Sunday I went to a family reunion. These folks are actually my dad's cousins, and like my dad, they are straight forward, simple, country folk. I don't mean the racist, pig ignorant types that drive bright red pick up trucks because they wanna look "sharp" when they go line dancin'....or wear those insanely over sized cowboy hats in restaurants, churches, or movie theatres.
My dad's cousins are people who respect other's wishes, take their hat's off in the house, in the presence of a lady, and when you sit down to eat. They may not know what you're about, but by God, they'll shake your hand first and talk with you before they make any judgments. These are the types that Bush pretends or imagines himself to be like.
My dad, and most of that generation (he's 83), grew up in cotton fields and barn yards and learned to work with their hands. These people hunted rabbit, raccoon, squirrel...anything that was possible to eat, because they were poor. No Micky Dees in the 30's and 40's, folks.
While I was enjoying some home made fried chicken and some insane home made potato salad, one of dad's cousins came up and started "jawin'".
Dad: You still shootin' squirrel out 'chonder?
Cousin: Yea...When them pecan trees start sproutin' it's all a go!
Cousin conts: It's squirrel season all year 'round out 'chonder up Kaufman ways.
Dad: Do you still eat 'em whole..haids n all?
(I stop chewing at this point)
Dad conts: I remember 'ol (unintelligible name) would eat them whole. Wouldn't waste a thing. He'd skewer 'em and cook 'em like a roast pig. He used'ta crack their haids and eat the brain.
(I stop doing everything, at this point. It's like watching a train wreck)
Cousin: I use to...'cause that's the best part (big grin), but I heard you can get leprosy from them brains.
(My mouth is hangin open now)
Cousin: Oh yea...
Me: (..cause I couldn't stand it anymore!) I think they can cure that now.
Both: oh yea..
Me conts: I think you're thinking about rabies, actually.
(Cousin stops for a second and ponders the info. Dad turns the conversation in another direction)
Dad: Hey, is ol' Brother (somebody) still preachin' over at (somewhere)?
I lost track of it all because I was pondering the brainless squirrel and the half eatin' chicken in front of me. I thought for a second or two about what these men had to do many years ago to get by. What was so different about a chicken and a squirrel? We eat chicken because it's "socially accepted" but squirrel, raccoon, opossum isn't...now?
I finished my chicken and continued to listen to stories from long ago about people long since dead. We left and as I was driving home I was replaying that conversation about the squirrel in my "haid". I remember, while these country boys were telling the story, they were smiling. Did they really revel in the memories or...were they ribbing the city boy while he was eating?
...Sometimes the simple things get by you.