Friday, June 7, 2013

Night of the Livin Hillbilly

Old friends visited us here in Ohio. We lured them with concert tickets and good past behavior. I will remember the visit for both the happiness at spending time together and for the expression on our friend's face every time yet another local enhanced the scene.

At the lake, from one blanket over, a man called, "I'll play!" Our game of beach volleyball was improved for it. The pick up game was more an attempt to keep the ball in play than winning, more childlike than the polished gloss of an adult game played with teams, rules, and skills. We sweated away happily for over an hour.

"Ravishing Ronald" a la Bugs Bunny appeared at brunch. Our startled friend stared with interest at a man's hair carefully arranged as if a French woman's coiffure though with a touch more mullet and bleach. Maybe it was the curls sticking out at the sides?

At the long planned for concert, our group parted down the middle like the Red Sea by a wide set man wearing overalls. Our friend's incomprehension boiled over. The strangeness of an adult's desire to play, the unusual hair style, and the work clothes at a concert led to the utterance, with humor, of, "night of the livin hillbilly." We all chuckled at the labeling, but the collective unspoken thought simmered, "What's the point?"

I strive for comfortable but off the radar. I'm not interested in drawing attention to myself, but, still, I have my own definition of fashionable. We say things with the way we present ourselves from the well groomed to the unkempt.

As the concert performer handled the spotlight, he eyed the audience, dipped low, and strutted. He wore a jacket with a buttoned up white shirt. He had guitar licks to showcase.

I also noticed the boys wearing hats. My brother-in-law talks about, 'the hats,' as college boys who party too much, don't shower, and wear hats to class. This was Appalachia. These 'hats' were working boys. I've seen them at the Farmer's market. Their hair was buzzed in the manner of summer cuts so it wasn't about hair. Perhaps their mothers had never taught them to remove their hat inside? My eight year old son walks into a building and removes his hat within thirty seconds. A punk rock goth chic is screaming, "I may be on the fringe, but look at me!" The hillbilly with the bad hair cut? What's he going for? Why do I contemplate it? Why do I want to sort out cultural nuances?

It's what you do when you're the new kid, and I'm still the new kid.

I love that there are guys who go to the barber and say, "Allan, short on the top and long on the sides. Oh, and bleach it." You have to be off the cultural radar to think very large overalls are dress clothes for a night out. How is it someone knows music but is oblivious to parts of the social world? What parts are they tuning into?

During the fall and spring semesters, local college girls were notable in my mind for wearing see-through black yoga pants as if their behinds were (A) small and (B) invisible. When I brought this up to point out that hillbillies weren't the only ones in need of a "Glamour Don't," my city friend commented that this was probably about the Lululemon yoga pants recall-- a pricey brand with a production glitch. Women were wearing see-through yoga pants because they had spent money on them even if they looked ridiculous.

We've all got our uniforms, some are just more obvious.

I'm fascinated by the thought of what we tell ourselves and by how much we spend in time, money, and effort to achieve it. When you get dressed, buy clothes, do your hair, what do you tell yourself? What do you tell yourself when you splurge? Exercise? Don't exercise? Say something stupid? We talk ourselves into a lot of crazy shit.

I'm thankful for people who remind me to hold my tongue (not that I always mind), consult a hair dresser, and skip the ice cream from time to time. Yeah, I thought about this while listening to tunes, live. The show was amazing, my thoughts could use a workshop.