Monday, April 3, 2017

You can always trust a hillbilly with an OED (or one that teaches you French)

You know what, ever since I read Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance, I have finally had to confront and reconcile myself to the hard truth that I am in fact a hillbilly. Now those of you who think you know me are going to laugh because I don't have a moonshine still or a shotgun to defend it with. To which I say: neither does J.D. Vance, and he says he's a hillbilly, and he's sold lots of books to prove it.

Whoa. Wait. That was kinda stupid. A hillbilly selling books? Is that a salient of argumentation a would-be hillbilly really wants to advance? [Wall alarm flashes: Recording in Progress] Here, wait, I'll be right back. Security cam's showing something creeping around up in the weed crop, so lemme grab my laser-targeted, high-powered slingshot with my patented (not) curare-soaked-ammo-that-blocks-nicotinic-acetylcholine-receptors and go do a quick patrol of the perimeter, just to be sure it's only a possum looking to upgrade from dandelion.

On second thought, why don't you come with me? We can talk. I mean, I can talk. It'll have to be whispers. Hope you're fine with whispers. And short sentences. It's half a mile up a pretty steep ridge. Don't think you'll be wanting to talk much by the time the climb hits.

Dandelion. Huh. The French call it pissenlit. Pissabed. The roots are diuretic. Like coffee. C'mon. Keep up. Keep up. It's in the OED. Pissabed. The what? The OED. The Oxford. English. Dictionary. Speaking of roots. Every word shows its. Earliest. Known. Usage. And ensuing examples. A taproot, man. Taproot of language. "Blew bottles and pissabed. Grew among the wheate." Haha. No, I'm not asking for. Herbicide. That was the. OED. Under "pissabed."

Never knew a hillbilly without just one book. For some it's the Bible. Not for the reason you think. The reason was to. Out-argue the parson. Who foolishly ventured to the cabin. Religion ain't for hillbillies. Faith, maybe. And theology. Heaps and heaps and stinking heaps. Of theology. But not religion. Religion is "ties that bind." Hillbilly ain't got none of those. 'Cept to his stinking hillside. Like this one here. That we're climbing. How you doin'? Not dead yet. Good sign.

For me. That one book. Is the OED. It looks like two books. Because it's two volumes. But just one book. Kinda unlike the Bible. Which is one volume. But 66 books. Tack on another 6. Whatcha got? Haha. Joke. Some people do that, you know. And call it numerology. I call it cards. I call it Trump. "Whatcha got?" "Mark of the Beast!" "I got you beat: Caspar Balthazar Melchior!" Hahaha. Guess you had to be there. Theology.

Nah, but the OED. 1971 edition. Magic. Graduation present from high school. Hillbillies can graduate high school. In fact there's some. Fantastic hillbillies. Doing postdoc work. How'd you think they wound up doing postdoc? Only hillbillies do postdoc. You know what makes a hillbilly, right? It ain't all growing. Contraband and. Shooting laser-targeted, high-powered slingshots with patented (not) curare-soaked-ammo-that-blocks-nicotinic-acetylcholine-receptors. Whew. Let's take a breather.

[Lots of puffing and panting by both parties. Silence for a blessed interval. Then the walk resumes.]

What makes a hillbilly? Independence. Independence. Don't run with the crowd. Run AWAY from the crowd. Up the holler. And further up the holler. Not farther. Further. Shun money. Unless you're bearding. The old man. Then it's ok. Make a killing. But beard the. Old man.

And if that ain't postdoc. I don't know what is. Ain't no money. In postdoc. More like. "Brother, can you paradigm?" But ain't no money. In hillbilly either. 'Cept by accident. And you better be. Bearding. The old man. When it happens.

Met me a hillbilly once. Back when I was a billykid. Hiking on the Appalachian Trail. Wandered into an apple orchard. Found myself looking down. The business end. Of an arrow. Dude had a still. Bearding the old man. With cider. Only spoke French. This guy. Himself an old man. Wasn't any more French. Than me. His one book? The bible of how to talk. Parisian argot. I did ask why. And he said, "Here." "Let me teach you some." "French."

"Tootfoodmagull?" Nah, that's what he taught me. The only French I know. 'Cept pissenlit. It means. "You trying to fuck with me?" All I did was ask why'd he speak French. And I got that business end. Of an arrow. Again, and a French lesson. Tootfoodmagull? He volunteered (a. Tennessean, natch.) how it was his mission in life. To make people say "I just fell in some. Apples" when they pass. Out or "I fell on a. Bone" when they encounter. A difficulty, just like. They do in. France. Plus he was bearding the old man. Any questions? Nope. Nope. Nosiree Bob. Not me.

He also volunteered that. He was starting a hillbilly art movement.
 I snickered. Which got me the. Business end. Of an arrow. "Tootfoodmagull?" Nope. Nope. Nosiree Bob. Not me. Hillbilly art movement. Makes total sense. Yup. Called it Baba. As in Dada, only Baba. Why Baba? It means "stupefied" in. French and is the irreducible quality of. Hillbilly: ineffable, uncompromising awe at. Life. Any questions? Nope. Nope. Nosiree Baba. Not me. Not then. Not now. Ineffable.

Getting close here. Time to shut up. Critter or person, you want a good target for your laser-targeted, high-powered slingshots with patented curare-soaked-ammo-that-blocks-nicotinic-acetylcholine-receptors. Whew! Hey, you okay? You look like you're fixing to fall in some apples.

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