Summer Prayer of a Hebrew Redneck Wannabe

Aug 3rd, 2009

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Every summer, right in the hot, soft belly of July/August, 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 minivan rolled down (ain’t got no truck, just my luck), 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 nosy 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 Randy’s.

I’ll tell you what: The thing I miss most about America, truth be told, is not the jumbo sized Mountain Dew 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 isn’t quite sure (and doesn’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.

And I’m betting on no Bluetooth sticking to his ear.

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?

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 have just two more words: True Blood. This show had me at Howdy because it involves my two very favorite things of the moment: Rednecks and Vampires. I’ll be a network exec’s uncle if I know what they have in common (predators???) but DAMN.

Throw in Brad Pitt’s debut in Thelma and Louise and know this: 10 months a year I LOVE that my argumentative, close-talking, fast-walking, dark, intense, complex, spiritual and spiritual-phobic, text-obsessed, content-driven, sarcastic and bombastic, cell-phone shouting, hi-tech worshipping, 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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  1. 10 Responses to “Summer Prayer of a Hebrew Redneck Wannabe”

  2. Woman, you wrote what I was breathin’ yesterday when I looked up at my husband, from my flu, and said, “Is there somewhere we can just GET AWAY???” Anyway, now I’m drugged and therefore (relatively) lucid and wondering how I raised my children without medicine. I would love to make a trip to the states with hubby just to spend one week like we used to, riding the back roads of New Hampshire or Kentucky or West Virginia, even without the mountain climbing.

    By Toby on Aug 3, 2009

  3. The “time slowdown” of Baltimore (and the South in general) can also be experienced in Israel’s Northern communities and the Negev as well.

    The closer you get to Gush Dan/Merkaz Haaretz, the faster time gets, the pace increases, as does the close-talking, fast-walking, dark, intense, complex, spiritual and spiritual-phobic, text-obsessed, content-driven, sarcastic and bombastic, cell-phone shouting, and hi-tech worshipping.

    By Jameel @ The Muqata on Aug 3, 2009

  4. Another Alan Jackson fan in these parts? Hard to believe.

    By Turilli Chapin on Aug 7, 2009

  5. 2 hours past the fast- I must confess….
    I, too,(believe it or not) want a less complictaed, more straightforward, fewer rules, vacation. Glad we had what we did both to the north and east of us for all those years. Nobody can get to me the way that Keith, Garth and Brad can. But I know that if I am not careful, I will overlook the negative side of this because it’s just too damn easy! The only reason we can think this way is that we know, deep down, that it’s “just for vacation”……

    By D'vorah Klein on Sep 28, 2009

  6. I like your 10 things [the shavuout piece]
    I also miss hard Mayland Apples-Pritchard’s orchard
    Your article really rocks

    By Abba Klein on Sep 28, 2009

  7. I know about those yearnings, Sarah. This summer, in my mom’s minivan I cruised around North Ontario, drank beer and smoked cigarettes, visited a folk festival, cried to country music and lived like I used to be. Thank G-d I am a country girl!

    By Karin kloosterman on Oct 8, 2009

  8. My experience was similar, yet opposite. I was raised in a small country bumpkin town and then my parents moved me to a Jewish community at age 11. Needless to say, I’m pretty half and half now, at age 31. I only say this b/c so many people assume I’m Jewish and everywhere I go, even into the smallest of towns, I will end up attracting the one Jewish person in that town. I wouldn’t have it any other way though. Seriously. I happen to think the Jews rock! :)

    I think you would appreciate my friends band, JewGrass. I’m noticing this “redneck movement” amongst my Jewish peeps too. Here is a link to JewGrass:

    By Jo on Nov 2, 2009

  9. OMG THAT’S IT!! That’s exactly it!!

    By Shira on Jul 25, 2010

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