I live in a fairly large metropolitan area, but it’s still in Kentucky, so when people discuss their families there’s almost always a good redneck story. I love a good story a much as the next person, but when someone says, “My family is as redneck as you can get!” my competitive spirit kicks in. Because My Family is More Redneck Than Yours.
My grandfather was a farmer (tobacco and cattle). My dad farms the same land, and refuses to buy anything but John Deere tractors (the green kind, city dwellers). Dad also drove a truck for a while. An 18-wheeler. It was when CB radios were popular (kind of like audio Twitter for those too young to remember) and his CB handle was “Yogi Bear”. His truck had a bear with a down vest, cowboy boots, and a cowboy hat painted on the door. We thought that was pretty cool. I rode lots of places bouncing around in the bed of a pickup truck. If we were on the farm we were allowed to put the tailgate down and sit on that with our feet dangling off the back. I didn’t know there was any kind of music other than Country until I was in Junior High.
My mom is from Harlan County, Kentucky, and my grandfather was a coal miner. (you know, like Coal Miner’s Daughter) It’s been nearly fifty years since she moved to Central Kentucky, but she’s never lost her accent. One of my uncles still holds the record for racing up and down Black Mountain, on a road that is terrifying at slow speeds. Speaking of racing, one of my step-mother’s all-time favorite Christmas gifts was a Jeff Gordon crock-pot. Yep, they make those. But my brother is the biggest NASCAR fan in the family. Dale Earnhardt was his favorite driver, and on the day he died in a racing accident my brother fell apart. He wouldn’t answer his phone, wouldn’t come to the door, wouldn’t leave his apartment to go to work. My dad finally had to go in and get him. After the anti-depressants kicked in he was much better. He bought one of those “In Memory Of” stickers with Earnhardt’s number on it and put it on the back of his truck. Unfortunately the anti-depressants interfered with his pot smoking, so he had to give them up.
One of my uncles (by marriage) died from a bad batch of moonshine. My aunt came home from church one Sunday to find him dead on the porch, his face black as coal. Evidently the “poison” in bad moonshine floats to the top, and whoever takes the first drink gets it – something to remember.
One of my cousins got pregnant as a young teenager, and she named her baby girl Chastity. I swear, to this day I’m the only one in the family who sees the irony in that. In due time Chastity grew up and had her own little girl. She named her Ariel. “Oh, like in Shakespeare’s The Tempest?” I asked. “No. Like The Little Mermaid.” Conversations like this are why I don’t fit in at family reunions.
Chastity’s brother was a bull rider. He was actually their state’s high school champion bull rider. Bull riding is when a rider is helped onto the back of a bull wearing a cowboy hat and boots for protection (?) and then the bull is loosed and everyone waits to see how long until the rider falls off and gets trampled. The bulls are somehow trained or encouraged or otherwise caused to be mean, violent, and unpredictable. Actually I could save the industry some money – they can have the bulls come do my job for about a week before the event. Anyway, injuries – serious injuries – abound in this sport. As I write this my mom and my step-dad are in Las Vegas for the Professional Bull Riders Finals. They go every year. My step-dad has a special travel case for his hat.
I’ve got another cousin who recently got out of the hospital after being treated for a gunshot wound and depression. It turns out he wasn’t depressed after all. He’d let everyone think his gunshot wound was self-inflicted when as it turned out his girlfriend had shot him when he tried to stop her family from stealing stuff out of his trailer. This same cousin hasn’t had a driver’s license in a decade because of DUIs, but owns and drives both a motorcycle and a truck. He’s actually a lot of fun to hang out with.
Just so you don’t think I’m trash-talking my family and leaving myself out let me tell you about my first car date. I was twelve (my mom’s from Harlan County – remember?) and he was the sixteen-year-old nephew of my mom’s best friend. His family had a nice tobacco farm in an adjoining county, so my parents both thought this was a good match. He had his very own pickup truck. It had a gun rack, and there was a pack of Redman chewing tobacco on the dashboard. We went to the Paris Drive-In to see SuperVan, which as I recall was a pretty stupid movie. I can’t remember the poor boy’s name, but he was a perfect gentleman – never so much as put his arm around me during the movie and didn’t chew tobacco, either.
Yes, this post was wordy. Blame it on Dumb Mom at Parenting by Dummies – she’s hosting Wordful Wednesdays! And I wrote this with no intention of actually ever hitting “publish”, went completely against my gut feeling in putting it out there, so I’m also linking up for the “going against your intuition” prompt for Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop this week.