Myself and the current missus (Cassiopeia-Karaoke Bodeen, your 3rd cousin, twice removed on Aunt Jackie's side) are once again having a family gathering at Fortuna Farms, and were wondering if'n you might want to be attending again. . . .
To be frank, it's been a powerful hard year for us, what with the bank trying to foreclose on the farm (fortunately they don't shoot as good as we do), the drought which has made bath-time kind squirmy, and campaigning for John McTaint and his VPILF. You probly also heard your cousin Sissy ran off to Vegas with the blonde copier repair man. We ain't heard nothing from her 'cept one post card with a half-nekkid lady on it, saying "wish you were hear." . . . As usual, we can't promise you nothing but a patch a ground to sleep on, but that never seemed to bother you in the past. We still gots the big army surplus cook pots for baths, and soaking. Your Uncle Walter and Aunt Jane have even more beautiful plants growing in the cement pond. These days, I think we's as civilized as them city-folk Bodeens that is always turning up there noses at our outdoor kitchen and chain-link bar-b-que pit.
Last year as you recall, we had a very unfortunate batch of moonshine. Uncle Earl Bodeen Jr. (Timmy-Ray's husband, you know, the one with the monkey tail) swears on the grave of his daddy (Angus-MacPhereson, your great-great-great Uncle on both sides) that quality control has been restored at the distillery so that won't be happening again. Thank the lard!
I had actually been quietly planning to slip off without the husband and children to go up to this party, but as soon as I saw the theme was Making Fun Of Rural People again, I resolved against it. The last time this theme was used, I spoke up as eloquently as I could, explaining that this line of ridicule is unseemly and hurtful. I argued that it is mean spirited for members of the dominant culture to ridicule marginalized groups (and in the United States, the dominant culture comes out of New York and Los Angeles, from educated city-dwellers). I was not the only person who felt that way, but years later, here come the same jokes again, and they're even staler and less funny to me.
The truth, though, is that I have a chip on my shoulder. I'm from rural Maine. My parents grew up on farms in Gorham, Maine, the town demonized in literature by Carolyn Chute in "The Beans of Egypt, Maine." Although no one has ever addressed it, I am apparently a product of some degree of inbreeding: my mother's mother had the same last name as my father and his family. (And yet I got a perfect score on the LSAT, outperforming 99.9% of the urban, city-dwelling, silver spoon-possessing aspirants of my year. Go, hicks!). I grew up with an extreme rural accent, which I lost along the way, but I still know my way around a cow.
My upbringing was so rural that I was completely stymied as a small child when I read an activity book which asked me to describe my block. Block? What was a block? I couldn't imagine it. In my town, we had no sidewalks, no streetlights, no grocery stores, no malls, no movie theatres... By high school I'd gained a bit of sophistication, but not much. There was a popular song about a girl who'd been dumped nursing her broken heart by riding the metro around and around, and I thought it was science fiction. In college I acquired some polish, but it was gradual: I remember telling everyone I knew in astonishment that I'd been given coffee in Spain "that was soo strong, they only serve it in a tiny cup!" (indicating size of cup with fingers and look of awe). Nowadays Starbucks has spread espresso everywhere, but my rural mind was blown by that first one.
I'm sickened by people who, by complete luck of the draw, were born and raised in cities or suburbs who think people from the country are automatically stupid and ugly. Many of my deep Maine relatives are wittier and more cunning than almost anyone to be found in large cities. Perhaps we Maine people may be lacking in exterior polish -- I am virtually the only mother from my children's private school who lacks a Prada bag -- but we have inner resources we've cultivated over those long, hard winters (or at least one would hope so. There should be some reward).
Coincidentally I'm currently reading "Deer Hunting With Jesus" by Joe Bageant, a book which argues that the left has lost power in America precisely because urban liberals have such scorn for the uneducated country dwellers. Republicans woo these people's votes and pay lip service to their values, while liberal urbanites like my friends make fun of hollers and cousin-lovers. This makes all too much sense to me. Laugh while you can, city dwellers. You're just buying us more Republican administrations.