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.
Â 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 isnâ€™t quite sure (and doesnâ€™t quite care) what the final result was of the Civil War. (Yes, I am aware â€“ 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?
Â 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. Â 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 donâ€™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’.