Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Requiem For a Redneck

Early morning, the day after Thanksgiving, Gene Harris, a.k.a. Ozzy, passed on to the Great Hunting Preserve in the Sky. He had suffered for quite a while and it was more relief than sadness when he finally gave up the his spirit. That man had a firm grip on life, but now he can go watch Elvis sing in person. I wish him well.

I learned a lot through his passing. I learned a hard lesson about family. I learned the true meaning of "family".

No matter how you treat a person, care for them, feed them, provide shelter to them, look after them, give them money, help them with a problem, even be dependent on for their very survival, if you are not a blood relative, you are not family.

Oh sure, people will say that you are just like family, or you are married in to the family, but there is no list of good or charitable deeds long enough to get you completely vested to be able to consider yourself family. If you are not born into a family, you are not, nor will you ever really truly be, part of that family.

You will never have the right to have a real opinion about another's family members. All you will be allowed are smiles and nods and a willing ear, but your voice is never valid enough to comment - unless it is something good. Then, you can add that comment to the list of things that will never, ever get you vested enough to truly be considered part of the family. Ain't happ'nin'. Ever. Get over it.

The wife and I moved back home to help care for Ozzy back in June. We (mostly the wife) fed, dressed, provided medical care to him and sometimes we just sat and provided company. It was a 24 hours a day thing. So, we were there when he passed and we helped bathe and dress him and prepare him for the funeral home. Rarely in the 6 months since we've been back here did we ever see anyone from his "family" for more than 5 minutes at a time and often weeks would go by between visits.

Until he died.

Then people came out of the woodwork.

It is a very sad commentary on the human condition. People, for the most part, are ugly when it comes to this. Like vultures lined up at a road kill, people start listing off the things they intend to claim for themselves. I do believe that most people are quite capable of murder over something trite like an old box of tools or a cowboy hat.

Me, I was under the false impression that people are either good, or they are not. The good people you hang on to and the ones that are not, you keep at arms length or better. The false impression lies in the fact that in almost every case, family trumps this. People will defend even the most foul of family members over a true friend or a spouse. Spouses are not family no matter how nice they are and don't ever let anyone tell you different. If you think that, then you have not experienced a test of this bond.

The Bible says that you are supposed to severe this aspect of your life in favor of your spouse because they are supposed to be the seed of your family future. But this is a rare occurrence and I would wager that those who would claim this to be true for themselves, again have never faced the test.

Wait until someone dies and see for yourself. You will find out then what the definition of "family" is and see if you fit into it.

After having sacrificed a life elsewhere to come here, it was Ozzy's wish that I at least be a pall bearer. Unfortunately, I am not "family" and so a big stink was raised at the funeral. I stepped back in the interest of getting it over with and and just being away from the vultures. The will hasn't been read yet, so the pot still simmers. With Ozzy's "family" lurking in the background, there is no telling what shenanigans may be in store.

I am saddened by all of this. I am saddened to my core to come to the realization that people, by and large, are horrible, self-centered, selfish self-absorbed, hypocritical, unkind creatures who expect the world to bend to their wishes regardless of the moral implications.

What ever happened to basic right and wrong? What ever happened to espousing goodness and light? What ever happened to love for your fellow man?

There is no justice any more. Everything is just talk, just words to paint one's self a cloak to hide the absolution of any personal responsibility to be remotely human. I mean, all we have to do is say we're sorry and we're supposed to be forgiven. Even if we don't mean it. We'd do what ever we did wrong again in a heartbeat if we thought we could get away with it, or if we thought we would get somewhere from it.

What's the worst that could happen? We say were sorry again? We always know our family loves us no matter what..

Pity the orphan who has to earn their love every day for they have no real family to love them unconditionally.

Me, I am sticking to the good people, bad people theory, family or not. This, I am comfortable with. This, I can justify how I treat people. This suits my moral compass. I don't care if you are family. If you crap on me, you will have a hard time washing it off your hands when you wipe. I expect people to do the same to me. It's how we account for ourselves and is a deterrent for behavior that could have ill effects. That is my goodness and light and that's what gets me through the darkness.

Early morning, the day after Thanksgiving, Gene Harris, a.k.a. Ozzy, passed on to the Great Hunting Preserve in the Sky.

