The word for the day is “rube.” I’ve heard it used before, but not recently. The quick definition provided by my MacBook Air Widget is “Country Bumpkin.” Seriously! Totally insensitive! Rude! In a world of increasing insistence on civility, sensitivity, tolerance, the authors of the dictionary imply that people residing in rural geographical areas are simpletons.
Paso Robles, California, in the early 1970s had a population less than 5,000. That probably included pets and livestock living within the town limits. The closest actual cities to Paso that might be construed as metropolitan, which in my thinking means a cluster of shopping and congested traffic, were Fresno and Bakersfield. Both are 110 miles from Paso.
Paso had one grocery store. There were two signal lights, though. Modern, we were. The Mercantile was the local store, a General Store, where one bought clothing, hardware, guns, ranch gear. The Head Hunter was the local barber shop. A real barber shop. No women entered. Period. One of the barbers, Johnny, bought a new pickup one year after a great year for his cattle. The next year he took a loss. Everything depended on rain, and how the grass grew.
My “commute” from Paso to Camp Roberts, about 10 miles up California’s Highway 101, took me by an old barn, that for years had been leaning over. Every year, farther and farther it leaned. One morning I noticed that it had finally fallen to the ground, it’s roof the only part still visible from the road. Not too long after it fell, I saw several shiny, new, pickup trucks at the barn loading pieces of the old barn wood.
If you’ve heard that “everybody knows everything that goes on in a small town” then you understand that I learned very quickly about the guys from Los Angeles that drove 250 miles one way to buy rotten wood from a rancher. “Barn Wood.” they’d called it with a touch of reverence. Everybody in Paso and the surrounding ranch areas got a great laugh from it. “Drinks are on Joe,” I can image was the cry at The Elk Horn that night.
Who is the RUBE now? City Folks! Sheesh!
Rube is more appropriately defined as “a naive or inexperienced person.” In the case of the “city slicker” who drove 250 miles one way to buy rotten wood, it means “fool.” But now I’m showing an intolerant distaste for all things urban, metro.
Rube has another formal definition: “an awkward unsophisticated person : rustic.” I confess to being a rube, in that case. I’d rather live in tent in the wilderness, than in a city. I’d rather hear the birds sing, than the operas available in Atlanta. I’d rather walk naked in the woods, prey to mosquitos, than feel naked walking among the city’s two-legged wolves.
On the other hand, perhaps County Bumpkin isn’t such an offensive term after all. Perhaps it’s a badge of honor. Y’all go live in your cities where the sun isn’t needed for all the lights, where you can see the air you breath, and smell it too. Opps. That’s not very sensitive or tolerant either, is it? If I’ve offended you, spend a little time hugging your blanket in your safe space. Snow Flake!
Signed: “Just another Rube.”
PS. The city slickers that got the barn wood weren’t too naive; I heard later on they’d gone back to LA and installed the wood while remodeling peoples’ family rooms—and I heard made a ton of money at it. Who’d have thunk it. I guess not all city slickers are rubes.
Thanks for stopping by, reading my “rant.” Hope to hear from y’all sometime.