Columns » Bob Lancaster

Putting meat on the table, and necks



The point of this one is, now that the long political campaign and the election are over, there are no Ol' Moi opinions left in the old kit bag. I'm fresh out. Just don't care. Drained dry of scoff and chortle. Indifferent to issues and issuers, down to the minutiae of the public-sphere minutiae, down to the bedrock Huckabite ridiculi.

On account of this sudden opinion drouth, I've given over the space this week to some nonpartisan noncontroversial ratiocinations on the low-priority topics of putting meat on the holiday table and rednecks taking over TV.

• Another deer season underway with a record number of first-day kills. Not surprising since there's about as much sport in deer-hunting now as there is in shooting cows. Hard not to kill one with your car on the way in to your lease.

And turkeys getting nervous, especially those up around the Yellville Drop Zone and those who've seen the grisly background axe-murder in the Sarah Palin YouTube.

So much for the meat, and now for the necks.

• One TV season ape-dookeys on cop shows, another hospital dramas, another mob family sagas, or baseball and war miniseries, or sitcoms or Britcoms. Last season it was ghost hunters, nonfictional night stalkers of the green-lit paranormal. And this season has been laid claim to by rednecks.

You've got the duck dynasty, the swamp boys, the Bayou Billionaires, the Lady Hoggers, the Rocket City Rednecks, the Moonshiners, and Little Miss Redneck Honey Boo Boo. Now comes Redneck Island, where redneck-survivalist types compete for prizes that include a personalized outhouse, an ice chest full of cold beer, and a lifetime supply of lizard jerky. I don't know nothing about no lizard jerky but I could go for a new skinning knife or one of them classy antler chandeliers.

It's my theory that the TV programmers' 2012 fascination with neckery is rooted in all the news and trumped-up excitement that attended the Tea Party politicking leading up to the 2010 elections. I don't know that for a fact, though, or much of anything else about rednecks for a fact.

I don't even know what a redneck is. What qualifies you as one? What differentiates the authentic neck like Junior Samples from the obvious imposter neck like Larry the Cable Guy? Or the obviously genuine Jerry Lee neck from the obviously phony Mickey Gilley neck?

It's largely a subjective thing, a judgment call — like Justice Potter Stewart's description of pornography as something that's hard to define but you know it when you see it.

But you need to be stout or scrawny to be a redneck, although being neither doesn't disqualify you. The scrawny need to be of a scrawny type that used to be called wormy-looking, and the stout need to be of a certain porcine aspect that's rarely seen in this country outside of redneckery but that's common among Germans and Russians who derive from stolid peasant stock.

Real necks are obliged to sport appropriate headware, and you can't go wrong here with the giveaway company-logo ballcap, which you don't have to doff even for sex or funerals or when you get baptized but might want to for the National Anthem or Pledge of Allegiance. You don't want a propeller beanie, a porkpie or Stetson, or even a cap that might lead someone to think you'd have truck with Michael Moore. Hatless you'll need either a close buzz or a full mane apparently heavily cootie-colonized.

Crooked teeth don't count against the aspirant neck, especially if they jut over a bashful chinny smile indicative of at least one prison term.

There's a distinctive redneck vocabulary, recognizable as such, but it isn't very large.

You don't necessarily have to have tattoos.

It should qualify you if at one time or another you had a new baby daughter and seriously mulled naming her Squirrelene.

Or if you've ever been boogered up something awful from having been run over by a combine.

Or if you have more than one house-pet cougar, and give them free run of the doublewide, and share their litterbox.

You don't have to have been to the Opry, or even like country music, but you have to admire or profess admiration for Patsy Cline and George Jones.

Texans would like to be rednecks, but they're 99 per cent too far west. That's because Redneck Country has distinct geographical limitations. And the western border of it runs from around Beaumont to Tulsa, and the northern border from Tulsa to Springfield, Mo., to Bowling Green, Ky., and on then to Richmond. The Carolinas don't have many rednecks, and I don't know why that is. South Carolinians especially strike me as just a bunch of angry little Tidewater pricks. Completely lacking in the typical redneck languor. Gamecocks — a perfect mascot for them.

But Georgia is almost 100 percent neck, even their African Americans, even Jane Fonda when she was there. Heirs of Jeeter Lester one and all. Florida has a lot of rednecks too, except metropolitan Yankee retirees can't be rednecks, and Jews can't, and singing cartoon rodents, crickets and dwarves can't.

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