I learned a lot through his passing. I learned the world is a much darker place than I ever imagined and one is better off if they learn how to hold their own.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Today's Weather - Heat Stroke

Hey Y'all,

Today the National Weather Service issued one of it's worst types of warnings. Worse than Flood Warning, worse than Tornado Warning, worse than Severe Thunderstorm Warning, even worse than a Hurricane Warning, it's the dreaded Heat Advisory.

Heat advisories are the worst because the kind of heat they are predicting can cause death in most places. Back in the 70's, hundreds of people died over one weekend in Chicago. It's heat you can't get away from. It assaults you, protecting it's turf, taking offense at your intrusion into it's territory the moment you step out into it like a street thug with nothing better to do. It's the kind of heat that, while not recommended for sanitary reasons, one could fry an egg on any flat surface. Ants will walk around giving the finger thinking someone is wielding a magnifying glass over their beady little sugar-sucking heads.

A brief foray out on to the back porch to take a leak will cause the average person to pass out. It's the kind of oppressive heat that makes your lungs feel like you've just sucked in a bucket of hot beach sand. My buddy Ryan "Hushpuppy" Smith says, "It's the kind of heat that makes your underwear stick to you like a clammy, clingy ex-wife who refuses to move on."

Here in the South, heat advisories are often taken in stride by those born to Southern ways. You'll hear the comment, "It's gonna be a mite hot today." and people will go about their business as though the heat were a minor annoyance. They'll take precautions like drinking more water and finding shade more often, but it's not going to stop the work from getting done.

It's the transplanted Yankees that will whine, complain and hand out warnings and advice on how to avoid the heat and the complications of dehydration or heat stroke. They'll drone on and on about how dangerous the heat is, but will be the first to get upset if the landscaper takes longer than they should to get the lawn done. In three months they'll be whining about frost advisories and talking about how to prevent damage to your fragile plants and what new nogs are in fashion. They should have stayed up north.

This is also the kind of heat that makes the lake warmer, the weeds grow faster and the bugs bigger. To complicate matters, the humidity levels raise to the point of attempting to live under water. Mosquitoes just throw on some swim fins and a snorkel and go off after prey like tiny, blood sucking torpedoes. Even the ticks and chiggers are airborne during this kind of heat hoping to hitch a ride into cooler environs.

I am not quite acclimated to this kind of heat yet, so I am going to lay low and stay inside where the air conditioner is finally going to earn it's keep. (I may give it a hug at the end of the day.) It's barely climbed into the 90's since we got here. Today will be the first 100+ day, but I am sure it won't be the last, for this is the South. This is the land with a long and storied history of oppressive weather. A land where it could be 105 today, then 80 and torrential downpours the next. (One can only hope..)

It's a good day for napping. I may do it the whole day and hope tomorrow is a little cooler. I gotta go. There's a kudzu vine knocking at the door seeking shelter.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Care and Feeding of Redneck Children

Since moving back to North Carolina, the wife and I have taken on a new self-imposed task that we anticipated, but were not exactly prepared for: The Care and Feeding of Redneck Children.

In our house, among other things like four dogs, two cats, a myriad of chickens roaming the front yard and old guy of ill health who we affectionately refer to as "Ozzy", (It used to be Boomhauer due to his nearly incomprehensible "Southern" and the ever present baseball cap.) we also have two pre-teen redneck children whom I will refer to henceforth as "Ellie Mae" and "Jethro".

Ellie Mae and Jethro are the quintessential redneck children who speak fluent Southern and little English and will forgo shoes unless ordered to do so.

Ellie Mae spends the bulk of her time tending to the animals or perpetually cleaning her room after which she immediately proceeds to return it to it's original condition: a FEMA disaster site.

Jethro prefers to spend the bulk of his time prowling the woods, setting out food plots and constructing tree stands in a never ending quest to bag that elusive trophy buck. His room is not nearly as neat as his hunting spots in the forest. Getting him to clean his room often entails hiding his fishing pole and telling him it's in his room somewhere and maybe he'll find it if he cleans the room.

They are good kids who usually do as they are told, are awfully helpful and often asking if they can assist with things around the house. It gives us an opportunity to spend time with them and have an influence that will hopefully carry them far beyond the "hollars" and the "bottoms". (Valleys and creek beds.)

