This post is about 90% recycled from 2009. But it’s still true, so I figured, what the heck:
Every summer, right in the hot, soft belly of July/August, especially on thick, soupy nights like this one, I’m hit with it in the head, like the skillet of an angry housewife: the urge to play Alan Jackson loud with the windows of my station wagon rolled down, hang back on my porch at sundown, and go out drinking with the girls. You guessed that right, son – Redneck Fever.
I’m guessing I can’t be the only (sub)urban sophisticate, the lone overly-serious Jewish girl, with an occasional thing for white trashiness. Growing up in Baltimore / Silver Spring in the 80′s, I was buffered by a strong, warm, and nosey Orthodox community, but just beyond the breach in the bubble stretched vast redneck territory, and boy: the country radio was sweet, and so was the drive out to the pool where I guarded up in Reisterstown, and the trip out to Spa Lady in Timonium. And going Down-the-Ocean, or to school down in Montgomery County via US route 29 from B-more, you best believe we crossed paths with plenty of Earls and Randys.
I’ll tell you what: The thing I miss most about America, truth be told, is not the jumbo sized Mountain Dew, the tiny purse-sized cosmetics flavored like candy, or even Bed, Bath and Beyond. It’s the people. The space they give you, the space in them. Things are simple, basic, and on an as-need basis. Ain’t no right or wrong way to breathe, hon.
Take the relaxed way the locals speak, south of the Mason-Dixon, the reassuring gait out back to the truck to get another part, the walk of a man who ain’t quite sure (and don’t quite care) what the final result was of the Civil War. (Yes, I am aware – this has its downsides…) He’s got time, and he keeps his thoughts to himself.
They are probably straightforward thoughts and not historically complicated, mired in guilt, or otherwise needing of footnotes and subscripts and ardent, multi-nuanced opinions. (Perhaps for this reason, the Iroquois and Cherokee nations have not made too much of a fuss about their Nakba of 1776. What good would it do? Again – I am aware: This has significant downsides.)
But it gets me thinkin’. Where’s the Israeli ability to sit quietly with one’s thoughts? Or to separate sin from guilt, wrong from outright lost? We could use some self-forgiveness around here, some private 12oz. absolution. Calm contrition. Contemplative work. “Hell, was I wrong, but tomorrow is for fixin’. Now back to what needs doin’.” Can you hear that coming from a Levantine mouth? Can you imagine anyone letting it?
And excuse the non-sequitur, but what about baseball? Remember night games in August rained out in the 5th, beer and nachos floating down the aisles, sunburned women in yellow ponchos running to the car and thinking they’d be protecting their hair with the drenched paper program they were holding up over their heads?
Shoot, ain’t nostalgia a bitch.
And if you still had any doubt that Rednecks rock, I refer you to Brad Pitt’s long-ago but still oh-so-relevant debut in Thelma and Louise . Oh, Brad: Why the arthouse pieces that don’t make any sense? Please go back to shirtless in Oklahoma. Much obliged.
Ya’ll listen up: 10 months a year I LOVE that my argumentative, close-talkin’, fast-walkin’, dark, intense, complex, spiritual and spiritual-phobic, text-obsessed, content-driven, apology-addicted, sarcastic and bombastic, cell-phone shoutin’, hi-tech worshippin’, God-ambivalent family of Jews is who I live among, but LORD – if I don’t wish every summer for a wide open I-64 and a beat- up old Ford, some Virginia dreamin’, and a bottle of Mountain Dew so big I can hear my kidneys screamin’.
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