Growing up in Arkansas, I was surrounded by more than my fair share of rednecks throughout my childhood. Despite living in Little Rock, the largest metropolitan area in the state, there seemed to be a lot of people who seemed like they belonged miles away in a town with a single gas station and a small locally owned grocery store that had been in the family for years. I went to school with people who wore cowboy boots, even though there were tons of stores that had thousands of shoes that wouldn’t make you look like you’d just come off the morning shift at the ranch, milking cows and shoveling hay with a rusty pitchfork. There were people who drove big pickup trucks and blared country music, even though the existence of iTunes brought much better music right to their phones. I didn’t want to be a redneck, but I came to the terrifying realization today that I might have a little bit more of that country blood in me than I knew.
I guess spending time on my grandparents “farm” growing up, their ten acres of land, planted the redneck seed within me, and today it finally blossomed. My grandfather was a country boy, working in the fields and picking cotton for pennies with the rest of his family as a child. When he grew up and bought the land in Little Rock he bought some cows to occupy the space, and taught me how to feed them. He also taught me how to plant food in the garden, okra, peas, potatoes, and tomatoes. When they were ready to harvest I sometimes helped him pick these vegetables which my grandmother would prepare for dinner. I sat on their front porch, snapping peas, my fingers getting stained purple, marking me as a country boy myself. Though they lived on the outskirts of the city, they had problems from that seemed to only exist in tales of old western towns, for instance when one of the cows wondered out their front gate and into the road.
My hair has apparently become a point of interest at work as of late, and today I was informed that I had a small mullet on the back of my head. It was in that moment that I realized that I had become what I had always feared. I am a redneck after all. I’m conflicted because I don’t really want to get a haircut, but I despise the fact that I have a mullet, so I’m not really sure what to do. Maybe it’s time for me to embrace my Arkansan roots and quit fighting it. Maybe it’s time to trade in the Honda for a big truck so I can haul lumber and tow an airplane, all the while spending unnecessary amounts of money on gas. Maybe I need to start listening to Kenny Chesney or Keith Urban as I drive circles through the mud in my big truck, proving to everyone who sees the dirt caked to my tires that I am a true redneck. My name is Kendall Curtis, and I’m a redneck. There’s no turning back now.