One of the first things we are undertaking is "learnin' the youngin's English". Having spent a great deal of time with "Ozzy" (Envision Ozzy Osborne with a fifth grade education, backwoodsman life experiences and a really bad Southern drawl.), I no longer need the services of an interpreter to translate Southern into passable English. I know what "carry" (Drive someone in a car.) and "finna" (Fixing to or getting ready to do something.) mean. We practice pronunciation of words like "there" instead of "thar" and "here" instead of "har".

Another thing we are exposing them to is the world outside of Townsville. Yes, they have been to the big city of Henderson (pop. 16,000 or so with a WalMart, fast food, Tractor Supply and an auto parts store.) but beyond that, they have seen pictures of various metropoli and are sure it's science fiction made up like a movie on TV. When we go to the state fair in Raleigh later this year, they will get to see the state capitol for themselves. I hope it's not too much of a shock.

A few years ago we took them to the beach in Virgina to prove to them that there is a bigger body of water than Kerr Lake. We were considered gods that we knew about this. We went out on the ocean in a big charter boat to show them that you could not see the other side.

We could tell them anything at this point and they would swallow it hook, line and sinker. For instance, this evening during dinner, I convinced them that all food has a certain "Nummie" factor. The more "nummies", the better the flavor. I explained that it was a scientific fact that things like candy and doughnuts had a high concentration of "nummies" and things like plain flour or bran had a low concentration of "nummies". That's why parents tell babies "Num, num, num." when getting them to eat. It's to let the baby know the food, which looks like it has been eaten once already, has nummies in it. Now I can tell them that any food has a high "nummie" content and it's going to taste good. They'll eat it.

Speaking of food, feeding of redneck children is a bit trickier and more sporadic. They enjoy all manner of game animals including venison shot on the back forty and fish caught out of the lake. There is an entire goose still in feather in our freezer that Jethro bagged on one of his expeditions. They like to grow their own vegetable like beans, corn and tomatoes. Eating food you grew or shot yourself is a rich tradition and we heartily encourage it. (Have you seen the prices at Piggly Wiggly lately??) They are of the impression that money is better spent on bait or chicken feed. (They got me there..) They will, however, gobble a Honeybun like a pack of pirhanas on a sun burnt fat guy.

My pal Ryan "Mmmm.. Good ribs!!" Smith has two redneck children of his own. They are not nearly as redneck as Jethro and Ellie Mae. The big difference there is that the bulk of their raising is done by his in-laws, citified snobbery who would rather eat hot dogs and chicken nuggets than actually cooking something fresh and healthy. When Ryan has them, he educates and endears them to his redneck ways and reminds the children "that it's special and a secret". The last thing they need is to be reconditioned to the point where the both of them turn in to "Sheltie People".

All in all, things are going well at the dusty end of our dirt road. We hope that soon Ellie Mae and Jethro will be country enough to maintain their roots and pass them on to their redneck children, but civilized enough to be able to go to college and make a good life for themselves doing something they love like a veterinarian and a game warden.

At least they don't look at us like freaks, or worse: Yankees. (I got that covered.. I am a Red Sox fan and have a t-shirt that says Yankees Suck. People down here love it for all the wrong reasons, but it works for me.) We maybe Yankees by birth, but at least we're Southern by disposition and redneck by association.

We're good with that.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Random Diary Entries Since Relocating to North Carolina

Day 1: Arrived in NC. Tired. It was a long drive hauling my car with my pick up truck from Milwaukee, WI to Townsville, NC. I had the boat repair place pick up my boat (The Hungry Dawg), which has been sitting for about 4 years, and to do what needed to get done so I can finally use it. I need a beer and a nap.

Day 2: Our semi trailer full of stuff won't get here for a few days, so I went fishing. I caught a 12" small mouth and a white perch. I watched a thunderstorm pass over the north end of the lake. It was pretty to watch, almost awe-inspiring. All I was missing was a beer.

Day 3: Woke up to the sound of chickens crowing in the front yard. I drove down to Bojangles and got me a sausage biscuit with egg, some seasoned Cajun fries and a sweet tea. Too bad they don't serve beer. The wife wants to do a cookout next weekend, so I am looking for a good cooker to borrow for the day on Saturday. Had a beer.

