Bonfire BarryI used to be a redneck. For about a year, I was a part of a very exclusive clan, who drove the most excellent pick up trucks, consumed enormous quantities of cheap beer and always had the funniest stories to tell. When it came to Valentines Day, none of them really celebrated it outwardly.

It was considered sticky, sweet and not a part of the cool banter that always existed between them. They had this expression, anytime someone said something nice to the other. “I think I just threw up in my mouth.” Yep, that’s what they would say. If they busted your balls and ripped you down to an insignificant spec of pulsing life; that’s how you knew they liked you. A little nice gesture, like wishing someone a Happy Valentines Day, could get you beat up, ridiculed beyond all repair or worse.

Maybe some brave yahoo would secretly purchase a gas station rose and hide it inside his Carhart Jacket till he got back to the pick up. Or some tight jean wearing, daisy duke might forget her place and burn a steak for supper. Though most of them liked it rare, knock the hoofs and horns off and throw it on the plate.

They always knew I came from a different world, the world where people honored each other on Valentines Day. Being an outsider, I had certain skills that were not common among those native to the village. On this one particular romantic day, a couple was getting married. Me and my old lady,  were walking down a dirt road heading to the party. We were pulling our cooler on wheels, filled with ice-cold cans of beer, as the groom rumbled up next to us, in his gigantic red pick up truck. The best man in the passenger, seat rolled down the window and shouted through a cloud of Marlboro smoke, “Hey Barry! You’re a fancy guy. You wouldn’t know how to tie this here neck tie on my buddy would you?” I responded with affection in kind, by calling them a couple of idiots and said, “sure, pull over, come on out, I’ll show you how an ugly goon like you gets the noose on, for his wedding day.” It was a touching moment, me getting the groom all dapper for his bride.

Sometimes there’s an elegance found in other cultures. A look without saying a word. A gesture only recognized between two people. An unspoken law that labels a woman as belonging to a certain guy, and also marks a guy as being a woman’s man.”He’s MY man.” they would say. None of them would ever stand for being someone else’s  property, but everyone knew who was with who.

At the risk of having y’all throw up in your mouth, have a happy Valentines Day.

G'head. Say it.

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