Monday, May 14, 2007

"Things I've Learned About Kentucky"

I am still working on Sparkly. I have nothing to say about it that doesn't invlove four-letter words, so I've decided to share something totally non-knitting related with you.

A while ago, my dear brother, whose passions include antiquing, gourmet dining, and libertarian politics, decided to move from downtown San Francisco, where he had lived for about 20 years, to rural Kentucky. I don't know why; don't ask. But shortly after he moved there, he wrote the following, which never fails to make me laugh out loud. I understand that one of the local residents discovered this little essay online and circulated it through his tiny Kentucky town, and my brother is now rather notorious in those parts. In the interests of not offending anyone who may take this a bit too seriously, may I say that my brother fully intended it to be humorous, in a dry, tongue-in-cheek sort of way. Enough said. So here, without further ado, is:

Things I’ve Learned About Kentucky

Mufflers are apparently optional on cars and especially on pickup trucks. Of course, a beat up old Ford pickup truck, with big tires, and painted with a do-it-yourself, five-toned camouflage paint job would be pretty incongruous with a prissy, quiet exhaust tone.

Camouflage is surprisingly versatile. It not only hides dents and rust on your pickup truck, but it’s great for clothing too. You have your outdoor camouflage for duck hunting, your casual camouflage for shopping at Wal-Mart, and your formal camouflage for dinners with the missus at Arby’s. Camouflage works for pants, shirts, sweats, jackets, baseball caps, and for all I know, underwear. Fashion clothing designers: are you listening?

Speed limits are for sissies. Just because the highway has only one lane, is barely wide enough for your car, has deep ditches along each side instead of shoulders, and is wet or icy is no excuse for driving at a reasonable speed.

Churches are nearly as common as houses. There are about four churches on my street, which is about a quarter-mile long. There also seems to be a thriving real estate market for churches, judging by the number that have “For Sale” signs on them.

Rats weigh up to 20 pounds around here. Shoot, why risk getting BSE from eating beef when you have rats that size? And rats are free.

It can get cold here. You can tell it’s cold because you can see steam rising from your hands while you’re driving the car. That and the fact that after sitting on the cold car seat for five minutes, you can’t feel your butt anymore.

If you see an abandoned building, think again. Plenty of buildings around here look abandoned, what with boarded up or broken windows, collapsed porch roofs, junk strewn about the front of the building, and weeds three feet high growing all over the property. But chances are that the building, whether it be a house or an old gas station, is probably occupied by some old codger.

You really can’t have too many rusted cars in your yard. The problem comes when you don’t organize them properly. For instance, it’s better to put them in a neat row than leave them strewn haphazardly about the yard. Also, it’s nice to color coordinate them. Don’t put the red ones next to the green ones. Put the red ones next to the purple ones. I’ll bet Martha Stewart could come up with a clever way to turn all that raw material into something artsy.

Food, Gas, Beer. Three little words you always see on signs for mom and pop convenience stores. I guess that pretty much sums up life’s priorities around here. Actually, they left off Ammo, except that Ammo is two syllables. Oh, and beer really means Bud. Bud Lite if it’s a classy place.

Dinner theatre consists of chili dogs and beer (i.e. Bud) at a tractor pull event.

Chitlins is actually a food. I never knew that. You can often find it in the frozen foods section of the grocery store. Served warm, with some barbecue sauce for dipping, it makes a great appetizer.

Mobile homes are common. You have your single-wide homes and your double-wide homes. That is, until a tornado comes through town and you have to get a new one. Like buildings, just because a mobile home has boarded up windows, exterior paneling coming off and flapping in the breeze, and rust stains down the side doesn’t mean that it’s abandoned. Clue: if you see a beat up old pickup truck with a camouflage paint job parked outside such a mobile home, it’s probably not abandoned.

Barbecue is big around here. There are even regional barbecue cook offs. Meat is usually barbecued in a separate shed because every now and then the grease catches fire and burns down the shed. Barbecue is usually served with beer (i.e. Bud).

There’s a lot of wildlife around here. Unfortunately, much of it is road kill. Dead possums, deer, skunks, squirrels, and dogs litter the highway. Strangely, they don’t seem to stick around very long. Come to think of it, venison and possum stew are pretty popular around here...