Day 4: The semi trailer finally arrived and my son and his girfriend came down from Norfolk, VA to help out. It was sure hot out. We got most of it unloaded including my John Deer lawn tractor and all the accessories. I lost about 10 lbs in the heat, but we made up for it in beer.

Day 5: It was my birthday today. I turned 50. Spent the rest of the day unloading the rest of the trailer and ordered a pig to throw on the cooker. I've never cooked a whole pig before. The butcher said it was fairly easy. Get a cooker and set it to 300 for about 5 hours and keep tossing barbecue sauce on it. Just drink beer until it's done.

Day 6: I woke up hungry so I carried the wife down to Bojangles and we got us some sausage and egg biscuits, Cajun fries and tea. MmmmMmmm, boy was that good. Picked up some beer on the way home for the rest of the day. Spent the rest of the day drinkin' beer and watchin' the woman unpack boxes.

Day 7: Called down to the boat guy to see when The Dawg was going to be out of the shop. Went and got me a brand new trailer to haul it with. The guy down at the boat store hooked me up real good and gave me a real sweet deal. I bragged on him so people knowed he treated me right. I can't wait to drink beer on my boat. I sure missed it a bunch. I looked for a job so I can put gas in my boat (I call it "feedin' The Dawg") and go fishin' off it.

Day 8: The guy came by with the cooker on a trailer and told me how to run it so I wouldn't blow myself up. He never cooked a pig in it before and told me to tell him how it works out. I went up there to the butcher's and picked up the pig. It weighs 50 lbs. That's going to be a whole mess of pork meat. Called my best buddy Ryan and he said he'd come down and eat some with us. I told him to bring some beer. Still ain't found no job.

Day 9: Got up hella early to cook the pig. It takes 5 hours at least. I hoped Ryan would hurry up and get here with the beer or it won't turn out right. Still got no job, but that's OK. I had beer comin'. The pig tasted good. Everyone said it was the best they ever had. Not bad for my first time cooking a whole pig all by myself. I painted it good with barbecue sauce while I drank beer. The butcher was right. That's how ya do it. Me n Ryan talked and talked the whole day long. We're gonna go fishin' as soon as The Dawg come out of the shop and I get her all fixed up to go.

Day 10: They guy came by to pick up the cooker and had me tell him how I done it. I told him to keep it at 300 degrees, paint it good with the sauce and drink beer while yer doin' it. He said OK. Cool. I helped him hook the cooker up to his pick up truck and he carried the cooker back home. I went in the house and watched racin' on the TV and drank a beer. I 'm gonna to look for a job tomorrow.

Day 11: Still ain't got no job, but that's OK. The woman is workin' regular and so is the TV. If I could figure out how to be gainfully unemployed, I'd have it made. I put in some applications in the internet web thingy while I drank beer. We'll see how that pans out.

Day 12: I went down to the boat place today 'cause the guy said The Dawg was all done being fixed up. He said it run real good. It needed the carbs cleaned out, the gas tank cleaned out, a new impeller, some gear oil and the lower unit redone. He give me a fair price for all that and I was glad to get The Dawg back. It's been sittin' a while so it'll need a fair pice of elbow grease to be cleaned up real good. Might take me all of a six pack to get that done. I am looking forward to it. I put in some more applications on the interweb deal there so it looks like I am lookin' for a job.

Day 13: Spent all dang day cleanin' up The Dawg. It was pretty nasty having been sittin' so long. I did get it cleaned up good, so that's a good thing. I gots more stuff to fix on it to make it right, but I got a call from some job place to go up in the city tomorrow for a job interview. I said yes 'cause it's right near the boat parts place. I was gonna be up that-a way anyways. I figure I can stop in for the interview while I was up there gettin' the parts I need. I'll grab some beer on the way home and see if I can't make The Dawg right as rain by the end of the day. The weekend is comin' up and I want to be out on the water where I belong. As soon as I finish this beer, I am headin' to bed.

The Hungry Dawg

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Rednecks 'r better 'n ya think.

I was reading the news today and it seems that our boys and gals in the military are doing such a great job in Afghanistan (I do not mean that in the slightest bit sarcastically. They are kicking butt.) that they are running the scourge of the Muslim world, the Taliban, clear into Pakistan where they have been holed up in the mountains, taking over provinces and causing all manner of trouble. They have figured out that we are not going to go into Pakistan after them, and as a result, have decided to try and take over that country instead.

