Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Grandpa vs G-Man

This last week, in the middle of the night, The South (with the requisite Capital Letters) welcomed its newest 'Good Ol Boy', who just happens to have a terrific Grandpa. Me.

One of our daughters (we have 5 between us) had another child, and he is just the cutest thing. Now, being a grandpa is nothing new to me. Between us, my wife and I now have 8 and by the end of July we will have 10. My oldest of that generation is in his teens.

The one thing I've noted about Southern Kids and Southern Grandfathers is the nick names. I've heard these Suthun men called "Paw-Paw", and "Pa-Paw" and even "Pop-Pop". I'm sorry, I will not be called by a name which sounds like a poorly tuned motorboat and one that stutters at that. No. Sorry, not me, thank you, but no.

So. What, then? Grandfather is just a bit too formal. That's what them Nawthen kids call their father's father. Grandad? Sounds like a nice brand of bourbon. Oh, how about 'Granpere'? No, that makes me sound like I need to be drinking brandy at 2 in the afternoon as I receive the grand kids in the library. (Yes, Jeeves, show the progeny in, won't you?) Now that leaves "Grandpa" which I have to admit, reminds me of my own grandpa, a man who drove my mother nuts by trying to fix things he could not whenever he came to visit. (Hey, things I work on get fixed...but regardless...) No, 'Grandpa' is not for me.

After many hours of thought (I had a long nap) what I've come up with then, is (drum roll please) G-Man. Short, and to the point and modern; it's also easier on the tongue and most assuredly it is unique. (This is not to be confused with the G-Man in the Video Game. I am not a video game, though I am interactive.)

Why G-Man? I've given this some thought. Let's compare these stereotypes using my own experiences and knowledge:

Grandpa is a nice old man who sits around the house reading the newspaper, books on gardening and fly tying.
G-Man works for the Government and reads Mystery Novels and does Sudoku.

Ya starting to see the theme yet?

Grandpa carries a pocket knife. It has two blades which he uses to whittle and to clean his nails.
G-Man carries a Pocket Efficiency Instrument, it has a sharp blade, a can opener, bottle opener, flat head screwdriver, Phillips screwdriver, tweezers, corkscrew, a flashlight and a pen. It is rumored to also have a blue laser and a GPS device, but no one really knows for sure.

I'm liking this more and more.

Grandpa is married to 'Grandma.' She is a kindly old woman with gray hair who wears a frumpy house-dress most of the day as she bakes cookies and listens to NPR.
G-Man is married to a woman known only as 'Delta.' She's got dark brown hair, brown eyes and a figure unlike any 'grandma' ever had. She wears jeans with a skull on the pocket (In fact, most of her clothes have skulls on them.) She has a day-of-the-dead sugar-skull tattoo and listens to Heavy Metal music.

Grandpa wears hearing aids,
G-Man wears computerized hearing devices.

Grandpa can help you put the chain on your bike.
G-Man can help you wire you house with Cat-5, install a wireless router and fix your laptop. He can also help you set up a blog.

(This next one's my favorite.)

Grandpa takes you fishing.
G-Man takes you on Missions. "G-man, I gotta go to the bathroom." "OK TEAM, HUDDLE UP. YOU, on my 6, we take the quick route through the kitchen, up the stairs to the target area. I'll enter first, clear the room and then watch the door for intruders while you take care of business. You need help with the paper, you shout the code word 'MR WHIPPLE" - OK? On my mark....MOVE OUT!"

and Lastly,

Grandpa dreams of buying an old classic car to rebuild and tinker with.

G-Man dreams of buying this:

(James Bond’s 1964 Aston Martin DB5 with all the
gadgets and secret weapons!
Extra points if you already knew this.)

I don't expect 'G-Man' to catch on here in the south. In fact, I expect to be the only one. I just hope the G-Kids understand it all.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Redneck / Suthun Wind Chime

Rednecks and Suthunaz seem to be synonymous with each other and thus posting this here seems relevant. Though, to be sure, if you knew my neighbors you'd think twice before calling any of them (and me) a Redneck. They are "Southerners" or to my own ear "Suthunaz." Rednecks, to them, are uneducated Suthun Gennelmen Wannabees. Rednecks can be from anywhere, but them Suthunaz can only be from South of the Mason Dixon Line.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Watch The Time There, Bubba!

Just the other day I was out and about and came across a rather interesting juxtaposition of old south and new. I had gone down to the corner hardware store and was looking at a few flanges. (Yeah, Flanges....things every home should not be without nor every homeowner.)

While I was there, this old guy came in who looked like he had stepped out of a film. He was about 180 years old (give or take) a big bushy beard and stood no more than about 5 and a half foot tall. Gnarled old hands, lines in his face deep enough to lose a good sized John Deer tractor. More to the point, he was wearing an old straw farmer's hat and a pair of bib style overalls he probably got when he turned 15. He had on what I think were boots, but I was unable to see past the years of caked on mud and vegetable matter which can only be attributed to a farmer's field.

