Thursday, February 28, 2008

Wild-eyed Southern Boys

Living up here in the Great White North, I get a little ribbing about being from Kentucky, like I grew up without shoes, minding a 'shine still, shooting possums and kissing my cousins. I take it with a smile, mostly, because I frankly know that my tormentors are full of shit. There are things that get under my skin a bit, though.

1. References to the movie 'Deliverance'. First of all, Goddammit, that was in Georgia. Not that Kentucky doesn't have plenty of rednecks, but I once say a traffic dustup in Macon, Georgia, boil down to a guy with a machete vs a guy with a gun. Over who got to the light first. You would never see that kind of nonsense where I come from. In Kentucky, no one would have wasted any time with a machete.

I'm not all that offended by the implication that the south is full of violent, inbred, familial idiots. I was menaced by one with a logging chain who lived down the street from me when I was 6 years old. (Archie. Damn.)

No, what pisses me off is that the 'heroes' in Deliverance escaped. It just isn't realistic.

See, I grew up in a home where my father was a lifelong Democrat, and who was pro gun control. And we had a 20 gauge, a .22 and a .38 in the house. I had a BB gun or two by my 10th birthday, and was deadeye before I ever fired a real weapon. I am cross-eyed, near-sighted in one eye and far-sighted in the other, and have to shoot left-handed because my right eye sucks. And I can still hit a bullseye at 500 meters. To say that guns are part of Kentucky culture is to say the sky is blue.

Most of my buds growing up could drop a buck at 400 yds while finishing a six-pack. No dipshit with a crossbow and a canoe would make it out alive, 'kay?

2. People talk about moonshine like it's bad. While there is such thing as bad moonshine, bootlegging was a typical Scotch-Irish response to poverty. Make money, fuck the law, and invent NASCAR in the bargain. These people had been maltreated at the hands of government for hundreds of years before ever coming to the New World, so fine points like legality barely registered. They figured no man had any right to get in between two others who were peacefully going about their own business. Now, most people I know who were involved with moonshining had no respect for assholes who made popskull. But the driving of this business underground made the profit high enough that standards slipped.

Rumor has it that someone very close to me was raised by a woman married to a moonshiner. I won't name names, but she knows who she is. (Hi, Mom!)

3. Shoes. I always had shoes. There is a big difference further South, where it might be practical to not wear shoes most of the year. And I went barefoot a lot in the summer, but not because I didn't have shoes. Kentucky is not Tennessee.

4. Stupidity. Listen, I know that there are lots of ignorant people in Kentucky. Some damned proud of it. But some of these same people are resourceful and crafty and shrewd, and like nothing better than to shuck some arrogant Yankee out of his money. Kentuckians are contrary, fierce, loyal, profane, tough, and clever. I am proud of who I am, and of the people I belong to. I sure as hell won't disown my great heritage just because now I'm all 'educated', and If I had any cousins worth kissing, I might. What's it to you, anyway?

So, yuck it up, Yankees. Just be careful when you go out in the woods, even with your crossbow.


At Thursday, February 28, 2008, Blogger Ψ*Ψ said...

We have an event here called Posters at the Capitol. Suffice it to say that it was seriously disappointing and I don't think terribly highly of any elected officials here. Anyway, since then, I've been claiming to be Canadian. Still...

1. Probably you're right. Growing up in Lexington, though, I've never fired a gun. Not terribly opposed, just haven't gotten around to it.

2. Don't forget the pot farmers, too, while you're at it... We could certainly do without the meth labs, though.

3. Damn straight.

4. Grubbs. Whitesides. Enough said?

At Thursday, February 28, 2008, Blogger David Eaton said...

How could I have left out pot farming?! I know way more people doing that than moonshining. Meth is a scourge caused partially by the War on Drugs.

A lot of my native Kentuckian friends felt just like you do, and couldn't wait to get out. Some are really cosmopolitan now. Most all of us got fonder of Kentucky the farther we got away. Tribal and backwards though it is, it is still important to be from somewhere. For better or worse, we are, and if you can't change it, which you can't, it helps to figure out what you can be proud of. Guns, Grubbs, and George Whitesides suits me.

At Wednesday, March 12, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

On our way into the service from Philly in '68, my friend and I stopped to eat in Cameron, Louisiana, tiptoeing out of the place after we saw Wop Salad on the menu. Subsequently the Good Lord sent hurricane Rita to destroy the place. They still wonder why.

At Wednesday, March 12, 2008, Blogger David Eaton said...

Wop salad? I had to look it up. It looked tasty, though with less ethnic slurs, it would be even better.

Next time I'm in NO or thereabouts, I'll refer to it as a "Spudfucker Salad". My sainted Irish grandmother would be proud if I picked a fight with racist/ethnically insensitive Cajuns, who've got no fookin' business slurring anybody, I'd say.

I got no beef with Yankees per se. They're just the default in our pop culture, and when one drops a deuce on the south, especially the Upland South where I'm from, I'm inclined to push back. Just like the Almighty, who I suppose is Italian, decided to do to Louisiana. Only in my case, it's somewhat less grand.

At Friday, March 14, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The South does have its attractions. My friend was stationed at Ft. Sam in San Antonio and we chatted on the WATS line from time to time while in the service. He said the people down there weren't too bright.

Sample Dialog:

Q: Where are you from soldier?
A; What do you mean from?

However, he's been happily ensconced in San Antonio ever since, has developed a minor drawl, owns guns and married a local girl who is a real piece of work.


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