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Redneck Etiquette

One of the most popular TV shows of all time is turned into a fall-down funny movie, as the Clampett clan strikes "black gold" and moves to Southern California, tries to get Jed hitched and encounters a pair of swindlers out to steal their fortune.

The term redneck refers to a (typically male) person having a red neck caused by working outdoors in the sunlight over the course of their lifetime. It is Offensive Slang used as a disparaging term for a member of the white rural laboring class, especially in the southern United States.

It is originally used to denote poor, white farmers, regarded as having a provincial, conservative, often bigoted attitude. The term also has some synonyms depending on the area such as: cracker in Georgia and Florida, hillbilly in Appalachia and white trash. Redneck is often used to refer to the stereotype of a southern U.S. rural lower-class person.

A stereotypical redneck has a beer belly, lives in a trailer, drives a pickup truck, enjoys hunting, and votes Republican. The term is often but not always pejorative, in the same sense as hayseed. However, many of us have taken this term as a point of pride.

The effect of decades of direct sunlight on the exposed skin of the back of the neck not only reddens fair skin, but renders it leathery and tough, and typically very wrinkled and spotted by late middle age. Similarly, some historians claim that the term redneck originated in 17th-Century Virginia, because indentured servants were sunburnt while tending plantation crops.

In the 1990s, when Jeff Foxworthy drawled "you might be a redneck ..." he wasn't just needling folks who had ever "fought over an inner tube." In one of his stand-up routines, Foxworthy summed up the condition as "a glorious absence of sophistication." Foxworthy also rejected the misconception that a rednedck has to be a Southerner, saying "A lot of people think you have to talk like this" (meaning his Georgia accent) "to be a redneck. That is not true. I've been all over this country, there's rednecks in every single state."

In recent years, the comedic stylings of Jeff Foxworthy, Ron White, Bill Engvall, Larry the Cable Guy, and Lee Roy Mercer have become popular, with the first four forming first a "Blue Collar Comedy Tour", and now a Blue Collar TV television show and film. Some of my redneck buddies don't even know what the word "etiquette" means, but they practice it.

Courtesy Still Goes A Long Way

In our ever-busy world, a little good old-fashioned courtesy still goes a long way. As your mother would say, just because someone else does not exhibit good manners, should not preclude you from doing so.

Personal Hygiene

  • Dirt and grease under the fingernails is a social no-no, as they tend to detract from a woman's jewelry and alter the tastes of finger foods.
  • While ears need to be cleaned regularly, this is a job that should be done in private using one's "own" truck keys.
  • Plucking unwanted nose hair is time-consuming work. A cigarette lighter and a small tolerance for pain can accomplish the same goal and save hours. Its a good idea to keep a bucket of water handy when using this method.
  • The first rule of shaving is to take your time. A man who is always clean-shaven runs the risk of being labeled a sissy or a banker.
  • It's recommended that women occasionally shave their legs and underarms. No amount of effort, not even braiding, can make hair in these body regions attractive.
  • Unlike clothes and shoes, a toothbrush should never be a hand-me-down item.
  • Proper use of toiletries can forestall bathing for several days. However, if you live alone, deodorant is a waste of good money.


  • Pearls with a tube top? Yes, they are an excellent example of understated elegance but never before April.
  • No matter how durable, Army boots are not proper footwear for mothers. And hip waders are not considered dress pants.
  • As to proper clothing for men, this subject can be summarized in a single phrase: No collar, no tie.

Dining Out

  • When decanting wine, make sure that you tilt the paper cup and pour slowly so as not to "bruise" the fruit of the vine. If drinking directly from the bottle, always hold it with your fingers covering the label.
  • In regards to table conversation, avoid stories about car wrecks, operations, or sick pets. Nothing ruins a good meal quicker than someone getting sick or sentimental at the table.
  • While okay at home, it's considered crass to ask, "Are you gonna eat the rest of that meatloaf?" Especially if you don't know the person.
  • Many establishments frown on the use of a "doggie bag" at an all-you-can-eat salad bar. Avoid these pretentious places.
  • Remember to leave a generous tip for good service. After all, their mobile home costs just as much as yours.

