When folks grow up in an area away from the big city there is a certain type of lifestyle that takes shape. We that live in the boondocks don’t think of it as strange or different in any way. It’s just normal to us. Those who have inhabited the areas of the world where you can’t see the stars at night don’t really understand and think of us as undereducated, uncivilized, and uncouth. In reality we are just misunderstood.
I like to think of the urban folks in a pitying sort of way. They can’t help that they have appalling deficiencies in hook baiting, car fixing, vegetable growing, fish cleaning, and a myriad of other skills. It is only by accident of birth that they live a lonely existence of financial report reading, brief case toting, and desk sitting. It is unfortunate that there are people who live like that. They miss the real stuff life is made of.
However I don’t want to dwell on those poor creatures. Here’s a sampling of things you would have experienced had you been lucky enough to grow up in Rutledge, Georgia (circa 1965).
If the truck was up on blocks or incapacitated in any way we would put the john boat in the trunk of our car and haul it to the fishing hole. No matter that it stuck up out of the back in a very unique manner and no matter that when you got home the trunk wouldn’t close because the latch was ruined. The fishing trip was deemed to be imminently more important.
While heading down the road with the family it was of extreme importance to have several gallon milk jugs in the station wagon. Their purposes were many and the two most important were to fill up the radiator if it overheated and to use as a porta-potty in the case of emergency. It was intolerable to think that the jugs had been left behind.
From time to time, there was occasion to go take junk down to the county dump. It was quite an event for us because we could get rid of lots of stuff that was no good and often times bring back stuff that was much better. There were always appliances, fishing tackle, and other sundries for the taking.
In our barn we had a feed bin, storage room for hay, and pens in which to feed the calves. The feed bin was a popular place for hefty wharf rats to gather while they ate the feed that had spilled on the ground. We set an ingenious trap using a fish basket and a nice piece of meal cake for the critters. Imagine our joy when we discovered that the trap contained a dozen or so of the revolting beasts. We made a bee line to get our pellet guns and finish them off. We were proud of our contribution to making the barn a safer, nicer place for the calves.
In addition to the experiences we had here is a list of things we learned as proper etiquette:
- Do not under any circumstances pick up chicken off the serving plate with your fingers. Stick a fork in it, put it on your plate, and then eat it with your hands. (Note: Do these things quickly lest you wind up with the least desirable piece.)
- If eating with the neighbors never leave food on your plate. If the English peas are abhorrent to you just leave a little milk in the bottom of your glass and unobtrusively slip the little green slime balls into the glass. They cannot be seen and you will have a clean plate.
- Never take your cooler into a restaurant and put it under the table. You must leave it in the truck and excuse yourself from time to time to go check on it.
- If you were lucky enough to be eating at a Chinese restaurant, do not take the chopsticks and begin sharpening them with your pocket knife even if they are too dull to stick into the meat.
- Never boil or broil Spam. Always fry it.
- When storing an open can of dog food in the refrigerator, always cover it with tin foil.
And a couple more things we learned about cultural protocols:
If the neighbor’s dog comes into your yard, it is unacceptable etiquette to practice your archery skills on it. There are grave consequences if the poor creature limps back home with an arrow in its posterior.
Do not try to chew tobacco while taking infield practice. One wrong bounce could prove to be a near fatal experience.
These are just a few of the highlights of country living and learning. Don’t let anyone tell you that the bright lights of the city are where the action is. The urbanites would have you believe that it’s more fun to go to the theater than to go fishing. They think an afternoon at an art museum is more educational than time spent in the woods hunting. They don’t even know what a frog gig is and they sure don’t have a place to dig worms.
I feel sorry for them.