My wife likes to listen to classical music, the orchestral kind. I do not get transported the same way that she does, all of that culture leaves me with a mental picture of Bugs Bunny and Yosemite Sam creeping up on each other with a hammer or an anvil, or a stick of dynamite in hand. It is true. Bugs Bunny is where I have originally heard all of those scores. It is possible that kids cartoons have ruined classical music for me, forever.
It could be that I lack culture, or more likely, the culture that I have is not coming from the same place. I am more like to groove along with something like “Everything I Own has Got a Dent” by Randy Travis than to La Traviata. It could be that I am just a little bit redneck. There are ways for people with self doubts to see if they are that way inclined. Here are a few questions that might plumb the equation.
You might be just a little bit redneck....IF
1) You ever passed a fried chicken place and thought of Sunday after church.
2) You have ever come home from work physically sore.
3) You get your blood up when Allstar Wrestling comes on TV.
4) As a teen you were the “seasonal labour” during picking and haying season.
5) You watch “Trailer Park Boys” and feel like you know some of the characters personally.
6) When you hear the phrase “canned goods” you think of your mother and the smell of pickling spice.
7) You have an aunt who spent summers up at the “trailer” working on her tan with her special baby oil and iodine mix.
8) You ever caught a wild animal while out playing.
9) You ever shot a gun at tin cans on a rock just for fun.
10) You watered the grass and picked your own worms to go fishing.
11) You ever thought of a tractor pull, a drive-in or a barn dance as a good time.
12) You have received a lift home in the flatbed of a pickup truck.
13) You have fooled around with your girlfriend on a blanket in a farmer’s field.
14) You have worried that your girlfriend’s dad might actually kill you.
15) You have had a fist fight over a matter or personal honour.
16) You have had a car accident that involved hitting a live animal.
17) You have ever helped a friend milk the cows or feed the pigs so that he could come out to play.
18) You have swum in a pond instead of a swimming pool
19) You have referred to a woman of loose morals as a “Whoooo-er” instead of a “Ho”.
20) You watched a junk-yard derby and cringed because the cars getting smashed resembled your own.
21) You knew tattos as something people only did when indiscriminately drunk.
22) You went barefoot all summer and your parents thought it was a good idea because it saved on shoes.
23) You watched Anna Kournikova every time she played, even though you didn’t know a thing about tennis.
24) You have ever solved “wild animal pest control” without outside intervention.
25) Camping is your preferred holiday.
26) You know how to use Bondo.
27) Your parents ever got confused when calling the kids, just which one you were.
I am not going to say how many of those resonate with me, but those would be some of my own redneck questions. If you checked a lot off that list, chances are you have redneck roots. Of course, in Canada, being a redneck is not like the classic image that comes to mind like Hatfields and McCoys. Think more endearing, and a bit more calm. You won’t likely get shot. Kind of like Don Cherry of Coach’s Corner, or Bob and Doug MacKenzie of SCTV fame, hosers from the Great White North.
If you have ever lived in a small town you might know some of its charms. Whether they are charming might also be a matter of personal conjecture. I can recall taking my wife to visit Peterborough, the place where I mainly grew up. They had about five factories, and about as many bars. I remember taking my wife to the Trent Inn, a downtown drinking establishment. The evening show featured a local yodeller of some fame, with no hint of irony. My wife (I think) was charmed. At least, she had never seen anything like it before.
I have been back through Peterborough a few times on the way to camping, and just like J.D.Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy, things are not looking so good in the old home town. Factories mainly closed down, cost of living such that people can’t get by the same way they used to, without moving away or seeking a higher education. Lots of substance abuse. It makes me sad, because the good face of small-town Canada is rapidly vanishing and losing its innocence.
It makes me feel a little bit lucky, because there are many good things I hold in memory that I know up close by experience. I could say that a lot of the things I have loved in life have been at least a little bit redneck, but maybe that would be giving too much away. It could be that I have some kind of personal stake in a world that has been slipping away for a long time.
There are many good things about being at least a little bit redneck. If the “good parts of being redneck” does not compute with you, there is a pretty good chance that you are NOT a redneck.
Rural roots can be charming. Try the test out for yourself.
I won’t tell you my score. It is possible that I have changed after almost thirty years of marriage. But then again, every time I listen to classical music.....