Originally written on April 15, 2010

At a recent social gathering in Southern Pennsylvania (near my home), I was chatting with an acquaintance from the city who was proclaiming his disdain for all of the Confederate flags being flown in the area. He stated, rather emphatically: I can’t believe there are so many rednecks around here!

Just as he was making his proclamation, a gentleman with what I would call a “mullet to end all mullets” was walking behind him. The mullet-clad gentleman didn’t bat a brow, yet I felt equal parts embarrassment and fall
down hilarity at the statement and the situation.

This got me thinking about my own “redneck” history so to speak. I grew up in Laramie, Wyoming. While being the cultural epoch of Wyoming due to the University residing there, Laramie would definitely be considered redneck territory. In seventh grade, all students were required to take a “Hunter’s Safety” course in which 12 and 13 year-old children were ultimately required to shoot live rounds from .22 caliber rifles in the gymnasium to pass the class. I would assume this class is no longer a requirement of Laramie Junior High School, but it demonstrates a mentality that many would classify as “redneck.”

This isn’t to say that I was automatically a redneck by proxy. My parents, originally from a small town in Illinois, had no interest in hunting or stock car racing or confederate flags or anything else associated with so-called redneck culture. Not to imply that any of those things make one a defacto redneck per se, I suppose it is a mindset in and of itself. I have met many individuals who proudly embrace the redneck label. The culture of the redneck seems to be a self-identifying cultural schema unto itself.

So what exactly makes one a redneck? Is it truck balls? A mullet hairdo? A confederate flag proudly waved in a state that fought against the confederacy some 140 odd years ago? I enjoy living in the country and stepping outside my home to take a whiz (hey, it’s water conservation). While I don’t own a large pick-up truck, I do enjoy borrowing one from a friend and tearing up some terrain. I have watched nascar for more than ten consecutive minutes. Do any of these make me a redneck? I really can’t answer that as it’s time to water the plants, if you know what I mean.