Monday, April 19, 2010

Once a country boy, always a country boy

You probably won’t think this is funny, but I find it hilarious.

A guy, born and raised in the suburbs of Dallas, moves out to the country, buys a John Deere riding lawnmower, puts some goats in his yard, shoots squirrels and possums, waves at people he passes on the road, and buys an old Ford pickup just because it’s an old Ford pickup.

These days I hardly even recognize myself. What’s next – a burn barrel?

You bet! Brought one home just the other day. You can’t be a practicing country boy without a burn barrel. I’ve actually started scrounging around the house to see what I can put in mine. Paper? Check. Cardboard boxes? Absolutely. Our collection of old Barney videos? Don’t tempt me.

I guess what’s funny about all this is that I was practically raised in malls, dealt with traffic congestion on a daily basis, didn’t know the names of the people who lived two houses down from me, could mow our yard in 15 minutes, and would have never thought of waving at someone I just passed on the road.

And that waving thing is what got me thinking about my transformation from city boy to country boy.

I wave at practically everybody now. It’s sort of the thing to do. You meet someone on a narrow oil top road, you best be waving. Especially if they wave at you first. Wouldn’t want to be un-neighborly, you know.

This is just my opinion, but I’m betting all this waving is carried over from old west times. You’re out on the range, where the deer and the antelope play, and you meet someone along the trail and to not say Howdy would be pert-near insulting. I mean, it’s you on a horse and him on a horse, and to keep on riding like you never saw each other would be plain silly.

People who ride motorcycles know what I’m talking about. It’s practically expected that when you cross paths with another motorcyclist you give them “The Wave.” We’re part of an exclusive club. Brothers and sisters on two wheels. We wave at our “family,” and don’t give a blessed care about those who travel on four wheels (except for pickup truck drivers. They’re okay.)

But owning a pickup does not necessarily guarantee admission to the country boy club. What matters is what you haul in it.

I know quite a few people who don’t haul anything in their trucks because they don’t want to scratch up the bed. That’s like having a charcoal grill and not cooking on it because it’s a little rusty. A truck is meant to haul stuff. A grill is meant to cook stuff. And to not use either as they were meant to be used is practically un-American.

I’ve been doing a lot of grilling lately. It’s an old grill, a little rusty, but it works just fine. When I brought home the burn barrel last week, my wife thought I was going to start using IT to grill things. Had to explain to her it was just for paper, dead limbs and her collection of Donnie Osmond records. She didn’t laugh.

It takes some people longer to transition from city person to country person, I guess.

So, let me see: I’ve got a grill, a burn barrel, some goats, an old truck, a motorcycle, and I wave at other drivers. I have a chainsaw on my porch, a shotgun in my closet, and a pocketknife in my pocket. All I need now is a boat and a cowboy hat.

I actually have been thinking about wearing a hat, but picking out the right one is a big decision. A hat says a lot about a person, and I don’t know if I want people judging me by what I put on top of my head. Is it best to fit in and wear one of those baseball-style caps? Or maybe just forget about covering my head, and display my almost-baldness with pride?

I went to the “Big City” the other day and drove past shopping malls, parking lots, high rise office buildings and luxury condos – things that a few years ago I viewed as normal and as the only way modern people were meant to live.

I saw a lot of trucks. I saw a lot of hats. I didn’t see any burn barrels, loose goats, or people waving at each other.

I couldn’t wait to get home to the country.

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