June 25, 2008
What's Up Doc?
Scroungy-assed old truck, smelly dog, loitering, unkempt demeanor. Meet one of the most beloved physicians in this area. Doc meet Them. Them, Doc. God, I love this man. I took my two day old baby Henry in for his first check up to this doctor. He picked Henry up, held him on his shoulder, and rocked him for about 5 minutes in silence. Just stood there with my new baby like he actually might never let him go. Stood there so long it got a wee bit uncomfortable and then said, "Ohhhhhhhh, I LOVE babies. And this is a good one." That was the bulk of the exam, really. Yeah, Doc. He keeps a guitar in his examining room. Puts nervous big fellas at ease when Doc can pick a bit as they talk. I Love This Man. What was he doing in the parking lot? He was, literally, he was chasing rainbows. He likes to photograph them.
Then there is Doc. You can click over for a picture. One of the most interesting things about Doc, is that as you read through her blog you can't quite figure out where she fits in the social strata. Is she really a "Doctor" working while she farms? Is she independently wealthy? Does she muck with goats for fun? Is she a freak homesteader? Did she work like hell for a long time and is now retired? Where do we put this Pollyanna farm girl with the fluttery eye lashes? Turns out, I learned 10 seconds ago, she is retired. She is a retired molecular biologist, among other things. But what I have enjoyed a lot for the few years I've been reading her blog, is that you never could quite tell for sure.
Then there is my Dad, a doctor himself. Then there is the kid mopping up after a night in Hell (that's Trolls for all you old timers.) She probably has her PhD, or is about to. Our community has the highest PhD per capita in the United States. We are one well educated crew. Call us Dr. NC if you like. But that's not what makes us most interesting.
Consider Clyde. I'll make a few assumptions about Clyde for you. I've met him, more than once. Clyde is a scary redneck. Seriously. His face is frighteningly dirty. He smells. He lives in a hovel. I feel certain he hates niggers, and I can't say any worse about a person than that. Most uneducated, he wins that prise. He also hangs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Or the Smithsonian, I can't remember which. Back a long years ago, Baryshnikov was dancing for the American Dance Festival in Durham. He heard about Clyde's work and decided he wanted to own hisself a piece of Clyde. He drove up to his house (oh dear God) and offered him (ok, and this was the early 80s) offered him $10,000 for one sculpture. That may actually have been equal to Clyde's property value at the time. Clyde ran him off. He isn't for sale. Clyde flat don't care. But I've walked away from his house with art freely given. Clyde gives his art to children for free.
I come from this totally bizarre mixed up culture of amazing wealth and culture and amazing poverty and culture. I've pissed barefooted in Hell and I've pissed underneath original Degas. Within a two mile radius, actually. We are rednecks here. We eat redneck. We talk redneck. We have plenty of hate to spare. And we also walk in rarefied air.
Here is the thing so many don't get. The feared rednecks are no worse and no better than the wealthy upper class. And hating rednecks is not so different from any other kind of racism. If you fear rednecks or judge rednecks as so very many do, you have missed something profound and deep. In a way, we are all rednecks. We may be dressed up, but we are no different. Why? Because folks are folks. I've met most of the kinds of folks there are to meet. The only real difference is smell. Folks are folks and they all smell different. They all come from various cultures, each with blindness and gifts. But folks are folks are folks are folks.
This is the lesson in diversity I most hope to convey to my kids.