Out For The Evening

  • Sometimes you might find yourself in social settings where you don't know anyone. Here are a few lines that have been proven effective in breaking the ice:
    • My old lady wants to get to know you.
    • I bought some pearls just like those at a yard sale last weekend.
    • Do I have anything stuck in my teeth?
    • How long have you had that thing on your nose?
    • Is that a new tattoo?
    • When's your parole up?

Entertaining In Your Home

  • Do not allow the dog to eat at the table... no matter how good his manners are.
  • Be considerate of your guests. Point out in advance where the injury-threatening springs are located on the sofa.
  • Establish early in the evening what is okay to spit in and what's not okay to spit in.
  • A centerpiece for the table should never be anything prepared by a taxidermist.
  • Always wipe your hands before picking your teeth.
  • Make your guests feel at home. Let them adjust the rabbit ears on the TV, and make the dog give up the couch.
  • If guests overstay their welcome, a friendly hint may be in order, such as, "Ya'll are either gonna have to leave or chip in on the rent."

Dating (Outside the Family)

  • Be aggressive. Let her know you are interested: "I've been wanting to go out with you since I read that stuff on the men's bathroom wall two years ago."
  • Shower her with compliments: "You ain't near as ugly as your sister."
  • Establish with her parents what time she is expected back. Some will say 10:00. Others might say "Monday." If the latter is the answer, it's the boy's responsibility to get her to school on time.
  • If a girl's name does not appear regularly on a bathroom wall, water tower, or an overpass, odds are good that the date will end in frustration.
  • Even if you can't get a date, avoid kidnapping. It's bad for your reputation.

Theater Etiquette

  • Crying babies should be taken to the lobby and picked up immediately after the movie has ended.
  • Do not ask the concession stand attendant for the nacho cheese recipe.
  • Refrain from talking to characters on the screen. Tests have proven they can't hear you.

Driving Etiquette

  • Dim your headlights for approaching vehicles, even if the gun is loaded and the deer is in sight.
  • When approaching a four-way stop, the vehicle with the largest tires always has the right of way.
  • Never tow another car using pantyhose and duct tape.
  • Never play Chinese fire drill with handicapped passengers, especially if parked on a hill.
  • When sending your wife down the road with a gas can, it is impolite to ask her to bring back beer.
  • Never relieve yourself from a moving vehicle, especially when driving.
  • Do not remove the seats from the car so that all your kids can fit in.
  • When traveling with your family, try to keep their "mooning" of other drivers to a minimum.
  • Remember that the median is not a passing lane.
  • Do not lay rubber while traveling in a funeral procession.

Tips For All Occasions

  • Don't make company sleep on dirty sheets. Give them directions to the laundromat.
  • It's considered tacky to take a cooler to church.
  • If your dog falls in love with a guest's leg, have the decency to leave them alone for a few minutes.
  • Always offer to bait your date's hook, especially on the first date.
  • Even if you're certain that you are included in the will, it's considered tacky to drive a U-Haul to the funeral home.
  • Teach your children proper telephone etiquette. Nothing is more embarrassing than hearing Junior say, "We ain't seen Daddy in eight days, and Mama's too drunk to come to the phone."
  • At a baby shower, never ask, "Do you have any idea who the father is?"
  • Never take a beer to a job interview.
  • The socially refined never fish coins out of public toilets, especially if other people are around.
  • If you have to vacuum the bed, it's time to change the sheets.
  • One should tip a valet extra if he has to push or jump-start your car.
  • Always identify people in your yard before shooting at them.
  • When leaving town for the weekend, parents should not board their kids at the local kennel.
  • At a funeral, when viewing the body, never say, "He looks so natural - like he just got drunk and passed out."
  • No matter how broke you are, never take your date flowers that were stolen from a cemetery.
  • Always say "Excuse me" after getting sick in someone else's car.
  • Always provide an alibi to the police for family members.

Redneck First Aid

Two rednecks were having the blue plate special at their favorite watering hole, when they heard this awful choking sound. They turned around to see a lady, a few bar stools down, turning blue from wolfing down a possum burger too fast.

