Hawking Up Hairballs

Thursday, August 06, 2009

My Inner Redneck

So there I was last night, listening to the Jamey Johnson CD for the third time, when it hit me. Damned if I don't have a pretty significant inner redneck. I actually like the CD, even though it's really that corny, cry-in-your-beer type of country blues. And, yeah, I admit it, the lyrics are full of cliches, but at least he doesn't use the word "baby". Thank God for that. And if that isn't proof enough, there's the protagonist of my new novel. He's a good, old boy and he's a heckuva lot more interesting than the vanilla suburbanite that I chose for Buster Bungle's Big Top.

How the hell did this happen? I wasn't raised like that. My family was solidly in the middle class. I made good grades in school, finished third in my class in a demanding, all boys Catholic high school, was Phi Bet Kappa in college. That ain't exactly what you'd call the inner redneck career path, but here I am thinking about going out for a six-pack of Bud and a pouch of Redman.

I'm thinking it must be genetic. I got it from my daddy's family. Mama was from Ohio and her family was German immigrant on both sides. They fled the troubles in Europe in 1848 and, though they were of working-class stock, they weren't exactly what you'd call rednecks. Hell, they didn't even fight in the Civil War, which was quite remarkable, given the way that war reached into most people's lives at that time. No, it was definitely my daddy. My paternal grandmother's family was from Muscle Shoals, Alabama, and they were redneck through and through, though they had pretensions and would have bristled to hear themselves talked about like that.

Now, the Oliveros family. They were Minorcans. You wouldn't know about Minorcans unless you came from the vicinity of St. Augustine, Florida. The town was originally settled by the Spanish, many of whom came from the island of Minorca, and everyone who was descended from those settlers eventually came to be called Minorcans whether or not they were originally from the island. A lot of those folks still look like they came from the Mediterranean. They have black hair, brown eyes, and swarthy complexions. My paternal grandfather was one of them. When he was young, he looked like a bullfighter. The racial hierarchy in St. Augustine was a little bit different than it was in the rest of the South. The whites were at the top, of course, then came the Minorcans, and finally the blacks. The Minorcans were the rednecks in St. Augustine and, during the Civil Rights protests in the town in the Sixties, they were the ones who harrassed and attacked the marchers.

I wasn't raised with any of this history. Through high school and the first few years of college, I pretty much lived in the north, particularly Ohio. So, where did my inner redneck come from? It has to be in the blood, or the DNA, thanks to Crick and Watson. In that case, there's no fighting it. Hmm. When I finish with this Jamey Johnson CD, maybe I'll go looking for George Jones or old Bocephus. But at least I'm not tempted to buy a pickup or watch NASCAR.


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