New cars aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. The most popular kind of car is one that’s fifteen to twenty years old, preferably American, with shot springs so it rides low to the ground, windows that don’t roll up all the way, or better yet, are just plain missing, and pieces of the car dangling off it. I think the dangling bits of shiny molding scare off crows that might otherwise attempt to take up residence in the vehicle when it’s parked. Rust on the body is also a plus, as is smoke belching from the tailpipe. Point of style: never, never apply a camouflage paint job to a car. Camouflage should only be used on pickup trucks, and then liberally. It is, however, acceptable to wear camouflage while driving a car.

Baseball caps are always fashionable. In fact, if you see a male dining in a restaurant and he’s not wearing a baseball cap, he’s probably queer.

Periodically throughout the day I go on “bug patrol” around the house. The only real problem I have with bugs is from these creepy, inch-and-a-half-long, orange and black mud daubers (like a wasp) that wriggle their way into my house, from who knows where. Usually they hunch in the middle of the carpet, their black wings erect, creating a most aggressive appearance. But the other day I was sitting on the sofa watching TV and one of the little buggers appeared on the armrest next to me! What nerve! Twice I’ve had the disturbing misfortune of stepping on them, leaping into the air both times. I’ve nicknamed my toilet the WDU (wasp disposal unit).

Backyard playground equipment can be fashioned from almost any discarded appliance or automobile part. Washing machines, refrigerators, stoves, broken office chairs, metal or wooden desks, and rear axles from cars (preferably with the wheels and tires attached) make excellent toys. Basically, anything you don’t feel like hauling to the dump is a great candidate for turning into playground equipment.

You can actually find a taxidermy shop here for all those varmints you bag. You can’t say that about the city. So if you don’t feel like eating the 20-pound rat you killed, you can get it stuffed and display it on your mantle.

The large tree right outside my bedroom window is some kind of friggin’ nocturnal animal meeting place. Squirrels, birds, and raccoons regularly travel up and down it, chirping and chattering at one another, while dogs literally bark at the moon at the base of the tree. Every now and then a squirrel makes an acrobatic leap from a branch of the tree onto my roof and gallops across the roof overhead.

Religion is important here. Where else can you hear a diner at the next table in a restaurant say “I love preaching”? Or hear the word “god” uttered 67 times, “lord” mentioned 33 times, “pray” mentioned 14 times, and “preach” mentioned 23 times at one table in just half an hour?

The Civil War is still important. Do people around here realize that the American Civil War happened about a hundred and fifty years ago? It’s time to move on people!

Old tires – car, truck, ATV, golf cart, any kind – make excellent planters. You can stack them to make taller planters, and paint them white for a classier look.

Copyright © 2004-2007 Dave Eriqat


Anonymous said...

It is really funny! I have seen camoflouage boxers in the stores just recently and wondered who needed to hide in just their underwear.

Anonymous said...

OK, for one thing, he forgot the live bait. You can’t get your food, gas, beer and ammo and forget the live bait.

Second, inform your brother that chitlins are pig intestines, perhaps he will think again.

Third, if he’s thinking that someone put possum in the burgoo, that’s just dead wrong. All Kentuckians know that you put squirrel in the burgoo.

In addition, the 20 pound rat is probably a possum that he’s mistaking for a rat. And everyone knows a stuffed animal of that size will not stay on the mantel.

Ask your brother if he’s ever eaten the following: beer cheese (river rat or Hall’s?), Benedictine, burgoo.

Finally, he’ll never pass for a native unless he learns how to say the following Louisville (Lou-uh-vull), Versailles (Ver-sayles), Athens (Ay-thens).

(Who moved away for 20 years and is still a little freaked out that she moved back.)

sophanne said...

Pig intestines indeed- those are for Yanks- where I once lived "chitlins" were also called "Rooster Fries" and were the testicles of said birds. Try comprehending that when you're a 4th grade kid born in Cleveland.

Living and teaching in camo-country, sometimes I just crack myself up when all the kids come into school in their camo flak jackets and I say, "Brandon, how'd you do that- you look like a floating head? Where's the rest of you?"

Anonymous said...

That is really funny!

Faith said...

Chitlins? Oh heavens! I had no idea! I've never been to Kentucky but it seems like a a place with a whole lotta character.