This is one of those pop culture questions that doesn’t get nearly the amount of debate it deserves. I am, of course, talking about the women featured in Kenny Rogers’ very fine songs “Lucille” and “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town” (also the 1972 Kenny singing Ruby in that second video is a wonder to behold. Damn, those glasses are hot).
On the surface we have two similar songs. Ruby and Lucille are both married and contemplating extra-marital affairs. Each of the husbands are clearly aware of their wayward wives intentions. “Lucille” is told from the point of view of the man about to bed Lucille. “Ruby” is told from the point of view of her husband.
While I truly believe there are two sides to every story, we don’t have Lucille or Ruby’s testimony by which to accurately judge their bitchiness in cheating on their husbands. But this is a pop culture debate and accuracy has never really played a roll in such things.
So here’s the facts as we know them.
She goes to a bar in Toledo where she takes off her wedding ring. She has four children, and a farm where the crops aren’t yet ready to harvest. She’s disillusioned with her current lot in life, “I’m hungry for laughter and here ever after” she says. She is confronted, at the bar, by her husband as she sits spinning her sad story to another man. Even after her husband airs his complaints, she chooses to go back to the strangers’ hotel room where he can’t consummate their fling because he is haunted by her husband’s words, also this author thinks he might be a little intimidated by Lucille. Even though the husband “looked like a mountain” somehow she “made him look small.” Yowza.
She has gotten ready to go out somewhere. She’s painted up her lips and rolled and curled her tinted hair. Her husband, a paralyzed Korean War vet can see that it’s nearly dark out and is wondering where his wife is going. He admits that he fully realizes the wants and the needs of woman her age, but that he really would like some company. He claims then claims he has heard “them” say he will die soon and then says he would kill Ruby if he could reach his gun.
As you can see we have here two women who appear intent on adultery, and two men who really wish their wives were faithful.
So who’s the bigger bitch? The disillusioned mother who ditches her children and hard-working, albeit it passive-agressive husband to go have a fling in a bar in Toledo or the woman married to a paralyzed veteran who is threatening to hill her?
The obvious choice here is Lucille. While her husband can seem a little whiny, she could at least have waited until the crop were in and her children were fed before she fled her failing marriage. And while I can understand that Ruby’s husband is probably suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, she really shouldn’t stay in a house with a man who wants to kill her.
Bigger bitch: Lucille.