The first redneck said to the other, "Think we otta' help?" "I reckon," said the second. The first redneck got up and walked over to the lady and asked "Kin yew breathe?" She shook her head no. "Kin yew speak?" he asked. She again shook her head no.

With that he helped her to her feet, lifted up her skirt and licked her on the butt. She was so shocked, she gasped and coughed up the obstruction and began to breathe, with great relief. The first redneck turned back to his friend and said, "Funny how that there Hind Lick Maneuver works ever' time."

Special Bulletin from the Pentagon

The Pentagon announced today the formation of a new 500-man elite fighting unit called the "United States Redneck Special Forces". These Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas boys will be dropped off and have been given only the following facts about terrorists: 1.) The season opened today. 2.) There is no limit. 3.) They taste just like chicken. 4.) They don't like beer, pickups, country music, or Jesus. 5.) They are DIRECTLY RESPONSIBLE for the death of Dale Earnhardt. We expect the problem to be over by Friday.

Billy Carter was neither the first nor the last brother to embarrass a president, but he was surely the most colorful. From the time Jimmy Carter started running for president to the end of his term in office, his younger brother was never far from the spotlight.

In 1976 he provided humor and a charming contrast to his straight-laced candidate sibling. But by 1980, Billy's act had worn thin, and a major controversy over his dealings with the Libyan government cast a shadow over a Carter White House that could ill-afford another problem.

Jimmy was thirteen when Billy was born, and in some ways they grew up in entirely different families. Afraid he had been too tough on his eldest son, Earl Carter doted on Billy. The boy went everywhere with his father, and neighbors recounted how much Billy seemed to take after his daddy. When Mr. Earl died suddenly of cancer in 1953, the sixteen-year-old was devastated.

Billy later admitted he was "mad as hell" when Jimmy, who had been away in the navy since Billy was six, returned to take over the family business everyone had assumed would fall to him. After "raising hell" in school he joined the Marines at seventeen and married his sixteen-year-old sweetheart. Four years of Marine Corps discipline led Billy to conclude he was "not cut out for that kind of life," and after a series of unsatisfying jobs he ended up back in Plains, wife and children in tow, to work for his older brother.

Though their relationship was never easy, Billy took up more responsibility as Jimmy ventured into politics in the 1960s. By the time Jimmy became governor it was Billy who ran Carter's Warehouse, and he did it well. "I made more money for the business than Jimmy ever did," he boasted, by all accounts demonstrating a sharp mind, strong work ethic, and natural ability to get along with people.

In the summer of 1976, with the press gathered in Plains to get acquainted with the surprising Democratic nominee for president, Billy Carter became a star. "Yes, I'm a real southern boy," Billy admitted over drinks with reporters at his gas station across from campaign headquarters. "I got a red neck, white socks, and Blue Ribbon beer."

When asked about his family, he got off one of the best quips of the entire campaign: "My mother went into the Peace Corps when she was sixty-eight. My one sister is a motorcycle freak, my other sister is a Holy Roller evangelist and my brother is running for president. I'm the only sane one in the family."

President Carter later wrote that the press found Billy to be "something of a country philosopher," and that "he took advantage of the chance to present the other side of the Carter family -- not so serious, full of fun and laughter."

There was more to this "redneck country bumpkin" than most press accounts revealed. "He was one of the best-read people I know," remembers his nephew Chip. "If he didn't know something about subject, he would go find out about it, so that if you had an argument the next time, he would be the expert on it." Not only did Billy help his brother by running the warehouse well, but he was a political asset in conservative states like Texas, reassuring many of Carter's genuine southern credentials.

Billy also had a drinking problem, on display for all to see, that grew worse as the spotlight intensified. "Billy ended up with a reputation and then he tried to live up to it," Chip concludes. While his brother was busy running the country, Billy hit the talk-show circuit, cracking one-liners and hawking his own brew, Billy Beer. His self-deprecating wit made him popular, but it wasn't long before another attempt to cash in on his brother's fame led to disaster.

In September 1978 Billy made a highly publicized trip to Libya with a group of Georgia legislators and businessmen eager to make deals. Several months later, he hosted a delegation of Libyans in Atlanta, as they looked for a place to locate a permanent trade mission.