The problem with that is that Pakistan has a nuclear arsenal and if they succeed in ruling that country, why they just might get a wild hair up their already hairy butt and lob a few of those missiles over at their life-long enemy India, and then turn their attention to the great western devil, the good old US of A.

9/11 would look like a playground skirmish compared to a mushroom cloud over the nation's capital.

What would probably ensue is that the government would declare martial law, suspend the constitution until such a time as they see fit, and all manner of hell would break loose. Riots and looting would consume most major metropoli and the civilized city folk would decend into a madness never seen before. We'd start killing our own, plain and simple, in order to keep the peace.

There is a bright spot, however, and we should all take solace that there would be one collective group of individuals who would in all likelihood go on as if nothing happened; the Redneck.
The reason is quite simple.

For all intensive purposes, Rednecks don't really need anyone. They are not caught up in the trappings of city life, can subsist on their own for food and about the only thing that would probably be lacking is ready access to Internet porn. Thank goodness for VCR and video tapes. Just dust off that box in the attic and yer back in bidness.

The Great State of North Carolina, where I affectionately call home (even though I wasn't born there) is famous for the following: growing their own tobacco, making their own liquor, modifying vehicles to run faster, barbecue, making great furniture, and having once been the temporary home of Daniel Boone.

True story: I once lived in the town of Hillsborough that was settled by a branch of my kin back in the colonial times. It was an important crossroad for folks travelling to and from the "Deep South". In Daniel Boone Square, located just east of the "downtown" area is a big statue of Daniel Boone holding a rifle, or a car muffler (I am not sure, but either one would be appropriate.) welcoming all to Hillsborough.

Rednecks can hunt with either a gun (including reloading their own brass - recycle!) or a bow (no ammo!) and clean their own kill. They can grow any manner of edible vegetable by the bucketful. (Trust me. Five days of cleaning snap beans from 5 gallon buckets gets tedious after a while.). And they can angle just about any kind of fish, with or without tackle. Some people can catch catfish with their bare hands by finding it's hole, sticking their hand into the mouth of a big catfish and pulling it clean out of the water. Bow hunting fish is also popular.

The point is, grocery and liquor stores could go out of business, and it'll be OK. It's all good. We'll still eat.

Rednecks are also notorious for their ability to cobble together things from piles of scrap. Take the moonshine still, for example. One man's trash is another man's illegal enterprise. Incidentally, moonshining became illegal when the government decided to pay for the Revolutionary War, predicated on the notion that taxation without representation was an abomination of the human spirit, by taxing liquor production. I suppose that one can take solace in the fact that hypocrisy in our government began at it's birth. (It's the rich and powerful folks that are always the source of real trouble.)

Rednecks are also famous for being impervious to weather conditions when it comes to things needing to get done. My buddy, and best friend a beer could ever have, Ryan "Johnny Horton Rocks!" Smith once told me a story of how his father, a drill seargant in either the Marines or the Army (I forget.. or the Johnny Walker is kicking in..) once climbed up on to the roof of his house during the throes of a hurricane to cut a limb that had come loose from a tree. The limb was poised to come through the roof of the house and threaten the safety of his family.

Ryan's memory is of his father standing on the roof braving the howling winds with a chain saw in one hand, an axe in the other, and lighting up a smoke with his trusty Zippo before he severed the errant tree limb, saving the family home from certain damage. Awesome.

So who ya gonna throw your lot in when the world has gone to hell in a hand basket and some lying thief in a dark suit has stolen the hand basket? The government?

Not me. I'll be up in the Smokey Mountains somewhere, looking down on the desperate city fools sucking the juices out of the bottom of a government issued Spam can for sustenance while I pick the remnants of a well cooked venison steak and sweet potatoes out from between my teeth with a home made toothpick. I'll wash it down with a swig of 'shine and enjoy my smoke knowing that I can sleep warm and safe tonight and that tomorrow will bring more of the same homey comforts that have given me hope when all the world has sunk into madness.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Avoiding the Confusion..

Greetings Y'all!

