will not hook up for long with those they are cheating with. Two years max, and the infidelities usually blow up. That’s when the woman who cheated realizes she left a really good guy for a player, and the player has grown bored with her, so he’s moved on to the next new to him poontang.

That should surprise no one.

If you cheated on your spouse to be with another person who cheated on their spouse, you are never, ever going to trust one another. You go into the relationship knowing you are with a person who is a certified liar.

There’s not enough good luck in the world to hold that union together.

If you want to marry for life, marry a farmer or preacher. They have some of the lowest divorce rates.

Don’t expect to stay married if you marry a bartender or a massage therapist. They have some of the highest divorce rates. (Refer back to that “hotness” component).

Navy Seals have a 90% divorce rate. (Again see “hotness” factor).

Nevada, Arkansas, West Virginia, Idaho, and Oklahoma have the highest divorce rates. I suspect it’s the result of economic stresses. (see Mama’s comments).

Divorce is more common among those with lower IQs. (That explains so much. See Dipshits who cheat).

If you want to stay married move to Massachusetts or Iowa, and try to find someone who hasn’t been married before (preferably not a politician, i.e. Chuck Grassley).

The divorce rate for those 50 and over has reportedly doubled in the past 20 years.

People who drink in excess are more likely to divorce, unless their spouse also drinks in excess, then I guess, they are both too drunk to do anything about anything.

Rupert and Anna Murdoch had one of the most expensive divorces in history. It cost Rupert $1.7 billion. Way to go Anna! You did women the world over proud!! She took that sorry ass Murdoch for a whopping $110 million in cash in 1999 after 32 years of marriage and three children.

Perhaps surprisingly, 95% of all divorces are settled in mediation with a family law attorney, with only about 5% of divorce cases headed into a courtroom. (the more money you have, the more likely you are to end up in court).

And as if we needed more proof of the misogyny of our institutions, spouses who have three daughters are 10 percent more likely to end in divorce; mothers retain custody of the children in 90 percent of all divorces; and those mothers are 50% more likely to fall into poverty following a divorce.

Kinda makes me wish we hadn’t found a cure for syphilis.

Without it, we likely would never had Trump for President.

I kinda wish Grandpa Harve was still around as well.

Old balding Peckerwood could use a good caning.

And to all of you spending Valentine’s without a cheating spouse mucking up your day, and your life, Cheers! May the next love you meet defy all the statistics and be your ain true love.


Karen Spears Zacharias is author of Mother of Rain (Mercer University Press) and the forthcoming Murder Gene. She and husband Tim have defied all the odds, including having three daughters, and built a love that would do the Bellamy Brothers proud.



Karen Spears Zacharias

Author/Journalist/Educator. Gold Star Daughter.

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