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...a sweatshop of moxie

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Redneck Memories

From the fine folks who brought you the "redneck timeout"...

...comes the "redneck windshield wipers".

Once I had a boyfriend who was from Louisville, Kentucky. He was as smart as a whip, made me laugh, and had an old-fashioned Southern sensibility that melted my heart.

But he had a horrible secret: he was ashamed of his background. No amount of tut-tutting made him feel like he could share certain parts of his life with me.

After much pulling of the arm, however, I convinced me to let me visit the family homestead. Family to me is everything, and I cannot judge or perhaps even love a man fully until I meet his kin.

I arrived in Louisville just a fortnight before the Kentucky Derby (one of my lifelong dreams is to attend the races at Churchill Downs one day), and prepared to meet his 5 older brothers and sister, and most importantly, his parents.

His father was one of those Army drill sergeants who are deadly on parade, but big fluffy marshmallows outside of it. His mother was a sweetheart, who absolutely adored me. I'll never forget how, though my boyfriend was in his 20s, everyone called his mother, "mommy". Meanwhile, his father was "daddy", but said in that unforgettable twang, it was rendered as "deddy".

I was treated like a cross between Priscilla Presley, Mrs. Adolph Rupp and the Queen.

I was very very humbled by their warmth.

Now you may wonder why I am recounting all of this. It's because I was not allowed to go anywhere near their modest home located some miles outside of the "big city". Yep, you guessed it, it was a trailer home.

Try as I might, my silent, upstanding chap would not allow me to go anywhere near his home.

Inside his dad's old car, I was though. It was anything but new, and looked like it was held up by a fair amount of skill on his dad's part, which included homemade repairs.

It was when reading an Instapundit link to the 1969 Dodge Polara (apparently, a great favourite of American coppers) that I was immediately jolted back to this moment in time, when I got to ride inside a vehicle very similar to this car. I never did ask what it was, because honestly, until recently I hadn't a clue about anything car-related. I want to say it was a Dodge Challenger, like my own father had when he first set foot in this country, but I cannot be sure. It was manual, though, and I was impressed by that in the land of the automatic.

But when I read this:

With 375-horsepower, 440-cubic-inch muscle car big block engines and taut heavy-duty suspensions, Polaras inspired awe, fear, and respect.

I did remember the cocooned feeling of raw power, combined with a rather transparent sincerity which seems to be so effortless in this country. It inspires respect.

Not just in your cars, but in your people.

If fossil fuels are a limited commodity, and one day the muscle cars we enjoyed, not just in the 1960s, but now during our very own Golden Age of Escalades and Chrysler 300s, the memories we will have of those cars will be like the Gold Rush oldtimers remembering the smallest nuggets of gold.

No matter how humble a double-wide home, or a rustbucket old car, just remember, they're beyond precious when they only exist in our memories.

Rather like my boyfriend, really.

P.S.: We're not in touch, but as with my other boyfriends, we parted as friends.

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