I had the absolute pleasure of spending four years living on the Eastern Plains of Colorado, where rednecks are commonly referred to as ranchers, cowboys and farmers. (Sometimes they are all three!) I had a small ranch (by comparison) of 160 acres out in the middle of nowhere 8 miles outside a small town called Rush, 50 miles east of Colorado Springs. Oddly enough, no one was in one there, but that's what the town was called. They had a great cafe , but nothing else besides the volunteer fire department.

My place was called the Lazy Flying BS Ranch. (True story. I even had a brand on register with the Department of Agriculture. Look it up.) And we raised beef steers and horses.

I loved that place.

My nearest neighbor was a mile away and I could pee off the front porch with impunity. No one ever called the authorities that I was exposing myself. Trust me, that's a difficult thing to explain in most neighborhoods.

Some of the other things I could do from my front porch were shoot prairie dogs or sight my guns in, scratch myself, and watch thunderstorms in Kansas. (I knew they were in Kansas because I had my laptop out and was checking the radar to see where it was.)

One of the things we had out on the prairie was a breed of folk that brings a bad name to rednecks everywhere; the dreaded Trailer Trash.

This was in evidence in all it's glory when my pal and best friend a horny farm girl could ever have, Ryan "Milk. Milk. Lemonade." Smith, came to visit. (Yes, he actually worked that into a conversation when the wife and I asked a local girl, who ranch sat for us when we had to go out of town, to join Ryan and us out for pizza. She thought it was funny and asked after he left for home when he was coming back. Go figure. She must have a soft spot for the depraved.)

So, I get a call from Ryan one Winter day letting me know he was coming to visit, was somewhere in Kansas, and wanted to know how to get to the ranch. Thank goodness there were only three roads heading that way and he happened to be on the right one. He made it to the ranch later that afternoon and we made plans for the weekend to go snowmobiling up on the Continental Divide.

The next day we headed out to Monarch Pass, way, way, way up in the mountains. On the way to the paved road we passed by a typical site marking the location of trailer trash, a single wide up on blocks in front of a double wide.

Ryan spotted it right away.

"Will ya look at that!", he said in amazement. "I'll tell ya, you can't hide money."

I nodded in agreement. What else could I say?

Trailer trash are the kind of folk who dress a lot like rednecks, but there are some fundamental differences.

Aside from living in trailers and trailer parks, trailer trash are usually the first ones to pick a bar fight, usually with a redneck. They usually get their butts kicked as they are often too drunk to land the first punch anyway.

Trailer trash think everything is of value and will try to sell it to you for far more than they got it for. Most of the time, it's trash to start with and they don't end up selling it at all, but choose instead to store it outside of their trailer. (There's no room inside.. ) That explains the various piles of assorted trash out side the trailer. Hence, the moniker "Trailer Trash".

Trailer trash are notorious dumpster drivers. (And you thought it was raccoons. A fact most people don't know is that an unshaven trailer trash often resembles a very large raccoon.) It's how they replenish their inventory.

Trailer trash women are easily plied with alcohol, even if they are married, and it is usually OK to bed the married ones without repercussion from their husbands if you send them home with a six-pack. Consequently, trailer trash men are easily distracted by beer and porn. If you are ever negatively confronted by a trailer trash man, hold up a porn magazine and a beer, offer it to them and you will have a friend for life. They might even offer you their woman if you do it often enough.

There is the occasional redneck who lives in a trailer park, but they usually hate their neighbors. Mostly because a trailer is the worst place to hang a trophy mount. There's just not enough room to hang a decent trophy rack without taking an eye out trying to get past to head to to the bathroom.

So, now that we've got that cleared up, Ryan and I had a great time snowmobiling. For those of you who have never gone, it's a lot like a combination of jet skiing and four-wheeling, but on snow. And, you wear more clothes.

We rented some sleds (That's what they call snowmobiles up there.) and a guide so we wouldn't get lost and went up riding around some old mines, through some old logging roads and just rode and rode having a great time enjoying the scenery. It truly is beautiful up in the high Rockies. At one point, Ryan was facing going down a very steep hill (Like 80 degrees straight down for about 100 yards.) and he just jumped off the back. Thank goodness he didn't lose his sled in the forest, but it made me laugh and laugh. He's much better at fishing, and that ain't saying much.

Well, that's all for now.

Go Hurricanes!

Friday, April 17, 2009

More Fish Tails..

Howdy again!

