A few years back, I was cornered by some guy at a kid’s party. Honestly, I forget his name. I want to say George, Paul, John or maybe Ringo, but I don’t remember. I must admit I am occasionally introverted. It’s kind of a learned thing. The only thing I hate more than parties is being forced to small-talk with party people. And especially with men. It seems to always end in a stream of narcissistic chest-thumping banter that I can’t help but mute. This time was no different, but I decided to follow through and see where this particular guy was going. I patiently listened as he described his thriving blue-collar business, his investments, his home, and his prized possession, his brand new Ford F-150. It had custom racing stripes. I suppose you never know when you’ll be forced to race your pick-up truck, and stripes must have some sort of special powers that make it faster.
“So, you into boxing?” he asked in his dull, monotone, nasal southern drawl. He removed his camo baseball cap to wipe the sweat from his bald head. I remembered I had just shaken his hand and sneakily wiped it on the back of my pants. “Not really,” I replied as politely as I could. He nodded and took another sip of his Bud Light. “How about huntin? You do any huntin?” At this point, I knew our conversation wasn’t going anywhere. But I wanted to see what he was made of. “No, sir, I’m really not into beating people senseless, or killing animals for sport. Just seems kind of brutal. Humans haven’t needed to hunt for food in over sixty years, so I don’t see the point. I’ve gone fishing once or twice, but we actually ate what we caught.” He nodded again, but I could see signs of concern on his brow. Kind of like, what the fuck is wrong with this guy? I didn’t really give a shit what he thought, but I was concerned with his interests from a parental standpoint. His son was palling around with mine, and was already talking about going out on his four-wheeler and shooting shit. I took a deep breath. “I follow a little football, but professional only. I work out at my home gym, I go mountain biking once in a while, and I zipline at the local zoo every weekend. Otherwise, I’m usually working on a book or something.” I knew he’d disapprove in my life choices. I could see it in his beady eyes.
“Hmm,” was all he could manage. “I bet you voted for that Obama too. No, no, I’m just kiddin.” He wasn’t. Now this smug bastard’s true colors were beginning to show. I really wanted to engage this sonofabitch in a lively racial and political discussion that would reduce him to a micropenis, but I bit my tongue and racked my brain for an excuse to grab my kid and leave the party.
It wasn’t just John Paul George Ringo who seemed to have this adverse attitude. It seemed more than half my small town was filled with these small minded idiots. It’s not that they’re dumb people – many of them are well-paid engineers at some of the leading aerospace companies and defense contractors in the world. But even smart people make dumb choices. C’mon, boxing? Killing deer for sport? What’s the point? Why not use that brain? Enter a robotics contest. How about inventing or building something useful, instead of propping up your gun collection in case the zombie apocalypse hits tomorrow?
He, and his redneck brethren, can’t help being what’s collectively and wrongly called conservative. It’s the way they were brought up. You see, their daddy’s granddaddies were given land by some other rich white guy many years back, who probably took ownership of his stolen Native American land from an appointed governor. Many of these rednecks have always known some sort of material wealth, so they’ve never had to fight to earn like the rest of us who have normal-colored necks. They assume it’s their God-given right to have what they have, and you weren’t meant to have anything. I believe they box and hunt out of boredom. And they pass this mindset and its inherent boredom to the next generation. Hence, a kid’s dad who disapproves of President Obama because of the color of his skin, and anyone who doesn’t hurt people or kill innocent deer. That was the last thing I wanted my kid to become.
I excused myself to find the bathroom, and we rudely hightailed out of that party. My son didn’t know any different. I disallowed any weekend getaway invitations with that kid and his family, always coming up with an alternate plan of something I supposedly had already planned. Believe me, that was exhausting. Eventually they stopped asking.
Who knows. Maybe I’m some sort of racist against camouflage-laden dudes with red necks. I’d like to think society has a better chance of advancing from our adolescence if we stop beating each other up and killing things to support our ego. But what do I know. I’ll just crawl back in my office now.