The other day we were driving away from my mom’s house and Brad saw a big fat raccoon running across the street. He slowed down and put the headlights right on him so that Beatty could check him out. The first thought that came to Beatty’s mind popped right out of his mouth.
“Oh MAN…I wish I had my shotgun!!”
Not that my five-year old has a shotgun. In his dreams.
I asked him why he would need a firearm in the Avenues. He said, “So I could bring us home a big ‘ole raccoon STEAK!!”
He was not kidding.
Now, I have to tell you this son of mine came out of my womb pre-programmed with some strong hillbilly traits. When he was just six months old and before he had ever even SEEN anything like this on TV, he would pick up sticks and point them and attempt to make gun firing noises. HE WAS A BABY. He couldn’t even walk yet.
On early Saturday mornings, my boy usually doesn’t watch cartoons. He watches the hunting channel where men in camoflauge sit in the bushes and whisper to each other. If he had his choice of games at home, we would dress in camo and hunting hats and make a deer stand or a duck blind out of the couch. And sit. And pretend we are hunting. Can you imagine how fun this is after you’ve played it a hundred and thirty two times? Some of Beatty’s most treasured posessions are his bobcat skin, plastic rifles, and some deer antlers his grandpa sent him.
I like to blame the kinfolk in Georgia. Yes, you heard me. GEORGIA. Where Brad was born and raised – eating chitlins, venison, and chicken noodle casserole. The hunting and foraging comes directly through the bloodline in some mysterious way.
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Here are the Toland boys from Georgia. No, their names are not Cooter, Cletus, and Buckethead. They are Uncle Shane, Paw Paw, and Daddy.
Last year in preschool, Beatty liked to impress the class during circle time with tales of how to gut a deer. He is still carrying some southern boy to kindergarten this year. Here is an example of a craft project during Thanksgiving that came home from school:
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Speaking of turkeys, just this past fall there happened to be a wild turkey standing in our yard one evening. God knows how it got there. Anyhow, Beatty was so excited he nearly fell over. He ran and grabbed his plastic hunting knife and his slingshot and took off after the turkey. He stalked that bird all the way down the street, darting behind trees with the plastic knife held between his teeth and hissing at people that were walking their dogs to be quiet. He never quite got in the position for a kill shot.
Back to Brad’s brother for a minute. I love this guy. He KILLS ME. The first time I met Shane, Brad and I were dating and we flew to Georgia to meet the family. Brad’s mom and Shane and his then-wife Natalie picked us up from the airport. On the way home, we stopped at a Burger King to eat. As we ordered our food at the counter, Shane noticed they were doing some sort of fundraiser for sick children where you held a quarter over a small water tank and dropped it in. If you got your quarter to drop into the shot glass down at the bottom of the tank, you won a free order of small onion rings or fries. Shane waited until the Burger King employee had turned her back and he shoved his hand down in the water and placed his quarter in the shot glass. Then, with a dripping hand, he announced loudly, “LOOK, I WON!!” Natalie clapped and cheered, exclaiming, “That’s my man!”
I was mortified.
I wanted to offer to pay for the one-dollar order of onion rings myself.
I also have to mention on that same trip we ventured out one night into the bustling metropolis that is Griffin, Georgia, and went to a bar called the Country Rock. Brad’s brother impressed us all with his ability to drink longnecks in twenty seconds as well as jump off the stage and land on the floor IN THE SPLITS. Oh my god.
The first time Shane ever rode on an airplane was when he came out to Utah for Brad’s and my wedding. We took him out for Vietnamese food one night, and although he ate it all, it hurt his stomach for at least two days. He got no relief from his stomach issues until he got himself some “real food” – that would be the McDonald’s across the street. He ate McDonald’s twice a day for the remaining two days. Gladly.
Shane is one of the most loving, affectionate, and hilarious people I have ever met. Put simply, he is at his happiest when he is in his small town of Griffin, Georgia, playing softball in the heat and hanging with his lady Kara.
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So you won’t be surprised the other day when Beatty very innocently asked us this question in the car:
“What is a redneck?”
And Brad and I both answered together at the same time,
As an end note, I will have you know that I love my rednecks. They are very precious to me in this land that is definitely, definitely, NOT the South. I kind of wish Beatty had a Southern accent. And I will have you know that even though I am married to a family of Southerners and self-proclaimed country folk, none of that hillbilly has rubbed off on me.
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