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.


doc said...

Oy, it's too early. First of all, the first guy, he looks exactly like my vet. I'm answering your inquiry in a post today. And my brother, who is sort of a scary redneck, is named Clyde. It's like "family day" at your blog.

Mommylion said...

K, you inspired my own 'redneck' post. I hope you don't mind that I linked to you. :)

Katherine said...

People want to know why I wrote this. For one, diversity is an important topic in homeschooling. For another, I hear all the time from so many different people, about "the rednecks." I have one friend who lives way out in the country, and whose family comes from a holler in Tennessee, who "hates rednecks." I hear it allllllll the time. And I grew up in this weird classist dichotomy of wealth and poverty. But mostly, we are in the deep south here. And the best thing happening is all informed by redneck culture. Snotty rich white people profiting off the plantation, not much more. Also, christ almighty, I can't think of a more dangerous people than upper middle class white boys raised on entitlement. So, sometimes a girl's just gotta write it out and get right in her head. Also, John Steinbeck is a champion of rednecks. And since I love him so much I've gotta have his back. And since I'm on a rant I might as well add that all the money that pours like a fucking hideous tide into this area is not improving anything. Its draining the soul from the place. Furthermore, all that money makes this place MEANER not nicer like how it was back when it was mostly a small redneck/university community. So yeah, rednecks ain't so bad as all that.

Amy said...

I love this post! I just returned from a visit to my hometown on the coast of NC, and every single time I am reminded of what the last 20 years has done to my quiet, mostly fishing-based home. DH and I moved to our sleepy little town 10 years ago, since then 12,000 others have followed and now they want to put a superhighway & access ramps right though our nice covenant-free, do-what-you-want working class neighborhood so those who have built the mansions on the lake don't have to be bothered with stoplights driving into Raleigh. There is nowhere left to go for a family of 'southern rednecks'.


Katherine said...

I feel you Amy. But its hard because I truly am both sides of the fence. I feel, so often, like such a hypocrite. I guess its all about awareness and honesty. I sit here loving my town even with all the changes, at the same time I sit here cursing the changes. Meet me at A Southern Season?