Having lived in North Carolina for many years, my friend Ryan "Gimme that hog jowl!" Smith (whom I have known almost as long as my wife) and I have gone on many fishing expeditions aboard my somewhat trusty vessel "The Hungry Dawg" on the vast and open waters of Kerr Lake. Kerr Lake is a huge lake that straddles Virginia and North Carolina, due north of Durham and contains many lunkers. (I once caught a fish that swallowed whole the original fish I caught.)

On one such occasion, we were fishing in a quiet cove near Satterwhite Point for crappie, catfish and all manner of bream (bluegill for you Yankees). We had just settled in and had cast out when, suddenly, Ryan's phone rang.

"Uh oh", he says. "It's the boat anchor."

I start to get up to check the ropes that attach the anchors to the boat. Ryan waves me off and points to his phone. It's the wife. I give him the universal hand gesture that means "Gotcha, I understand."; thumbs up.

The ensuing conversation went something like this.

"I'm fishing with Bob."

"What do you mean 'It doesn't sound like I'm fishing?' What does fishing sound like? We're on a lake. It's quiet."

"I'm fishing. Really. Say 'Hi." Bob." ("Hi!")

"OK. Uh huh. Yup. OK. Bye."

He hangs up the phone and looks at me incredulously.

"College educated social worker.", he says and gives me that pained, pinched-faced look that can only mean: "I don't get it."

He sighs that big sigh that one sighs when one is trying to shrug off an enigma that has the effect of being immersed in a vat of underfed fleas.

"Let's fish.", I say and so we do.

But something is stuck in Ryan's craw like fried chicken gristle lodged between two cavity riddled molars. He looks up and spies a woman on the shore tending a garden and frolicking next to her is a very spunky sheltie. (A sheltie, for those of you who are not familiar with this breed of dog, is a miniature collie and is favored among northerners who have drifted South in search of better winter weather and cheap property.)

With all the annoyance and malice he could muster, Ryan then begins a soliloquy of pain and rancor not seen since the likes of Shakespear's Dane, Hamlet.

"A sheltie.. Will ya look at that. In Cary (his town) we have lots of those shelties. Cary, Concentrated Area of Relocated Yankees. They drive me crazy. I hate'em. They get mad and scowl at you if you change your oil in the driveway."

Then in a whiny, nasally New Yawk accent he launches into an impersonation of the stereotypical neighbor that seems to plague true rednecks everywhere.

"Ohhh.. Look at my shel-tie! Isn't he pretty? His name is Trevah! Trevah is the smartest dog evaahh! He can sit. He can fetch a bawl. He can play dead. I love my shel-tie! You know since we moved down heah, we haven't been able to find a decent bagel. Whea are all the Stah-bucks, and the delis? All these people eat down heah ahh bis-kits. Trevah doesn't even like bis-kits! Look at my shel-tie! It's so hawt down heah! It's hawt and muggy! Trevah doesn't do muggy. "

"Why don't they just go back where they came from?", he says. "Look. Don't move to the South and complain because the people here are Southern! Maybe if they ate some collard greens they wouldn't be so full of crap. Collard greens and grits. Good roughage if you ask me. Eat some collard greens and grits and save your money on that Zelnorm prescription. It's not irritable bowel syndrome. They're just backed up and need to clean out their colon!"

By the time he got to this point, his voice had been growing louder and louder as he got to the end. Mind you this was a calm, cool morning where every word traveled across the glassy lake like a whisper in Carnegie Hall.

I look up and there's the lady, leaning on her shovel, staring out across the cove at Ryan, who had forgotten all about her.

I am laughing hysterically at his impression and when I noticed the lady, I laughed even harder, tears coming out of my eyes, barely able to keep my breath.

I hardly have the physical wits to point across the cove.

Ryan figures it out in about a micro second.

Without missing a beat, he says, "Sorry shel-tie lady!" in that whiny, nasally northern accent.

She gives him the finger.

I catch my breath long enough to say, "Wanna go fish that cove where we almost caught that bass?"

"Sure." he says. "Let's fish."

"you feel better?", I ask.

He nods vigorously, a smile slowly broading across his face.

We started the motor and left the quiet cove, both us us hunched over to ward off the hairy eyeball daggers shooting our way from the slowly receding shore behind us.

It was a good day.