This is not the unusual thing.

While I stood there, ostensibly reading the label on a can of wasp spray (I hate them buggers and the quicker they die the better!) the Ol' Suthun Gennelman talked with the hardware-philes behind the counter and they hurried off to get him his (insert name of unusual farm implement here and no, it wasn't a mattock, I know what they are.)

While the clerk was gone, the old man looked around on the walls until he found a brightly lit plastic clock. Advertising some wondrous plant food it was almost too bright to see the spindly hands pointing out the time. (Analog, not digital.) He studied it a moment and sort of shook his head. He then dug one hand down into the front pocket of those overalls and rooted around for something in particular. Finally he found what it was and pulled his gnarled hand out. He turned the hand over and studied what he had brought out.

When I looked closer I expected to see an old pocket watch handed down from generation to generation, revered and cherished. Or maybe I'd see the watch part of a wrist watch which he carried around like a pocket watch, he being one of those thrifty souls who can't seem to throw anything away. What I saw surprised me.

A cell phone. He had pulled the cell phone out of his pocket to check the digital time against the analog plastic clock on the wall. He didn't trust the old plastic advertising clock and had to check something he trusted more...his cell. Satisfied, he snapped the phone shut, carefully slid it back into the pocket from which he had extracted it and went back to waiting.

Me, I giggled a bit, but not so as anyone would hear. The combination of this old geezer (Yeah, I can say geezer, I'm almost one myself) and the pocket 'Cell-Watch' was almost more than I could take. I love the fact that new technology is catching up to old Suthun institutions (and guys like this are an institution in themselves) and yet at the same time, it just tickled me.

Old meets in the Good Ol' New South.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

You Can't Get There From Here

What a lot of Non-Suthunaz don't understand about living in the South is that the South is not a place, it's a state of mind. It's storied and secreted and it's history and it's now. Yeah, it's complicated.

The South (with the requisite capital 'S') has a history like none other in the US. History plays a big part in living here. You can't go into a conversation without knowing what came before. Confused? So was I when I first got here.

You see, knowing the history of a place means you're part of it and it's a part of you. You're part of the fabric which creates our beloved South. Now I'm sure there are a lot of you NON Suthunaz who believe that by living in your area means you are a part of it and it a part of you in the same manner. And, for the most part, I expect that's true. But the Suthunah takes it much further by making that history a part of everything they do and every thing they say. And they know how to cull out the Non-Suthunaz from the herd quite quickly.

Most notably, giving directions. Non-Suthunaz come along and ask directions. Directions from the locals can get a history lesson thrown in for free.

"Well, you first go down this road a fur piece and take the left right there where old man Jackson had that double sized Barn. The barn burned down in 83, but you can see the burned out logs there on what used to be the foundation. That foundation was laid by the entire town, and has rocks from as far away as Mills Holler. But when you turn, you be sure to stay to the left, cuz you'll head for the crick in a quick way..."

History. It's being a part of the very landscape which makes living here get into your skin. I've found myself asking people if they know a certain landmark before I begin directions. "You know that place, 'McHenry's,' where they had that double murder a few years back?" Yeah, I can't believe I asked that either. These lines that Suthunaz use are a way of basically asking a total stranger, "You from 'round heah?" and "How long you been livin' heah?" all in one innocuous question. To which the response is usually "Well, gee, I just moved in here a few months ago..." thus answering both of the unasked questions. Suthunaz are masters at this.

Me? I'm just learning, after only 20 years.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Snow is Gone!

Though it can hardly be expected to remain gone, the snow which vexed so much of the South has fled. Temperatures in the 50's overnight have caused all the snow within site of my homestead to be melted and gone. Huzzah. And I repeat: Huzzah.

With the onset of an early spring (ok, so maybe just for a week or so, but it is gone) the climbing temperatures have caused the Suthun Man to contemplate his existence, to compare himself, as it were, to Dante or perhaps Hercules....or maybe he just needs to get something gas fueled out and ride around the neighborhood.

Enter the first love of the Suthun Male: the Three Wheeler. I'm not sure exactly what causes this particular number of wheels to be chosen or to be coveted in such manner. It's just a smallish motorcycle with only 3 wheels (though sometimes 4, and known as an ATV or All Terrain Vehicle) and is usually not street legal. Do I have to spell this out?

Yes, not street legal - the Suthunah - means allow your young spawn to ride around the neighborhood on it for hours. Imagine someone with a chainsaw walking by your window every few minutes for 6 hours. Yes, that often. Kids (and yes, many grown ups) love these things. Though I'm not sure why. They can't go out on the highway, or even the local roads so you can't take it to work. You could use it to go hunting but that motor would scare off any game within a hundred miles.

It should come as no surprise that I don't own one of these, mainly because, unlike my mattock (with the neigh indestructible handle) I can't really see a need for such a thing. Perhaps if someone attached a mower blade to it I could get my lawn done in record time, but until then, well, I'll just study them a bit more.