Monday, April 5, 2010

Good Ol' Boys and the Good Ol' Boy Network

There is a phrase in the South that everyone knows and uses. (Heck, everyone in the English speaking world and then some knows and uses it!) It's the "Good Ol' Boys" and I've been trying to become a member for over 20 years. I may never be a "Good Ol' Boy" though I'm not sure why or why not. So, let's take today and discuss what it takes to become a Good Ol' Boy (and for the sake of my typing, we shall forever more refer to this membership in life as GOB, all in capital letters, kinda formal like....)

Being a GOB may actually be written in one's DNA, giving one the ability from birth to hunt (I cannot) drink beer (I could never get into the taste of beer) and connect with other GOBs in some secret and maybe even metaphysical way which allows them to fit in with society. My own endeavors (or lack thereof) in the GOB world may prove this theory out. 20 years of trying, still no cigar.

In writing this dissertation (OK, BLOG) I looked up to see what the internet might say about GOBs (not that the internet is such a fount of information on the GOB, but it was close, and easy and...did I mention close and easy?) Wikipedia says, "Good ol' boy," (note the lack of correct upper case "O" and "B" but I digress...I do that a lot....) "is a slang term used in the United States and Canada," (seriously? Canada?), "either to self identify" (wait, this is a self identification? Why didn't anyone tell me?) as or to refer to a male usually white and of Northern/Western-European descent, who lives in a rural area and/or subscribes to a traditionally rural lifestyle." Whew, what a mouthful. Reminds me of my school days. Now, I know a few GOBs who are not white, so I needed to look further.

My favorite description comes from Wiktionary. "A male friend or chum, especially a schoolmate; a man with an established network of friends who assist one another in social and business situations; a decent, dependable fellow." Now, THIS I can understand. Y'see, when I first got to the South, I had trouble finding good jobs due to what can only be called the "Good Ol' Boy Network." (aka: GOBN) Like Hollywood, it wasn't what you knew, but WHO you knew. It took me about 10-15 years to find the right job but then it was like gold. Getting that job was not because I had become a member of the GOBN, but because the number of GOB in business had become diluted with those from out of town in the the intervening years.

Can you recognize a GOB on sight? Probably not and yet you probably know a few or know OF a few GOBs yourself. When you drive through a small town, there are always a few guys sitting outside on a few chairs, watching the world go by. These are good ol boys. And a few of our celebrities are also GOBs. Waylon and Willie are Good Ol' Boys. Bill Clinton is a Good Ol' Boy. GW Bush not so much., George "Goober" Lindsey is a GOB and, of course, them Duke Brothers ("The Dukes of Hazzard") are Good Ol' Boys. (Not them Wanna Bee posers in the movie, I'm talking about the originals in the TV Show.)

It's ok that you can't pick them out of a lineup. I've lived in the south nearly half my life and I still can't easily discern them in a crowd. Maybe, one day, I can actually BE one of the Good Ol' Boys.

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