When asked why he was involved, Billy said, "The only thing I can say is there is a hell of a lot more Arabians than there is Jews." He also argued that the "Jewish media [tore] up the Arab countries full-time," and defended Libya against charges of state-sponsored terrorism by saying that a "heap of governments support terrorists and [Libya] at least admitted it."

President Carter tried to disassociate himself from the controversy that ensued, telling NBC News that he hoped people would "realize that I don't have any control over what my brother says [and] he has no control over me."

Billy also apologized and explained he wasn't anti-Semitic, but the damage was done. The Atlanta Constitution remarked, "If [Billy's] not working for the Republican Party, he should be." Some time after this, Billy spent seven weeks at an alcohol addiction treatment facility in California.

Once sober, Billy was no longer in demand on the talk-show circuit, so he turned again to his Libyan friends for financial help. In July 1980 he belatedly registered as a foreign agent of the Libyan government and admitted to receiving a $220,000 "loan" for oil sales he was supposed to facilitate. The press rushed to find out whether the president's brother had hawked his influence with the White House, and a new presidential scandal, "Billygate," was born. As Jimmy himself later admitted, "He was the president's brother, and therefore fair game."

On July 22, the White House issued a statement disclosing what it knew and denying that it had interfered in the Justice Department's investigation of the matter. The president also released a personal statement saying that he did not think it "appropriate for a close relative of the president to undertake any assignment on behalf of a foreign government."

While all this was basically true, a number of inaccuracies and omissions would surface in the coming days which kept the scandal alive and fueled the perception that something dirty had happened. "In truth, the White House had concealed nothing," concludes historian Burton Kaufman. "But as [it] had to keep amending its July 22 account, there was doubt cast on Carter's forthrightness with the American people."

While relatively few people doubted Carter's basic integrity, the whole thing did cast further doubts on his judgment, and what Kaufman calls his "presidential timber" in the midst of the president's uphill battle for re-election. "The damn Billy Carter stuff is killing us," complained Hamilton Jordan. It was the last thing the Carter campaign needed going into the Democratic convention in August.

If President Carter held a grudge over the whole sad affair, he didn't show it. In his memoir, he wrote that "The only one of our family who really suffered because of [my presidency] was my brother Billy." Though he managed to stay sober and out of trouble after his brother left the White House, Billy Carter succumbed to pancreatic cancer in 1988 at the age of 51.

In all my dealings with rednecks, I have to say they have a culture and code of honor all their own. They are proud, rowdy, simple, and downright confusing. It never ceases to amaze me how the smallest things in life can 'do it' for these folks. There's nothing better to a redneck than a lazy afternoon with sweet tea, hotdogs, and NASCAR.

Small things we wouldn't pay attention to really make a redneck's day. Give them a bowl of beans with a slice of tomato on the side for supper and a cold beer for dessert - and they're happy. The dogs brawling over a ham bone in the front yard really gets their blood pumping.

The redneck women are happy with a bottle of Charley perfume, blue frosted eye shadow, and Friday nights at the karaoke bar. Redneck kids will do anything for a moon pie, Pepsi, and a trip to the carnival at the Big Lots parking lot.

Even though I don't understand rednecks, they sure come in handy as neighbors. They'll fix your broken truck, send you a meal if you're sick, and they'll even buy you something at the flea market on your birthday. More importantly, having a redneck neighbor can make you feel safe.

If the sight of Billy Bob sitting on his porch cleaning his Smith & Wesson doesn't scare off an intruder, then all his dogs will. Despite their all-around friendliness, there are a few things you have to watch out for if you have a redneck neighbor.

First of all, men, don't ever look at their women-folk. They can take your simple "Howdy" and turn it into something you'd see on Jerry Springer. Don't make the mistake of removing the beer or RC cans from their yard for recycling; they can get mighty riled when they don't have anything for target practice. Lastly, don't ever underestimate their love of country music. They take it real personal if you knock Hank Jr., David Alan Coe, or Merle. Why, those men are as sacred to them as the Stars and Stripes, Mama, and the Bible.

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