Compleat Redneck

Commentary from the boondocks. If it makes any sense, it is just by chance.

Thursday, April 24, 2003
Cletus is a little upset. The whole darn Smith family just cancelled their orders for firewood after hearing that he is running for County Commissioner. One of their sons-in-law is the current commissioner and they say that they are not going to contribute to someone who is trying to put him out of his job. Lord knows the boy doesn't have any real skills (That's why they steered him into politics) and if he gets beat in the next election, then he may even move in with them. What with his six kids, old Mr. and Mrs. Smith say they would go completely crazy, not that you would notice. Anyway, the Smiths are Cletus biggest customers after the BBQ Emporium and Cletus is not happy.

He has been moaning and groaning that his free speech rights have been violated. Bubba says no they haven't. Cletus is free to run for County Commissioner, say whatever he wants about the job performance of the son-in-law and the Smiths are free to buy their firewood elsewhere.

Tuesday, April 22, 2003
So Cletus and I graduated from high school. A few weeks later, Cletus had the adventure with the highway patrol. After he lost his driver's license, he joined the Army, became a truck driver and shipped off to Alaska. I headed off to college that fall intending to be a great scientist and maybe even become a rocket scientist and go to work for Von Braun. I imagined myself headed off to the moon like some Jules Verne hero scientist. Now I have mentioned my problems with the name my mama gave me, but I assumed that I could leave it behind by going off to college and starting all over as William. I didn’t go far enough. No sooner did I arrive on campus at Jacksonville State College to register for classes than a feller from a couple of years ahead of me in HS yelled Billy Joe Bob out across the full auditorium where we were all lined up to register and I was marked again.

I stuck it out for a couple of years. I worked in the college cafeteria washing dishes. I must have done a pretty good job because I ended up being given a better job: cooking breakfast. On the other hand, they may have just thought that someone named Billy Joe Bob was redneck enough to get up at 4:00 AM and make it to work on time. Not everyone wanted the job. I worked with Mr. Wilson, an 80 year old black gentleman from Jacksonville who was a wonderful cook. He used to go out and watch the students enjoying the meals he prepared so he could see how much they enjoyed it. He told me it was one of his greatest enjoyments in life seeing people really enjoying eating what he cooked. If you can cook institutional food and have people like it, you can cook anywhere. I learned how much good food can brighten a person’s day, the one who eats it, but also the one who prepares it.

Anyway, I was learning that I would never be a rocket scientist. Oh, I did okay in the classes, I just had no enthusiasm for the work and I learned that I really did not enjoy being around most of the people in my classes including the professors. I guess I was learning that I was really a redneck after all. I really liked being around the people where I grew up.

About the time I got fed up with college, the Army got fed up with Cletus (Oh , the stories he can tell). We arrived back in the old home community at about the same time. Being broke and unemployed, it just seemed natural to start our own businesses. I rented an old café building, got me a restaurant license and started cooking up some of the pigs Cletus’ Mama and Daddy raised. Cletus went into the hog raising and woodcutting business and here we are, proud entrepreneurs.

I guess people came in originally out of plain old curiosity, but I had learned well from Mr. Wilson down at Jax State and they got good food. Cletus hasn’t changed a lot. He still cut the wood and raises the hogs.

The only thing that has really changed is that I now know you can be both a redneck and a rocket scientist. Anyway, some of my customers are.