Sunday, May 22, 2011

Confessions of a Wife of a Redneck.... 1. Culture Shock

You might be a red neck if you mowed your grass and found your car.  Or if you've ever filled your deer tag on the golf course.  Or if you've ever bar-b-qued Spam on the grill...

I was a city girl.  I'd never been hunting and I watched my dad clean a fish --once; it grossed me out.  My only experience with a farm was at my grandparents' place where I played.  I never mucked out the stalls, milked cows, bucked hay or gathered eggs--Grandpa did all that. I didn't even ride the horses or the tractor.  We lived a few blocks from the grocery store and gas station and I lived near a wonderful downtown area where I could seriously shop or go to the movies. If I wanted to talk to a friend I just called her on the phone or walked the short distance to her home.  I was definitely a city girl.

Then I  married a redneck.  Oh, I didn't know he was one-- I'd never even heard of the term; I thought he was a cute charming ex-sailor who was going to be my prince. In time, being a redneck has become a status symbol--  a fella wearing a t-shirt with the sleeves cut off, jeans with a Skoal ring on his back pocket, and of course cowboy boots. He drives a bad-assed pick-up truck with a couple of guns in a rack on the back winder.  And somewhere on his person, pick-up or in his home you'll find a Rebel flag.  Always country music is playing somewhere in the background, like Charlie Daniel's The South's Gonna do it Again.  His lady calls herself a redneck woman. I never used that moniker in reference to myself.  I was raised better'n that.  I was always quick to point out that I was married into that family, not born into it.

I grew up around the forests and waterways of the beautiful Pacific Northwest, but I let  myself be talked into moving to West Texas and Oklahoma.  The culture shock was beyond belief and I was extremely homesick.  The Plains were flat and treeless; the fields of grain moved with the incessant wind like waves on a green or gold sea. It took me years to get used to the wind.  The family we initially stayed with didn't have indoor plumbing and for the first time in my life I had to use an outhouse.  Hubby scared me with tales of rattlesnakes making trips out to the privy terrifying. After hearing  Hubby's tales of twisters, storms frightened me as much as the snakes.  We we lived in Tornado Alley where the storms are violent--wind, hail, nasty lookin' green clouds-- it was like nothing I had ever seen before. Almost every home had a storm cellar, often inhabited by snakes and spiders, so when we heard a storm warning, I'd have to decide which would be worse-- encountering a tornado or a snake.  It was a tough choice but in the end, I'd go into the cellar; I'd stand smack dab in the middle of the room not touching the dirt walls, checking out every crevice.  While I never really got over my fear of snakes--I still have it, it diminished to manageable levels and I eventually grew to love storms.

We lived in the country with no phone and the mailman became my best friend as he was my contact with the outside world---him and the one or two TV channels brought in by an antenna.  Going to town for groceries was the high social event of the week.  However I didn't have to do much farming.  I flatly refused to learn to milk a cow--cattle scared me-- and the one time I tried to drive a tractor was a fiasco.  Hubby was moving equipment from one field to another and thought it would be helpful if I could drive one of the tractors.  It was his way to rattle off directions and expect the listener to understand immediately what he said.  He fired off  instructions on how to operate the tractor, telling me to follow him and he strode off to the equipment he was driving.  I did OK until we arrived at our destination and I realized I didn't quite get the part about stopping it. There was no brake pedal, I had to pull a lever or  some thingy, but which one?  I went barreling through the gate screaming "I can't stop it!" He chased me down and jumped on the tractor to stop it. He did not think it was funny.  That was my last tractor driving lesson, which was probably a pretty smart move on my part. 

I married into a family of hunters, and I learned how to clean game and fish against my will.  A redneck rule-- and there were lots of those-- was that if you bagged it you cleaned it... unless you were married, then you made your wife do it.  And she had to cook it too.  Not long after I had my first baby, we had just settled into a farm house and I was happy being the little housewife.  One afternoon Hubby opened the back door and tossed a couple of cottontail rabbits on the floor that he'd shot from the tractor.  He said, "You need to clean these and cook them for supper," and he hurried back to his plowing.  I approached the rabbits and one of them moved.  I jumped back.  He expected me to clean it, but did I have to murder it too?  And rabbits didn't have the decency to closed their eyes when they died, and how was I to be expected to dress out something that was looking at me?  That night Hubby found the rabbits right where he left them and he was not pleased--he had his mouth set on fried rabbit.  I didn't get away with that behavior very long.  I was soon skinning, gutting and scaling with the best of them.  I never got used to it, though, especially not the big soft brown eyes of the cottontails.  

I know I wrote "winder," and a few other words--trust me, the spell checker was all over them with red squiggly lines, but the language is appropriate to redneck stories.  I have much more to tell.. stay tuned...


  1. Not sure how you managed it. Seriously.

    A great, big BLECH! on skinning a nearly-dead rabbit.


  2. Very interesting reading. I've had quite a bit of your experiences with the country life. Only it was different in that here, hunting or 'shikaar' was a sport for royalty and well off citizens. And same with angling. My father's family lived in the country and so I experienced the cows and buffaloes and many things peculiar to an Indian country life. But once again I was a part of it as an observer.
    But I enjoyed all of it. It was fun for me as a city bred girl. I even became a bit of a shikaari (hunter) myself. However rabbits was something I couldn't eat because I had some as pets.

    Looking forward to some more...:)

  3. I felt like that moving to Chewelah from Seattle. My husband and son learned to hunt and the first time I saw a deer hanging from our tree in the front yard to drain with everyone driving by was gross. I called my friend back home and told her how disgusting it was. I never cleaned it , my older son and I proclaimed we were the consumers only. My grandmothers stories sound like this though, wow, I would have been rebelious too. I did complain when we would have family gatherings here where us women would prepare the dinner and clean up too and even on Mother's Day. Then after years of complaining we finally said they had to help clean up and that was that. Begrudgingly they did, geeeez they had it good for so many years. Love your stories and now I can finally post, figured it out, simple as making sure I uncheck the "keep me signed in box" on the google sign in, geeeez so simple. oh what happened to your pics?