Havilah Babcock, 1898-1964
A classic from the old-time Field & Stream magazine by South Carolinian English professor Havilah Babcock put up on-line by Sporting Classics:
Does your health show a marked improvement during the hunting season, and do your honest ailments get scant sympathy from a suspicious household the rest of the year? If so, you are ripe for membership in the order of Misunderstood Husbands, Unincorporated, and entitled to all the rights and privileges thereunto appertaining.
I know a man who feels like â€œThe Wreck of the Hesperusâ€ for nine months of the year. He chews expensive vitamins. He sits for hours in the doctorâ€™s office reading magazines. His medicine cabinet is filled with strange nostrums in ill-assorted bottles. He is subject to neuritis and lumbago and is plagued by nondescript aches and pains.
His digestion is so bad that he pays dearly for the slightest dietary indiscretion. And night brings him little respite; for sleep, sweet sleep that so poetically â€œknits up the raveled sleeve of care,â€ leaves him fagged and haggard. Nightmares use him to practice up on. His family regards him, and perhaps not without provocation, as moody and irritable. This fellow is really in an unenviable fix, but somehow he manages to drag his creaking chassis along . . . until November comes.
He is not a malingerer. Nor a neurotic. Nor one of those who enjoy bad health and revel in imaginary symptoms. He is honestly ailing. Once he went to a famous diagnostician who examined him for three days, charged him $100, and said: â€œYou will live forever and feel like hell.â€ The second part of the diagnosis he can verify; the first part he is not so keen about verifying. Forever is too definite.
But when the first frost comes there is a noticeable improvement in his health. And when quail season arrives he is a new man. Tonics and elixirs and tinctures of this and that are consigned to the attic. The medical profession has to eke out its existence without his munificent patronage.
He is no longer susceptible to colds, neuritis, and lumbago, although he tramps the countryside in the unfriendliest of weather and is often in wet clothing the livelong day. He sleeps the sleep of the innocent, unharried by nightmares. His outlook is buoyant, his disposition amiable, and the household hears nothing of his woesâ€”not a solitary complaintâ€”for the next three months. For the master of the household is paying ardent court to Bob White and his bashful bevy.
This man sounds suspicious, but letâ€™s not convict him on circumstantial evidence. A moderately honest and hard-working man he is, and I have a deal of sympathy for him. I know him well. In fact, I might be pardoned for saying that I hold him in peculiar esteem, for with all my faults I love me still. He is the gent who has been living with my wife for 25 years.
The fact that the improvement in my health coincides with the advent of the quail season doesnâ€™t mean that my ills during the rest of the year are imaginary. For outdoor pursuits have a recognized therapeutic value. Especially quail hunting.
Read the whole thing.